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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Windows 7 SKUs announced: your worst nightmare has come to pass

by Joshua Topolsky

Remember that screenshot we saw of all those different Windows 7 versions (pictured above)? Well guess what? It's worse than you could have possibly imagined. The following will be the actual new SKUs for the OS:
  • Windows 7 Starter (limited to three apps concurrently)
  • Windows 7 Home Basic (for emerging markets)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (adds Aero, Touch, Media Center)
  • Windows 7 Professional (Remote Desktop host, Mobility Center, Presentation mode)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise (volume license only, boot from virtual drive, BitLocker)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (limited availability, includes everything)
This information has been confirmed by Microsoft... who never listens to us. At least most consumers will only see Home Premium and Professional options at retail, which is more akin to the XP options of yore, and means WMC will be "baseline" for most PCs.

Update: Just to be clear, we've checked specifically with Microsoft on all six versions, and the placement of Home Basic in emerging markets. There's now a full breakdown after the break.

Windows 7 Starter
  • Available worldwide to OEMs on new PCs
  • Missing Aero UI tweaks
  • Limited to 3 simultaneous applications
Windows 7 Home Basic (Vista equivalent: $200)
  • Only available in emerging markets
  • Missing Aero UI tweaks
Windows 7 Home Premium (Vista equivalent: $260)
  • Available worldwide, to OEMs and in retail
  • Includes Aero UI tweaks
  • Features multi-touch capabilities
  • Adds "premium" games
  • Adds media capabilities (Media Center, DVD playback, DVD creation, etc.)
  • Can create home network groups
Windows 7 Professional (Vista equivalent: $300)
  • Available worldwide, to OEMs and in retail
  • Includes all features of Premium
  • Adds enhanced networking capabilities (Remote Desktop host, domain support, offline folders, etc.)
  • Adds Mobility Center
  • Adds Presentation Mode
Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Available only in volume licenses
  • Includes all features of Professional
  • Adds Branch Cache
  • Adds Direct Access
  • Adds BitLocker
Windows 7 Ultimate (Vista equivalent: $320)
  • Limited OEM and retail availability
  • Includes all features of Enterprise
Current Vista breakdown can be found here.

Original here

IE slips further as Firefox, Safari, Chrome gain

Posted by Tom Espiner

The amount of market share commanded by Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser has dropped for the seventh consecutive month.

Internet Explorer now has 67.55 percent of global browser market share, a drop of over seven percentage points in a year, according to figures from Web metrics company Net Applications, released Monday. Mozilla's Firefox browser, meanwhile, has gained market share in the same time frame, climbing over three percentage points to 21.53 percent.

IE and Firefox

Microsoft's browser has steadily lost ground to its competitors in the past year. Its share dropped sharply in both October and November 2008, when it lost over one percentage point in each month.

Apple's Safari browser now stands at 8.29 percent, up from 7.13 percent in November, when IE dipped. Safari has gained share more quickly than Firefox in that period: Mozilla's browser accounted for 20.78 percent of browser use three months ago, and now has 21.53 percent.

Google's Chrome browser, launched in September 2008, now has 1.12 percent of the market, having overtaken Opera in November. Opera's share of the market now stands at 0.7 percent.

Internet Explorer's drop of seven percentage point since February last year is a continuing trend. Microsoft lost over nine percent of browser market share in the preceding two years.

Most of IE's drop in the past year has been in Internet Explorer 6, which fell from 30.63 percent last February to 19.21 percent this January. Internet Explorer 7 has gained market share overall over the same time period, rising from 44.03 percent to 47.32 percent.

Microsoft launched the first release candidate for Internet Explorer 8 last week. It hopes to regain lost ground by adding features such as private browsing and a cross-site scripting filter.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

Original here

Google Earth Fills Its Watery Gaps

Google

A Google Earth view of Maui, Hawaii, from Lanai Island. The ocean images on Google Earth will soon undergo a significant upgrade.

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Two and a half years ago, the software engineers behind Google Earth, the searchable online replica of the planet, were poised to fill an enormous data gap, adding the two-thirds of the globe that is covered by water in reality and was blue, and blank, online.

But until then all of the existing features on Google Earth — mountains, valleys, cities, plains, ice sheets — were built through programming from an elevation of zero up.

“We had this arbitrary distinction that if it was below sea level it didn’t count,” recalled John Hanke, the Internet entrepreneur who co-created the progenitor of Google Earth, called Keyhole, and moved to Google when the company bought his company in 2004.

That oversight had to be fixed before the months and months of new programming and data collection could culminate in the creation of simulated oceans. On Monday, the ocean images will undergo the most significant of several upgrades to Google Earth, with the new version downloadable free at earth.google.com, according to the company.

Another feature, Historical Imagery, provides the ability to scroll back through decades of satellite images and watch the spread of suburbia or erosion of coasts.

Click a function called Touring and you can create narrated, illustrated tours, on land or above and below the sea surface, describing and showing things like a hike or scuba excursion, or even a research cruise on a deep-diving submarine.

The two-year push to fill in the giant blue blanks came through a chance encounter in March 2006. Mr. Hanke was poised to receive an award from the Geographical Society of Spain for his pioneering work building Web-based models of the planet.

But he was preceded at the dais by Sylvia Earle, a former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was there to receive her own award for deep-sea exploration and popularizing ocean science.

She turned to him and said she loved the way Google Earth allowed users to see how one thing relates to another on the planet. But Dr. Earle bluntly added: “You’ve done a great job with the dirt. But what about the water?”

Since that time, Dr. Earle and Mr. Hanke have been partners in the long effort, as she explained, “to make sure the mountains don’t end at the beach.”

She assembled an advisory panel including Jane Lubchenco, the Oregon State University marine biologist since chosen by President Obama to head the oceanic and atmospheric agency.

“I’ve been struggling my whole life to figure out how to reach people and get them to understand they’re connected to the ocean,” Dr. Earle said.

“But I go to the supermarket and still see the United Nations of fish for sale,” she said. “Marine sanctuaries are still not really protected. Google Earth gets all this information now and puts it in one place for the littlest kid and the stuffiest grownup to see in a way that hasn’t been possible in all preceding history.”

By choosing among 20 buttons holding archives of information, called “layers” by Google, a visitor can read logs of oceanographic expeditions, see old film clips from the heyday of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and check daily Navy maps of sea temperatures.

The replicated seas have detailed topography reflecting what is known about the abyss and continental shelves — and rougher areas where little is known.

With only 5 percent of the ocean floor mapped in detail, and 1 percent of the oceans protected, Google executives and the marine scientists who helped build the digital oceans said they hoped the result would inspire the public to support more marine exploration and conservation.

During a recent test drive of the new features at Google’s San Francisco office, I swooped in over Hawaii and dived beneath the undulating wave-dappled surface of the Pacific to explore canyons, reefs and other features that are now charted precisely everywhere that government data exist.

I also revisited Greenland, the North Pole and Alaska’s North Slope. And, in less than a minute using the Touring feature, I created a rough narrated travelogue retracing reporting assignments in the Arctic, dropping in YouTube videos for any visitor to view on location.

By hovering over Galveston, Tex., clicking on a pointer and sliding it forward along a bar reflecting years of data, I was able to watch seaside communities expand and then abruptly wash away after Hurricane Ike.

The feature powerfully conveys the increasing interplay of humans and the environment, for better and worse, as populations grow and spread.

The addition of the oceans posed many technical hurdles, not the least being the aligning of disparate data sets so water meets land in precisely the right places, Google engineers said.

Other snags will almost certainly pop up as millions of users scour the new terrain.

But many of the ocean scientists who quietly worked with Google over the last two years to pull together vast data sets are elated at the prospect of the seas’ getting new visibility, and respect.

“It’s a way of raising awareness from thousands to billions overnight,” said Richard W. Spinrad, the N.O.A.A. assistant administrator for research, who served on an advisory panel.

Barbara Block, a Stanford University biologist whose tagging projects have helped clarify the hidden lives of bluefin tuna, great white sharks and other depleted species, said the blue side of Google Earth could also increase public support for marine conservation.

“We cannot as a community conserve what we cannot see,” Dr. Block said. “We’ve worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium for years to put giant bluefin and white sharks on display, and if we’re lucky two million people a year come and see the animals and discover their color, beauty of motion and form. With the Google oceans feature, we potentially can reach hundreds of millions.” And, said Peter Birch, product manager for Google Earth, the presumption is that wherever lots of eyeballs and mouse clicks land, there is sure to be advertising revenue. In the three years since its public unveiling in 2005, Google Earth has become a mainstay of students, travelers, businesses and researchers seeking a one-stop place for posting or finding information about the world — on topics as diverse as hotels and hiking trails, species’ ranges and climate data.

In that time, the software package has been downloaded on half a billion computers. Visitors spend one million hours a day perusing Google Earth and the related Google Maps.

Some commercial Web sites, including shipwreckcentral.com and wannasurf.com, have already been actively promoting ocean activities and will now enable divers or surfers to add their own narrated, illustrated “tours” of favorite reefs or beaches to Google Earth’s layers.

Organizations seeking to reconnect people directly with nature expressed guarded optimism when the new features of Google Earth were described.

“Electronic images can boost awareness and sometimes even inspire, but there’s no substitute for direct experience in nature,” said Cheryl Charles, the president of Children and Nature Network, which seeks to end what it calls “nature deficit disorder” in modern plugged-in society. “Hopefully those exploring Google’s virtual oceans, especially children, can still find the time to get wet, as well.”

Original here

Fake parking tickets direct to malicious Web site

Posted by Elinor Mills

In a scary online-offline Internet scam, hybrid cars in North Dakota have been tagged with fake parking citations that include a Web address hosting malicious software that drops a Trojan onto the computer.

The yellow tickets found on the cars in Grand Forks, North Dakota, read "PARKING VIOLATION This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to" and gave a Web site, according to a blog posting on the SANS Internet Storm Center site.

The site referenced shows photos of cars in parking lots in that town and prompts the visitor to download a toolbar to see purported photos of the ticketed car. Downloading the executable installs a Trojan and displays a fake security alert when the system is rebooted. The fake alert prompts the computer user to install a fake anti-virus scanner, SANS said.

"The initial program installed itself as a browser helper object (BHO) for Internet Explorer that downloaded a component from childhe.com and attempted to trick the victim into installing a fake anti-virus scanner from bestantispyware securityscan.com and protectionsoft warecheck.com," wrote SANS analyst Lenny Zeltser.

McAfee's Avert Labs Blog identified the Trojan as Vundo.

The Web site listed on the fake parking citations urges drivers to download a toolbar to find a photo of their car but installs a Trojan instead.

(Credit: SANS, McAfee)
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor.

Original here

Global ATM Caper Nets Hackers $9 Million in One Day

By Kevin Poulsen

A carefully coordinated global ATM heist last November resulted in a one-day haul of $9 million in cash, after a hacker penetrated a server at payment processor RBS WorldPay, New York's Fox 5 reports.

RBS WorldPay announced on December 23 that they'd been hacked, and personal information on approximately 1.5 million payroll-card and gift-card customers had been stolen. (Payroll cards are debit cards issued and recharged by employers as an alternative to paychecks and direct-deposit.) Now we know that account numbers and other mag-stripe data needed to clone the debit cards were also compromised in the breach.

At the time, the company said it identified fraudulent activity on only 100 cards, making it sound like small beans. But it turns out the hacker managed to lift the withdrawal limits on those 100 cards, before dispatching an global army of cashers to drain them with repeated rapid-fire withdrawals. More than 130 ATMs in 49 cities from Moscow to Atlanta were hit simultaneously just after midnight Eastern Time on November 8.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against RBS WorldPay on behalf of consumers.

A nearly identical cybercrime feeding frenzy targeted payment card company iWire in late 2007. From September 30 to October 1 of that year -- just two days -- four iWire payroll cards were hit with more than 9,000 actual and attempted withdrawals from ATM machines around the world, resulting in losses of $5 million.

A similar MO was employed against Citibank account holders last year, after a processing server that handles withdrawals from Citibank-branded ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores was breached. In that case, cashers converged on New York and withdrew at least $2 million from Citibank accounts, sending 70 percent of the take back to a mysterious hacker kingpin in Russia.

Could all three breaches be the work of a single wealthy cybercrook sitting on piles of cash somewhere in Moscow? Some of the cashers in the iWire and Citibank caper are cooperating with the FBI, so we may eventually find out.

What's clear is that this is a great time to be a hacker. In just over one year we've seen these kinds of breaches go from virtually unheard of into a multimillion dollar industry.

In September, Canadian police announced the arrest of Israeli hacker Ehud Tenenbaum for allegedly penetrating the Calgary-based financial services company Direct Cash Management and increasing the cash limits on prepaid debit cards he and his co-conspirators legitimately purchased. The caper allegedly netted the crooks the equivalent of $1.7 million U.S.

Despite much-ballyhooed payment card security standards, the industry responsible for protecting our money appears to be as leaky as a sieve. But, as always, consumers aren't responsible for fraudulent withdrawals that they find and promptly report to their card issuer.

Original here

Microsoft: employee stole documents for patent lawsuit

By Emil Protalinski

Microsoft: employee stole documents for patent lawsuit
OEM makers like Dell can preactivate Windows computers that they sell.

Microsoft is accusing ex-employee Miki Mullor of using his inside access to download internal documents for a patent complaint that his startup company, Ancora Technologies, has since filed against Dell, HP, and Toshiba. The suit alleges that the companies are infringing on Ancora's patent by selling computers with Windows Vista preactivated, which is possible thanks to one of Microsoft's anti-piracy technologies, System Locked Preinstallation (SLP). When Seattle Tech Report covered this story, the publication noted that Ancora's website described the case as follows:

To secure each copy of (Windows), without burdening the honest user, (PC makers) use a technology known as System Locked Pre-Installation (SLP) to protect Windows against piracy. SLP is Ancora's technology and is covered by our pioneer patent, US Patent 6,411,941. This lawsuit is about protecting our patent rights from being infringed by HP, Dell and Toshiba. This is not David vs. Goliath. This is David vs. three Goliaths.

On January 22, Microsoft filed its own lawsuit in King County Superior Court in Seattle, which claims Mullor wrote in his October 2005 Microsoft employment application that he no longer worked for Ancora because it was out of business. Nor did he disclose when hired that he believed SLP infringed on an Ancora patent. Microsoft, which is intervening in Ancora's patent lawsuit to defend its technology (and the PC makers) against the patent-infringement claims, now becomes Goliath number four.


Mullor, on the other hand, said he informed Microsoft about his patent in his résumé and employment agreement, though he notes that Ancora had ceased business operation before he applied to Microsoft. The documents Mullor downloaded from Microsoft before Ancora filed the lawsuit included information on the SLP and the upcoming Windows 7 operating system, according to Microsoft's complaint. They were downloaded onto Mullor's company-issued laptop, after which Mullor allegedly deleted them, then tried to hide his tracks by using software that overwrites deleted files.

Mullor was still a Microsoft employee when Ancora filed the suit against the PC makers; he was hired as a program manager in the Windows Security Group in November 2005. But in June 2008, four days after allegedly trying to hide his downloading activities, Ancora filed its patent lawsuit. In September 2008, Microsoft intervened as a party-defendant in the case and fired Mullor.

The Ancora patent is dated June 25, 2002, and Mullor claims he approached Microsoft in 2003 to discuss the "benefits Microsoft could realize by using it," but Microsoft wasn't interested. He believes Microsoft developed technology that is the subject of the patent lawsuit after his offer. Mark Cantor, an attorney representing Ancora in the patent litigation, said Mullor denies any wrongdoing, and described the Microsoft complaint as "simply a retaliatory lawsuit by Microsoft to get the patent case transferred to Seattle."

The patent case is scheduled for trial in a Los Angeles federal court on January 26, 2010, but Microsoft is seeking a court order barring Mullor from any involvement in the patent claim, which would bar him from assisting Ancora with prosecuting the suit with or without the documents he downloaded from the software giant. Mullor has given a statement on the situation, which you can read most of at the Seattle Tech Report.

Original here

HP releases netbook interface for Ubuntu

by Brad Linder Feb 4th 2009
HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition
Hewlett Packard has released a custom version of Ubuntu Linux designed for netbooks. For the HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition, to be exact. Under the hood, the operating system is based on Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. That means it can run pretty much any application that runs on Ubuntu including OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird and Pidgin. In fact, it comes preloaded with all of those applications plus a few more. It's also fairly easy to install other Linux staples like image editor GIMP.

But what makes the Mi Edition software stand out is the graphical user interface which looks nothing like Ubuntu or even Ubuntu Netbook Remix. When you first boot up the Mi Edition software you're greeted with a screen with a web search engine, a list of favorite web sites, and shortcuts to your music and photos. If you click the Start New Program button, a program launcher will open that separates your applications into Internet, Media, Utilities, Work, Play, and All tabs. The settings manager shows you everything you'd find in the typical Ubuntu settings screens, but it's arranged in a new way that makes it easier to find what you're looking for with fewer clicks.

HP has also added a custom media player called HP MediaStyle that looks a lot like Apple's FrontRow. MediaStyle provides you with a simple full screen interface for navigating music, videos, and photos.



Overall, HP has created one of the best thought out Linux interfaces for netbooks. The software is designed so that users who have never used Linux should have no trouble performing basic tasks. But experienced Linux users can always fire up a terminal window by hitting Alt+F2 and entering "gnome-terminal."

The software comes preloaded on some HP netbooks. But HP also plans to post a utility on its web site in the next few days that will allow you to create a system restore USB flash disk from Windows. You can already create one if you're running Linux. You can use this utility to either restore a Mi Edition netbook to factory default settings or to turn a Windows XP HP Mini 1000 into a Mi Edition device. I would not advise anyone to try using this install disk on unsupported hardware as you'll probably end up with an operating system that doesn't support your WiFi card or other hardware.

It's not clear whether HP plans to offer the software for non-netbooks. But if you want to try adding installing the user interface over a normal Ubuntu installation, you can try adding the HP repositories and using the Synaptic package manager to install a package called glassy-bleu-theme.

Howto: Multitouch + Tethering + Task Manager for Android G1

g1-android-jailbreak

Recently the web was buzzing about how multitouch technology was implemented unofficially on the G1 Android. While admittedly it’s still not as smooth as I like it to be, its just a proof of concept and will probably be optimized over time. There are a lot of guides on how to implement it out there, am not bringing you anything new. But I haven’t seen one that actually explains the reasoning behind each step, and most guides are fragmented over multiple pages and links.

Before I start this howto, I must tell you that this hack doesn’t just give you multitouch, it actually opens up the possibilities wide open for you. You can change your theme, tether (use your phone as a wireless modem), auto-rotate, get a fully operable task manager…and much much more! So if you aren’t really interested in multitouch, this guide might also be of great value for you :)

Rolling Back From Version RC30 to RC29

g1-android-jailbreak-1

In order to get all these goodies, you need to have ‘root’ access, or in other words FULL control over your phone as an administrator. Understandably, T-Mobile has taken away root from us; because one can inadvertently ruin the whole system.

However, version RC29 had a very weird and curios bug: anything you type on the keyboard is passed onto the command shell as root! It literally interprets everything you type as command-line operations. So if you type the word reboot in an SMS and then press enter, your phone WILL reboot!
Google quickly pushed out an update (RC30) to patch up this vulnerability; but this same bug is the basis of almost all hacking going on right now on the Android. So before you can really get down and dirty with your phone, you will need to roll back to RC29 and “root your phone”.

***If you are already on RC29 then you can skip this step.***

WARNING: rolling back will erase ALL your data, settings, applications..etc. Basically you will end up with a factory phone. So I would recommend that you backup everything on your phone using an application readily available in the market called MyBackup. Backup your call log, bookmarks, SMS, MMS, system settings, and home shortcuts using the ‘Backup Data’ option. I don’t think you really need to backup your contacts since they are already available on your Google account (the cloud), plus I read complaints that restoring contacts would result in duplication, so I would just steer away from it. Also backup your applications using the ‘Backup Applications’ option. Finally backup everything on your sdcard, just drag and drop everything there on a folder on your desktop.

Once backed up,

  • You will need format your sdcard, so fire up Gparted (or any other partitioner). Delete the partition on your sdcard (in my case /dev/sdh) and create a new FAT32 partition, hit apply. If you are on Windows you can just right click on the sdcard in My Computer and format as FAT32.
  • Download the RC29 NBH file if your phone is from the US or the RC7 NBH file if your phone is from the UK.
  • Unzip RC29NBH.zip/RC7NBH.zip and place DREAIMG.nbh file on your sdcard’s root
  • Turn the device power off
  • Hold Camera button, and press Power button to enter Boot loader mode
  • After it finishes, press the trackball and perform a soft reset by pressing “Call” + “Menu” + “End” to reboot.

Once loaded, you will have the phone rolled back to RC29 and have the basic desktop you had once you bought the phone. Now remember the bug that I told you about earlier? This is where it comes in handy, press twice anywhere, then type and then again. You just launched the telnet daemon on the phone! All you need is to install a telnet client and you are the God of your phone :)!

Multitouch Courtesy of Lukehutch and Co

Lukehutch is credited for hacking the Android and getting multitouch, you can read more about it over here. But, in order to get multitouch and other goodies, you need to upgrade your RC29 phone to something called JesusFreke V1.4. It is basically the same Google operating system with a few added hacks here and there packaged into its own ‘image’ by JesusFreke. Lets start shall we?

  • Download JF’s RC30 v1.41 ROM for US users or JF’s RC8 v1.41 ROM for UK users. Do NOT unzip it! Just rename it to ‘update.zip’ (NOT update.zip.zip) and place it in /sdcard.
  • Download the modified recovery and unzip it. Place the file “recovery_testkeys.img” in /sdcard
  • In the telenet terminal we opened earlier type the following (Double check everything! You are root!)
mount -o remount,rw /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
rm -f /system/recovery.img
flash_image recovery /sdcard/recovery_testkeys.img
  • Turn off your phone and turn it on again and wait until you are fully booted onto your desktop (you must do this)
  • Turn it off again, then press the Home button and the Power button (keep holding the home button until the recovery console appears)
  • When you enter the recovery console, press ‘alt+L’ then ‘alt+s’. This will flash the update.zip file that you downloaded and placed there. Wait until it finishes and prompts you to restart. Home + Back should reboot.

Thats it! Now you got a fully modded phone with multi-touch, full root access, the full power of Busybox, and the flexibility to do much much more!

Bring Out the Task Manager

One of the main gripes I had with the unmodded version of the G1 was my inability to terminate apps that am done using. No one likes a stray app hogging their memory, and we couldn’t do anything about it! It was like having our hands tied to our backs. Not anymore! With JesusFreke image, you can install a task manager straight from the Android market! Just search for “Task Manager”

Tether The Hell Out of Your Phone

Tethering is just simply using your phone’s 3G connection on your laptop. It can be done via USB, Bluetooth, or even wireless. Here is the method I use:

  • Turn off wireless on your phone
  • Download tether-1.6.tar and place it in /sdcard via USB cable
  • Unmount the sdcard and disconnect the USB
  • In your terminal type:
su
tar xf /sdcard/tether-1.6.tar
tether start

Now go to your laptop or wireless device and search for new wireless networks. Connect to ‘G1′!

To stop tethering:

tether stop

Reading Arabic

Arabic text (and Hebrew I believe) is very troublesome. First of all Arabic is a right-to-left language, plus the way letters are drawn differ depending on the letter’s location in a word.

On the G1, Arabic text would appear as boxes and isn’t understandable at all. However, Rashed2020, a Qatari developer managed to get the G1 to recognize the text, but not the changing shapes. As a result each letter is printed separately, but at least this way you can understand what the text is saying!

  • Download Update.zip
  • Unzip and place it /sdcard
  • Turn off your phone, and turn it back on while pressing home
  • Install the image by pressing “alt+L” and then “alt+s”
Original here

TorrentSpy to Appeal in MPAA Court Case

Written by Ernesto

TorrentSpy, once the most frequently visited BitTorrent site, has appealed the ruling in their case against the MPAA. Last year, they were ordered to pay a $110 million fine after the court terminated the case, but TorrentSpy’s lawyer Ira Rothken believes that the issues at stake warrant an appeal.

torrentspyFor years, TorrentSpy has been a well known player in the BitTorrent community. In 2006 the site attracted more visitors than any other BitTorrent site, but this quickly changed in 2007 after a federal judge ruled that the site had to log all user data.

The judge ruled that TorrentSpy had to monitor its users in order to create detailed logs of their activities. Even worse, the BitTorrent site was ordered to hand these logs over to the MPAA. TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnel didn’t want to give up the privacy of the site’s users, and decided that it was best to block access to all users from the US instead. In March 2008 he went further still, taking the decision to shut down completely.

“We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the TorrentSpy.com search engine to an end and thus we permanently closed down worldwide on March 24, 2008,” Bunnel wrote in a message to users of the site. A month after this decision the case against the MPAA was terminated and his company was ordered to pay a $110 million fine, which it has now appealed.

TorrentSpy’s lawyer, Ira Rothken, told CNET News, “We’re arguing the court was wrong in procedures and wrong in judgment. In a one-hour hearing regarding discovery issues, the court terminated the case and didn’t give TorrentSpy a trial. We believe the court was wrong and abused its discretion. We believe the court ordered TorrentSpy to do things that was in violation of the site’s privacy policy and we believe that the tension between the court’s discovery orders and user-privacy rights is an important issue on appeal.”

The MPAA wont be too happy that TorrentSpy hasn’t given up the fight yet. At the time, MPAA’s Dan Glickman was very pleased with the outcome of the case, as he said: “The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios and demonstrates that such pirate sites will not be allowed to continue to operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders.”

With the appeal, filed at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, TorrentSpy aim to overturn this earlier judgment, and restore hope for other BitTorrent site owners in the US.

Original here

Bulb-Sound-Speaker puts your music in your… lamp

by Devin Coldewey

bulbsound

This is a pretty awesome idea. The Bulb-Sound-Speaker, designed by Castiglione Morelli, is, as you might guess from the name, a light bulb that’s actually a speaker. It’s powered in the same way bulbs are, via the screw-in bit there, and then there’s a Bluetooth transceiver and Altec Lansing speaker. You plug the other part of the unit into your iPod and there you have it, sound coming from your light fixture.

admin_import_bulbsoundkit_04

Now, I can see how some might think this is really dumb. But nuh-uh, you’re dumb. I think it’s great, although if you planned your house or apartment out right, there shouldn’t be any places where the sound can’t reach if you want it to. But for that study or reading chair where you’d prefer just to have a little tinny music of your own, and don’t want to wear headphones in your own house (right on!), this is a cool little gadget.

Original here

IBM to send blazing fast supercomputer to Energy Dept.

Posted by Jennifer Guevin

IBM plans to announce on Tuesday that it will supply the world's fastest supercomputer to the U.S. Department of Energy in the next few years, according to numerous reports.

Not only will the machine, called Sequoia, be the fastest supercomputer to date, it will blow the current record-holder out of the water. IBM's Roadrunner, located at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, was the first system to reach 1.026 petaflops (a petaflop is equal to a quadrillion calculations per second; the "flops" stands for floating point operations per second). But only seven months after the Roadrunner took top honors on a twice-yearly list of the world's fastest supercomputers, IBM is announcing that its successor will outdo it by an order of magnitude. Sequoia will be able to work at a staggering 20 petaflops, the equivalent of the computing power of 2 million laptops according to Reuters.

IBM says it plans to deliver the Sequoia to the Energy Department for use at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The supercomputer will run simulations to test the soundness of the nation's stockpile of nuclear weaponry, according to the IDG News Service.

With Sequoia, IBM continues to make its supercomputers more energy-efficient as it makes them more powerful. Sequoia will draw 6 megawatts of power. "Though orders of magnitude more powerful than such predecessor systems as the 100 teraflop ASC Purple (4.8 megawatts) and the 590 teraflop BlueGene/L (about 2.5 megawatts), Sequoia will be 160 times more energy efficient than Purple and 17 times more efficient than BlueGene/L (looking at cost per teraflop of computing power)," according to Lawrence Livermore spokesman Don Johnston.

Editor's note: When it was initially published, this story cited inaccurate data from another publication about Sequoia's energy usage. The units used have been corrected, and the story has been updated with more information from Lawrence Livermore.

Jennifer Guevin is assistant managing editor of CNET News. She focuses on science and green tech. But she also makes the occasional contribution to CNET's kitchen gadgets blog or writes about the latest Web distraction. Once a week, she takes the mic as host of CNET's Daily News Podcast. E-mail Jennifer.

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ClearCam Is The Rapid-Fire Way To Clearer iPhone Pictures

We've reviewed a lot of iPhone camera apps. Some, like Snapture, simply offer more features than the built-in camera software. Others, like Night Camera, use the iPhone's accelerometer to help take steadier pictures in low light. Still others, like CameraBag, lets you take a picture you've snapped and post-produce it to your heart's content.

Occipital's ClearCam also wants to help you take better pictures. But it does so in a fairly unique way. ClearCam takes six pictures in rapid succession (around 2.5 seconds), automatically picks the sharpest of the six, then -- using that sharpest shot as a baseline -- merges the frames together to generate a super-resolved 4 megapixel image. Jeffrey Powers, co-founder of Occipital, explains the underlying key to this merging thusly:

"To pull this off, it has to reliably line up images with subpixel accuracy. (In comparison, a panorama generator can get away with relatively high alignment error) As far as we know, ClearCam is unique in the super-resolution category and unmatched in its rapid capture."

Here's a typical iPhone shot:

Clearcam_image0

And here's the same view through ClearCam:

Clearcam_image1

Like most of the apps mentioned above, ClearCam requires a jailbroken phone, although Powers hinted that a "lite" version ("less the extremely rapid capture stuff") might be retooled for App Store submission. It's available in both a full-featured US$9.99 release and a free edition that removes the QuickShot mode and unlimited photo queue size.

In anticipation of ClearCam's release, Powers sat down for a Q&A with the editor of iSmashPhone.com:

  • How long did it take you to develop your app?
    We started in early November, so it has been just shy of a 3 month development cycle.
  • Did you have prior experience with iPhone development?
    No prior experience. However, the core of our app is cross-platform and written in C, and leverages our past experience in computer vision.

  • What is the average processing time to "stitch" pictures together -- and is there any difference in speeds between 2g, 3g or old and new iPhone Touch?
    It takes a little while depending on how many images are successful candidates for fusion. Typically 30-40 seconds for a good enhancement.
    Because it takes a while, we separated the capture and enhance steps. You can capture several photos and enhance them at your leisure.
    If you need a clear photo very quickly, you can use QuickShot mode, where the sharpest of 4 photos is saved immediately to the camera roll. You don't get the 4 megapixel enhancement, but this technique is still very effective.

  • Any other technical/non-technical details that you'd like to add?
    Yeah! The iPhone camera, as long as it's clear of fingerprint smudge and held fairly still, is actually a great sensor. Colors are typically excellent. The problem is that it's just not very quick to capture, and it's a crapshoot whether you're going to get a good photo or a blurry mess, even in good lighting. Once you've played with ClearCam, you'll have a lot more confidence in the photos you take with the iPhone. As far as we know, it's the only app that actually judges image clarity, and the only one that employs subpixel techniques to sharpen beyond 2 megapixels. The science behind it is pretty cool, and it'll only get better with future updates. But as a user, all you need to know is that you're going to take clearer photos that will rival a pocket-sized digital camera any day. So more than anything, ClearCam gives peace of mind about photo clarity.

    One last thing is that the multitouch UI is custom and technically supports infinitely scaled images. We might take advantage of that for an interesting Easter egg in a future update :)

Go ahead and try it out on Cydia.

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Déjà vu all over again: Apple patent hints at tablet

By Jacqui Cheng

Déjà vu all over again: Apple patent hints at tablet

Apple has filed yet another patent that describes yet another tablet-like device. The latest patent application, which was published in January, is really for a "Display Housing for Computing Device" and largely describes ways to design an external housing for a display. However, one part of the patent describes a housing for an actual computer, once again spurring speculation that Apple is planning a Mac tablet.

The patent starts off describing different ways to house a display, along with special details like a logo that can be illuminated with background light (such as Apple's glowing Apple logo on the back of its notebooks). It largely focuses on displays built into notebooks, complete with a base, hinge, frame, outer shell, and flat panel encased inside.

However, one description goes into further detail for housing an entire computer device. "[O]ne embodiment of the invention includes: a front shell; a back shell coupled to said front shell to produce said housing, electrical components for the computer device being internal to said housing; and a foam stiffener provided internal to said housing to substantially fill unused space internal to said housing, thereby providing stiffness to said housing," reads the patent.

We know; something about foam stiffener gets us all worked up inside too. Overall, this is relatively tame compared to some of the other things Apple has looked to have patented in recent years. For example, another patent application by Apple was unearthed in August that described various tablet-like interfaces, including a full-size onscreen keyboard that can use modifier keys, as well as a way to interact with multiple windows (unlike the single-window method used on the iPhone). And in November, another made headlines by describing a versatile tablet docking station that could use wireless inductive charging, over-the-air data transfer, and more.

Apple has yet to deliver on any sort of tablet-like device outside of the Newton from the days of yore and, some would argue, the iPhone. However, the company has indicated that it's at least contemplating how to best implement the idea, should the opportunity arise one day. Combined with Apple's recently-granted touchscreen device patent, all of these tablet patents seem ripe for combining into one superdevice. Chances are good that a few of them are lurking in locked, window-less rooms in Cupertino. Who knows if any of them will ever see the light of day.

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Google software for tracking mobile users coming to iPhone

By Katie Marsal

Google this morning announced new software that will let mobile phone users share their whereabouts with family or friends, and it's due to turn up on the iPhone shortly.

Dubbed Google Latitude, the technology is actually a new feature of the search giant's Maps software for mobile phones and an iGoogle gadget that can be installed on your computer.

"Once you've opted in to Latitude, you can see the approximate location of your friends and loved ones who have decided to share their location with you," Google said.

"So now you can do things like see if your spouse is stuck in traffic on the way home from work, notice that a buddy is in town for the weekend, or take comfort in knowing that a loved one's flight landed safely, despite bad weather."

The new software also ties into the company's existing fleet of communication services, letting family and friends keep in constant touch through SMS messages, Google Talk, Gmail, or by status message updates. Users can also change their profile photo on the fly.

At the same time, the Mountain View-based firm said it recognizes the sensitivity of location data and has thus built "fine-grained privacy controls" right into the application. Everything about the new Latitude is said to be opt-in, allowing users to not only control exactly who gets to see their location, but also what location they see.

"For instance, let's say you are in Rome. Instead of having your approximate location detected and shared automatically, you can manually set your location for elsewhere -- perhaps a visit to Niagara Falls," Google said. "Since you may not want to share the same information with everyone, Latitude lets you change the settings on a friend-by-friend basis. So for each person, you can choose to share your best available location or your city-level location, or you can hide."



Latitude is currently available in 27 countries on the Blackberry, S60, and Windows Mobile operating systems via google.com/latitude. In the coming days, Google plans to expand the service to its Android-powered handsets. Latitude is also coming to the iPhone "very soon" through the Google Mobile App available for download on the App Store, the company said.

Meanwhile, computer users can visit google.com/latitude on their desktop or notebook to install the Latitude iGoogle gadget and share their location right from their computer.

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Why a simple product line is integral to Apple’s success

It was reported today that Microsoft will be releasing 6 versions of Windows 7, and while the majority of consumers will realistically only be choosing between two of them, it helps highlight the difference between Apple’s approach to business, and that of other tech companies. Contrary to what they teach in business school, Apple has succeeded by limiting consumer choice, and Apple’s small product line-up has been a key factor in that success.

While other companies release an inordinate number of products in an attempt to satisfy every potential customer, Apple has kept its product line-up relatively streamlined in comparison. Not only does this make things less confusing for consumers, but it also helps consumers understand what they’re actually paying for. Everyone knew what the iPhone had to offer almost immediately upon its release. Now, imagine if Apple had released an iPhone, an iPhone Nano, an iPhone Mini, and an iPhone Pro. Consumers would have no idea where to even start, and they’d actually have to study up on all the different models before they made their purchase. Most people don’t have the time to do that, and to be honest, most probably don’t care to either.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he himself found Apple’s product lineup to be convoluted and ultimately too confusing. He even quipped that if he couldn’t figure out the difference between a multitude of hardware models, how could Apple expect consumers to do so? Naturally, one of his first orders of business was putting the squeeze on Apple’s product lineup and focusing instead on only a few products that were to be marketed at either consumers or professionals. A large number of products were axed in the process, including the Newton. As a result, Apple’s product lineup shrunk down to just four offerings - laptops for either consumers or professionals, and desktops for either consumers or professionals.

Even today, Apple’s product lineup is relatively sparse compared to the product offerings of other companies. For example, if you want an Apple laptop, you can choose between a MacBook, a MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Three models to choose from, and that’s it. Even the names Apple chooses lend themselves to making it easier for consumers to differentiate between the different models available. By way of comparison, there are a multitude of Sony Vaio laptops out on market, and if you want to figure out how they differ, you have to study the specs. How else can you figure out the difference between a Sony Vaio VGN-Z550N and a Sony Vaio VGN-CS215J/R. In contrast, the use of the words “Air” and “Pro” give potential consumers, right from the start, an idea of what the machine is, and who it’s geared for.

Apple’s simplified approach to selling computers helped re-energize the company as it forced Apple to focus on doing a few things extremely well, while not letting its talent and resources drift off in a number of different directions and projects. That narrow focus eventually led to the development of the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone - three products that together have helped Apple achieve record breaking financial and critical success. Apple understands that consumer choice is great, but too much choice can easily lead to customer confusion and frustration. It’s also worth pointing out that its easier for companies to provide quality technical support when there aren’t 15 models of a product that technicians need to be familiar with.

When it comes to product offerings, Apple’s approach to business is a lot like that of a Basketball coach. Would you rather have a smaller team comprised of only 7 All-Stars, or a full 12 man roster with 1 All-Star, 2 above average players, 3 mediocre players, and 6 benchwarmers. The Dream Team wins every time, baby.

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Computer science moves toward the Mac

Posted by Matt Asay

In a sign that Apple's Mac OS X operating system has gone truly mainstream, computer science programs like that at the University of Utah have formally announced classes like "Mac OS X Deployment v10.5" focused on administering Mac OS X.

While a quick scan of computer science courses at Harvard and Stanford doesn't reveal any Mac OS X-centric courses, and a quick Google search doesn't reveal much more, it's possible that the University of Utah, which has several OS X classes, is the vanguard for OS X's classroom uptake and a clear signal of enterprise adoption.

The description of its newest class hints at bigger and broader OS X enterprise rollouts:

On February 9th to the 11th, we will be offering Mac OS X Deployment v10.5, which covers deploying your Macintosh systems initially, deploying the OS systems for various uses, and providing updates and maintenance for the Macintosh system. For any of you who manage large Mac labs or businesses that are migrating to or integrating Macs, this would be a great class for you attend.

Universities, for all their attempts to be counterculture, tend to follow general industry trends. They have to, if they want to serve their customers. If the University of Utah is offering OS X administration courses, it's because there's a market for the classes being fed by increasing enterprise adoption of the Mac.


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

Matt Asay is general manager of the Americas and vice president of business development at Alfresco, and has nearly a decade of operational experience with commercial open source and regularly speaks and publishes on open-source business strategy. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.

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iPhone 4G Concept Is a MacBook In a Phone

By Jesus Diaz

Oh. So. Pretty. It needs some small aesthetic fixes here and there, but boy I would like to see something along these lines coming from Apple. And I like the fantasy specs too.

(Click on the image for a 1,600-pixel version)

• Titanium and Glass.
• OLED screen
• 3G
• GPS
• Front camera for iChat
• Removable battery
• 3.2 Megapixel camera
• Video
• 32 GB

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Apple Might Have Some 'Splainin' to Do

Posted By: Jim Goldman

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog about the challenges Apple [AAPL 93.55 --- UNCH (0) ] might face in what appeared to be a threatened legal battle with Palm [PALM 7.98 --- UNCH (0) ] and its new Pre touch screen smart phone. Or any other comers that Apple deemed as "ripping off" its intellectual property, as Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook put it on the company's earnings call recently.

This morning, wireless analyst Pablo Perez-Fernandez of Global Crown Capital is out with the most detailed note yet as to just how difficult — and financially dangerous — Apple's battle could be, if it decides to go after Palm.

His report this morning says that if Apple goes after Palm, it could also wage patent war against HTC [HTC 8.75 --- UNCH (0) ] , Garmin [GRMN 17.44 --- UNCH (0) ] and Research in Motion [RIMM 55.96 --- UNCH (0) ] since all of them use some form of the "multi-touch" interface, specifically the "pinching" motion to control images on the screen. However, Perez-Fernandez points out that the US Patent Office may have erred in its awarding of the Apple patent, that the firm's research indicates that Apple's own patents, indeed its technology, may be in violation of a patent already awarded to the University of Delaware, and that if Apple proceeds with threatened litigation, it may end up with no protections of any kind when it comes to the multi-touch interface for both iPod and iPhone.

I messaged with Perez-Fernandez this morning who says this all comes down to the notion of "prior art."

"That means that the invention of key element of any of the claims in the patent was published, patented, and release before this patent was filed," says.

In this case, he argues that the Bell Labs work with transparent capacitive sensors overlaid on a CRT would qualify as prior art. So would all the other patents and work from universities that use many of the same gestures that Apple has or is attempting to patent.

He says the notion of "prior art" is precisely the reason why RIM lost its case against patent holder NTP (and well over $600 million in the process.)

"In the NTP lawsuit, RIM got in hot water for not disclosing prior art to the USPTO. Failing to do so can invalidate claims in a patent," he tells me.

This all gets traced back to Wayne Westerman, and his partner John Elias, who hold the multi-touch patent.

"The key here is that Westerman's Ph.D. thesis shows he was aware of Bell Labs and other prior art and gestures such as pinching," says Perez-Fernandez.

"Also, Westerman's key patents were earned when he worked for the University of Delaware. That means, they belong to the University and some of the later patents may not be innovative enough to deserve getting granted."

And he also suggests that Apple might have a bigger target in mind than tiny Palm, still with no release date or price on the Pre.

"They are also trying to pre-empt Microsoft's use of multi-touch in Windows 7 and they are trying to trademark multi-touch, which is ridiculous since the term has been used openly for a long time."

Perez-Fernandez argues that Apple has no legal ground to stand on, and while the sabre-rattling might be rattling some competitor stocks, if Apple were to move forward with any litigation based on this, it could prove more threatening to itself than to any of its rivals.

As I have written before, this issue ain't disappearing any time soon, but if Perez-Fernandez's arguments carry some weight, Palm investors might have a little less to worry about.

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