Google Earth rebuilds ancient Rome online

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:47 PM | 0 comments »

Google today resurrected ancient Rome online, opening a three-dimensional virtual version of the city for cyber-explorers interested in trips back through time.

People using free Google Earth software can seemingly fly past more than 6500 buildings that stood in the city at the peak of the Roman Empire in 320 AD.

Online visitors can swoop in for close-ups of structures and peruse pop-up information "bubbles" written by historians.

Some buildings feature full interiors. Internet surfers can visit the Roman Forum; linger in the Colosseum; pass through the Arch of Constantine and follow in the footsteps of gladiators in the Ludus Magnus.

Rome is the first ancient city recreated at Google Earth, an interactive online Atlas that provides tools and technology that enable people to explore the world.

To commemorate the launch, Google is inviting US educators to take part in a contest promising prizes for innovative lesson plans based on the virtual Ancient Rome feature.


FireEagle is Scary

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 8:27 PM | 0 comments »

Fire Eagle, Yahoo's new geolocation service, is fresh out of the company's Brickhouse development team, and third parties are lining up to cut deals.

Who can deny that location is going to become increasingly important for Web services? In the initial rush of coverage, MG Siegler correctly noted that Fire Eagle essentially serves as the intermediary between services offering that geolocation capability and those wishing to make use of it. (Fire Eagle's not an original idea.
There's also Loopt, a cell phone-based service that allows people to track and communicate with friends, as well as Whrrl and Brightkite.)

So this is progress? Maybe it's just my particular hangup but, truth be told, knowing that "they" (and that includes friends and family) may be watching me does not fill me with much enthusiasm. Sometimes it's comforting just being off the grid. I don't think I missed something growing up in a Fire Eagle-less world and I'm in no hurry to change now.

From a business perspective, Yahoo probably has a winner. Whether it's Fire Eagle or a better, similar incarnation by someone else, this is another signpost of a future where we choose from a panoply of location-based services. From what I understand of Fire Eagle, I can't find any evidence that it won't succeed. Already, more than 50 services make use of the Fire Eagle technology and more will follow. Unfortunately, don't you just know that some marketing go-getter is going to figure out a way to exploit location-based programs to shove targeted advertising (and spam, naturally) down our throats as we navigate around town. Again, you don't have to play. And you can shut the darned thing off for a time. Still...

The reassuring part is that Fire Eagle is permission-based. And Tom Coates, who joined Yahoo from the BBC to serve as product director at Yahoo's Brickhouse, said all the right things about protecting privacy rights at the Fire Eagle debut. The service does allow you to restrict location reporting or even shut it down for a period of time.

Without that variable privacy feature, Fire Eagle would be one more hellish intrusion into our already over-snooped, overwrought lives.

So now, Yahoo's (rightly) taking a "let 1,000 flowers bloom" approach by opening up the APIs to the rest of the Internet, and the wisdom of the free market will decide the matter. For better, or for worse. We'll see.

From: Yes, Fire Eagle's cool. It also freaks me out
By: Charles Cooper

Microsoft CEO rules out Yahoo acquisition

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 12:02 PM | 1 comments »

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer says any notion of the software giant acquiring Yahoo is a thing of the past.

Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang this week said it was in Microsoft's best interests to lodge another bid for the global internet company, after its failed bid earlier this year.

Mr Yang's comments in the US came after a proposed advertising partnership between Yahoo and Google was scrapped to avoid a legal battle with US regulators.

Speaking at a business lunch in Sydney today, Mr Ballmer said Microsoft had moved on after its rejected Yahoo acquisition bid.

"We made an offer, we made another offer, and it was clear that Yahoo didn't want to sell the business to us and we moved on," Mr Ballmer said.

"We are not interested in going back and re-looking at an acquisition. I don't know why they would be either, frankly. They turned us down at $33 a share."

Yahoo shares last traded at $US13.96 on the New York stock exchange.

However, Mr Ballmer did raise the notion of a Microsoft and Yahoo partnership in the search engine market.

"I'm sure there are still some opportunities for some kind of partnership around search, but I think acquisition is a thing of the past."

Mr Ballmer took a swipe at internet search providers, saying Microsoft saw an opportunity to "reinvent the whole darn thing".

"If anybody thinks the future of search is going to look like the present search, that's crazy.

"The user interface on search hasn't changed for six years. You still get the same dull, boring ten blue links for God's sake. Can't we do any better than that?"

The average English language search was 2.2 words because users had worked out that "search engines are so dumb that if you tell them more they actually do a worse job", he said.

"Everybody needs a good competitor, and we just want the other guys in this business to have a good competitor that they have to think about every day," Mr Ballmer said.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft boss said optimism could soften the damage of the global slowdown.

"You have got to get out of the sense of pessimism and back into a sense of optimism.

"As long as we are still in the downward spiral, where people don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, we are going to get job cuts and unemployment."

He said Barack Obama's presidential election win could be a catalyst for change.

On the local broadband debate, he simply stated high speed broadband was "very important".

"We need high speed broadband networks," Mr Ballmer said.

The federal government's process of selecting a builder for its national broadband network has repeatedly been delayed, while the potential bidders have been debating the logistics and details of the massive infrastructure project.

The federal government will contribute $4.7 billion to the project, aimed at delivering high-speed internet to 98 per cent of the population.

Sea change for father of the iPod

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 11:23 PM | 0 comments »

Apple announced on Tuesday that the employee credited with being the "father of the iPod" is stepping down from his post at the iconic California company.

Apple said iPod division vice president Tony Fadell and his wife, Danielle Lambert, who is vice president of the company's human resources department, are "reducing their roles" to "devote more time to their young family."

While the spotlight routinely shines on Apple's notoriously involved chief executive Steve Jobs, Fadell is said to be the one behind the idea for iPod MP3 players that rocketed to global success and revived the company's fortunes.

"Tony and Dani have each made important contributions to Apple over the past eight years," Jobs said in a release.

"We're sorry to see Dani go, and are looking forward to working with Tony in his new capacity."

Lambert is to leave Apple at the end of the year and Fadell is to become an advisor to Jobs.

IBM executive Mark Papermaster has been hired to replace Fadell. Papermaster's former employer is challenging the move on the grounds Papermaster is contractually restricted from working for a competitor.


Is it time to bury the desktop PC?

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 11:01 PM | 0 comments »

Quarterly sales of notebook computers have topped those of desktop computers for the first time ever in the United States, market intelligence firm IDC reported on Wednesday.

IDC said notebook sales made up 55.2 per cent of computer sales in the July to September quarter, 18 percent growth over the same period last year and the first time they have surpassed 50 per cent.

It said a record 9.5 million notebooks were shipped during the quarter.

"These figures were reached amid a relatively active back-to-school season and the burgeoning financial crisis, which captured headlines but did not immediately affect the PC market's performance," the IDC said.

"The consumer market continued to be the top driving factor in the notebook offensive but the commercial sector played a critical role too," IDC research manager David Daoud said.

"Prolonged economic tension could have an adverse effect on the PC space leading to reduced growth, but the good news is that virtually every buyer considers PCs as must-have products and not a secondary wish-list items," he added.


Report warns of terrorist Twitter dangers

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 10:33 PM | 0 comments »

A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software as potential terrorist tools.

The report by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), examines a number of mobile and web technologies and their potential uses by militants.

The posting of the report on the FAS site was reported Friday by Wired magazine contributing editor Noah Shachtman on his national security blog "Danger Room" at

The report is not based on clandestine reporting but drawn from open source intelligence known as OSINT.

A chapter on "Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter" notes that Twitter members sent out messages, known as "Tweets," reporting the July Los Angeles earthquake faster than news outlets and activists at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis used it to provide information on police movements.

"Twitter has also become a social activism tool for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts, hacktivists and others to communicate with each other and to send messages to broader audiences," the report said.

Hacktivists refers to politically motivated computer hackers.

"Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives," the report said.

"Extremist and terrorist use of Twitter could evolve over time to reflect tactics that are already evolving in use by hacktivists and activists for surveillance," it said. "This could theoretically be combined with targeting."

The report outlined scenarios in which militants could make use of Twitter, combined with such programs as Google Maps or mobile phone pictures or video, to carry out an ambush or detonate explosives.

"Terrorists could theoretically use Twitter social networking in the US as an operation tool," it said. "However, it is unclear whether that same theoretical tool would be available to terrorists in other countries and to what extent."

Besides Twitter, the report examined the potential use by militants of Global Positioning Systems and other technologies.

"GPS mobile phone service could be used by our adversaries for travel plans, surveillance and targeting," it said, noting that just such uses have been discussed in pro-al-Qaeda forums along with the use of voice-changing software.

"Terrorists may or may not be using voice-changing software but it should be of open source interest that online terrorist and/or terrorist enthusiasts are discussing it," the report said.

This Parrot Will Bring You a Lot of Fun!

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 1:32 AM | 0 comments »

The Bluetooth technology has obviously being one of the latest and necessary technology trends, which you can easily find it on the mobile phones, sunglasses and now on the motorcyclists' helmets as well.

As one of the motorcyclists, I loved to drive my bike to my workplace three times a week, where it can help me to reduce the expenses of high oil price. Well, when I'm driving my car, I can easily answer to my mobile phone calls with hands-free without even needing to picki it up.
However, it will become a difficulty if I'm driving my bike, as I need to stop at the roadside and answering my phone calls!

I knew there is something out there that can help me overcome this hassle and I've finally found it. Guys, let's meet this amazing Parrot Bluetooth, SK4000 model. This is a Bluetooth enabled earpiece, which is specially designed for the motorcyclists!

By wearing it, you can answer to any incoming phone calls without even needing to stop your bike on the roadside and you can listen to MP3 music while there is no phone call.

Yeah, I know this is a cool stuff and I have waiting for it to be released. I will keep you all inform about the release date for this Parrot SK4000 model!

Apple reports 'jaw-dropping' iPhone sales

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 8:43 PM | 0 comments »

Apple has reported a 26 per cent profit jump in the last quarter thanks in large part to sales of its new iPhone 3G which outsold the market-leading BlackBerry smartphone from Research in Motion Ltd.

Apple sold a staggering 6.9 million of its iPhone 3Gs in the quarter, more than the 6.1 million total first-generation iPhones sold. The iPhone launched July 11 and is available in more than 50 countries.

Research in Motion reported it sold 6.1 million BlackBerry smart phones in the quarter that ended August 30.

Edward Jones analyst Bill Kreher said overtaking RIM in such short order was a "tremendous accomplishment".

"It's jaw-dropping," Kreher said.

On a conference call with analysts, chief executive Steve Jobs claimed the result made Apple the world's third largest mobile phone company, based on revenues.

"But even more remarkable is this: measured by revenues, Apple has become the world's third largest mobile phone supplier. I know this sounds crazy, but it's true. As measured in revs, not units, Apple has become the third largest mobile phone supplier."

Based on revenues, Nokia and Samsung are first and second.

Apple also set quarterly records for Macintosh and iPod sales. Apple said it sold 2.6 million Macs and 11.1 million iPods, further allaying fears that the sluggish economy would weigh on Apple's back-to-school sales.

California-based Apple's profit reached $US1.14 billion ($A1.62 billion), or $US1.26 per share. Sales jumped 27 per cent to $US7.9 billion ($A11.2 billion) in the three months that ended in September.

Despite the blockbuster performance, which sent Apple's shares soaring in after-hours trading, the company issued what it called "prudent" predictions for the current quarter, because of broader economic uncertainty.

On the conference call, Jobs addressed concerns that economic weakness will eat into Apple's business through the holidays and beyond.

Jobs said Apple's customers are more likely to put off buying a new computer than to defect to other brands of PCs with lower prices. Apple, which is sitting on about $US25 billion in cash, could use the downturn to invest in research and development, he said.

"We may get buffeted around by the waves a little bit, but we'll be fine," Jobs said.

The company said Mac sales growth was hit as educational institutions cut back on computer purchases, and as regular consumers waited for news of new laptops, which Apple unveiled last week.

Apple's profit topped Wall Street's expectations, but sales missed. Thomson Reuters says analysts had expected the company to sell $US8 billion ($A11.35 billion) worth of Macintosh computers, iPods, iPhones and other gadgets, for a profit of $US1.11 per share.

iPhone a goldmine for geeks

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:16 PM | 1 comments »

The iPhone has become a virtual goldmine for budding software developers.

The iPhone App Store - like iTunes but without the music - allows iPhone users to buy third-party plug-in applications to expand the functionality of their devices.

Virtually anyone can create an application and list it on the App Store for sale or as a free download.

Games have fast become the most popular applications. Trism, a $5 puzzle game similar to Bejeweled, earned $US250,000 in profit in just two months, its creator, Steve Demeter, announced at the Mobilize conference in San Francisco last month.

Applications on the iPhone are usually small, simple ideas that can easily be built by software developers or by paid contractors for a small fee. There are more than 3000 applications to choose from so far and that number is booming as developers realise their money-making potential.

Mick Johnson, 28, born in Townsville but educated in Sydney, works as a marketing manager for an internet start-up in Silicon Valley and develops an iPhone application in the evenings.

"I don't sleep much. Sleep is for the weak," he said in a telephone interview.

Johnson's partners are two other geeks in Sydney and another in California. Their project is a tool called GasBag, which pinpoints the user's location on a map using the iPhone's built-in GPS and shows them all of the petrol stations in that area, including fuel prices.

GasBag relies on users to enter fuel prices when they are filling up or driving past a petrol station.

The app, supported by advertising, has already been launched in the US and Johnson said he was aiming to have an Australian version by next month. More than 100,000 users had signed up to the US version in under six weeks.

"We reckon we can monetise this to the tune of between $1 to $5 per user per year," Johnson said.

"We got 100,000 [users] in six weeks ... we grow at 2000-2500 users a day and that's just for the US."

Another popular iPhone app is Tap Tap Revenge, a music rhythm game in the tradition of Guitar Hero that is free to download and counts more than 2 million users. It is also supported by advertising.

Andrew Lacy, an Australian living in Silicon Valley, is the chief operating officer of the game's developer, Tapulous.

Tapulous is keeping mum on how much profit it makes but its CEO, Bart Decrem, recently told Wired that top iPhone apps made roughly $US5000 to $US10,000 a day.

New Zealand artist David Frampton's $7.99 helicopter game, Chopper, launched in July was earning Frampton $4000 a day, The Australian Financial Review reported.

But not everyone is in it for the money. Dean Robinson, 24, a web developer at the University of Newcastle, created an application called Hahlo as a way of "getting my name out there".

Hahlo is a version of the Twitter messaging tool optimised for the iPhone. It's free, contains no advertising and now services 150,000 users a month, Robinson said.

"One of the main reasons [for not placing advertising] was the limited screen space; I didn't want to fill it up with ads and push people away," he said.

Building apps and widgets for large internet and mobile phone platforms has become a thriving industry following the introduction of "applications" on Facebook, which was soon copied by MySpace.

Facebook has created an "FBFund" grant program, offering some of the best application developers between $US25,000 to $US250,000 each from a total pool of $US10 million in grant money.

On mobiles, the iPhone App Store is rivalled by a similar store for phones based on Google's Android platform. Research in Motion is also working on an "application centre" for its BlackBerry devices.

Apple, which takes a 30 per cent cut from all App Store sales, has been heavily criticised for rejecting certain applications for arbitrary reasons or because they compete with Apple's own products.

The company earned $US30 million from sales of iPhone applications in the App Store's first month of operation, CEO Steve Jobs told The Wall Street Journal.

Scientists have revealed the sharpest ever image taken of Jupiter from the ground.

The incredible image reveals changes in the gas giant's smog-like haze, probably in response to a planet-wide upheaval more than a year ago.

It was taken using a new image-correction technique that removed atmospheric blur over a two-hour observation.

A series of 265 snapshots were captured using a prototype instrument, the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD), mounted on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT).

The new images of Jupiter prove the value of the advanced technology used by MAD, which uses two or more guide stars instead of one as references to remove the blur caused by atmospheric turbulence.

'This type of adaptive optics has a big advantage for looking at large objects, such as planets, star clusters or nebulae,' says lead researcher Franck Marchis, from UC Berkeley, California.

'If it were not for MAD, we would not have been able to perform these amazing observations.'

MAD allowed the researchers to observe Jupiter for almost two hours on 16 and 17 August 2008, a record duration, according to the observing team.

Conventional systems using a single Jupiter moon as reference cannot monitor Jupiter for so long because the moon moves too far from the planet.

The Hubble Space Telescope cannot observe Jupiter continuously for more than about 50 minutes.

Using MAD, ESO astronomer Paola Amico, MAD project manager Enrico Marchetti and S├ębastien Tordo from the MAD team tracked two of Jupiter's largest moons, Europa and Io.

'It was the most challenging observation we performed with MAD, because we had to track with high accuracy two moons moving at different speeds, while simultaneously chasing Jupiter,' says Marchetti.

With this unique series of images, the team found a major alteration in the brightness of the haze around Jupiter's equator, compared with images taken by the Hubble Telescope in 2005.

The Hubble images show more haze in the northern half of the bright Equatorial Zone, while the 2008 new images show a clear shift to the south.

'The change we see in the haze could be related to big changes in cloud patterns associated with last year's planet-wide upheaval, but we need to look at more data to narrow down precisely when the changes occurred,' team member Mike Wong said.

Apple to unveil new laptops next week

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 7:49 PM | 0 comments »

Apple is expected to unveil new notebook computers, perhaps even one priced for those with tight budgets, at a "town hall" gathering at its northern California headquarters next week.

In typical enigmatic style, Apple hinted at the theme of the invitation-only event but provided no details other than that it would be held on Tuesday morning at the iconic firm's headquarters in the city of Cupertino.

Invites sent out by email bore the lone message "The spotlight turns to notebooks."

While discussing earnings with investors earlier this year, Apple executives tempered profit expectations by saying it is investing in new designs but didn't give specifics.

Apple's Macintosh computers remain a distant second place to world-dominating PCs based on Windows operating systems from Microsoft but have been gaining market share.

Analysts believe the popularity of Apple's trendy iPod MP3 players and iPhones revived the company's cachet and attracted buyers to its computers.

The internet is buzzing with rumors and unconfirmed reports that Apple will try to shake off its reputation for selling premium machines at premium prices by introducing its first model priced at less than $US1000.

"There is a possibility they might go there, but in general they have consistently played at the very high end of the market," said Gartner analyst Van Baker.

"While I would love to see Apple compete in the $US799-999 price range, based on past history I am skeptical they are going to do that."

Baker says it is more likely Apple is giving its MacBook Pro line of laptops a thinner, more industrial design that proved successful with its MacBook Air model.

Apple is expected to be shifting from plastic laptop casings to more stylish and eco-friendly aluminum.

Google bringing ads to video games

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 6:19 AM | 0 comments »

Google, the leader in online search and advertising, is muscling in on video game territory - though it won't exactly be in the form of a shoot 'em up game.

Google has announced it is launching the beta version of "AdSense for Games", a technology designed to put relevant advertising in web-based games.

It is an expansion of Google's AdSense program, which matches ads to the content of websites. Similarly, AdSense for Games will show, for example, ads targeted at young men in sports and action games. The ads themselves would be videos that players watch before or after a game, or after completing a level.

AdSense in Games lets Google offer advertisers "yet another place" to reach customers, said Christian Oestlien, senior product manager at the Mountain View, California-based company.

Google's entry into the gaming space has long been anticipated and could be a hedge against slippage in online advertising from the economic downturn. Google bought Adscape Media, a small in-game advertising company, in early 2007, less than a year after Microsoft bought in-game ad company Massive.

Google's chief rival, Yahoo, already offers ad-supported, downloadable games. Double Fusion and NeoEdge, two in-game advertising companies, are selling video ads integrated into the games.

Even so, Jameson Hsu, chief executive of San Francisco-based online gaming network Mochi Media - which is working with Google to provide in-game ads in Europe - said Google's entrance into video game ads is "validating the market."

"It's a very big milestone," he said.

The college roommate who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook is leaving the fast-growing social networking website in a matter of weeks to create a new Internet technology firm.

Dustin Moskovitz promises to remain at Facebook at least one more month before setting out to follow "another passion: making companies themselves run better."

"I didn't want to construct efficiencies, I wanted to engineer them," Moskovitz said of his vision for a new startup.

Moskovitz, who helped Zuckerberg start the social networking service in their Harvard University dormitory nearly five years ago, is taking Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein with him on the new business adventure.

"Whether I work here or not, I'll forever bleed Facebook blue," Moskovitz wrote in a message posted, appropriately enough, on his Facebook profile.

"Our new project is not a replacement for what we build here, but instead both a complement and a compliment, and we have every intention of making it feel like a natural extension of Facebook's product and purpose."

Rosenstein says that he and Moskovitz are setting out to "build an extensible enterprise productivity suite, along with a high-level open-source software development toolkit, built for the Web from the ground up."

Moskovitz said that he expects Facebook to continue doing fine without him and that his departure is merely him pursuing another passion.

"Dustin has always had Facebook's best interests at heart and will always be someone I turn to for advice," Zuckerberg said in an email announcing the move.

Moskovitz is described as a member of Facebook's technical staff on the company website responsible for internal tools and strategy.

Dumb design flaw in iPhone

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 11:25 PM | 0 comments »

An Israeli researcher Aviv Raff has gone public with security flaws in iPhone after what he terms two-and-a-half months of inaction from Apple.

Writes Raff on his blog, "I have disclosed the technical details to Apple few weeks before that post, in a hope to get those security issues fixed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, two and a half months later, and still there is no patch for those vulnerabilities. I've asked Apple several times for a schedule, but they have refused to provide the fix date."

The first is the URL display flaw in the iPhone's Mail that could allow an attacker to send a message containing a malicious URL that looks legitimate. "In most mail clients (example on your PC/Mac), you can just hover the link and get a tooltip which will tells you the actual URL that you are about to click," explains Raff in a blog post. "In iPhone it's a bit different. You need to click the link for a few seconds in order to get the tooltip. Now, because the iPhone screen is small, long URLs are automatically cut off in the middle."

This makes it possible for an attacker to create a long URL that displays a trusted domain while taking the user to another domain entirely, he explains. The user would only see the portion of the domain designed to look familiar and is more likely to click on the malicious link.

Opening the URL in the iPhone's Safari browser would not help as it too displays only a portion of the long URL.

The second bug according to Raff is in the iPhone's Mail application, which makes it easier for spammers to identify valid email accounts, and thus mark them for more spam.

Since iPhone automatically downloads all image attachments, and there is no way to disable this feature, it is easy for spammers to identify a working email account. "The spammer who controls the remote server will know that you have read the message and will mark your mail account as active in order to send you more spam," said Raff.

Raff recommends that since there is no way to disable auto-image download on the iPhone, users should refrain from using Mail until Apple patches the problem.

Raff calls this "a pretty dumb design flaw" which has already been fixed by most other mail clients ages ago.

Apple sells unlocked iPhones in Hong Kong

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 2:48 PM | 0 comments »

Apple has started selling unlocked models of its popular iPhone 3G in Hong Kong which allow users the freedom to choose the telecom provider of their choice.

The eight gigabyte version was on sale Saturday at Apple's online store for 5,400 Hong Kong dollars (about 700 US dollars), while the 16 gigabyte model was 6,200 dollars. Apple said that the phone can be activated with any wireless carrier.

The move is a shift from the US technology firm's previous strategy of tying the phone exclusively to mobile operators in each country or territory.

The iPhone 3G was previously only officially available in Hong Kong bundled with a two-year contract with tycoon Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Telecom on tarriff plans ranging from 188 to 498 dollars a month.

The gadget latest offers a touch screen, high-speed Internet browsing with third-generation network, WiFi, e-mail, GPS and an integrated music and video player.

Apple sold a million 3G models in the first weekend after its July 11 launch in 21 countries and territories around the world.

'I'm a PC' made on a Mac

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 10:35 PM | 0 comments »

Microsoft's "I'm a PC" advertising campaign was created on a Mac and the celebrity spruikers brought in by the software giant are all professed Apple fans, it has been revealed.

Hidden information contained in images from the ads published on Microsoft's website show they were created on Macs, a Flickr user revealed in a published screen shot.

Microsoft responded by quickly scrubbing the hidden "metadata" information from the images.

It issued a statement saying: "As is common in almost all campaign workflow, agencies and production houses use a wide variety of software and hardware to create, edit and distribute content, including both Macs and PCs."

The revelation is ironic because the ads are part of a broader $300 million campaign designed to spruce up Windows Vista's image and tout the PC's advantages over the Mac.

Microsoft has already run two ad spots featuring Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld awkwardly meeting in a discount shoe shop and attempting to reconnect with real people by moving in with a normal family.

But even though a third ad featuring Seinfeld was filmed, Microsoft dumped the comic last week in favour of new ads featuring more current celebrities such as actress Eva Longoria, singer Pharrell Williams and even author Deepak Chopra declaring "I'm a PC".

But all three are Mac fans, Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag revealed. Longoria owns a MacBook and Williams carries an iPhone encased in gold, while Chopra, in a column on nuclear weapons published in the Huffington Post, said it was "good to sell more iPods" as they were "entertaining and harmless".

Seinfeld used a Mac in the apartment he lived in on his namesake show and has even appeared in an old Apple "think different" ad.

The Seinfeld ads didn't mention Microsoft's products but now the focus has shifted to Windows Vista in a second wave of the campaign dubbed "I'm a PC".

The new ads are a direct attack on Apple's "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, which portray the Mac as cool and intuitive and the PC as boring and clunky.

Microsoft has ignored Apple's ads at its peril, allowing the Mac maker to own the narrative and frame the PC's image. Now the company is looking to use Apple's stereotype to its advantage.

The ads will seek to counter Apple's elitist Mac user vibe by including a slew of everyday PC users, such as scientists and teachers, espousing the virtues of their platform of choice. In one spot a diver appears in a cage surrounded by sharks holding up a sign saying "I'm a PC".

Microsoft is encouraging people to "tell us what kind of PC you are" by submitting their own videos to its website centring on the "I'm a PC" theme.

The company will choose some to display on the big screen in New York's Times Square and in its online advertising.

The first collisions between subatomic particles will take place in the giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC) next week, among fears that it might create a doomsday-like scenario for our planet.

The LHC circulates particles in a 17-mile circumference underground tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border at The European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva, Switzerland, known by the acronym CERN.

According to a report in Telegraph, although there was much uproar last week about the first particles - protons - to whirl around the LHC at a shade under the speed of light, the real aim of the exercise is to bring counter rotating beams of particles into collision in the four "eyes" - detectors - of the machine to recreate conditions not seen since just after the birth of the universe.

This is the aspect of the experiment that has triggered all the angst and hand-wringing by doomsayers and Jeremiahs, who fear that the collisions will mark the end of the world, as it tumbles into the gaping maw of a black hole.

These fears have been dismissed as nonsense by Dr Evans, along with scientists such as Prof Stephen Hawking, who say that the end of the world is not nigh.

The original plan was to take 31 days from the first proton beams circulating in the LHC to smashing protons for the first time.

"We were going along at a real good lick," Dr Evans said of the days after particles first circulated.

But, the cryogenics that keep the great machine cooled went down on Friday, as a result of thunderstorms disrupting the power supply.

"We have had problems with the electricity supply for various reasons and the cryogenics is recovering from that, so we will not have a beam again, probably until Thursday morning," said Dr Evans.

The team now hopes to achieve collisions at between one fifth and one tenth of the full energy in a few days.

"We are very confident that we can go quite quickly. The experiments have asked us for some early collisions, at low energy. If we get stable conditions, we will get there next week," said Dr Evans.

The collisions will take place in the two general purpose detectors of the giant machine, called Atlas and CMS, though Dr Evans added that the team will also attempt collisions in Alice, which will study a "liquid" form of matter, called a quark-gluon plasma, that formed shortly after the Big Bang, and an experiment called LHCb, which will investigate the fate of antimatter in the wake of the Big Bang. (ANI)

Technology and Nostradamus Phrophecy:

Hackers penetrate Hadron Collider network

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 3:17 PM | 0 comments »

Hackers claim they have broken into the computer system of the Large Hadron Collider, the mega-machine designed to expose secrets of the cosmos.

A group calling itself the Greek Security Team left a rogue webpage mocking the technicians responsible for computer security at the giant atom smasher as "schoolkids", The Times and Daily Telegraph reported.

The hackers vowed they had no intention of disrupting the experiment at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) on the Swiss-French border, they just wanted to highlight the flaws in the computer system's security.

"We're pulling your pants down because we don't want to see you running around naked looking to hide yourselves when the panic comes," they wrote, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The hackers claimed to have gained access to a website open to other scientists on Wednesday as the LHC passed its first test with flying colours, the reports said.

They appear to have tried to gain access to the computer system of the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment, one of the four detectors that will be analysing the progress of the experiment.

James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, told The Times: "We don't know who they were but there seems to be no harm done. It appears to be people who want to make a point that CERN was hackable."

Scientists hailed the success of the start of the experiment on Wednesday in the Large Hadron Collider, the 27-kilometre circular tunnel in which parallel beams of protons will be accelerated to nearly the speed of light.

Superconducting magnets will then steer the counter-rotating beams so that strings of protons smash together in four huge laboratories, fleetingly replicating the conditions that prevailed at the "Big Bang" that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago.


Physicists firing up atom-smasher

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 6:48 PM | 0 comments »

Scientists have fired the first protons into a 27km-long tunnel at the world's largest particle collider in science's next great step to understand the make-up of the universe.

Project leader Lyn Evans gave the order to send the protons into the $US3.8 billion ($A4.75 billion) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) below the Swiss-French border early Wednesday.

Scientists hope it will provide the necessary power to smash the components of atoms so that they can see how they are made.

The start-up has been eagerly awaited by 9,000 physicists around the world who will conduct experiments.

Some sceptics fear the collisions of protons could eventually imperil Earth. They took the experiment's architects to court in the US and France, believing it could create black holes in which the earth could disappear.

The collision of particles will briefly stoke temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the Sun, fleetingly replicating conditions which prevailed in split-seconds after the "Big Bang" that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago.

In this primordial soup, novel particles may lurk that will resolve mysteries clouding our understanding of fundamental matter, scientists say.

"This machine will probably bring unexpected results that could turn particle physics on its head," French astrophysicist Hubert Reeves says.

Wednesday's operation kicks off a long and cautious commissioning process, testing equipment and procedures, before experiments begin in several weeks.

When all is ready, the LHC will whiz two parallel beams of protons, one clockwise and the other anticlockwise, around the tunnel.

Superconducting magnets cooled close to absolute zero - the chill of deep space - will then steer the beams so that they converge inside four chambers, like racing cars in a chicane.

Some protons are bound to collide, and subatomic wreckage from the smash will fly into the detectors, leaving a calling-card trace of their identity.

Over the years in which will the LHC will operate, masses of data will spew from these collisions and will be closely scrutinised by universities and laboratories around the world.

The Holy Grail will be finding a particle, called the Higgs Boson after British physicist Peter Higgs, who devised the theory of its existence in 1964.

The "Higgs" would explain how particles acquire mass, and some particles are more massive than others.

The idea is that these particles exist in a sort of invisible background field. Other particles passing through the Higgs field would acquire mass, like feathers passing through treacle.

Another big challenge will be testing the theory of supersymmetry, which postulates that the members of the known bestiary of sub-atomic particles have related, but more massive, counterparts.

Such particles could explain the unsettling discovery of recent years that visible matter only accounts for some four per cent of the Universe. Enigmatic phenomena called dark matter and dark energy account for the rest.

Before the startup, internet-driven rumours said the LHC would create black holes or a nasty hypothetical particle called a strangelet that would gobble up the planet.

CERN has commissioned a panel to verify its calculations that such risks are, by any reasonable thinking, impossible. France too has carried out its own safety probe.

Melbourne University physicist Geoff Taylor has led an Australian contingent which designed detectors and shielding as well as software that triggers the collection of information.

Professor Taylor says the experiment's opponents are "completely misguided" in their stance.

"One of the things we are trying to do is create mini-black holes which scientifically would be a magnificent thing and tell us we don't live in three dimensions but that we live in nine or 10 dimensions," Prof Taylor said.

"As soon as you say there is the possibility of creating black holes you have people saying we are going to be swallowed up by black holes.

"That's where the furore has come and it's completely misguided."

Prof Taylor said the results could have a similar outcome as when Copernicus discovered that the earth was not the centre of the universe.

"That changed the whole way we looked at ourselves and realised that everything did not revolve around us - that we were just a part of something much, much bigger," he said.

He said if the experiment showed there were more than the three dimensions - height, width and depth - it could change the way we look at life.

If scientists can verify the existence of the Higgs Boson, it would be a big step in the search for a Grand Unified Theory, which aims to bring together three of the four known fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, leaving out only gravity.

"One of the key reasons for building the machine is to find out if (the God Particle) exists," Prof Taylor said.

"The existence of such a particle would give us a whole new view on the structure of the universe."

Cathy Foley, president of the Australian Institute of Physics, said particles would be smashed together at speeds that generate large amounts of energy but when compared to more everyday events they were less impressive.

"Each collision of a pair of protons in the LHC will release an amount of energy comparable to that of two colliding mosquitoes," she said.

"It's like a rice-bubble pop."

Renowned British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says he has bet $US100 ($A122) that the mega-experiment will not find the elusive particle seen as a holy grail of cosmic science.

"I think it will be much more exciting if we don't find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of 100 dollars that we won't find the Higgs," said Hawking, whose books including A Brief History of Time have sought to popularise study of stellar physics.

While questioning the likelihood of finding Higgs Bosons, Hawking said the experiment could discover superpartners, particles that would be "supersymmetric partners" to particles already known about.

"Their existence would be a key confirmation of string theory, and they could make up the mysterious dark matter that holds galaxies together," he told the BBC.

"Whatever the LHC finds, or fails to find, the results will tell us a lot about the structure of the universe," he added.

Hawking, the 66-year-old Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, was diagnosed with the muscle-wasting motor neuron disease at the age of 22.

He is in a wheelchair and speaks with the aid of a computer and voice synthesiser.

Massive Physics Experiment

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 10:02 PM | 0 comments »

Particle physicists believe they will throw open a new frontier of knowledge on Wednesday when, 100 metres below ground, they switch on a mega-machine crafted to unveil the deepest mysteries of matter.

The most complex scientific experiment ever undertaken, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will accelerate sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light and then smash them together, with the aim of filling gaps in our understanding of the cosmos.

It may also determine the outcome of novel theories about space-time: does another dimension - or dimensions - exist in parallel to our own?

After nearly two decades and 6 billion Swiss francs ($A6.6 billion), an army of 5,000 scientists, engineers and technicians drawn from nearly three dozen countries have brought the mammoth project close to fruition.

At 9.30am (1730 AEST) on Wednesday, the first protons will be injected into a 27-kilometre ring-shaped tunnel, straddling the Swiss-French border at the headquarters of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Whizzed to within a millionth of a per cent of the speed of the light, the particles will be the first step in a long-term experiment to smash sub-atomic components together, briefly generating temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the Sun in a microscopic space.

Analysts will then pore over the wreckage in the search for fundamental particles.

"We will be entering into a new territory of physics," said Peter Jenni, spokesman for ATLAS - one of four gargantuan laboratories installed on the ring where a swathe of delicate detectors will spot the collisions.

"Wednesday is a very major milestone."

The LHC is massively-muscled machine compared to its CERN predecessor, the Large Electron-Positron (LEP) collider, and an ageing accelerator at the legendary Fermilab in Illinois.

It has the power to smash protons or ions - particles known as hadrons - together at a whopping 14 teraelectron volts (TeV), seven times the record held by Fermilab's Tevatron.

The leviathan scale of the project is neatly juxtaposed by its goal, which is to explore the infinitely small.

Physicists have long puzzled over how particles acquire mass.

In 1964, a British physicist, Peter Higgs, came up with this idea: there must exist a background field that would act rather like treacle.

Particles passing through it would acquire mass by being dragged through a mediator, which theoreticians dubbed the Higgs Boson.

The standard quip about the Higgs is that it is the "God Particle" - it is everywhere but remains frustratingly elusive.

French physicist Yves Sacquin says that heroic work by the LEP and Fermilab has narrowed down the energy range at which the devious critter is likely to spotted.

Given the LHC's capabilities, "there's a very strong probability that it will be detected," he said.

Some experts are also hopeful about an early LHC breakthrough on the question of supersymmetry.

The supersymmetry theory goes way beyond even the Higgs. It postulates that particles in the Standard Model have related, but more massive, counterparts.

Such particles could explain the unsettling discovery of recent years that visible matter only accounts for some four per cent of the Universe. Enigmatic phenomena called dark matter and dark energy account for the rest.

CERN Director General Robert Aymar is confident the massive experiment will yield a correspondingly big breakthrough in penetrating these mysteries.

"It is certain that the LHC will yield the identity and understanding of this dark matter," he said in a video statement.

CERN has had to launch a PR campaign aimed at reassuring the public that the LHC will not create black holes that could engulf the planet or an unpleasant hypothetical particle called a strangelet that would turn the Earth into a lump of goo.

It has commissioned a panel to verify its calculations that such risks are, by any reasonable thinking, impossible, and France too has carried out its own safety probe.

Either way, the end of the world will not happen on Wednesday, for the simple reason that the LHC will not generate any collisions that day.

These will probably be initiated "in a few weeks" as part of a phased programme to commission the LHC, testing its equipment and evaluating work procedures before cranking it up to full strength, said Jenni.

Looking at the daily mountain of data that will have to be analysed, "it will take weeks or months before one can really hope to start discovering something new," he cautioned.

"The LHC is more than a machine. It is the intellectual quest of our age," the British weekly New Scientist said in this week's issue.

"With luck... today's physics textbooks will start to look out of date by the end of 2009."

Google's chief executive admitted Thursday there was a "defensive component" to the web search giant's launch of its own internet browser, thereby pitting it against Microsoft's dominant software.

Speaking to the Financial Times from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Eric Schmidt said: "Microsoft has a history of favouring its own applications and I can give you 500,000 pages of court testimony, document web blogs and so forth and so on about that."

Schmidt added that "there is a defensive component" to the launch of Google Chrome, the code of which will be open source so no rights will have to be paid by anyone using or adapting the software, which will be a competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the dominant internet browser.

"It is true that we actually, and I in particular, have said for a long time that we should not do a browser because it wasn't necessary," he told the business daily.

"The thing that changed in the past couple of years ... is that people started building powerful applications on top of browsers and the browsers that were out there, in particular in Explorer, were not up to the task of running complex applications."

Schmidt continued: "There is an opportunity for a platform and that platform for running these new applications is something that you can't really do on IE7 (Internet Explorer version 7), and that's the argument."

Chrome is Google's latest weapon in its bid to become the leader in all internet areas. The last major browser war was won by Microsoft when it won the battle for dominance in the 1990s against Netscape Navigator.

The move comes amid growth in browser market share by Firefox, a project of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which ironically get a large portion of its funding from Google.

According to estimates by the research firm Net Applications, Internet Explorer is used by 74 per cent of computer users worldwide compared with 18 per cent for Firefox.

Google's new browser software is designed to work "invisibly" and will run any application that runs on Apple's Safari web browser, company officials said.

The company said the new web browser, dubbed Google Chrome - a long-anticipated move to compete with Microsoft, Mozilla Firefox and other browsers - is now available for download at

The public trial of the Google browser will be available in 43 languages in 100 countries, Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management said at a news conference at the company's Mountain View, California headquarters.

"You actually spend more time in your browser than you do in your car," Brian Rakowski, group product manager for the browser project, said of the significance of offering a faster browser and forcing greater competition in the market.

Google Chrome relies on Apple's WebKit software for rendering web pages, he said. It also has taken advantage of features of community-developed browser Firefox from Mozilla. Google is a primary financial backer of Mozilla.

"If you are webmaster, and your site works in Apple Safari then it will work very well in Google Chrome," Pichai said.

Officials said Chrome's code would be fully available for other developers to enhance. A Google official said it planned to share code that makes Chrome work with WebKit openly with other WebKit open source developers.

Apple WebKit is widely used by web developers, not simply for Apple applications like the iPhone but also by Google itself with its mobile phone software, called Android.

"We have borrowed good ideas from others," Pichai said. "Our goal here was to bring our point of view but do it in a very open way," he said in response to a reporter's question.

"We don't want to live in a world where all that (innovation) is locked up and kept secret," Google co-founder Larry Page told the news conference. Page was a primary supporter of the Chrome project among Google's executive team.

Sergey Brin, Page's fellow co-founder, said Google planned to continue to work closely with Mozilla and hoped to see future version of Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox become more unified over time.

"It is probably worth noting that they (Mozilla Corp) are across the street and they come over here for lunch," Brin said of Mozzilla employees visits to cafeterias at the Googleplex headquarters. "I hope we will have more and more unity over time."

Chrome introduces various features that promise to make Web browsing faster, more secure and stable.

The browser allows users to keep working even when one of its open windows crashes.

Chrome is designed to take advantage of multi-core chips, recently offered by Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices, which allow computers to handle multiple processes simultaneously and with greater speed, Google engineers said.

Google Chrome: First Look

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:47 PM | 0 comments »

Internet search giant Google has finally made its much-rumoured entry in the browser space. After the latest releases by Mozilla (Firefox 3) and Microsoft (IE 8 beta 2), here comes Google browser Chrome.

Designed to better handle video-rich or other complex Web programmes, Chrome poses a tough challenge to browsers designed originally to handle text and graphics. Google calls the move "a fresh take on the browser" and said that it will be introducing a public trial for Microsoft Corp Windows users starting September 2.

The software, which is in beta, will be distributed for free to PC users in over 100 countries via Google's blog. The Internet search leader is also working on versions for Apple Macintosh and Linux users.

Here's looking into what all the Google browser packs.

Special Tabs

Instead of traditional tabs like those seen in Firefox or Internet Explorer, Chrome puts the tab buttons on the upper side of the window, not below the address bar.

Web programmes can be launched in their own dedicated windows.

Speed Dial

As a default homepage, the browser offers a “speed dial” feature, similar to the one in Opera browser. This gives users a view of their most visited Web pages in 9 screenshot thumbnails.

Similarly, users can also view some of their recent searches, recently bookmarked pages and recently closed tabs.

Privacy Mode

Like IE8 Beta 2, Chrome also comes with privacy mode or porn mode feature. This mode lets users create an "incognito" window where "nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged onto your computer."

This is a read-only feature with access to one's bookmarks or favorite sites.

Address Bar

The browser has an address bar ‘omnibox’ with auto-completion features. It offers search suggestions, top pages that a user visited and pages he didn’t visit but are popular.

The omnibox also gives suggests searches. The browser's search blank keeps a track of keywords in a users' previous visit, allowing one to type in, say, "cellphone" to pull up any web pages he visited recently that pertained to cellphones, say Nokia.


For safe browsing experience, Chrome will regularly keep on downloading a list of harmful sites. This is the Internet search giant's attempt to fight malware and phishing attacks.

Google also promises that whatever will run in a tab will be filtered so that it doesn't affect user’s machine.

However, users who install plugins may loose this security feature.


The browser supports multi-tasking. Just like in a typical operating system each application is given its own memory and its own copy of global data structures. Applications will launch in their own windows so that if one should hang or crash it won’t affect the others.

This will also prevent the whole browser from crashing because it’s essentially been partitioned off.

JavaScript Virtual Machine V8

Google Chrome has a new engine for loading interactive JavaScript code, dubbed V8, which is designed to run the next generation of future Web applications. V8 will speed up JavaScript performance in the browser.

What's Inside an Ipod - Secrets Revealed

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 7:30 PM | 1 comments »

Ha Ha Ha...

Funny Isnt it ?? :)

Microsoft has released a second test version of Internet Explorer 8, delivering a feature-complete upgrade to the world's most widely used web browser.

The world's largest software maker said the latest version - beta 2 - of Internet Explorer, which has a market share of about 75 per cent, comes with new features to enhance privacy, ease-of-use, and security.

Microsoft first released a test - or beta 1 - version of IE 8 in March, but that was aimed at letting web developers take a first look at the new browser. This latest version is aimed at a broader consumer audience.

The company would not disclose when it planned to officially launch IE 8 nor how many people are expected to download the test version of the new browser. It released Internet Explorer 7 in October 2006.

Microsoft has pledged to deliver more regular updates of Internet Explorer, whose lead has been chipped away by Mozilla's Firefox browser.

The latest version of Internet Explorer replicates features found in Firefox 3, the latest version of that web browser, including a "smart" address bar that remembers and redirects user to website addresses they have visited before.

Internet Explorer 8 also offers a mode called "InPrivate Browsing", which ensures that history, temporary internet files and cookies are not recorded on a user's PC.

There is also a security feature that allows a user to block content coming from third-parties trying to track and aggregate the user's online behavior.

Microsoft also updated already announced features such as "Activities", which allows a user to use information found on one page, such as an address, in conjunction with an online service such as mapping without leaving the original site.

The latest test release of Internet Explorer 8 is available for download at

Steve Jobs - Alive And Kicking

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:29 PM | 0 comments »

An obituary on Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs published on Wednesday, presenting among other things his accomplishments with the company, quickly circled the globe before the mistake could be corrected.

The blooper was caused by Bloomberg News, as its ads department was supposed to just update the premature obituary marked "hold, not for release." This update system is extremely common for many news organizations, which access and complete the information from time to time.

The first few lines provide a general view over his entire career and his most appreciated contributions to today’s technological progress. "Steve Jobs, who helped make personal computers as easy to use as telephones, changed the way animated films are made, persuaded consumers to tune into digital music and refashioned the mobile phone, has XXXX. He was TK. Jobs XXXX, TK said XXXXX. "

Bloomberg’s editors deleted the story and wrote, "An incomplete story referencing Apple Inc. was inadvertently published by Bloomberg News at 4:27 p.m. New York time today. The item was never meant for publication and has been retracted."

The obituary presents a detailed analysis of his career, from the 1976 founding of the Apple Company, to the introduction of the Mac computer in 1984, the reach of the number one spot on the music market with the iPod and many other data. There are also some quotes taken from Microsoft Corp. Co-Chairman Bill Gates’ statements about Apple’s CEO, back in January 1998: "in terms of an inspirational leader, Steve Jobs is really the best I’ve ever met […]. He’s got a belief in the excellence of products. He’s able to communicate that," and some from his fellow college dropout Steve Wozniak who back in the day focused on the engineering part and Jobs came up with the sales campaign. "Every time I designed something great from when we were very young, he would say ‘let’s sell it,’ […] It was always his idea to sell it," said Wozniak during an Intel Corp. conference in August 2008.

Aside from Jobs’ long list of accomplishments displayed in four pages, the piece discussed Apple’s stock direction and also presented a list of his survivors, which included his wife, children and sisters.

Even though many considered it a joke from the start, there were several who bought into the news, as there were some concerns about Jobs’ suffering from a reoccurrence of pancreatic cancer that he beat back in 2003. These rumors were also fueled by his significantly thinner appearance at The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. Last month, Steve Jobs addressed the health issue during an off the record talk with Joe Nocera, a New York City Times reporter, who only revealed that Jobs’ health problems "weren't life-threatening and he doesn't have a recurrence of cancer."

Jobs is considered by many analysts as the man who saved Apple, after he returned to the company in 1996. Jobs, who co-founded Apple, resigned in 1985. But he returned as CEO when Apple bought his company, NeXT. He became Apple’s permanent CEO in 2000.

Since his return, Steve Jobs has been involved in all Apple major achievements such as the launch of iPod and iTunes and the company’s transition to Intel-powered Macs. In 2006, after another speech also at WWDC, several news sites reported that Jobs has health problems, but Apple dismissed the information as rumors.

Even though Steve Jobs is looking to keep a low key on his public appearances, the plan proves to be extremely difficult, as his name keeps showing up in all sorts of situations which even though might not cause any significant harm, could become rather irritating.

Troubles for new iPhone

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:24 PM | 0 comments »

Poor battery life is proving a bane for iPhone owners.

It took a year for the love affair between fans and the Apple iPhone to sour. The original iPhone was greeted with round-the-block queues and near-universal praise. But its 3G successor has not fared quite so well. Within a short time of going on sale, complaints started to appear online from users who found the handset could not make it through the day without a recharge. The 2G iPhone was designed to last for eight hours of normal use; on anecdotal evidence, the 3G lasts about five.

On top of that, people in the US and some other countries found that their handsets kept dropping calls. Blogger Darlene McNeill claimed she went from a Nokia Series 60 phone to the 3G iPhone and back in less than two weeks because the battery life "just couldn't cut it" (

Yet in its tests with consumers, Strategy Analytics found the iPhone's battery held up well, although 3G phones generally do not last as long on one charge as 2G handsets. Standby time on the phone is average for a 3G handset; talk time is generally better.

"As a phone, it's in the right ballpark," says Neil Mawston, associate director at Strategy Analytics.

The iPhone's power problem revolves around its big selling point: how it handles data and internet access. Apple built a device that makes people want to use those services but they suck the life out of the battery. Apple was perhaps not prepared for the users who love the iPhone too much.

"Because it is such a feature-rich device, people are using more of the functions than they would on a smartphone-type device," says Doug McEuen, senior analyst at ABI Research.

"Traditional (mobile) phones have been designed to cope just with voice and SMS. The iPhone came along with lots of data-intensive applications and features and they, naturally, consume more battery power," Mr Mawston says.

Manufacturers do not yet understand how data usage affects battery life. "It is going to be trial-and-error at this stage," Mr McEuen says.

Gartner analyst Ken Delaney found a weak spot in how the iPhone deals with email pushed from servers running Microsoft Exchange.

"We seldom experienced a full day of use," Mr Delaney wrote in a report on iPhone use for business. That was with limited browsing and no telephone calls ( Note: paid-for report).

Apple is not alone. Microsoft had to fix its version of Exchange for push email on Windows Mobile because of a similar problem, according to Mr Delaney. Firmware changes are likely to address some of the applications that drain the battery and Apple urges users to keep the product up to date for this reason (

A firmware update could also solve the problem of dropped calls, although 3G experts are unsure whether the breaks in service are down to the wireless networks, the phone or interactions between the two. T-Mobile in the Netherlands at first blamed the phone, then claimed the problem is still under investigation ( In Britain, O2 says it tested the phone extensively before launch but found no appreciable difference in behaviour to other phones.

Francis Sideco, an analyst at iSuppli, says Apple and others have to go further to improve the performance of handsets and make software energy-aware. Asmore people use the data services, they are going to find their handsets running out of juice unless the manufacturers can find power savings.

With its $275million purchase of chip-design company PA Semi in June, Apple indicated it wants to have more control over the iPhone hardware, and power efficiency is the most likely beneficiary.

Allan Yogasingam, technology analyst at TechOnline, says the purchase is a major change in direction for a company that prefers to use off-the-shelf silicon, often using older parts to keep costs down.

Don Scansen, technology analyst at Semiconductor Insights, agrees: "Apple's value is all about the software. They don't need cutting-edge technology to do it."

Apple's decision to delve into processor design appears to be tied to an unusual licence deal that ARM revealed at the end of July ( Apple will not say whether it took out the licence and ARM chief executive Warren East says the mystery licensee demanded confidentiality.

An architecture licence makes it possible for designers to alter the inner workings of the processor, although they cannot sacrifice binary compatibility with other ARM cores. Almost all chipmakers prefer to buy the ready-made designs produced by ARM.

In 1995, Digital Equipment became the first company to buy an ARM architecture licence. The result was the StrongARM. This processor ran four times faster than the ARM processors but needed 40% less power to run each instruction ( PDF).

Dan Dobberpuhl, a processor designer, led the Digital team up to its 1999 sale to Intel, where the StrongARM mutated into the XScale. Founding PA in 2005, Mr Dobberpuhl recruited a number of the original project's engineers to help build the 150-strong chip-design company. Almost 15 years later, the PA team looks ready to repeat the feat.

Jim Tully, vice-president at consultancy Gartner, speculates: "If they found a way of really reducing the power dissipation such that other companies had to go to a new generation of silicon to get the same power reduction, that would allow Apple to stay on a lower-cost technology for longer."

Mr Sideco points to the new generation of multicore processors as a way of making the hardware more efficient. Apple wants its Grand Central project to improve software speed on Macs by spreading the workload across processors. In a mobile device, there is another option.

If each processor can run slower because many of them are working in parallel, you can design them to use far less power. And you can turn off processor cores completely if the phone is just ticking over.

"The car companies have done the same thing. If you are cruising down the highway, they shut down four out of the eight cylinders to save fuel," Mr Sideco explains.

But designing the new processor chip will take time.

Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group, an analyst, says: "For this sort of chip, it could take anywhere from one year to two years to get to having the first test chips. It's closer to three years before I would expect to see an iPhone that had any kind of Apple-designed chip in there."

The project could cost between $40-$60 million, he estimates.

Nokia unveils two N-series phones

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 8:48 PM | 0 comments »

Nokia has unveiled two new high-end phone models, N79 and N85, as the world's top cellphone maker battles against increasing competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung.

Both new phones, upgrades to Nokia's older models, will have 5 megapixel cameras and pre-loaded games.

Both new models will go on sale in October. The N85 will retail for 450 euros ($662), excluding operator subsidies and taxes, and the N79 will go on sale for 350 euros.

Earlier, Nokia confirmed that it plans to roll out a portfolio of touch phones across the low-to-high end of phone market.

Sources said Nokia’s first touch phone, code-named Tube, will target the mid-segment and have features that compete against iPhone 3G at a much lower price.

Nokia’s Internet services platform Ovi will have a music store, which will be loaded with regional music, sources said.

Nokia said, “We will launch touchscreen phones by December. Ovi will also be launched by then and will have a host of entertainment services, among others.”

Wireless power 'eliminates chargers'

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 5:26 PM | 0 comments »

Intel showed off a wireless electric power system that analysts say could revolutionise modern life by freeing devices from transformers and wall outlets.

Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner demonstrated a Wireless Energy Resonant Link as he spoke at the California firm's annual developers forum in San Francisco.

Electricity was sent wirelessly to a lamp on stage, lighting a 60 watt bulb that uses more power than a typical laptop computer.

Most importantly, the electricity was transmitted without zapping anything or anyone that got between the sending and receiving units.

"The trick with wireless power is not can you do it; it's can you do it safely and efficiently," Intel researcher Josh Smith said in an online video explaining the breakthrough.

"It turns out the human body is not affected by magnetic fields; it is affected by elective fields. So what we are doing is transmitting energy using the magnetic field not the electric field."

Examples of potential applications include airports, offices or other buildings that could be rigged to supply power to laptops, mobile telephones or other devices toted into them.

The technology could also be built into plugged in computer components, such as monitors, to enable them to broadcast power to devices left on desks or carried into rooms, according to Smith.

"Initially it eliminates chargers and eventually it eliminates batteries all together," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said of Intel's wireless power system.

"That is potentially a world changing event. This is the closest we've had to something being commercially available in this class."

Previous wireless power systems consisted basically of firing lightning bolts from sending to receiving units.

Smith says Intel's wireless power system is still in an early stage of development and much research remains before it can be brought to market.

Rattner spoke of technological transformations he expects by the year 2050.

"You'd like to cut the last cord," Smith said.

"It's great that we have wireless email and wireless internet and stuff like that but at the end of the day it would be nice to have wireless recharge as well."

What rivals have that iPhone doesn't

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 5:11 PM | 0 comments »

The release of 3G iPhone has once again refueled the raging mobile battle. It has renewed the fight which has been on since January 2007 (at MacWorld), when Steve Jobs first showcased his touchscreen magic to the world.

Jobs keynote address at MacWorld woke up the telecom world to a new opponent and since then the cellphone manufacturers have been on their toes to develop a formidable iPhone rival.

Almost all top cellphone makers, including the mobile giant Nokia either have an iPhone rival ready or are vigorously working on the same. Companies are leaving no stone unturned to dissuade Apple from taking over the cell phone market.

Case in point is the unveiling of Nokia N96 two days prior to Apple iPhone's official release. So, here's looking into all where and how these hottest competitors manage to score over iPhone.

3G iPhone comes in 8GB and 16GB models, and with no expandable memory. While its rivals, Nokia N96 and Samsung Omnia offer higher storage.

Nokia N96 offers memory expansion of up to 24GB. This smartphone packs 16GB of internal memory, which is expandable up to 24GB.

According to Nokia, the phone can store up to 60 hours of video or 20 full-length movies. The 24GB N96 can store up to 18000 songs and up to 20000 images.

Similarly, the Samsung Omina has same storage variants, 8GB and 16 GB, and it also allows users to expand memory.

In the days when 5-7 megapixel camera seems to have become a rule, Apple iPhone's 2 megapixel seems pale. Its closest rival, Nokia N96 boasts of 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, dual LED flash and video light. The video camera captures at 30 frames per second.

Not only this, N96 predecessor N95 also boasted of a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss autofocus lens. It has support for multiple scene bright flash, high quality VGA video recording at up to 30 fps and front-facing VGA camera for video calling.

However, missing features like video recording and optical zoom in iPhone only add insult to injury.

Samsung's iPhone wannabe Omnia too features a 5 megapixel camera. It supports auto focus, image stabliser, auto-panorama shot, wide dynamic range and face detection options.

It also supports video recording, video editing and audio and live dubbing.

The latest touchscreen smartphone from BlackBerry, Bold, though has a 2 megapixel camera, but support video recording, built-in flash and digital zoom, unlike iPhone.

HTC's Touch Diamond too has high-resolution camera (3.2 megapixel) with an optical auto-focus lens, video calling capability and auto sensor screen pivoting.

Like HTC's smartphone, Sony Ericsson’s XPERIA X1 too has a 3.2 megapixel camera with photo light. The phone is company's answer to Apple iPhone.

Another feature where Nokia's 'Killer Product' steals a march over iPhone. For music lovers, Nokia N96 has media keys, 3.5 mm headphone connector and built-in 3D stereo speakers. Users can access digital video broadcasting, wireless Internet and Bluetooth.

To engage gaming enthusiasts, there are N-gage games. Nokia N96 has support for stereo Bluetooth (A2DP), but iPhone lacks this.

Samsung Omnia too stands high on multimedia features with a TV-Out feature to playback content from the phone directly on the television screen. DivX technology enables video content transfer from the PC to the mobile.

Not just this, Apple iPhone also doesn't let users transfer data using Bluetooth and lacks regular FM and offers users streaming Internet radio. Users can only use the Bluetooth feature in iPhone for hands-free calling.

Another area where iPhone lags behind is no MMS and message forward. Users cannot simply forward text messages. Users can only send text messages or snapshots via email. Also, there is no option to send SMS to multiple contacts.

Also, while the iPhone offers the popular Google maps, the drawback is that these maps do not offer voice directions in certain countries. The N96 offers Nokia Maps 2.0 with voice directions for almost all countries.

Even BlackBerry Bold boasts of high-end multimedia features. For music and video, the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software includes Roxio Media Manager as well as Roxio Photosuite 9 LE, to edit pictures and create photo albums on the computer.

One of the biggest plus points of iPhone rivals is that they are service provider agnostic. As a user, you need not get tied to Airtel for certain period with a certain rental plan just to own them.

Most iPhone rivals, including Omnia, N96 and BlackBerry Bold can be bought off the shelves with no operator bar.

Another area where iPhone struggles to compete with rivals is no user replaceable battery. Users cannot change an iPhone battery on their own. They will have to send it to an Apple outlet for this. On the other hand, Nokia N96 offers users the freedom to remove and replace the battery.

Though Apple reportedly claims that it has intentionally left out the user-replaceable battery because it adds bulk and weight, but users may not wish to buy that reason.

However, it’s rival BlackBerry’s Bold that supports removable/rechargeable battery which provides multi-hour usage with a target talktime of approximately 5 hours and standby time of 13 days.

Unlike Apple iPhone, Samsung Omnia supports a removable battery.

Nokia touchscreen phone by Dec

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 9:10 PM | 0 comments »

Setting at rest speculations, cell phone major Nokia has confirmed it will launch a full touchscreen handset by the end of this year.

"We have been working on the Series 60 platform for touchscreen user interface and a mobile device is expected to be launched by the year-end," Nokia Spokesperson, told reporters.

The Nokia full touchscreen phone, codenamed the 'Tube' was also featured in the latest Batman movie "The Dark Knight" and will be Nokia's second full touchscreen device, the first of which was launched in 2003 but was later discontinued.

The past year has seen cellphone majors such as Samsung and LG debuting their full touchscreen mobile phones in the market after the success of the Apple iPhone.

It is widely anticipated that Research in Motion (RIM) -- the makers of Blackberry -- are also working on a full touchscreen phone, codenamed 'Blackberry Thunder'.

Nokia first unveiled the touchscreen S60 interface last October.

"The new software would allow licensees to develop devices with a variety of input methods, such as touchscreen with traditional keypad, QWERTY keyboard, or standalone touchscreen, supporting both finger or stylus optimised input," a Nokia statement had then stated.

Mobile phone maker Symbian Ltd, in which Nokia held a majority stake till a few months ago, has developed the S60 platform.

The Finnish giant announced the acquisition of the remaining 52 per cent stake in Symbian in June this year from Sony Ericsson, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Panasonic and Siemens.

"With the acquisition of Symbian, we will be able to offer our customers more innovative products and the latest technology," Kishore said.

On being asked about the Apple's OS X, the fastest growing mobile operating system, Kishore said, "Symbian is the largest mobile phone software developer globally and it is up to our customers to decide how popular and accepted our software is."

OS X recently displaced Microsoft Windows for mobiles as the number three mobile phone operating system after Symbian and Blackberry.

Google, which some time back announced the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), is also working on a mobile OS -- Android, based on the Linux platform.

A robot with a biological brain!

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 8:57 PM | 0 comments »

Meet Gordon, probably the world's first robot controlled exclusively by living brain tissue. Stitched together from cultured rat neurons, Gordon's primitive grey matter was designed at the University of Reading by scientists who unveiled the neuron-powered machine.

Their groundbreaking experiments explore the vanishing boundary between natural and artificial intelligence, and could shed light on the fundamental building blocks of memory and learning, one of the lead researchers told AFP.

"The purpose is to figure out how memories are actually stored in a biological brain," said Kevin Warwick, a professor at the University of Reading and one of the robot's principle architects.

Observing how the nerve cells cohere into a network as they fire off electrical impulses, he said, may also help scientists combat neurodegenerative diseases that attack the brain such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"If we can understand some of the basics of what is going on in our little model brain, it could have enormous medical spinoffs," he said.

Looking a bit like the garbage-compacting hero of the blockbuster animation "Wall-E", Gordon has a brain composed of 50,000 to 100,000 active neurons.

Once removed from rat foetuses and disentangled from each other with an enzyme bath, the specialised nerve cells are laid out in a nutrient-rich medium across an eight-by-eight centimetre (five-by-five inch) array of 60 electrodes.

This "multi-electrode array" (MEA) serves as the interface between living tissue and machine, with the brain sending electrical impulses to drive the wheels of the robots, and receiving impulses delivered by sensors reacting to the environment.

Because the brain is living tissue, it must be housed in a special temperature-controlled unit -- it communicates with its "body" via a Bluetooth radio link.

The robot has no additional control from a human or computer. From the very start, the neurons get busy. "Within about 24 hours, they start sending out feelers to each other and making connections," said Warwick.

"Within a week we get some spontaneous firings and brain-like activity" similar to what happens in a normal rat -- or human -- brain, he added.

But without external stimulation, the brain will wither and die within a couple of months. "Now we are looking at how best to teach it to behave in certain ways," explained Warwick.

To some extent, Gordon learns by itself. When it hits a wall, for example, it gets an electrical stimulation from the robot's sensors. As it confronts similar situations, it learns by habit.

To help this process along, the researchers also use different chemicals to reinforce or inhibit the neural pathways that light up during particular actions.

Gordon, in fact, has multiple personalities -- several MEA "brains" that the scientists can dock into the robot.

"It's quite funny -- you get differences between the brains," said Warwick. "This one is a bit boisterous and active, while we know another is not going to do what we want it to."

Mainly for ethical reasons, it is unlikely that researchers at Reading or the handful of laboratories around the world exploring the same terrain will be using human neurons any time soon in the same kind of experiments.

But rats brain cells are not a bad stand-in: much of the difference between rodent and human intelligence, speculates Warwick, could be attributed to quantity not quality.

Rats brains are composed of about one million neurons, the specialised cells that relay information across the brain via chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Humans have 100 billion. "This is a simplified version of what goes on in the human brain where we can look -- and control -- the basic features in the way that we want. In a human brain, you can't really do that," he said.

For colleague Ben Whalley, one of the fundamental questions facing scientists today is how to link the activity of individual neurons with the overwhelmingly complex behaviour of whole organisms.

"The project gives us a unique opportunity to look at something which may exhibit complex behaviours, but still remain closely tied to the activity of individual neurons," he said.

Firefox hack attack warning

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 4:30 PM | 0 comments »

Several security holes have been discovered in Firefox and other software from Mozilla.

The Thunderbird e-mail program and the Seamonkey program suite have also been affected.

Users should update their software as soon as possible once patches become available, recommends the German Federal Agency for Security in Information Technology (BSI) in Bonn.

The warning applies to Firefox versions prior to and 3.0.1 as well as to Seamonkey. In the latter case, any version prior to 1.1.11 is vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Those who do not receive automated updates can download them manually at or

No update is available as yet for Thunderbird, which is affected in all versions prior to


iPhone 3G woes a hardware problem

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 7:28 PM | 0 comments »

Spotty wireless broadband connectivity for some of Apple's new iPhones most likely results from a hardware problem introduced during mass production, a Swedish technical magazine has reported.

Ny Teknik, Sweden's foremost engineering weekly, obtained a report on tests conducted by unnamed experts that showed some handsets' sensitivity to third-generation network signals is well below the level specified in the 3G standard.

So-called 3G networks offer the promise of faster web surfing on mobile phone browsers, and make bandwidth-hogging applications like video calling feasible. Phones that access 3G networks must meet certain engineering and technical specifications, which are set and maintained by the International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based organization.

The report said the most likely cause of the 3G problems is defective adjustments between the antenna and an amplifier that captures very weak signals from the antenna. This could lead to poor 3G connectivity and slower data speeds.

The iPhone 3G, which went on sale July 11 in Australia and 21 other countries, was meant to offer faster web browsing than the year-old original model.

Since the launch of the next-generation iPhone, Apple's message boards have been flooded with complaints of dropped calls and poor 3G connectivity indicated by few or no "bars" on the phone's display.

Some users said they performed side-by-side tests and found that the iPhone had connectivity problems in locations where 3G phones from other manufacturers did not. The reports were made by users who said they lived in Australia, United States, Canada, Japan, Britain and other countries.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris declined to comment on whether the problem lies in the iPhone's hardware or software, or with the various carriers' 3G networks.

In the United States, AT&T is the only wireless provider to sell the iPhone. Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T's wireless unit, said AT&T has not received a significant number of complaints and that, "overall, the new iPhone is performing just great on our 3G network."

In an interview, Siegel recommended that iPhone 3G users sync the devices with Apple's iTunes program frequently to take advantage of improvements that may come via updated software.

Connectivity is just the latest of Apple's problems with the iPhone 3G.

Just hours before the new phones were set to go on sale, users of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's old data-synching service were locked out of their accounts when it took Apple longer than expected to get the new version, MobileMe, up and running.

On launch day, Apple's servers buckled as buyers tried to activate new iPhones in stores, while owners of older iPhones and the iPod Touch were updating and reactivating their devices at home.

Francis Sideco, a senior analyst for El Segundo, Calif.-based research group iSuppli Corp., said the connectivity problems described by users - dropped calls and the low number of bars in particular - could be caused by any of a number of parts, from the phone's antenna and amplifier and the radio frequency transceiver to the baseband that processes the digital signal and sends it to the speaker or screen.

A faulty part could cause the phone to think there isn't enough signal strength to keep a call connected, he said, and could prompt the phone to display too few bars.

Different parts from different manufacturers also vary in their ability to draw the 3G signal from the air, the analyst said, which would support users' claims that different phones held side by side show different numbers of bars.

Ny Teknik's report suggested the error was introduced during mass production. Sideco noted that cell phone chips, or the phones themselves, go through a testing and certification process before reaching consumers, but only a fraction of the chips or handsets are tested.

"We've seen this in the past before, in Motorola's Razr line. It was a very big seller, but the first version of that phone had RF (radio frequency) problems. They had to recall it, fix it, (and) put it back out there," he said.

Sideco said such a problem could explain another oft-heard iPhone 3G complaint, the shorter-than-expected battery life.

"It could end up drawing more power because now the phone thinks it's (getting a) worse signal than it actually is. When it goes to talk to the network, it speaks louder than it needs to," he said.

The analyst said similar complaints from people in more than one geographic location indicates that the problem is with the phone, not the network.

Without knowing exactly what is going wrong, Sideco could not say whether software or firmware updates could fix the glitch, or whether Apple could be facing the possibility of a recall.

Dell gearing up for iPod battle

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 6:25 PM | 0 comments »

In recent months, personal computer maker Dell has been testing a digital music player that could go on sale as early as September, the Wall Street Journal newspaper said, citing several Dell officials.

Dell's new foray would put it into an Apple-led market that has defied assaults. Companies like Microsoft Corp and Sony Corp have tried and failed to make a dent in the market dominated by Apple's iPod players and iTunes store, the Journal said.

The music player which Dell has been testing features a small navigation screen and basic button controls to scroll through music play lists, the Jornal reported.

It would connect to online music services via a Wi-Fi Internet connection, and Dell would likely price the model at less than $100, the Journal said.

Dell's first foray into the music market in 2003 was a huge disappointment. It withdrew from the music-player market after its DJ Ditty player failed to make major inroads.

This time, if the company goes ahead with the music player, the strategy is different, Michael Tatelman, Dell's vice president of consumer sales said, according to the paper.

Instead of simply selling a piece of hardware tied to someone else's music service, as it did in 2003, Dell is working on software for a range of portable PCs that will let users download and organise music and movies from various online sources, the paper added.