Go to blog home page

Archive for April, 2006

By

April 25th, 2006

Quip while you're ahead

Quip while you're ahead

As you’ve probably read elsewhere, Scott McNealy has announced he is stepping aside as chief executive of Sun Microsystems. Reuters has written a tribute rounding up some of his best jibes at the competition. I particularly like his description of Microsoft’s Outlook as ‘LookOut’ because of its security flaws. When Sun’s revenue missed forecasts in 2003, he reportedly said: “We want credit for not blaming SARS or the war.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Quip while you're ahead

 

By

April 24th, 2006

HP batteries crash and burn

HP batteries crash and burn

HP has had to recall approximately 16,000 notebook batteries after reports that they have been burning and overheating. This comes after the US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a report on Thursday regarding the batteries. This isn’t just relevant to America though; this is just the latest in a series of HP recalls worldwide.

This latest setback comes just six months after HP recalled 135,000 other units. However, it seems it may be all too easy to single out HP – Dell and Apple have also had similar problems.

The batteries that HP is currently recalling are those with barcode numbers beginning L3 and may be found in HP and Compaq notebooks. Furthermore, HP Pavilion notebooks with model numbers dv1xxx, ze2xxx, HP Compaq family notebooks nx48x and Compaq Presario models V2xxx and M2xxx may also be affected.

The faulty batteries can overheat and melt or singe plastic housings posing the threat of burns and fire risk. So far, there has been one minor injury reported and 11 cases of minor property damage. Consumers who find that their batteries are in those batches affected will receive a free replacement. HP has also started a battery replacement programme on their website to deal with the returns/recalls.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on HP batteries crash and burn

 

By

April 21st, 2006

Miro, Miro off the wall

Miro, Miro off the wall

Google celebrated the anniversary of Joan Miro’s birth in 1893 yesterday by designing its logo in the Spanish painter’s style. But Miro’s family has objected through the Artists Rights Society, saying that Google incorporated elements of three copyright-protected paintings without permission. The Artists Rights Society previously protested when Google used Dali imagery in its logo. Google’s history is fraught with copyright battles, most recently with book publishers annoyed at Google’s plans to scan books. Google it seems still has a lot to learn about copyright and how rights owners expect to be treated. Which is odd, since it’s pretty heavy-handed about how Google’s own logos may be used.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Miro, Miro off the wall

 

By

April 20th, 2006

Express yourself for free with Visual Studio

Express yourself for free with Visual Studio

Microsoft has released a permanently free edition of its development suite Visual Studio Express. The package, which includes Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C# and Visual J#, was previously free for one year. Now you can use it without limitation. The suite complements SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, a permanently free database.

By making this move, Microsoft hopes to attract more amateur developers including beginning game developers. The idea is that they will upgrade to paid tools later on, and their applications will drive demand for Microsoft’s operating system.

This is perhaps one indication of the impact that open source software is having on big software corporations. Oracle last year introduced its first free database to encourage developers to begin learning Oracle and create a smooth upgrade path from free databases to enterprise scale software. That said, these developments are still very much free as in ‘free beer’ rather than ‘free speech’, with source code strictly off-limits.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Express yourself for free with Visual Studio

 

By

April 18th, 2006

Microsoft to retire Windows 9x

Microsoft to retire Windows 9x

If you’re still using Windows 98 or Windows ME, Microsoft will drop support for your operating system in July. The company recommends users buy Windows XP for continued support, which it describes as a ‘more secure’ operating system. According to Information Week, Windows 98 is only running on about 5% of corporate PCs.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Microsoft to retire Windows 9x

 

By

April 11th, 2006

"Pardon?" "I said, it's a new MP3 player for children!"

"Pardon?" "I said, it's a new MP3 player for children!"

There I was in the local record shop the other day, minding my own business, about to purchase a DVD for the weekend, when in front of me a little girl (about seven years old) was buying a CD to transfer onto her iPod.
Her dad was happy enough to complain that they should download the music rather than pay for the CD, but he didn’t once mention the damage the iPod could be doing to his little girl’s ears (assuming that she hadn’t already downloaded Apple’s software for newer iPods that allows parents to put a cap on their children’s volume.)

Ear damage from extended, high-volume use of headphones is a serious issue. More and more children are now listening to music this way, thanks largely to the proliferation of MP3 players, and they have full rein to adjust the volume to levels which could damage their ears. Manufacturers providing control software is certainly commendable, as is any source of sound advice, but such software isn’t compulsory when children purchase an MP3 player for children.

A German manufacturer called Maxfield has now made an MP3 player aimed specifically at six to 12 year olds. It features volume capped at 60 decibels to prevent children’s eardrums getting damaged. This innovative MP3 player is called the Max-Joy, and it is set to be launched in the UK any day soon. The Max-Joy also comes with external Koss stereo headphones which sit outside the ears to limit damage further still.

I think this is a thoroughly good idea. As modern technology becomes the norm for most children these days, the health implications of using mobiles and MP3s should definitely be considered.
Now, if we just went back to the good old days of Barbie and Action man we wouldn’t have to worry about such things.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on "Pardon?" "I said, it's a new MP3 player for children!"

 

By

April 7th, 2006

Cat-cha to replace captcha?

Cat-cha to replace captcha?

You’ve probably seen those online authentication tests that make you enter numbers that are so blotchy you can hardly recognise them. The idea is to stop programs from using web services that are only supposed to be available to humans, such as forums. Well now someone’s come up with an alternative to the so-called captcha. It’s kitten authentication, where you’re shown nine pictures of cute animals and have to click on the kittens. It’s highly unlikely software could correctly guess which pictures were kittens, making the method a reasonable way of identifying a basic level of human intelligence.

There is a problem though – in common with many captcha systems, this one is inaccessible. That means people who using assistive devices – and who might depend on online services more than others because of limited mobility – can’t get in. You’ll need good vision to log in to the service, even though you could probably use a screenreader or braille reader to use the service once you’ve logged in. Traditional captchas use audio recordings to get around this although that often requires external software which may be inaccessible.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cat-cha to replace captcha?

 

By

April 7th, 2006

.eu not .com if you please!

.eu not .com if you please!

Citizens of the European Union can now buy an internet domain bearing the .eu suffix and according to preliminary research this is proving to be very popular. The interest in .eu has caused speculation that this suffix will become more popular then the predominantly used .com.

Is this the end of the .com in Europe? Surely not! But it does seem that by creating .eu the European Community will strengthen its economic and commercial identity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on .eu not .com if you please!

 

By

April 7th, 2006

Take me to your leader… Or just your mobile phone.

Take me to your leader… Or just your mobile phone.

For those of you who can’t wait to see the next series of Doctor Who and take a spin in his Tardis, the BBC’s latest innovation should have you gripping the edge of your seat with excitement. It will soon be possible to download one minute mini episodes of the Time Lord straight to your mobile phone or PC.

Called Tardisodes the downloads are free, but avid Doctor Who fans will need texts to subscribe to the service and reply texts will cost in the region of 12-15p. The downloads made in Cardiff by BBC Wales and BBC New Media are part of the BBC’s TV Plus trials, providing services through broadband and digital TV.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Take me to your leader… Or just your mobile phone.

 

By

April 6th, 2006

IE IE, Oh.

IE IE, Oh.

Another week, another Internet Explorer vulnerability. This one is a gift for phishers because it enables them to open a window showing their own content while having a different domain name in the address bar. So one of those fake ebay login sites could use this technique to make the address look like the genuine ebay login address. Secunia has published a test to see if your browser’s vulnerable.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on IE IE, Oh.

 

By

April 5th, 2006

Corporates turn to unofficial patches

Corporates turn to unofficial patches

According to research by security vendor PatchLink, reported at The Register, 45% of global firms would consider using an unofficial patch for a security vulnerability. While firms appreciate the regular patch cycle of firms like Microsoft makes it easier to manage security updates, more than half of those surveyed would like a swifter response to vulnerabilities that hackers are exploiting. Microsoft has been criticised often for being slow to provide security patches, and increasingly unofficial patches are available before Microsoft’s update. IT managers install unofficial patches because they estimate the risk of the flaw being exploited is greater than the risk of installing unofficial software. As firms like Microsoft increasingly sell their software as a service and derive revenues for updates, they will need to be much more responsive if they are to compete with vigilante patches.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Corporates turn to unofficial patches

 

By

April 4th, 2006

Revamped NY Times site makes interesting reading

Revamped NY Times site makes interesting reading

The New York Times has given its website a compete overhaul, relaunching this week with a radical new design, different news and features sections, more intelligent navigation, a greater emphasis on multimedia, and a fresh approach to interactivity and community. We love it, especially the slick use of white space and the intuitive tabbed links to the snazzy new bits.

For example, the dedicated Video area puts the Beeb’s clunky use of Real Player to shame. Instead of numerous pop-ups moaning about plug-ins, incompatibilities and buffers, the NYT manages to start each video report promptly, smoothly, and in a satisfyingly larger window than is common, with no stuttering or hassle. Plus, there’s plenty of worthwhile content to view here, split into genre channels including Technology and Science.

Perhaps most intriguingly of all, there is now a superb Most Popular section, which includes ranked lists of the most emailed, most blogged and most searched articles on the NYT site (as well as an erroneous Top Movies list). It’s quite an exciting development for an American press site, so often criticised for its introverted outlook on the world, and one that immediately makes the site more appealing, open and inclusive of visitors’ opinions and interests.

We think Brits especially are going to enjoy this revamp a lot – take a look-see and tell us what you reckon

tags:

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Revamped NY Times site makes interesting reading