Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Few Crazy Sites You Might Not Otherwise See

Here are a few sites that I've found while using Stumbleupon. I Stumbledupon a posting at Listropolis and thought I'd expand on what they already had. They range from wildly amazing to completely bizarre. Just a warning most all of these sites require flash and some require Adobe Shockwave.

  1. ZoomQuilt 2004, a collaborative art project that seemlessly integrates several scenes. You zoom through some random bizzare art works. This is not the original site, but it is the original file. There is also the ZoomQuilt II 2007, it showcase new art work that is a bit on the darker side.
  2. Treasure Box, this flash based game makes you work at moving the little red object ball down through the maze. You'll need to figure out what items to click on and where. A tip, timing and positioning are key in some areas.
  3. Superbad, a collection of random images and writing, click different object on each page takes you to a different part of what I'd say is the story line.
  4. Samorost 1 and Samorost 2, this is another zanny site where as you must click the proper progression of links in order to proceed.
  5. Medijate, the site was supposedly designed to help with meditation however some of the music is a bit creepy. It does offer some cool mouseover effects and unique imagery.
  6. Nobodyhere, this site is really inexplicable, it has random musing and random thoughts that really led nowhere. But its interesting to see where it might take you.
  7. Sugar Free Ink, a progression of links takes you through some odd mainly black and white art work. The background music is pretty cool. As a suggestion instead of randomly clicking the image use the tab key to highlight links., otherwise you might be going back and forth forever.
  8. Hoogerbrugge.com, there are several odd animations featuring the character, Hoogerbrugge, performing different acts.
  9. Neave.com, featuring work from interactive designer Paul Neave. Everything on this site is absolutely amazing!
  10. ertdfgcvb.ch, this shockwave based site features some really cool effects and a few games that are pretty interesting.
  11. SpecialDeFects, is another site that is pretty indescribable. It features several things in one amazingly well designed site. Click the little white ball to change from feature to feature.
  12. DontClick.it, this site was designed to study how we interacte with web pages and the habitual use of mouse clicks. Once past the first page you should be able to navigate the entire site without a click of the mouse.
  13. dhteumeuleu.com this is great site composed of visual effects using dynamic html animation only, complete with source code. All these scripts can be used freely under under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

These are just a few of my favorites. I know there are several more great sites out there and I'd love to see some of them. So if anyone has any that aren't listed please feel free to leave a comment below and I'll check tthem out.

AC/DC Gets Their Own Version Of Rock Band

The first band to get to get its very own version of MTV's video game "Rock Band" will be AC/DC. The hard-rock icons will be featured in "AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack," an expansion to the popular music game that will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii.

The 18-song Track Pack will contain songs from AC/DC's "Live at Donington" DVD (recorded in 1991) and is scheduled to ship in November for $40; it will be released in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in December. Despite the game's designation as a Track Pack, the Wal-Mart Web site indicates that it is a "stand-alone" effort, not requiring ownership of either "Rock Band" or "Rock Band 2" (it requires instruments, of course).

Full track list for "AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack," according to Wal-Mart.com; all songs are from the "Live at Donington" DVD:

"Shoot to Thrill"
"Back in Black"
"Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be"
"Fire Your Guns"
"The Jack"
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
"Hells Bells"
"High Voltage"
"Whole Lotta Rosie"
"You Shook Me All Night Long"
"Let There Be Rock"
"Highway to Hell"
"For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)"

Source: MTV.com

Solid State Drives, Now Bigger, Better And Cheaper

With SSDs becoming more and more popular, the race to make them faster, denser and cheaper is heating up. Several companies over the last couple of weeks have made announcements of price slashes and increased drive size.

Toshiba announced on Friday a new high-density 256 GB MLC-based SSD. While not appearing to be the fastest SSD around, the drive offers good performance, a large storage capacity and a potentially low price.

The maximum sequential read and write speeds of the new SSD are claimed to be 120 MB/s and 70 MB/s, respectively. Multi-level Cell (MLC) flash memory is generally considered to be slower than single-level Cell (SLC) flash memory, but benefits from by being cheaper to manufacture. The new Toshiba 256 GB SDD uses a SATA 3.0 Gb/s interface and is available in a 2.5-inch form factor.

Also last week Super Talent Technology, a manufacturer of flash storage solutions and DRAM memory modules, launched a pair of new affordable SATA-II SSDs. Super Talent's MasterDrive SSDs are now offered in 64GB and 128GB capacities, with he 64GB model expected to retail for about $179, while the 128GB unit is expected to retail for under $300.

The MasterDrive LX is built with NAND flash and uses a SATA-II 3Gbps interface that makes it 100% interchangeable with hard disk drives. These SSDs support sequential read speeds of up to 100 MB/sec, and sequential write speeds of up to 40 MB/sec. Integrated ECC, wear leveling and bad bit management functions also improve the reliability and lifespan of these SSDs.

The race to develop faster better drives is nothing but great news for us geeks. Price will continue to fall and both storage capacity and performance will rise!

Clickjacking Vulnerability Details To Be Revealed At Hack In The Box (HITB)

Jeremiah Grossman, chief technology at White Hat Security, will discuss the vulnerability at the Hack In The Box (HITB) conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Grossman along with fellow security researcher, Robert Hansen, CEO of SecTheory, first cam forward with information regarding the clickjacking vulnerability last week. Up till now both Grossman and Hansen have kept tight lids on the details but here's the limited amount of information Grossman provided Computerworld last week:

"Think of any button on any Web site that you can get to appear between the browser walls," he said last Friday. "Wire transfers on banks, Digg buttons, CPC advertising banners, Netflix queue..., the list is virtually endless and these are relatively harmless examples. Next, consider that an attack can invisibly hover these buttons below the users' mouse, so that when they click on something they visually see, they actually are clicking on something the attacker wants them to."

In plain English, clickjacking lets hackers and scammers hide malicious stuff under the cover of the content on a legitimate site. In short of of it as an invisible film over the top of an actual legitimate site, you can't see but your browser can. So when you click the links that are there your browsers responds to the malicious code on the top layer, forgetting about the actual code underneath.

Again at this time details are very sketchy and until they release more iformation we won't know how bad the vulnerability truly is.

When asked when will the clickjacking problems be patched? Hansen had no clue, really -- although he was certain that the only sensible solution is for the browser makers -- Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, Opera, Google and others -- to build protection into their applications. "The only people who can fix this in a scalable way are the browser vendors," he said.

He and Grossman have connected with Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple so far, companies that together account for more than 98% of the current browser market share. "All are working on solutions," Hansen said, though he's unsure just how high they're prioritizing the problem.

In the meantime, Adobe Systems Inc. is working on a fix, reportedly for Flash, although Hansen refused to confirm that last week. It was Adobe that convinced the pair to ditch their planned OWASP AppSec 2008 presentation, and delay disclosing their research findings.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Google Redefines "Beta"

Over the last couple of weeks there has been loads of talk about Google and the value of products they have in "Beta". Many reports put nearly 45% of Google products still in beta version.

"Of the 49 Google products we could find, 22 are in beta. That's 45 percent," not including Google Labs projects, according to a Wednesday blog post at Pingdom, a Web site performance monitoring company. "We're so used to seeing the little 'beta tag next to the various Google product logos that we almost don't register it anymore. We even had to double-check that Gmail really still was in beta."

Traditionally “beta” has been used to designate software that isn’t ready for prime time and may have bugs, yet millions of people use the four-year-old Gmail on a daily basis and, for most, Gmail is bug free. So why call it a beta?

A Google spokesperson tells NetworkWorld, “we believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the web….” So what is that meaning you may ask, well the Google spokesperson never exactly explained what Google’s precise definition of the word beta is, but reading between the lines it would seem the company means something like “we’re still adding features.”

Following that logic one could say Google might not ever take a product out of beta. And for that matter Microsoft has never taken an operating system out of beta, as it would seem through the addition of service packs and hotfixes we are always needing to add a new feature. Which I guess isn’t really a problem, after all it is just a word — just be aware that Google has its own definition of what beta means.

Here's Pingdom's full list of Google beta projects:
• Alerts
• Blog Search
• Book Search
• Google Chrome
• Finance
• Google Health
• Patent search
• Product Search
• Scholar
• Video
• Custom Search
• Calendar
• Docs
• Gmail
• Knol
• Orkut
• Talk
• Translate
• Google Pack
• Base
• Image Labeler
• News Archive Search

Mini-ITX.com Reviews 5 Atom Mini-ITX Boards

The launch of the new low cost, low power Atom CPUs sparked a new interest in small form factor boards and builds like the Mini-ITX platform. The folks over at Mini-ITC.com review 5 very versatile boards that have the potential of being great builds for you Atom users.

5 Atom Mini-ITX Boards Reviewed
  1. Introduction
  2. Intel D945GCLF - The Original
  3. Gigabyte GA-GC230D - Overclockable
  4. Jetway JNC91 - Versatile
  5. MSI-9830 - Fanless
  6. Intel D945GCLF2 - Dual Core Atom
  7. Benchmarks and Power Consumption
  8. Video Playback
  9. Final Thoughts

From the looks of the reviews the Atom based Mini-ITX boards are off to a very promising start. I can't wait to see how some of the ITX builders out there put these boards to use.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Google Toolbar 5 Now Available For FireFox

A few months ago google launched version5 of its popular Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer, with several new features. On Friday they announced the release of Google Toolbar version for Firefox.a

In my opinion the new toolbar really isn't anything to be excited about even with its supposed "new features." Many of the features are already built into FireFox so whats the need? I mean Firefox by default use Google search, there is already an integrated spell checker and a pop-up blocker (2 features that were primary reasons to use the toolbar) so why clutter my browser with another toolbar?

Well the toolbar does come in handy for a few things. First, and the one thing as a blogger I use most, is the “send to” button. The "send to" button allows you to send any link, page, or snippet of a page, to Gmail or Blogger. This allows for easy access to adding in blog posts or simply creating a short stub of a story I'm reading for later use. I'd probably be lost without this feature. I notice in version 5 its no longer a right click option, I'm not at all happy with that. I trim down the toolbar to only have a few icons and integrate it into another toolbar in FireFox to maximize space and loved having the option of right click -send to.

Another pretty nice feature is “Google Docs”. This feature forces documents you find online to be opened by Google Docs, bypassing your office applications. Microsoft, Open Office and rich text documents are supported.

If you use Google Notebook instead of bookmarking sites like delicious.com, you might be interested in its clipping functionality. The Bookmarks are also saved to notebook and accessible remotely through other Google toolbar enabled browsers or through the Notebook website.

Finally, another of my frequently used buttons, the autofill button. This is used to autofill web forms, which is handy for online shopping, posting comments to other blogs, filling in sweepstakes or any other activity that might make you sick of inserting the same shipping and billing address over and over. You can also add in multiple profiles making it easier to switch between personalities. One for work related info another for personal.

The page rank button was always a nice feature if you are interested in seeing what the PR of sites is. This feature however doesn't seem to be working, at least not with my browser. Many of the features that I use can probably be found as other add-ons (Flock has many of them) so I very easily could live without my Google Toolbar. But for now its making life easier so I'll leave it installed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jet-Pack Man Zips Across English Channel At 120 MPH

A Swiss pilot, Yves Rossy - who goes by the name Fusion Man, has become the first person to cross the English Channel using a jet-pack. Rossy leapt from a plane with four kerosene-burning jet turbines mounted on a wing on his back. Moving at up to 120mph it took him thirteen minutes to cross the 22 miles between the UK and France.

The jet-pack wing was designed by Rossy himself, and is constructed from a lightweight carbon composite; despite measuring eight feet across, even with fuel it weighs a mere 55kg (120lb). Since having four jet turbines blaring next to your legs will do more than strip the hair from them, Rossy had to wear a flameproof suit for the attempt.

Landing is courtesy of a parachute and crossing your fingers for somewhere relatively soft and tree-free. Next on the cards is flying over the Grand Canyon, taking off from a standing position on the ground and performing acrobatics.

"Everything was perfect," he said afterwards. "I showed that it is possible to fly a little bit like a bird."

Best Geek Quotes

Here is some great weekend reading for all you geeks out there, enjoy!

  • There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t
  • If at first you don’t succeed; call it version 1.0
  • I’m not anti-social; I’m just not user friendly
  • My software never has bugs. It just develops random features
  • Roses are #FF0000 , Violets are #0000FF , All my base belongs to you
  • In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?
  • Hand over the calculator, friends don’t let friends derive drunk
  • I would love to change the world, but they won’t give me the source code
  • Enter any 11-digit prime number to continue…
  • The box said ‘Requires Windows 95 or better’. So I installed LINUX
  • A penny saved is 1.39 cents earned, if you consider income tax
  • Unix, DOS and Windows…the good, the bad and the ugly
  • A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila
  • The code that is the hardest to debug is the code that you know cannot possibly be wrong
  • UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity
  • Ethernet (n): something used to catch the etherbunny
  • C://dos
  • You know it’s love when you memorize her IP number to skip DNS overhead
  • 1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 l41d
  • Alcohol & calculus don’t mix. Never drink & derive
  • How do I set a laser printer to stun?
  • There is only one satisfying way to boot a computer
  • Concept: On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape button
  • It’s not bogus, it’s an IBM standard
  • Be nice to the nerds, for all you know they might be the next Bill Gates!
  • The farther south you go, the more dollar stores there are
  • Beware of programmers that carry screwdrivers
  • The difference between e-mail and regular mail is that computers handle e-mail, and computers never decide to come to work one day and shoot all the other computers
  • If you want a language that tries to lock up all the sharp objects and fire-making implements, use Pascal or Ada: the Nerf languages, harmless fun for children of all ages, and they won’t mar the furniture
  • COFFEE.EXE Missing - Insert Cup and Press Any Key
  • Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning
  • LISP = Lots of Irritating Silly Parentheses
  • The beginning of the programmer’s wisdom is understanding the difference between getting program to run and having a runnable program
  • Squash one bug, you’ll see ten new bugs popping
  • Everytime i time i touch my code, i give birth to ten new bugs
  • boast = blogging is open & amiable sharing of thoughts
  • We are sorry, but the number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90 degrees and try again
  • Cannot find REALITY.SYS. Universe halted
  • If it weren’t for C, we’d all be programming in BASI and OBO
  • Bad command or file name! Go stand in the corner
  • Bad or corrupt header, go get a haircut
  • Unrecognized input, get out of the class
  • Warning! Buffer overflow, close the tumbler !
  • WinErr 547: LPT1 not found… Use backup… PENCIL & PAPER
  • Bad or missing mouse driver. Spank the cat? (Y/N)
  • Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes
  • Best file compression around: “rm *.*” = 100% compression
  • Hackers in hollywood movies are phenomenal. All they need to do is “c:\> hack into fbi”
  • BREAKFAST.COM Halted…Cereal Port Not Responding
  • I survived an NT installation
  • The name is Baud……James Baud
  • My new car runs at 56Kbps
  • Why doesn’t DOS ever say “EXCELLENT command or filename!”
  • File not found. Should I fake it? (Y/N)
  • Cannot read data, leech the next boy’s paper? (Y/N)
  • CONGRESS.SYS Corrupted: Re-boot Washington D.C (Y/n)?
  • Does fuzzy logic tickle?
  • Helpdesk : Sir, you need to add 10GB space to your HD , Customer : Could you please tell where I can download that?
  • Windows: Just another pane in the glass
  • Who’s General Failure & why’s he reading my disk?
  • RAM disk is not an installation procedure
  • Shell to DOS…Come in DOS, do you copy? Shell to DOS…
  • The truth is out there…anybody got the URL?
  • Smash forehead on keyboard to continue…..
  • E-mail returned to sender — insufficient voltage
  • Help! I’m modeming… and I can’t hang up!!!
  • All wiyht. Rho sritched mg kegtops awound?
  • Once I got this error on my Linux box: Error. Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to continue
  • Once I got this error on my Linux box: Error. Mouse not attached. Please left click the ‘OK’ button to continue
  • Press any key to continue or any other key to quit…
  • Press every key to continue
  • Helpdesk: Sir if you see the blue screen, press any key to continue. Customer : hm.. just a min.. where’s that ‘any key’..
  • Idiot, Go ahead, make my data!
  • Old programmers never die; they just give up their resources
  • To err is human - and to blame it on a computer is even more so
  • (001) Logical Error CLINTON.SYS: Truth table missing
  • Clinton:/> READ | PARSE | WRITE | DUMP >> MONKIA.SYS
  • (D)inner not ready: (A)bort (R)etry (P)izza
  • Computers can never replace human stupidity
  • A typical Yahoo! inbox : Inbox(0), Junk(9855210)
  • (A)bort, (R)etry, (P)anic?
  • Bugs come in through open Windows
  • Penguins love cold, they wont survive the sun
  • Unix is user friendly…its just selective about who its friends are
  • Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity
  • Bell Labs Unix — Reach out and grep someone.
  • To err is human…to really foul up requires the root password.
  • Invalid password : Please enter the correct password to (Abort / Retry / Ignore )
  • FUBAR - where Geeks go for a drink
  • I degaussed my girlfriend and I’m just not attracted to her anymore
  • Scandisk : Found 2 bad sectors. Please enter a new HD to continue scanning
  • Black holes are where God divided by zero
  • Hey! It compiles! Ship it!
  • Thank god, my baby just compiled
  • Yes! My code compiled, and my wife just produced the output
  • Windows 98 supports real multitasking - it can boot and crash simultaneously
  • Zap! And there was the blue screen !
  • Please send all spam to my main address, root@localhost
  • MailerD(a)emon: You just received 9133547 spam. (O)pen all, (R)ead one by one, (C)heck for more spam
  • A: Can you teach me how to use a computer? B: No. I just fix the machines, I don’t use them
  • PayPal: Your funds have been frozen for 668974 days
  • 1-800-404 : The subscriber you are trying to call does not exist
  • 1-800-403 : Access to that subscriber was denied
  • Error message: “Out of paper on drive D:”
  • If I wanted a warm fuzzy feeling, I’d antialias my graphics!
  • A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking red light
  • “Mr. Worf, scan that ship.” “Aye Captain. 300 dpi?”
  • Smith & Wesson: The Original Point And Click Interface
  • Shout onto a newsgroup : It echoes back flames and spam
  • Firewall : Intruder detected. (A)llow in (D)eactivate the firewall
  • Real programmers can write assembly code in any language
  • Warning! Perl script detected! (K)ill it , (D)eactivate it
  • Firewall : Do you want to place a motion detector on port 80 ?
  • Helpdesk: Sir, please refill your ink catridges Customer : Where can i download that?
  • All computers run at the same speed… with the power off
  • You have successfully logged in, Now press any key to log out
  • Sorry, the password you tried is already being used by Dorthy, please try something else.
  • Sorry, that username already exists. (O)verwrite it (C)ancel
  • Please send all flames, trolls, and complaints to /dev/toilet
  • Shut up, or i’ll flush you out
  • Cron : Enter cron command \ Now enter the number of minutes in an hour
  • We are experiencing system trouble — do not adjust your terminal
  • You have successfully hacked in, Welcome to the FBI mainframes.
  • I’m sorry, our software is perfect. The problem must be you
  • Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurling down the highway
  • Webhost livehelp: Sir you ran out of bandwidth, User: Where can I download that?
  • If Ruby is not and Perl is the answer, you don’t understand the question
  • Having soundcards is nice… having embedded sound in web pages is not
  • My computer was full, so I deleted everything on the right half
  • You have received a new mail which is 195537 hours old
  • Yahoo! Mail: Your email was sent successfully. The email will delivered in 4 days and 8 hours
  • I’m sorry for the double slash (Tim Berners-Lee in a Panel Discussion, WWW7, Brisbane, 1998)
  • Ah, young webmaster… java leads to shockwave. Shockwave leads to realaudio. And realaudio leads to suffering
  • What color do you want that database?
  • C++ is a write-only language, once can write programs in C++, but I can’t read any of them
  • As of next week, passwords will be entered in Morse code
  • earth is 98% full … please delete anyone you can
  • A typical yahoo chat room: “A has signed in, A has signed out, B has signed in, B has signed out, C has signed in, C has signed out..”
  • When someone says “I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done,” give him a lollipop
  • Warning! No processor found! Press any key to continue
  • Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with your Microsoft product
  • NT is the only OS that has caused me to beat a piece of hardware to death with my bare hands
  • Warning! Kernel crashed, Run for your lives !
  • NASA uses Windows? Oh great. If Apollo 13 went off course today the manual would just tell them to open the airlock, flush the astronauts out, and re-install new one
  • JavaScript: An authorizing language designed to make Netscape crash
  • How’s my programming? Call 1-800-DEV-NULL
  • Yes, friends and neighbors, boys and girls - my PC speaker crashed NT
  • root:> Sorry, you entered the wrong password, the correct password is ‘a_49qwXk’
  • New linux package released. Please install on /dev/null
  • Quake and uptime do not like each other
  • Unix…best if used before: Tue Jan 19 03:14:08 GMT 2038
  • As you well know, magic and weapons are prohibited inside the cafeteria — Final Fantasy VIII
  • Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft…and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labo
  • Unix is the only virus with a command line interface
  • Windows 95 makes Unix look like an operating system
  • How are we supposed to hack your system if it’s always down!
  • God is real, unless declared integer
  • I’m tempted to buy the slashdot staff a grammar checker. What do they do for 40 hours a week?
  • Paypal : Please enter your credit card number to continue
  • It takes a million monkeys at typewriters to write Shakespeare, but only a dozen monkeys at computers to run Network Solutions
  • Please help - firewall burnt down - lost packet - reward $$$
  • If Linux were a beer, it would be shipped in open barrels so that anybody could piss in it before delivery
  • Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle
  • Perl, the only language that looks the same before and after RSA encryption
  • Norton: Incoming virus - (D)ownload and save (R)un after download
  • I had a dream… and there were 1’s and 0’s everywhere, and I think I saw a 2!
  • You sir, are an unknown USB device driver
  • C isn’t that hard: void (*(*f[])())() defines f as an array of unspecified size, of pointers to functions that return pointers to functions that return void

20 Great Temporary And Disposable Email Sites

If you are like me you visit literally hundreds of sites a day many of which require an email address for various reasons. Why bother giving out your person email address only to be hit with tons of spam when you can give them a temporary one that works just as well (in most cases).

The sites listed below are perfect for creating one-off “use them and toss them” addresses. All of them are totally free and most need no registration or sign up. Simply create an address and check your mail via the website, rss feed, a widget, your browser or in some cases you can have them forwarded to your real inbox.

  1. Mailinator is one of the best and top rated disposable email services that gives you a temporary mailbox on the following address format e.g. something@mailinator.com

  2. MyTrashMail is another good temporary mail service that gives you a mailbox in the address format e.g. something@trashymail.com and also gives you secure temporary mailbox if you signup

  3. MailExpire stands out in the crowd by giving you the option to have a temporary inbox ranging from 12 hours expiry to as long as 3 months

  4. TemporaryInbox is yet another simple and easy to use temporary email service that gives you an email address in different formats

  5. MailEater gives you a free temporary email inbox in the format e.g. something@MailEater.com

  6. Jetable not only allows you to set the life span of your temporary email inbox but also allows you to forward the mails in your temporary inbox to your real email address

  7. SpamBox gives you a temporary email address in the format e.g. something@spambox.us and also allows you to set the lifespan of your inbox

  8. GuerillaMail lets you generate a temporary email which expires in a time of 15 minutes and also tell you how to offer a temporary email service on your site.

  9. SpamHole provides you a 2 hour long temporary email inbox at the address format e.g. something@spamhole.com

  10. 10MinuteMail generates an easy 10 minute email inbox for your temporary email needs

  11. DontReg is one bigger, better, faster and safer temporary email inbox solution
  12. TempoMail is one new temporary email inbox services that give you spam-free mailbox

  13. TempEmail aims to give you a fast, anonymous yet secure temporary email inbox

  14. PookMail is a multi-language temporary email inbox service that gives an email address in the format e.g. something@pookmail.com

  15. SpamFree24 is a new multi-domain temporary email inbox service which is growing rapidly

  16. KasMail requires registration, allows up to 25 aliases, can set aliases to expire after a certain amount of time.

  17. SpamMotelrequires registration, provides mail forwarding, mail can be accessed through desktop e-mail clients, can reply to e-mail from your real e-mail address using SpamMotel e-mail.

  18. GreenSloth requires no registration, receive-only, e-mail expires automatically after a week

  19. AnonInbox requires no registration, simple, no frills.

  20. Spam.la is a fast disposable email service which requires no registration, no frills. You can see all spam being sent to all Spam.la accounts, or just your own.

5 Apps For Painless Windows Reformats

We've all gone through that pain stacking process have reinstalling windows here are 5 great apps that make things a little less painful and save a ton of time.

  1. Nlite - This nifty little tool is so useful in so many ways. You can create your own customized installations of either XP or Vista ( VLite for Vista) with all the latest service packs and updates. Extract your CD's contents to a folder, track down the newest service pack run N/VLite on, fill in the blanks and you are done. You can even set it up to make an unattended install so you don't have to sit and watch the timer. I'd also suggest you grab some application addons from Winaddons, the more you pack onto your new disk now the less you'll be doin later.
  2. DriverMax. After going through the install process, the first thing you need to is get a complete set of functional drivers. Running DriverMax before the format lets you back up all the drivers on a system. It's a great app, and it even loads drivers for non-present devices - meaning that webcam or printer that isn't currently attached won't need to be installed later.

  3. Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. I know I know its a Microsoft tool, but the file and settings transfer utility works extremely well, and I've never had a problem.

    Copy the USMT folder from the computer's c:\windows\system32\ and save it to a USB drive. Alternatively, do what the wizard wants you do and create a wizard disk. Run the exe from there both before and after the reformat. It's critical to use the exact same version of the executable to avoid problems.
  4. WPI. This one might be a bit redundant as you can slipstream a lot of installers into your installation disk but it deserves a mention. I personally have yet yo use WPI but I've been told its a great tool and I really can't wait to try it out. The Windows post install makes post-reformat application installs seamless. Add your favorite apps in a folder and set up their silent switches in the WPI configuration page, check a few boxes push a button and you're done.

    The tutorial at the WPIW site looks excellent and it looks like its a fairly easy app to use.

  5. PING (Parition Image is Not Ghost). Now that you've got your clean install create an image of your drive so you don't have to go through all this again. Imaging saves all kinds of hassles and external hard drives are dirt cheap so there isn't much reason not to.

I also wanted to mention AutoPatcher. AutoPatcher is an all-in-one tool with the latest updates and hotfixes from Microsoft. Sometimes its hard to find a place to download these to add them to your custom installation CD. that is where AutoPatcher comes in, they've done all the work for you. AutoPatcher also comes with some of the latest components such as Messenger, dot net ect.

Windows 7 Arriving Early Microsoft to Show Off New OS on October 28

Microsoft has confirmed that attendees of its two forthcoming developer conferences get an early version of Windows 7, the next version of its desktop client.

Microsoft is indeed planning to debut Windows 7 ahead of schedule. The company will take the wraps off Windows 7 on October 28, when Senior Vice President of Windows Steven Sinofsky will show off the next-generation OS during a keynote at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

The company made the news official on a blog for the Professional Developer Conference (PDC), the following week will be the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), also in Los Angeles, and those attendees will also get the early beta.

"At this year’s PDC, keynote attendees will be among the first to receive the pre-beta build of Windows 7. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to attend 21 different sessions that drill down into the details of developing for Windows 7," wrote Denise Begley, a Microsoft marketing manager.

As for what you can expect, leaked screenshots posted earlier this month showed an interface that looks much like Vista, and official previews from the Windows 7 blog confirm those suspicions. Windows 7 will be based on the same kernel that’s in Vista, though Microsoft has promised the usual “enhancements” as well as possible speed bumps. While the OS may not have too much to offer in the way of exciting new features, there is one upside if you are comfortably running Vista at this time Windows 7 probably won’t require that you purchase new hardware, unlike its predecessor.

As usual Microsoft is trying to keep a tight lid on any possible new features but they have confirmed that Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker — won’t be part of Windows 7. Instead, the company plans to push the Windows Live equivalents as downloadable add-ons.

By cutting out the bloat hopefully Microsoft has decreased the install times as well as the overall footprint of the operating system.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

EA Sued Over Spore DRM

GameSpot reports that a class action lawsuit filed in US District Court contends that the game publishers hide the fact that the game installs irremovable SecuROM, violating two California laws.

"Although consumers are told that the game uses access control and copy protection technology, consumers are not told that this technology is actually an entirely separate, stand-alone program which will download, install and operate on their computers along with the Spore download," the complaint reads (you can read the full PDF document here).

The suit accuses EA of "intentionally" hiding the fact Spore uses SecurROM, which it alleges is "secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel) and [is] surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation of the computer, and preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations." The suit also claims the SecurROM takes over a portion of the PC's processing resources "to transmit information back to EA."

The filing asks the judge to certify the action as a class action, and award anyone in it damages equal to the purchase price of Spore and "actual damages, statutory damages, or treble damages." Given Spore's success, paying back thrice its $49.99 price tag could prove costly for EA.

According to TorrentFreak, Spore has earned the title most pirated game, and gauged strictly by the number of illegal downloads of the title, EA has already lost over $25 million in sales. Yesterday, EA said Spore has sold over a million copies since its September 7 release.

California Bans Texting While Driving

Drivers will be banned from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle starting Jan. 1 under a bill Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Wednesday.

California has already banned drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving essentially requiring them to use hands-free headsets in the car. That law already banned juvenile drivers from sending text messages while driving, but it did not prohibit adults from doing so.

The new law, Senate Bill 28 by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, bans drivers from using their phones to any type of electronic messages. This includes text, email or instant messages. Drivers caught sending messages while driving will face fines of $76 for a first offense, including state and local fees.

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.
(b) As used in this section "write, send, or read a text-based
communication" means using an electronic wireless communications device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.

"Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving," Schwarzenegger said in a release. "Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Digg Raises Another $28.7 Million

Digg has announced a new round of funding today to the tune of $28.7 million. This brings their total funding to $40 million. Digg CEO Jay Adelson notes that the funding will be used to expand the Digg team and move the larger team to a new office in San Francisco. Adelson also notes that currently they are at 30 million unique visitors monthly and that half of those users are non-U.S. Digg will put resources against meeting local user needs in other countries. There will also be investment into architecture - something I think Digg does a great job with.

The funding comes from existing venture backers Greylock Partners, Silicon Valley Bank and the Omidyar Network and was led by new investor Highland Capital Partners. It certainly seems like a lot of money - perhaps they are hunkering down for the potentially bad financial times.

Digg has seen many rumors floating around with regards to acquisitions over the past 18 months including Google and Microsoft.

Source: CenterNetworks

Thermaltake Xpressar RCS100 The PC Case With A Fridge

Thermaltake has officially announced the Xpressar RCS100; the world’s first DC-inverter-type micro-refrigeration cooling system for a PC.

Essentially what Thermaltake has done is combine its Xaser VI computer case with a minimized compressor that is widely applied in air conditioners and refrigerators to cool the extreme heating sources of our systems.

Apparently, the Xpressar RCS100 was able to cool an Intel Core 2 intel core 2 Duo E8400, which had been overclocked to 4.05 GHz, down to 35-degrees Celsius. Thermaltake claims that the Xpressar will keep your systems 20-degrees cooler than the average water-cooling system. As well, with a single 120 mm fan running at 1600 RPM, the noise in the system is claimed to be a near inaudible 20 dB. Somehow it seems hard to believe that the system’s condenser pump would also be that quiet however.

Currently the Xpressar is only compatible with Intel LGA775/LGA1366 systems and certain motherboards. Power requirements are upwards of 50 watts, Thermaltake recommends using a power-supply that can support the system hardware plus an additional 100 watts for headroom.

Compatible Motherboards List
  • MSI: P45 Diamond / P45 Platinum / P45D3 Platinum / P7N Diamond (Only for one VGA card plug in 4th slot) / P7N2 Diamond (Only for one VGA card plug in 4th slot) / X48C Platinum (Only for one VGA card plug in 4th slot)
  • Gigabyte: EP45-DQ6 / EP45T Extreme (DDR3) / EP45 Extreme (DDR2) / X48T-DQ6 (DDR3) / X48-DQ6 (DDR2)
  • Asus: Blitz Formula / P5Q / P5QC / P5Q Pro / P5Q Deluxe / P5E Deluxe

There is no word on price yet however given the nearly $300 price tag of the Thermaltake Xaser VI we can expect it to be fairly expensive.

Google Wants Your Ideas To Change The World

Today Google has unveiled a $10 million effort to implement ideas or "a call for ideas that could help as many people as possible, and a program to bring the best of those ideas to life."

As part of the Project 10^100 , Google is asking users from around the world to submit ideas for ways to improve people's lives. Ideas are due by October 20, 2008, simply fill out the submission form giving us the gist of your idea or supplement your proposal with a 30-second video.

After Oct. 20th Google will choose what it feels are the 100 best ideas and then allow users to vote on which of them we think should be funded. The list will be narrowed down to 20 finalists, and a panel of judges will choose up to five ideas that will receive funding, Google said.

What you win is not a prize for yourself but, as Google puts it, “the satisfaction of knowing that your idea might truly help a lot of people”

"We've learned over the last 10 years at Google that great ideas can come from anywhere," the company said in a statement. For example, "Google Chrome emerged when engineers realized they needed an entirely new browser to sufficiently engage with rich web applications. Google News began when on 9/11 an engineer became frustrated that he couldn't aggregate news sources from around the world in one place."

Submission Guidelines

Our goal is to set as few rules as possible. However, we ask that you put your idea into one of the following categories and consider the evaluation criteria below.

  • Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
  • Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
  • Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
  • Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
  • Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
  • Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
  • Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
  • Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don't fit into any category at all.
  • Reach: How many people would this idea affect?
  • Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need?
  • Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two?
  • Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea?
  • Longevity: How long will the idea's impact last?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

T-Mobile G1 "Android Phone" Becomes Official

According to the Official Google Blog today, T-Mobile officially announced the release of the world's first Android-powered phone.

The G1 is manufactured by HTC, will cost $179, presumably with a 2-year contract. The Gi is going to be a T-Mobile exclusive and will be SIM-locked to T-Mobile's network. Plans will be add-ons for T-Mobile voice plans. For $25/month, customers will get unlimited Web and Internet access with no prepaid SMS. For $35, T-Mobile will bundle some SMS minutes along with the unlimited Web/Internet.

The G1 will run on both 3G and Wi-Fi and be tethered to the T-Mobile (DT) network. It will come preloaded with a version of Amazon’s MP3 store and Android Market, an application store similar to Apple’s App Store. And it will support and sync with the broad spectrum of Google apps – Google Talk, Google Calendar, YouTube etc. Its browser is something the dev team refers to as Chrome-Lite, a mobile version of Google’s new Webkit-based Chrome browser.

The G1 will support PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, email will be handled through Gmail; there currently is no Exchange support, though we are fairly certain someone is working on the development for release through the Android Market.

The US launch date will be October 22, with Europe launch in November. Existing T-Mobile customers will be able to pre-order online. Others will be able to purchase the G1 when device becomes available in retail.

For more information on Android development checkout the Android Developers Blog.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New CPUs And Price Cuts Expected By Intel

According to Digitimes we can expect plenty of price cuts in the months ahead as well as several new product introductions and discontinuations of older products.

Changes are expected right around the corner. October 19 is the first date to mark on the calender with the launch of the new core 2 Duo E7400. Price cuts are also expected on that day for the Core 2 Quad Q8200, Quad Q6600, Duo E7300, and Pentium E2220 and E2200 processors. The expected pricing for these processors was not mentioned however the cuts should make for some happy consumers.

November will be the month to watch that is when it is expected that Intel will release its previously announced next-generation of processors under the Core i7 branding .

According to reports there are initially only three Core i7 processors expected in 2008 and they will target upper mainstream and performance users. The Core i7 965 XE will be an Extreme Edition processor running at 3.20 GHz, featuring an 8 MB cache and will be priced at $999. The Core i7 940 will run at 2.93 GHz, feature an 8 MB cache and cost $562. The most affordable Core i7 will be the 920, with a 2.66 GHz clock-speed, an 8 MB cache and a $284 price-tag. All three processors feature four-cores, a 130 W TDP and will offer a substantial performance increase over current Core 2 processors.

At the end of November we see the next lineup change with the introduction of three new processors. The Core 2 Quad Q8300 will launch at a price of $224 and will offer a clock-speed of 2.5 GHz with a 4 MB cache. Alog with the new Quad core offering we'll see the value priced Pentium E5300, at $86, featuring a 2.6 GHz clock-speed with a 2 MB cache. Lastly, the low end Celeron E1500 will be released with a 2.2 GHz clock-speed and will be priced at $53.

January of 2009 Intel will introduce the Core 2 Duo E7500 processor, which will have a clock-speed of 2.93 GHz and be priced at $133. Intel will also continue to slash prices on its Core 2, Pentium and Celeron brands. The Core 2 Quad Q8200 will see a small drop from $193 to $183, the Core 2 Duo E7400 will drop to $113 from $133, the Pentium E5200 will drop from $84 to $76, the Pentium E2220 will drop from $84 to $64 and the Celeron E1400 will drop from $53 to $43.

Along the way it is reported that Intel will discontinue several of its Core 2, Pentium and Celeron processors, news that may come as a relief to those of you that already have a hard time selecting a processor.

Sources: Tom's Hardware - Digitimes

Alleged 1st-person Details Of Palin Password Cracking Emerge

First let me begin by stating the obvious, the term hacking is clearly being used in the wrong sense as it relates to this story. The anonymous person that gained access to Sarah Palin's alleged email account yesterday used common password cracking methods. Even calling this password cracking isn't entirely correct as the user allegedly used commonly known information to reset the password on the account.

In a post on the 4chan boards a user now know as "rubico" (rubico10@yahoo.com - see note below) stated the exploit took no more than 45 minutes and simply required searching the Internet for basic personal information, such as Palin's zip code, birth date, and where she had met her husband. The purported cracker said he had hoped to break in and find something incriminating in the wake of media coverage debating Palin's use of a Yahoo account for state business, but claims to have come up blank.

The problem with "rubico's" statement is that Yahoo password resets are typically e-mailed to an alternate account. Not to say that it might not have work as a user can say his or her alternate e-mail address is unavailable, then password may be reset. Basically everything had to be just perfect for this would be "cracker" to have achieved his goal, a very unlikely scenario but still possible.

Personally I'd be leaning towards a brute force attack, where the would be attacker simply tries the most likely passwords. It seems like a more likely scenario, but again I still think the entire deal is BS (see previous post).

From the alleged details that emerged, if they are true, we can tell the attacker definitely wasn't a highly skilled hacker. He claims to have been sitting behind only one proxy, Ctunnel.com and that he panicked "posted the pass on /b/, and then promptly deleted everything, and unplugged my internet and just sat there in a comatose state."

Simply put once you've gained access to a webmail account it is yours until the user tries to gain access again. You log in, your IP is logged (or the IP of the proxy) and you are there just like any other user. Yahoo would have been none the wiser had he stayed on for hrs, days even weeks. Therefore there was no real reason to panic.

Using Ctunnel and posting full screen shots of the URLs might have been his greatest mistake. Gabriel Ramuglia, Webmaster of Ctunnel, said today that URLs in screenshots of Palin's e-mail photos posted online yesterday showed that whoever accessed her Yahoo! account did indeed use his proxy service and the fact that they showed so much of the url that he could easily track down the IP address of the computer used to gain access.

"Usually, this sort of thing would be hard to track down because it's Yahoo email, and a lot of people use my service for that," he told El Reg in a phone interview. "Since they were dumb enough to post a full screen shot that showed most of the [Ctunnel.com] URL, I should be able to find that in my log."

My Final Thoughts:

Again I want to reiterate a few things; Appscout among other sites have been incorrectly stating that the break in was was perpetrated by 4Chan, a group of hackers or the collective of like-minded individuals considered to be "Anonymous". Other than the "Rubico" character no one else has come forth to claim any involvement, so as far as we know it was a solo attack. 4chan just happened to be the BBS that used to relay the information and details.

I'd also like to state, we still have no know confirmation that this was indeed Sarah Palin's email address. I have yet to see any information that related this address to her in anyway. As I stated yesterday as far as I know this email address was previously unknow to the public, so how are we now associating it with Palin?

**Note - Federal authorities have now contacted the alleged father of the hacker, Democratic Rep. Mike Kernell. The alleged hacker’s name is David Kernell, who uses the username “rubico10″.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sarah Palin's Email Hacking A Hoax?

Supposedly one of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account has hacked and several screen shots of her email posted to WikiLeaks.

The "Cracked", yes it is called cracking not hacking, email account gov.palin@yahoo.com is supposedly a previously unknown (or at least unreported) account of would be VP Sarah Palin. The account reportedly contains private emails sent to and from various personal contacts. Some of which sources are now confirming are real emails.

The story originally spread from 4Chan and began spreading like wildfire through sites such as Digg and Gakwer.com. The media frenzy has spread to the The Associated Press, PC Magazine and others providing at least a little more credibility to the story.

The would be "cracker" has yet to be named although Wikileaks and others are associating him/her with a group of like minded individuals referred to as the Anonymous Group. So far there is no known connection, nor does there appear to be. A user "Anoncrack" originally posted screen shots to photobucket, however the account and images were quickly removed.

So is it a Hoax?

Personally when I saw the email address and screen shots I though "hoax" right away. We see no screen shots that actually show the login nor do they show the account name anywhere. Yes we see some supposed email headers with the account name however those are easily faked. In fact the screen shots themselves could easily be photoshoped. A scan of profiles.yahoo.com put gov.palin@yahoo.com's profile update date at 04/05/2008 (I personally never saw the profile)

So this raises the questions; is that really Palin's email account and was it really hacked?

As Godzilla8NJ posted on Wired.com "I am having a hard time believing that this is all based in fact. I mean come on, a yahoo! toolbar? Steam? And to cap it off..... XP? I mean seriously...." Several more Digg users have voiced similar opinions.

One person whose e-mail to Palin apparently was among those disclosed, Amy B. McCorkell, declined to discuss her correspondence. "I do not know anything about it," McCorkell said. "I'm not giving you any comment." Wired.com reportedly has said McCorkell later confirmed that she did send the e-mail to Palin however we have yet to see any real confirmation.

The McCain campaign released a statement stating, "This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them."

But again we have no real confirmation. Both the email accounts in question, gov.sarah@yahoo.com and gov.palin@yahoo.com as well as the profiles associated with the accounts have been removed and the Secret Service has been contacting news sites such as the The Associated Press asking for copies of the leaked e-mails.

Personally I think the screen shots alone show very little. We see no header information on the emails, no actual log-in information and really nothing of significance. The anonymous cracker apparently didn't know much about what he was doing, panicked, and released the password via 4chan.

Before anyone that really knew what they were doing and could investigate the account to a better extent a good Samaritan "white knighted" the account by resetting the password thus locking everyone else out with the intention of handing it over to Palin. After mistakenly reposting the new password others trying to log-in began trying to regain control of the account causing a security trap at Yahoo automatically put a 24-hour lockout on the account. Thus keeping anyone else from gaining access.

Until we have actual confirmation from someone in the know that this was really her account or those emails were indeed real I'm claiming BS.

Got $25k? Get Your Own Cray Supercomputer

Supercomputer maker Cray Inc. has announced plans to team up with Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. to produce a $25,000 desktop supercomputer.

The Cray CX1 supercomputer uses up to eight nodes and 16 Intel Xeon processors -- either dual-core or quad-core. It's the first Cray machine to use Intel processors. The CX1 has up to 4 terabytes of internal storage and 64 gigabytes of memory per node. The machine also comes pre-installed with Windows HPC Server 2008 [or] Linux. U.S. list prices starting at $25,000 to over $60,000.

"Windows HPC Server 2008, in combination with the Cray CX1 supercomputer, will provide outstanding sustained performance on applications," said Vince Mendillo, director, HPC at Microsoft Corp. "This combined solution will enable companies in various sectors to unify their Windows desktop and server workflows. Many Microsoft financial services customers, for example, want to unify back-office modeling and simulation with the work of front-office trading desks."

"IDC research shows that HPC has been one of the highest-growth IT markets during the past five years and the segment for HPC systems priced below $100,000 is headed for continued growth," said Earl Joseph, IDC's HPC program vice president. "The Cray HPC brand name and experience, combined with Microsoft's strategy of extending the familiar Windows environment upward to the server level, gives the Cray CX1 solution strong potential for exploiting the anticipated growth of this market segment."

"Cray sees Microsoft Windows becoming an increasingly important force in the HPC market," said Ian Miller, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Cray. "With the Cray CX1 high productivity system and Windows HPC Server 2008, we're bringing the power of Cray supercomputing to a much wider range of new users with an affordable and adaptable system that provides incredible value and is easy to install, program and use with a broad array of applications from independent software vendors (ISVs)."

Source: Cray Inc.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

IMDb Now Showing Free TV Shows & Movies

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), a subsidiary of Amazon.com, has begun showing more than 6,000 feature films and television shows on its site for free.

Col Needham, founder and managing director of IMDb.com, said in a statement that the move reflects IMDb's mission to be the world's most comprehensive source of movie, TV, and celebrity information, products, and services.

"We're excited to offer our users a simple online experience to watch full-length movies and TV episodes for free," he said. "Our goal is to show our users every movie and TV show on the Internet for free on IMDb.com."

IMDb is offering a wide array of content within the free streaming service. Current network TV shows such as "24," "The Office" and "The Simpsons" can be seen alongside classic programming such as "Beverly Hills, 90210," "Charlie's Angels" and "Star Trek." A handful of fall premieres will also be made available on the site prior to their broadcast debuts. "Knight Rider," "Lipstick Jungle," "Chuck," "Life" and "30 Rock" are all set to become available on IMDb within the next several weeks.

When it comes to movies, the list ranges from relatively recent titles -- "Bring It On" and "Fever Pitch," for example -- to classics such as "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Some Like It Hot." CBS, Hulu and Sony Pictures Television are all contributing content. The videos are all integrated with IMDb's informational services, letting users click to see facts about the shows and actors right from the screens.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Best Buy Buys Napster For $127 Million

Best Buy has agreed to buy Napster for a reported $2.65 per share all-cash deal or $127 million. The price is nearly double the music network's Friday closing price but a small sum to pay for Best Buy, which gets access to Napster's 700,000 subscribers who pay a monthly fee to access digital music catalogs.

In a statement, Best Buy valued the deal at $121 million, and said the difference was due to unvested employee stock awards at Napster. According to its most recently quarterly filing, Napster had about 47.9 million shares outstanding as of Aug. 8, implying a price of $126.9 million.

"It's not a huge investment, but it definitely has brand recognition," said Morningstar analyst Brady Lemos, who said Best Buy also benefits from the acquisition of technical expertise about the digital music industry.

Napster had $67 million in cash reserves, so Best Buy is essentially landing the company for $54 million.

Best Buy already owns RealNetworks Inc. and SanDisk Corp, so it seems like the company will be making a big push to get into a bigger piece of the digital music distribution service pie, which is currently dominated by Apple.

Apple AppStore Bans The Competition

Apple continues to keep a tight hold over which applications will and won't be available via their AppStore banning crude apps (iFartz and Pull My Finger) or flat out harmful, spammy apps. However last week Apple denied a developer's app because it “duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes,” according to a note the developer received from Apple.

The removal of the app led to many questions and the suggestion that Apple is banning apps that are in direct competition with their current offerings. A move prompting some iPhone programmers to vow to never write another AppStore program for the iPhone, and from the sounds of it they are dead serious about it.

One of the apps in question, Podcaster, allows users to download podcasts on their iPhone and listen to them at their leisure. The app also streams podcasts so you could listen to your favorite show anywhere you have an Internet or data connection without storing the podcasts on the iPhone to free up space. It allows you to do so without syncing to your computer - which until yesterday was a 20-60 minute affair for some customers.

Last week the developers over at Nullriver, makers of the controversial NetShare application that lets you use your iPhone as a modem for your laptop, reported that their application has also been officially banned from the App Store. A post on the company’s website reads:

"Looks like Apple has decided they will not be allowing any tethering applications in the AppStore. As such, NetShare will not be available in the iTunes AppStore. We are seeing a lot of similar reports from various developers who’s applications were abruptly removed and banned from the AppStore without any violations of the terms of service. This is all unfortunate news for the iPhone platform end-users."

Developers are angry about Apple’s unclear and sometimes downright silly AppStore approval (rejection) policy. A policy which has left numerous developers of already complete iPhone apps pondering how they should distribute their programs after getting an official rejection letter.

For example, Fraser Speirs, owner of Connected Flow the developer of the popular Exposure program for the iPhone writes “I will never write another iPhone application for the App Store as currently constituted,” although his own application was approved and does remain in AppStore.

In his blog he goes on further, stating what would make him change his mind, and the list of his demands to Apple goes a little something like this:

  1. Publish clear and unambiguous rules for what will be accepted and what will not. I don’t even care if this is a long and detailed document, but it needs to be The Rulebook from which both sides play.
  2. Defend those rules against external pressure from carriers (NetShare) or the media (Slasher).
  3. Design a process by which developers can be given official pre-approval of their idea. Possibly a general nod, possibly conditional on certain criteria. If developers are going to go and borrow money to hire talent or build out services, they need more confidence than “call us when you’re done”.
  4. Loudly and conspicuously hire an App Store Evangelist. Preferably someone with an already high profile who does not already work for Apple. In fact, it might even be best if this person was not paid by Apple but an independent developer to whom Apple would give deep access to work with the App Store team. This is an investor trust issue.
  5. When controversies arise, let the Evangelist get into the conversation and lay out a clear rationale for Apple’s actions.
  6. Send the App Store Evangelist to every corner of the earth where iPhone developers gather. Unshackle them from the usual Apple constraints on public speaking. Get them on podcasts. For better or for worse, Apple has to start talking to the iPhone developer community.

He does not intend to pull his current app Exposure from the store, clarifying that by "out" he means he is not going to invest time and money into new ideas for the iPhone until this mess is resolved.

Mr Frasier is not the only one that shares this sentiment — a quick look around the web and several developers forums shows that his ideas are shared by many. If this would become a mass movement towards better and clearer policies, Apple would probably cave in, but it remains to be seen whether the rogue developers will be organized enough.

Spammer Freed On First Amendment Ruling

The Virginia Supreme Court declared an anti-spam law unconstitutional, which led to one of the country's most notorious spammers to be released from prison.

Jeremy Jaynes, who became the first person convicted of a felony for sending spam in 2004 when he was sentenced to nine years in prison, sent thousands of e-mails to America Online users over a 24-hour period on at least three different occasions. He initially wanted the charges dismissed on the grounds "that the statute violated the dormant Commerce Clause, was unconstitutionally vague, and violated the First Amendment." The circuit court denied Jaynes' motion.

The matter which had previously been brought before the Supreme Court just six months ago was originally upheld by the court by a 4-3 margin. Jaynes's attorneys asked the court to reconsider, typically a long shot in appellate law, and the court not only reconsidered but changed its mind.

John Levine, president of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), said the court overturned the law because it sought to outlaw all forms of unsolicited e-mail, not just commercial junk mail. In contrast, he said, the federal CAN-SPAM Act limits the restriction to messages used to promote a business or other financial gain.

"Everyone agreed Jaynes was incredibly guilty, but the issue was the peculiarity of the Virginia law in that it could be read to apply to people who were sending junk e-mail but not quite as naughtily as Jaynes was doing it," Levine said. "In the United States, we have this ancient tradition where political and religious speech are very strongly protected, but the Virginia law applied equally to all speech, commercial or not."

A copy of the court's decision is available at this link here

The Virginia law in which Jeremy Jaynes was originally convicted "prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment," said Virginia Justice G. Steven Agee.

Specifically, spammers in Virginia who are convicted of altering e-mail headers and basic routing information along with sending 10,000 messages in a 24-hour window or 100,000 messages in 30-day time windows could face jail time and heavy fines.

For his part, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell said he intends to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia has erroneously ruled that one has a right to deceptively enter somebody else's private property for purposes of distributing his unsolicited fraudulent emails. I respectfully but fervently disagree," McDonnell said in a written statement. "We will take this issue directly to the Supreme Court of the United States. The right of citizens to be free from unwanted fraudulent emails is one that I believe must be made secure."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

ATI Radeon HD 4670 Benchmarks And Reviews

AMD announced on Wednesday the release of the new Radeon 4600 series, mainstream graphics cards including the HD 4650 and Radeon HD 4670, both a pair of DirectX 10.1 graphics cards that will sell for well under $100.

AMD described both cards as cost-reduced versions of the Radeon HD 4800, each containing 320 stream processing cores. The difference between the two lies in the type of frame-buffer memory each uses, prompting a corresponding difference in price. The ATI Radeon HD 4670 uses 512 Mbytes of GDDR3 memory, and is immediately available for $79. The HD 4650 will use 512-Mbytes of GDDR-2 memory, and will be available later this month for $69. A version of the HD 4670 with 1 Gbyte of frame buffer is also scheduled to be released later this month.

AMD calls both "mainstream" cards, above the value-minded Radeon HD 3400 series and below the HD 3800 line, at the low end of the performance spectrum.

Here are some of the early HD 4670 benchmarks and reviews:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Google Provides A Bit More Privacy

Google announced earlier this week it will now retain users’ search requests for half the amount of time that it used to, promising to scrub its server logs for personally identifiable data after nine months, instead of 18. Google also announced that it would anonymize data from its Google Suggest service, which powers the Omnibox in Google Chrome, and Google Search utilities in Firefox and the iPhone, after 24 hours.

Back in March 2007, Google became the first leading search engine to announce a policy to anonymize their search server logs in the interests of privacy, a move that later forced several more search engines to follow suite.

Google has faced on going speculation over the need to retain logs at all with many groups asking the search giant why there is a need to track user data.

"Over the last two years, policymakers and regulators -- especially in Europe and the U.S. -- have continued to ask us (and others in the industry) to explain and justify this shortened logs retention policy. We responded by open letter to explain how we were trying to strike the right balance between sometimes conflicting factors like privacy, security, and innovation. Some in the community of EU data protection regulators continued to be skeptical of the legitimacy of logs retention and demanded detailed justifications for this retention. Many of these privacy leaders also highlighted the risks of litigants using court-ordered discovery to gain access to logs, as in the recent Viacom suit."

Google claims that the routine server log data they collect has always been a critical ingredient of their innovation. To back those claims they have published a series of blog posts explaining how they use logs data to make improvements to search quality, improve security, fight fraud and reduce spam.

The short of it Google says it retains search data in order to combat spam by logging spammers IP addresses they can have them removed or at least report them to their ISP, fight internet fraud, malicious web sites such as those with malicous code (Browser exploits, malware ect) , and to comply with “valid legal orders” from government agencies.

Several privacy groups however fear that Google’s far reaching spans with such a myriad of service could be turned against its users, as complete server logs – which contain, at the least, the user’s IP address and search terms – would allow one to build a comprehensive profile of almost any given user. Crosslinked with Gmail access logs, for example, Google could build a comprehensive e-mail/search profile of a given user. Take those same records and crosslink them with AdWords, and a nearly-complete web-surfing history comes into focus – accurate to a single IP address.

Frightening as though it may seem two years ago AOL company researchers released-and-then-retracted the private search histories for over 650,000 of its subscribers: using only that data, which consisted primarily of an anonymized user ID and search request, investigators were able to trace individual searches with an almost frightening precision – including one such user, whose name and search history eventually landed in the New York Times.

Intel Announces Solid-State Drives for Notebook and Desktop Computers

Intel announced yesterday it has begun shipping Intel X18-M and X25-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drives (SSDs) based on multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash technology for laptop and desktop computers. The new high-performing data storage devices give computer buyers a new level of system responsiveness in a lightweight, rugged, low-power package that can replace traditional hard disk drives.

Validated for Intel-based computers, the X18-M is a 1.8-inch drive and the X25-M a 2.5-inch drive, offering several advantages over hard drives including faster overall system response, boot and resume times. With no moving parts, SSDs run cooler and quieter and are a more reliable option than hard drives. In addition, SSDs remove input/output (I/O) performance bottlenecks associated with hard disk drives that help maximize the efficiency of Intel processors, such as the company’s Core™ family of products. For example, lab tests show that the Intel X18-M and X25M increase storage system performance nine times over traditional hard disk drive performance.

"Validated by our rigorous testing and OEM customer feedback, we believe that we have developed an SSD that delivers on the promises of SSD computing," said Randy Wilhelm, Intel vice president and general manager of the NAND Products Group. "By combining our experience in flash memory design with our processor and computing expertise, we have added advances such as our parallel 10-channel architecture, proprietary controller, firmware and memory management algorithms that address write amplification and wear leveling issues to redefine SSD performance and reliability for computing platforms."

The Intel X18-M and X25-M Mainstream SATA SSDs are available in 80 gigabyte (GB) capacities, with 160GB versions sampling in the fourth quarter of this year. The 80GB drive achieves up to 250MB per second read speeds, up to 70MB per second write speeds and 85-microsecond read latency for fast performance. The 80GB version is priced at $595 for quantities up to 1,000. These SSDs are available now and end-customer products containing the Intel® High-Performance SATA SSDs are expected to begin shipping in the next few weeks.

The company is also expected to introduce a line of single-level cell (SLC) SSDs for the server, storage and enterprise environments within the next 90 days. Called the Intel® X25-E Extreme SATA Solid-State Drive, these products are designed to maximize the Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS), which equates to higher performance and lower enterprise costs. Since SSDs lower energy consumption, maintenance, cooling and space costs, an SSD-based data center will reduce overall infrastructure costs while increasing performance-per-square-foot by as much as 50x.

Source: Intel

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Apple Plans "Fixes" For 3G iPhone

At Tuesday's Apple's "Let's Rock" event in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs hinted that Apple's release of the much anticipated 2.1 software update is a "big update" that would fix "lots of bugs."

Apple hasn't released the exact details of what the update will "fix" however speculations is that is covers the security hole and 3G reception issues, faster iTunes backups, improved battery life and overall better performance. The update is also said to add new features which include better GPS functionality, which could power true turn-by-turn directions; and the push notification service.

The new iPhone 2.1 firmware update will be available for download on Friday, September 12 2008.

Old News Good News For Google

Google's official blog announced yesterday that they will be stepping up efforts to digitize dozens of historical newspapers and make scanned images of the original papers available online.

Google began work on the project 2 years ago when they began working with The New York Times and the Washington Post, in an effort that involved the indexing of digital archives maintained by these papers. Since then, the company has reached out to other newspapers, and worked with companies that aggregate text content, such as ProQuest. Google's announcement highlights a partnership with the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, which has been publishing continuously since 1764, making it North America's oldest newspaper.

Not only will you be able to search through the old newspapers, you'll also be able to browse through them exactly as they were printed -- photographs, headlines, articles, advertisements and all.

You’ll be able to explore search the Google News Archive as a standalone site or by using the timeline feature after searching Google News. Google has said not every search will trigger this new content, however searching key historical stories should pull some results.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Google Chrome Fights Security Flaws, Updates TOS

Since Google's official release of Google Chrome on Tuesday the security flaws have been piling up the latest being a "SaveAs" critical buffer-overflow vulnerability that could allow a hacker to perform a remote attack and take control of a users PC.

Vietnamese security company Bach Khoa Internet Security (BKIS) has posted details of a new a flaw in Google Chrome that the company says is a critical buffer-overflow vulnerability that could allow a hacker to perform a remote attack and take complete control of the affected system.

"The vulnerability is caused due to a boundary error when handling the 'SaveAs' function," BKIS explains on its Web site. "On saving a malicious page with an overly long title (title tag in HTML), the program causes a stack-based overflow and makes it possible for attackers to execute arbitrary code on users' systems."

To successfully exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would have to convince someone to visit a malicious page and then attempt to save the page.

This is the third extremely high risk security flaw found in the new browser. Earlier this week, security researcher Aviv Raff found that a flaw in the open source WebKit engine could be combined with a Java bug to install malware on Chrome users' desktops.

And another security researcher, Rishi Narang, reported a way to crash Chrome with a malicious link. Proof-of-concept code has been posted.

At Milw0rm.com, a repository for security exploit code, two other Chrome exploits have been published. Someone identified as "Nerex" has posted proof-of-concept JavaScript code that supposedly "allows files (e.g., executables) to be automatically downloaded to the user's computer without any user prompt." (This may be related to the vulnerability that Raff found.) And someone identified as "WHK" has published code that supposedly will crash Chrome.

Google has also announced an Update to Google Chrome's Terms of Service.

After several users expressed concerns that Section 11 of Google Chrome's terms of service could potentially give Google rights to any user-generated content "submitted, posted or displayed on or through" the browser Google graciously removed that part of the wording from the TOS.

You'll notice if you look at our other products that many of them are governed by Section 11 of our Universal Terms of Service. This section is included because, under copyright law, Google needs what's called a "license" to display or transmit content. So to show a blog, we ask the user to give us a license to the blog's content. (The same goes for any other service where users can create content.) But in all these cases, the license is limited to providing the service. In Gmail, for example, the terms specifically disclaim our ownership right to Gmail content.

So for Google Chrome, only the first sentence of Section 11 should have applied. We're sorry we overlooked this, but we've fixed it now, and you can read the updated Google Chrome terms of service. If you're into the fine print, here's the revised text of Section 11:

11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

And that's all. Period. End of section.

It might have been a minor oversight, but the language led to many major concerns. It's great to see that Google listened to the concerns of it's users.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Symantec Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Norton Upgrades

A Superior Court judge has certified a class action lawsuit against Symantec Corporation, the maker of Norton Products.

The lawsuit, Heverly/Margolis vs. Symantec Corp., was filed on behalf of people who purchased online upgrades of certain Norton products. According to the suit, installing the products resulted in the uninstallation of another Norton subscription product prior to the expiration of that product.

Examples of include Norton AntiSpam, Norton Personal Firewall, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton SystemWorks, Norton Confidential and Norton 360.

The Class affects persons who installed their upgrade product between December 5, 2001 and April 11, 2008. It does not include customers who purchased upgrades through Symantec's online store.

The following information was obtained at www.heverly-nortoncase.com



What Is This Notice About? This notice is about a lawsuit which has been filed in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County in California entitled Heverly/Margolis vs. Symantec Corp. On May 7, 2008, the Superior Court certified this case as a class action on behalf of persons and entities who purchased online upgrades of certain Norton antivirus and Internet security-type software products, the installation of which resulted in the uninstallation of another Norton subscription product prior to the expiration of that product's subscription. Examples of this software include Norton AntiSpam, Norton Personal Firewall, Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton SystemWorks, Norton Confidential and Norton 360. The Class consists of persons and entities who installed their upgrade product between December 5, 2001 and April 11, 2008, but does not include those who purchased upgrades through Symantec's online store.

What Is This Lawsuit About? The lawsuit alleges that Symantec Corporation, the company that sells Norton computer security products, has an unlawful policy of terminating subscription time of certain customers who purchased upgrades without providing a credit or refund for unused subscription time, and fails to disclose this policy. Symantec denies these allegations and asserts that, at all times, its actions and business practices have been lawful and appropriate. The Court has not ruled on the merits of the claims.

Why Did I Get This Notice? You have been sent this notice because you may be a member of the Class described above and your rights may be affected by the lawsuit.
Do I Need To Do Anything? If you wish to remain in this case, you are not required to do anything at this time. If you remain in this case, you will be bound by any judgment that may be entered in this action, whether it is favorable or unfavorable. This means that if there is a recovery, you may be entitled to share in the proceeds of that recovery. If there is no recovery, you may not pursue a lawsuit on your own involving any of the same issues in this lawsuit.

If you wish to be excluded from this case, you must send a written request for exclusion in accordance with the directions set forth at www.heverly-nortoncase.com. Requests for exclusion must be postmarked by November 19, 2008.

Where Can I Get More Information? This is only a summary notice. You should go to www.heverly-nortoncase.com to obtain more detailed information.

How Do I Contact the Lawyers for the Class? The email address for the lawyers representing the class is nortoncase@heverlylawyers.com.