Friday, January 30, 2009

Inside China's Fight Against Internet Addiction

© Floresco Productions/Corbis

Even though it was only a week before the Spring Festival — the most important family holiday on the Chinese calendar — Wang Hongxia was forcing her son out of the house. She took her 12-year-old from their home in northwestern city of Xian to a secluded Beijing military compound over 700 miles away. Like many other parents across China today, Wang felt like she had no choice. "Things have absolutely gone out of control," said Wang, 45, almost in tears. "My son just beat and bit me again this morning after I wouldn't let him touch the computer."

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

20 Helpful iLife '09 Tips and Tricks

Every year Apple rolls out another version of iLife. While iPhoto and GarageBand got major updates, some apps, like iWeb and iDVD, ended up being nearly forgotten about. Still, with updates come new features to figure out and a navigation that's changed ever so slightly.

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20 Most Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Although coffee gets a bad rap, it’s actually a medicinal food. In fact, this stimulating bean isn’t nearly so bad as we’ve all been taught. Although I’m skeptical about grande latte supplementation in the long run (it’s a drug, after all), I found myself surprised by much of the science on coffee. Poor Ponce de Leon; all this time he should have been searching for the espresso machine. Step aside, acai. Here are 20 surprising health benefits of coffee.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Convenience is number one factor in keeping browsers updated

A crawl through Google's search logs reveals that end users are generally oblivious to security alerts, and largely update to secure browser versions based on the convenience of doing so.
By John Timmer

The security community has long had a tendency to focus on the identification and repair of vulnerabilities. There have been significant public debates about the ethics of publicly discussing unpatched vulnerabilities, and coders will happily brag about their ability to have a fix ready immediately after a vulnerability is disclosed. A new study by a pair of Swiss academics and a Googler, however, suggests that much of this focus has been misdirected. They argue that the ergonomics of the end-users' update process has a far more significant effect on the adoption of secure web browsers than any discussion of the severity of a vulnerability.

The authors reached their conclusions thanks to the presence of the Google employee on their team. That got them access to the anonymized search logs for use as their base data set. Since many of these requests come from shared IP addresses and proxies, the authors combined them with a unique ID in Google's PREF setting to distinguish individual end users. Although this ignores users of other search services, three of the four browsers sampled default to using Google. The authors also realize that this probably eliminates the most security conscious of web browsers--those searching anonymously and with cookies disabled--and those with User Agent strings that identify their browsers as something other than what they are. They suspect that this is a small minority.

Read On

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Block Wi-Fi Intruders with a Secure Paint Job

IT managers should start familiarizing themselves with a new security tool -- the paint brush -- as Japanese researchers have come up with a paint that they say will block high-speed wireless signals, giving businesses a cheap option to protect their wireless networks.

The problem of securing wireless networks has been an issue for a while now. Wi-Fi LANs with no encryption or running the obsolete WEP system, run the risk of having hackers outside the building eavesdrop on wireless LAN traffic, or simply stealing bandwidth. However, there are a number of solutions, besides encryption, for companies wishing to secure their networks.

read more | digg story

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Microsoft Revenues Take a Big Hit; 5,000 to be laid off

Kara Swisher reports that Microsoft, moving up its second-quarter earnings release from this afternoon to right now, said its financial performance took a major hit, with revenue up only two percent, to $16.63 billion, about $900 million below earlier guidance.

Net income was even worse for Microsoft (MSFT), off 11 percent to $4.17 billion, or 47 cents a share, from year-earlier earnings of $4.71 billion, or 50 cents a share.

Microsoft whiffed badly on Wall Street’s expectations of earnings of 49 cents a share on sales of $17.08 billion.

In addition, the software giant said that it would cut 5,000 jobs across many divisions over the next 18 months, starting with 1,400 today, pegging operating cost savings at $1.5 billion annually.

It will also make other cuts, including trimming salaries, travel, marketing and even office expansion costs, all over the company.

Perhaps most ominously, Microsoft said it would not give profit and revenue guidance for the rest of the year, because of the economy’s turmoil. Apparently, even the smartest of techies have little insight to this very foggy financial situation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows

Can a dedicated Windows user make it for two weeks using only Linux? Preston Gralla tried it and lived to tell this tale.

January 21, 2009 (Computerworld) It's one of those perennial age-old battles that can never be resolved. Coke or Pepsi? Chocolate or vanilla? Linux or Windows?

I've been in the trenches of those wars for years. I've written about Windows since the days of Windows 2.0, including numerous books and hundreds or even thousands of articles, blogs and columns. Along the way, I've been called every name in the book -- and many you won't find in any books, either -- by Linux proponents, because I've extolled the benefits of Windows, while ignoring those of Linux.

So I thought it was finally time to confront the issue myself. How does Linux stack up against Windows? Which is really easier to use and less expensive? Which actually lets you be more productive? In short: Could I live without Windows at all and run my life on Linux for two weeks without spending a penny for software? Since one of Linux's great virtues is that it, and many of the applications that run under it, are open source, part of the attraction for me was to see if I could use an operating system and applications that were completely free.

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Solar industry growth dimming with economy

The solar industry remains a bright spot in a down economy. But while the field continues to grow, the rate of progress may be slowing as the credit crunch and technological difficulties blunt the effect of government subsidies, industry sources say.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Macworld Aftermath

Macworld Aftermath: A Closer Look At iLife, iWork

By John C. Welch
January 17, 2009 07:00 AM

iLife '09
The first product was the latest version of Apple's "lifestyle" suite, iLife, now iLife '09. The suite contains 5+ applications: iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb, and iDVD, with iTunes being the "+", since it's occasionally part of iLife, but exists on its own outside of that suite. Every Mac has iTunes, but iLife is a separate install.

iPhoto '09
The major changes in iPhoto wrap around two words: Faces and Places. Faces is Apple-ese for the new facial recognition code in iPhoto that allows you to pick a face in a picture, tag it with a name, have iPhoto find that person in every picture in your library and tag them in those pictures.

iMovie '09
While Steve Jobs may have thought iMovie '08 was an amazing new version of Apple's consumer-class video editing product (and for many customers, it was a good product), for those used to iMovie '06's feature set, it was ... disappointing.

IMovie '09 aims to fix many of these complaints by adding/returning more advanced features, so that "consumer" isn't a synonym for "dumbed-down." The one that appeals to me the most, at least personally, is the advanced drag and drop, which allows you to move video and/or audio clips around the same way you would text in a word processor. Select, drag, and drop, or "video editing for people who don't care about the tape paradigm." This also allows you to drop just the audio from a clip, or create things like cutaways, picture-in-picture, and other effects via drag-and-drop.

GarageBand '09
GarageBand '09 adds the next logical feature: lessons. The big new feature for Apple's home recording studio application are "how to play guitar" and "how to play piano" lessons. Taking this concept one step further, Apple not only includes "generic music teacher guy" lessons, but Artist Lessons. So, want to learn how to play "Roxanne"? Sting shows you how, along with background on the song itself. Other artists include Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, John Fogerty, and others.

Numbers '09
Like Pages, Numbers '09 improvements are in the "well DUH" category: formula improvements, table improvements, better charts, better template chooser, etc. What wasn't talked about, and isn't even on the "What's New" section for Numbers on Apple's site is the addition of an AppleScript dictionary to Numbers, so you can finally automate the silly thing. Having had a bit of time to look at the AppleScript implementation, it's a decent 1.0 setup. You can't create formulas or complex spreadsheet operations via AppleScript, but you can do a decent job of setting up spreadsheets and some basic formatting.

Read full detailed article

Sunday, January 11, 2009

$20,000 Electric Car: Toyota FT-EV

Toyota has unveiled a budget priced electric car that can be driven up to 80km without using a drop of petrol, reports Joshua Dowling in Detroit.

Toyota would not speculate on the retail price of its new electric car so far out from launch, but a similarly-sized petrol-powered hatchback costs about $15,000, and an electric motor and battery pack would likely add about $5000 to the cost of the car, say industry analysts, bringing the total close to $20,000.

Significantly, on battery power alone the tiny Toyota will travel almost 20km further than the Chevrolet Volt electric car to be made by General Motors. However, the Toyota must be recharged after 80km, whereas the Volt has a petrol generator which extends total driving range up to 1000km. The Toyota electric car is a tiny four-seater hatchback whereas the Volt is about the size of a Holden Astra sedan.

Ubuntu and Its Leader Set Sights on the Mainstream

The notion of a strong Linux-based competitor to Windows and, to a lesser extent, Apple’s Mac OS X has been an enduring dream of advocates of open-source software. They champion the idea that software that can be freely altered by the masses can prove cheaper and better than proprietary code produced by stodgy corporations.

PEOPLE encountering Ubuntu for the first time will find it very similar to Windows. The operating system has a slick graphical interface, familiar menus and all the common desktop software: a Web browser, an e-mail program, instant-messaging software and a free suite of programs for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

read more | digg story

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chrome gets a Mac deadline!

Stephen Shankland of CNET is reporting that "Showing signs that it's working to meet requests for new developments to its Chrome browser, Google on Friday said it hopes to release versions for Mac OS X and Linux by the first half of the year, and it released a new version Wednesday that paves the way for the most requested feature: extensions.

Google has high hopes for Chrome--in particular, the Internet giant wants better performance, so browsing the Web is faster and Web-based applications are more powerful. Now Google is filling in some missing pieces Chrome needs in order to attain wider usage.

Brian Rakowski, Chrome's product manager, said the company wants to release Chrome for Mac and Linux before the first half of 2009 is up."

Read the full article

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Craigsphone brings Craigslist to the iPhone

Craigslist is one of my absolute favorite sites on the 'net -- it's been around for years, but kept the same simple look and feel, perfectly fulfilling the service of classifieds without ever once going off that course. Sure, there are issues with spam, but Craig and his minions have worked overtime to make the thing work, and it works well (in fac

read more | digg story

Monday, January 5, 2009

Guy Kawasaki: The Power of ‘No Bull Shiitake’

The Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley
Santa Clara, CA
Nov 17th, 2008

For nearly 30 years, Kawasaki has earned a notable reputation as a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and popular blogger.

The former Apple evangelist will share his provocative insights and commonsense practices for succeeding in today's business world.

Kawasaki's "no bull shiitake" approach is a reality check that covers everything from customer service to competition, innovation to marketing - The Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley.

Everything I Need to Know About Entrepreneurship I Learned From My Comrades in Moscow

Sunday, January 4, 2009 How To Run Linux From A USB Drive

"Nothing can beat having a great Linux distro installed on a super-fast hard drive, with all your favourite apps configured just how you like them and all your files at your fingertips.

But this has one major drawback: perfect as your setup is, it's also just one machine, and sooner or later you'll be forced to leave that computer behind and use something else.

Something that might run Windows. Something that might not even have Firefox. Because no one likes being parted from their data for too long, we present a smarter option: store it all on a USB flash drive.

In older days, you were able to store Linux on a CD and use a flash drive just to save changes. After some advancements, you were able to run Linux straight from the flash drive, but it didn't store any changes you made. But the latest generation of Linux distros – namely Ubuntu 8.10 and Fedora 9 – have a memory overlay system that allows you to store your Linux distro and any changes you make to it on a single flash drive. Sure, you'll need at least 1GB to be able to fit the entire distro on there, but it does mean everything you need is all on the one device.

Once you switch your install to a flash drive, it means you can take it pretty much anywhere and get back to work immediately. Whether you're using a server, a desktop or even a tiny little Aspire One or Eee PC, the vast majority of modern computers support booting straight from USB, so you can just plug in your drive and go."

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Amory Lovins Advocates for a Cleaner, Safer Energy Future

The Entertainment Gathering 2008
Monterey, CA
Dec 12th, 2008

Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, explores halting climate change, reducing oil dependence and using micropower instead of nuclear.

EG is the celebration of the American entertainment industry. Since 1984, Richard Saul Wurman has created extraordinary gatherings about learning and understanding.

EG is a rich extension of these ideas - a conference that explores the attitude of understanding in music, film, television, radio, technology, advertising, gaming, interactivity and the web - The Entertainment Gathering

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Analysis: Fear of infection

Apple shouldn't lead us to believe that the Mac is impervious to viruses, as Mac OS X could be compromised at any time...

Column by Kenny Hemphill of MacUser

"The thorny and almost decade-old question of whether Mac OS X is immune from malware cropped up again recently when bloggers including the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reported that Apple had posted advice in a Knowledge Base article on its support site that read: 'Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one program to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.' The article then listed companies such as Symantec and Intego as publishers of anti-virus software

This story, had it been true, would have been big news. Apple, after all, has been running adverts comparing the security nightmare that is Windows with what it claims is an infection-immune Mac OS X. For it to suddenly start recommending running not just one anti-virus application but 'multiple antivirus utilities' would have been a remarkable volte face. Perhaps that alone should have been enough to alert, if not bloggers, then certainly journalists that there was more to the 'story' than met the eye. As Cellan-Jones and others admitted in follow-up posts, the Knowledge Base article in question wasn't new. In fact, it hadn't even been updated since June 2007. Analyses of the thread number and the numerical sequence of Knowledge Base articles, dates the original post around 1992, and has a record of a page at the URL of the article from 2001, according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog. In other words, this is an ancient article whose origins pre-date Mac OS X by nearly a decade."

Continue Reading...

Nicholas Negroponte’s XO-1 ($100 Laptop) in the Wild

The Entertainment Gathering 2008
Monterey, CA
Dec 13th, 2008

One Laptop Per Child founder Nicholas Negroponte discusses the release and global impact of the XO-1, formerly known as the $100 Laptop, from Uruguay to Afghanistan.

EG is the celebration of the American entertainment industry. Since 1984, Richard Saul Wurman has created extraordinary gatherings about learning and understanding. EG is a rich extension of these ideas - a conference that explores the attitude of understanding in music, film, television, radio, technology, advertising, gaming, interactivity and the web - The Entertainment Gathering

Friday, January 2, 2009

Rumor: Apple's iMovie to receive significant (Cloud) update at Macworld

via Seth Weintraub's Blog at Computer world.

I've heard from reliable sources that Apple will offer a significant update to iMovie at next week's Macworld. It will largely focus on Internet video in the Cloud for the YouTube generation.

I've heard that iMovie will largely (if not entirely) be a Web Application and Apple would offer its users the ability to "upload your movies to us and edit them there."

...Read More

Former Apple employee Chuq von Rospach writes an article for The Guardian

                      Photograph: Scott Heiner/Getty Images

Chuq von Rospach
Via the

Enjoying the show, avoiding the flamethrower: life inside Apple
What's it like working inside Apple when the MacWorld announcements are made? The man who set up many of its email systems and worked there 17 years explains the inside story of the preparation, the unveiling – and why it's sometimes best to avoid Steve Jobs

"Even two years after I left Apple, I still feel like I celebrate two Christmases: the one I celebrate with my family, and the one in January that we celebrate when Steve Jobs gets up on stage and says: "I have a few things to show you today that I think you'll really like."

When I worked there, the MacWorld speech was always the point at which most of us stopped work and gathered around the screens – there was always a big gathering and a special screen in the restaurant. Work would stop for a while as everyone enjoyed the surprise. And for most of us it was a surprise; only for those in the small teams working on, say, the iPhone or the new release of Apple's office suite iWork would know precisely what was coming; and even they didn't know what the other teams had. And afterwards people talk about it for days; and the staff discount means that there are plenty of orders right after the speech ends.

Only, of course, this year it won't be Steve. It'll be Phil Schiller, Apple's own Vice President of Demos, as we liked to call him, because he'd always be the second guy who'd come out to help Steve out."

Continue reading the full article at the

Ralph Osterhout: Toys That Find Their Way Into Combat

The Entertainment Gathering 2008
Monterey, CA
Dec 13th, 2008

Ralph Osterhout describes the "perverse symbiotic relationship" between the children's toy industry and military innovation.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Banish your daemons for a faster Linux PC.

How to manage your machine's background processes. In common with other parts of the early Unix operating system, the term 'daemon' gives little away about what its function might be.

A daemon is a task that runs in the background, and there's a small army of them that are started when you fire up your machine. There are daemons for controlling automated tasks, daemons for managing power and CPU use, daemons for printing and daemons for writing the system logs. Some denote their status by ending with the letter 'd', while others prefer the anonymity of names like 'binfmpt-support' or 'brltty'.

Daemons are obviously an important part of the running environment. But there's also a slight problem. Without any divine inspiration, the average Linux distribution can't accurately guess which daemons are going to be of use to you, and which aren't. The result is that they'll normally play it safe and err on the side of caution.

This means that your desktop may include a laptop power management daemon, or Bluetooth tools, neither of which may be of great use. These will still get loaded up and use valuable memory, so you can save boot time and memory by spending a little time pruning your daemons, and fitting them to your own requirements. The trick is knowing which ones to cut.

read more | digg story