According to statistics firm Net Applications, the overall share of Windows 7 has already reached 4% in the computer market. That number is as of November 9. Windows Vista needed six months to hit the same 4% penetration rate. Windows 7 launched on October 22 and since its launch, the use of the OS has grown by 84%.
Windows OS’ of all flavors hold 92.5% of the PC market. Mac OS X holds 5.27% of the market and Linux has a scant 0.96% of the market. Windows is slipping though, in August 2009 the OS held 93.06% of the market.
A 21-year-old Australian man has admitted to creating what is thought to be the first ever virus to infect Apple iPhones.
The virus, which can spread from phone to phone, changes the iPhone’s wallpaper to a photograph of 80s singer Rick Astley – best known for his hit Never Gonna Give You Up.
The wallpaper features the words “Ikee is never gonna give you up”.
However, the virus can only infect phones which have been jailbroken by their owners. Jailbreaking allows the owners to run non-Apple approved applications on their phones
The Commonwealth Cybercrime Act 2001 amended the Criminal Code Act 1995 with a criminal definition for unauthorised access, modification or impairment of data held in a computer. Division 478.1, for example, sets a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for “unauthorised access to, or modification of, restricted data” using a telecommunications service”.
NSW has its own computer crimes legislation, embodied in Part 6 of the Crimes Act 1900. Section 308D of
that legislation provides for up to 10 years’ imprisonment for “unauthorised modification of data with intent to cause impairment”, for example, while section 308H imposes up to two years’ imprisonment for “unauthorised access to or modification of restricted data held in computer”.
Google released a feature Thursday that lets users see and control data that the Web giant has collected about them. Called Google Dashboard, the service provides an online summary of a user’s Google files — Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa photos and so on — by collecting pre-existing privacy controls in one place.
Dashboard users can review and delete recent Google searches, see recently opened and shared documents and survey their interactions with other Google-powered sites such as YouTube.
Pop stars like Britney Spears may be forced to alert fans if they intend on miming throughout their shows under new laws
“The NSW Government would be happy to look at options, such as a disclaimer on a ticket which would warn consumers a performance is pre-recorded.” Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge told The Daily Telegraph that Sydneysiders would not tolerate a “Mickey Mouse performance”.
Microsoft gets tough on Xbox pirates
Microsoft has cut off up to one million users of the Xbox 360 games console who modified their machines to play pirated games.
The latest entertainment company to instigate a piracy crackdown, Microsoft said only a “small percentage” of its 20 million Xbox Live players worldwide were caught up in the sweep. Xbox Live allows multiple players to compete with each other over the internet by logging on to a dedicated server.
However, video games websites suggested that between 600,000 and one million people might be cut off.
The entertainment industry is growing increasingly desperate in its attempts to prevent online piracy. The music and film industries in Britain have successfully lobbied the Government to block the internet connections of people accused of downloading content illegally.
Under measures in Britain announced by Lord Mandelson last month, a “three strikes” policy will lead to people having their broadband connections cut off by their internet service providers if they ignore warnings to stop unlawful filesharing. The new rules come into effect next April. The games industry has an advantage because companies control their own online services and do not have to rely on internet service providers to cut off pirates. Microsoft can simply bar gamers from its Xbox Live service, if they have modified their consoles to accept pirated games.
While Microsoft can do little to prevent offenders from playing on their own machines, it has decided to block them from accessing its online services.
In some cases, this could deny gamers access to large parts of the game, as more and more titles, such as the enormously popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which went on sale this week, emphasise online play.
The technology giant carried out a similar crackdown last year.
The Xbox was released in 2002 as Microsoft’s rival to the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo’s GameCube.
‘Can’t tweet this’ says MC Hammer
f you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t touch MC Hammer’s Twitter site.
The 1990s rap artist who has reinvented himself as aninfluential social networker has no time for the negative side of the medium that has rattled a number of his celebrity peers in recent times.
“My followers know that I love zero negativity. If you have the negative thing going then don’t you come and poison my folders,” he told reporters in Sydney.
And the word is spreading.
“If you’re negative, I block you” is a Hammer mantra now being embraced by other Twitterers.
Last month Stephen Fry was begged by his multitude of fans to remain on Twitter, after he threatened to quit following criticism from another user of the social network.
“Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around,” he said.
Glamour model Katie Price recently posted a number of messages on Twitter, urging her “haters” to “give me what you think I deserve” after separating from Peter Andre.
“Come on haters attack me! You’re right, I’m always wrong, I’m hated, I never do anything right do I, sorry for that!!” she wrote.
Hammer, who found fame in the 1990s with his hit Can’t Touch This, now has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers. He said he was keen to stay ahead of the social networking curve and follows more than 31,000 people, which he selects based on the quality of their Twitter streams.
The tech-savvy rap artist is ranked 14th most influential musician and social media user on Twitter and he says the beauty of the 140-character medium “is that there is no expectation to respond to every tweet. You pick out the things that are relevant”.
Hammer said he also welcomed moves by Twitter to add a translation layer to blog posts so followers around the world could get his tweets in their local language.
Plasma v LCD:the battle rages on
As two technologies battle for market share, it can be hard to find the television that’s right for you. Simon Tsang gives advice.
Macs versus PCs. Open source versus proprietary. Rolling Stones versus the Beatles. Great debates never die, they just incite vitriolic forum posts online. Into the fray came plasma versus LCD TVs.
While sales of plasma TVs appear to be in decline, the technology is far from dead and debate continues to rage about whether LCD or plasma TVs are better.
Although plasma has generally been accepted as producing the better overall picture quality with deeper blacks and better fast action, LCDs have been improving rapidly. For many, it’s not so much a debate as it is just plain confusion about what type of TV to buy. And it’s little wonder, as the game keeps changing, technology continues to progress, weaknesses are overcome and prices continue to tumble.
With LCD sales on the rise, some are quick to declare the demise of plasma TVs. However, plasma makers argue the growth is mostly in the small-screen segment of the market. Plasma accounts for 25 per cent of TVs sold in Australia overall but for sizes above 42 inches, its share jumps to about 65 per cent, according to the plasma product manager at Samsung, Scott Kuru.
In fact, plasma sales have had a bumper year, affirms the director of consumer electronics at Panasonic, Paul Reid.
“In Australia, Panasonic is selling more plasma TVs this year than ever before,” Reid says. Like Samsung, Panasonic makes both plasma and LCD TVs.
In the past two years, Samsung claims to have reduced its plasmas’ energy consumption by 40 per cent. They are also thinner than they used to be and carry connectivity features to match the best of the LCDs.
Talk plasmas, though, and the issue of “burn-in” always raises its head. This is where traces of a static image that’s been displayed can still be seen long after the picture is off the screen.
“I think you’d have to really abuse the use of your TV for that [burn-in] to occur,” Kuru says. “Obviously, a TV wasn’t designed to be a picture frame or to have a work of art up there for 12 to 24 hours.”
LCD TVs, meanwhile, have been improving in leaps and bounds. The latest is LED backlighting. Light-emitting diodes have been around for a long time but it’s only in recent years these tiny light sources have become popular replacements for more traditional fluorescent technology in displays. LEDs have highly desirable traits for use as backlighting modern screens, such as high brightness, small size, low power consumption and, most importantly, fast switching.
Samsung’s cutting-edge and top-of-the-range Series 8 HDTV is the first model in Australia to feature LED backlighting. By being able to switch the backlighting on and off rapidly in specific areas of the screen, it’s able to achieve much blacker blacks – a traditional weakness of LCD technology. The use of LED backlighting also means the screen is just 2.5cm thick, is lighter overall and consumes about 40 per cent less energy.
HOW THEY DIFFER
So where does that leave the great rivalry? In essence, things haven’t changed much. If you’re going for a big screen size (typically 46-inch and larger), plasma is the go. The bottom line is it will be cheaper.
Smaller than that and it gets a bit more competitive between the two technologies.
If you have a generous budget, Samsung’s LED backlighting certainly proves its worth and gives a better view in brightly lit environments. At $4999 for the 46-inch model, however, it makes plasma TVs look like a bargain.
For half that amount, you can get Panasonic’s Viera G10 series plasma screen. Sony’s Bravia Z Series is a cheaper LCD option at $2999. This is where the decision about which one to buy is driven more by factors other than price.
The fundamental difference between plasma and LCD technologies is that one uses backlighting and the other doesn’t. Think of LCD technology as like a window blind that can block light or allow it to come through. Just as no blind blocks 100 per cent of the light, neither is the LCD layer able to perfectly prevent the backlighting from leaking through. Thus, LCDs struggle to produce true black levels or retain details in dark scenes.
Plasma, on the other hand, works by stimulating individual pixel elements to light up when needed, so without backlighting all it needs to do to produce black is to leave the pixel switched off. As a result, plasma technology inherently has much better contrast than LCD.
However, the final decision needn’t be as technical as it sounds. Both technologies have their merits, which will depend on your particular viewing environment.
LCDs look much brighter than plasmas and the colours almost leap out of the screen. Due to smaller pixel sizes, LCD screens also tend to look sharper.
For this reason, they often look better in brightly lit stores sitting next to a plasma. However, most homes aren’t lit up like a shop display, so the way it looks in your living room might be very different.
If your viewing habits mean you watch a lot of programs during the day where there is plenty of natural light flooding into the room, then LCDs are probably a better bet. That’s also the case if your night-time viewing tends to be with all the lights switched on.
Where plasmas look better is in dimly lit rooms. Colours are more subdued and natural. Room lighting is the crucial factor, so where possible, try to view your prospective purchase in conditions similar to your living room.
The debate will likely continue until only one is left standing. That, however, may take some time.
More natural colour reproduction
Better black levels and contrast
Lower price for large screens
Uses more power
Larger and heavier
Less economical to produce in smaller sizes
Wider choice of screen sizes
Sharper image with smaller pixel sizes
Uses less energy
Thinner and lighter
More expensive in large screen sizes
Limited colour palette
Difficult to produce true blacks
Pixelation in fast-action scenes
Google unveils GPS for android phones
Google has unveiled a free navigation system for mobile phones in a move seen as a potential challenge to the makers of standalone GPS navigation devices.
US telecom carrier Verizon Wireless and US handset makerMotorola announced simultaneously that a smartphone going on sale in the United States next week, the Droid, would be the first to feature Google Maps Navigation.
The Droid, which will cost $US200 and is being touted as a challenger to Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s Blackberry, is powered by Android 2.0 software, Google’s next-generation mobile phone operating system.
Google Maps Navigation, which will only work on smartphones running Android 2.0, includes many of the features of a traditional GPS device such as 3D map views and turn-by-turn voice guidance.
Google Maps Navigation also allows users to conduct a search along their route for petrol stations or restaurants, for example.
Industry analysts said the free Google feature could pose a threat to the personal navigation devices for drivers made by companies such as Garmin of the United States and TomTom of the Netherlands.
“Global positioning devices were already on the road to becoming irrelevant and Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 may speed up the trip,” wrote Larry Dignan, editor-in-chief of technology blog ZDNet.
Analyst Rob Enderle of Silicon Valley’s Enderle Group said he did not expect it to happen overnight, however.
“Most folks tend to be much more comfortable with the standalone devices at the moment,” Enderle told AFP. “I think primarily because the phones don’t lend themselves yet to in-car navigation.
“The displays are too small and have a tendency to wash out,” he said. “The in-car experience just isn’t good enough to get rid of what is now a relatively inexpensive device.”
Verizon and Motorola said the Droid, which features a touchscreen, a slide-out Qwerty keyboard, a five-megapixel camera and DVD-quality video capture and playback, will go on sale in the United States on November 6.
Verizon is the latest US telecom carrier or manufacturer to adopt Android software in a bid to mount a challenge to the market-leading Blackberry and iPhone.
Motorola released another Android-powered device in the US,the Cliq, in September and is pinning hopes of a turnaround in its flagging fortunes on smartphones using Google’s operating system.
Android is already being used to power smartphones from T-Mobile and US wireless carrier Sprint Nextel and Taiwan’s HTC are also releasing a mobile phone powered by Android, the HTC Hero.
The Wall Street Journal reported this month that US computer maker Dell is teaming with telecom colossus AT&T, the exclusive US carrier for the iPhone, to launch an Android-based smartphone next year.
Industry tracker Gartner said this week that smartphones, which currently account for 14 per cent of overall mobile device sales, will make up around 37 per cent of global handset sales by 2012.
Google says Murdoch stories can be taken off
Google said on Tuesday, in response to threats by Rupert Murdoch to ban the search engine from listing content from his news empire, that any company could ask to have stories taken off.
In an interview in Australia, Murdoch accused Google of stealing stories from News Corp newspapers for the Google News service, and said he might ban them once he introduces charges for the papers’ online editions.
Google said it was up to individual news organisations to decide whether they wanted their stories listed on Google News, and there were “simple technical standards” that would remove them if they wished.
“News organisations are in complete control over whether and how much of their content appears in search results,” it said said in a statement issued in London.
“Publishers put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose not to include their material in Google News and web search. But if they tell us not to include it, we don’t.”
It added: “If publishers want their content to be removed from Google News specifically all they need to do it tell us.”
Google said its news listings service and web searches were a “tremendous source of promotion” for news organisations, sending them “about 100,000 clicks every minute”.
It added that Google News’s approach was “fully consistent with copyright law”, as it only showed the headline, short snippet of the story and a link to the publishers’ site where readers could read the full version.
News Corp owns an enormous number of newspapers around the world including The Australian, the New York Post and The Times of London, and is planning to soon charge all its online readers.
Use it or lose it, apps to save your sanity
UNTANGLING THE WEB
All is not lost if you leave your iPhone on the train, there are ways to track it down.
FIRST comes the realisation that it is missing. Then come disbelief, nausea, fury – with yourself – and grief. Unlike the other stages of grieving after a death, there is no acceptance.
These are the five stages of iPhone loss.
Leaving your iPhone on a train during the morning rush hour is an infuriatingly, brain-boilingly, soul-numbingly stupid thing to do. I did it yesterday.
I’d been researching today’s column – which, ironically, was to be about geolocation – reading articles, marking paragraphs and making notes, all the while juggling the phone as I tested geolocation apps, surfed the web and re-tweeted some interesting posts.
As I shuffled papers I slipped the phone under a leg and it slipped from my mind. In my rush to leave the train, it stayed behind.
The traditional response to leaving something important on a train – a wallet, your father’s ashes, a baby in a pram – is to belt your head against a brick wall, wailing ”Why, why, why was I so careless … birdbrained idiot … nooooooo … ”
The modern response when you’ve misplaced a GPS-enabled smartphone is to jump on to a PC, log in to your phone-finding software, pinpoint its location and retrieve it.
The crucial element in that strategy is that you’ve set up the phone-locating application before you lose the phone. I hadn’t. It was lost, locked and set to silent. A hopeful call to the phone went through to voicemail. It was gone for good. Sigh.
There are many ways to locate a missing iPhone.
Applications such as MobileMe, iLocalis and Mobile Spy (not all available in Australia) can track the position of a phone and display the location on a map, with varying degrees of accuracy and usefulness. But if you don’t get a street address with a door you can knock on and beg for the return of your precious child – sorry, iPhone – what good is being able to pinpoint its position to within a 50-metre radius?
Programs such as iHound send email alerts to the rightful owner when a missing phone is connected to the internet, including the connecting computer’s IP address. MyFoundCast lets you create a wallpaper image for your phone that includes your contact details in case of loss.
If you update your phone’s contact lists using programs such as MobileMe or Microsoft Exchange Email, you can hope the finder eventually connects to a computer, automatically syncing their contacts to your account, giving you phone numbers to work with. A few months ago, a Melbourne lawyer using Exchange Email and his ingenuity was able to retrieve his wife’s stolen iPhone.
MobileMe also allows you to send messages that appear on the screen of the iPhone even if it is locked and sleeping.
A bloke who calls himself ”Intermittent Kevin” recently blogged about how he used MobileMe’s Find My iPhone service.
Kevin lost his phone at a Lego conference in Chicago (a self-confessed dork). Using a laptop, mobile internet connection and the MobileMe feature Find My iPhone, he and a couple of mates tracked the phone to a Puerto Rican neighbourhood.
As they approached the location on the map, Kevin sent a series of messages to the phone. His polite requests for its return were ignored, as was his offer of a reward.
He knew the messages were being received so he sent another saying that he had tracked the phone to a specific street. No response. When he sent the message again in Spanish (using Google Translator) the phone’s position on the map suddenly changed as the bloke who had it panicked. Kevin and friends soon collared the fellow with the phone as he was about to jump on a bus and retrieved it without incident.
I felt paralysed by the loss of the phone but wasn’t worried about my data getting into the hands of someone who might use it for nefarious purposes – I’d set up a security code that has to be keyed in when the phone locks down after 60 seconds. That should deter anyone but an experienced iPhone jailbreaker from cracking it. But the phone was expensive and there was no way I could afford to get another, no matter how essential a work tool it had become.
Sitting opposite me on the train while I faffed around with my papers and the phone had been a young woman in a hijab. My faint hope was that she had spotted the phone and taken it to lost property.
A desperate second call to the phone was answered by a man at the luggage hall of Southern Cross station. The woman had indeed handed it in, without leaving a name or contact details.
Fortunately, when there’s a failure of technology – or, in this case, of the user – it is still possible to rely on the honesty and kindness of strangers. Despite that reassuring knowledge, after I finish typing the next sentence I’m signing up with MobileMe.
To the kind lady on the train: thank you.
Mixed response to Astley iPhone virus
iPhones across Australia lit up with the face of ’80s crooner Rick Astley this week as a Wollongong TAFE student made international headlines for releasing the first virus to infect the popular smartphone platform.
The virus is able to reset the phone wallpaper to display an image of Astley (a practice known as rickrolling) on unlocked or “jailbroken” iPhones.
These phones are unlocked so users can use non-Apple applications or service providers, and only those who had failed to reset default security passwords were affected.
Ashley Towns, the 21-year-old Australian who has taken credit for the high-tech stunt, wrote on his Twitter page yesterday that he created the virus to raise awareness of security issues related to iPhone passwords.
The student, who lives in Wollongong with his family, toldComputerworld that he had no particular vendetta against Apple, and had created the virus out of curiosity and boredom.
“I had just formatted my iPhone and it told me to set the password in bold, big letters and I wondered how many people have actually done that,” he said.
The virus places Astley’s image into smartphones’ iPhone wallpaper with the words “Ikee is never gonna give you up”.
Towns tweets under the name ikeeex and an explanation embedded into the virus source code reads: “people are stupid, and this is to prove it so RTFM. Its not that hards [sic] guys. But hey who cares, its only your bank details at stake.”
In spite of claims by Towns that the worm was easy to remove, a number of iPhone users on the Whirlpool forum complained about its effects, the quantity of bandwidth it may have used, and the possibility of excess data charges.
“Perhaps I discover a way to break into your house. Does that make it acceptable for me to break in, mess the place up, then leave? Did I just do you a service by doing that, exposing the security flaw in the process? No. That would be a ridiculous claim to make,” Adamiam said.
Although the exact number of iPhone users affected by the virus is not known, it could have spread to hundreds of handsets in Australia, said Paul Ducklin, head of technology at Sophos Asia Pacific.
An online poll run by Sophos in response to the incident revealed that 75 per cent of the 721 respondents believed the worm author had done “iPhone users a favour”.
Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, said it was a “depressing notion that most people think that doing harm and breaking computer crime laws is a good thing”.
He said every victim of the virus first had to take steps to repair the damage caused by the worm and restore their phone to normal use, and then pay for a potentially large data bill at the end of the month.
“But what’s worst of all is that the code for the worm is now available for anyone to download. The genie is let out of the bottle – and anyone could write a more dangerous version of the worm which could have a much more dangerous payload. My prediction is that we may see more attacks like this in the future,” he said.
The virus followed hot on the trail of a similar attack last week in the Netherlands where a Dutch hacker took over similarly vulnerable iPhones and demanded a small fee to release their data.
Were you affected by the virus? Do you think Ashley Towns did you a favour?
Jetstar to trial SMS boarding passes
Jetstar is about to trial a mobile phone technology that issues boarding passes via SMS. In a bid to reduce check-in times and long queues, the SMS ”passes” can be scanned electronically from the phone’s screen at the departure gate.
The SMS boarding pass was developed during the past six months by the Sissit Group, which was set up in Melbourne in early 2008 to work on airport immigration and other services.
The company’s 22-year-old chief executive, Aaron Hornlimann, says the agreement with Jetstar is exclusive in Australia and New Zealand but a number of Asian and Middle Eastern airlines have also shown interest in the technology.
The product analyses the alphanumeric codes included in the SMS and relates them to the airline’s database where flight and passenger information is assembled.
Unlike other electronic boarding pass systems, the Sissit SMS pass does not carry all the passenger’s information but relates the pass number to details in the airline database. This, Hornlimann says, makes his system much more secure.
The system is also compatible with ”at least 98 per cent” of mobile phones in the market.
Trials will start this month with passengers on domestic flights originating at Melbourne’s Avalon airport. A successful trial would see the system rolled out across the full Jetstar domestic network by the end of the year, an airline spokeswoman says. Later, it could be introduced in other markets, including Jetstar’s domestic services in New Zealand.
The chief executive of Jetstar, Bruce Buchanan, says getting a boarding pass for a domestic flight would be ”as simple as receiving a standard text message 24 hours prior to travel and having that SMS message electronically scanned at the gate, if you do not have bags to check in”. The system would improve efficiency at the airport by freeing ground staff to ”get on with the job of processing checked-in baggage”, he says.
During trials of the SMS system, passengers who use Jetstar’s online Web Check-in system will be given the option of having their boarding pass and unique boarding code delivered to their phone by SMS.
Some airlines overseas use a similar system but require passengers to have more expensive and less common WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or internet-enabled smartphones. The Jetstar system will work with any mobile handset capable of receiving SMS texts.
Mobile inventor says today’s phones are too complex
The inventor of the mobile phone says the devices have become too complex, with a range of features from cameras to music, since he made the first wireless call more than three decades ago.
“Whenever you create a universal device that does all things for all people, it does not do any things well,” former Motorola researcher Martin Cooper said at a privacy conference in Madrid.
“Our future, I think, is a number of specialist devices that focus on one thing that will improve our lives,” he added.
Cooper, 80, who was born in Chicago, was the lead engineer of the Motorola team that developed the handheld mobile phone. He made the first wireless call from a busy Manhattan street corner on April 3, 1973.
“The first cell phone model weighed over one kilo and you only could talk for 20 minutes before the battery ran out, which is just as well because you would not be able to hold it up for much longer,” he said.
“What we did with this mobile telephone was create a revolution. Before the mobile phone existed we were calling a place, now we are calling a person.”
Since that first call was made, the popularity of mobile phones has soared, with more than 4 billion people owning one today compared with only 300,000 in 1984, he said.
Bar on costly phone services likely
MOBILE phones are likely to be automatically barred from accessing premium ring tones, games and information services after the consumer watchdog threw its support behind the move.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has backed a proposal in which users would need to make a specific request to enable their phones to receive high-priced premium text and multimedia messages.
The issue is being considered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority following a steady stream of complaints from users faced with unexpected costs after signing for premium content.
The communications regulator is considering a barred-by-default model, backed by the ACCC, and an opt-in model, in which consumers will need to specifically request their phone be barred.
”Vulnerable consumers such as minors would stand to benefit the most from a default barring model,” the ACCC said in its submission to the communication regulator.
It described the opt-in model as a ”weak second option” because many consumers would not be aware the opportunity to bar their phone existed.
”Default barring would ensure that account holders (often parents) were required to make a clear decision” to allow premium services, the ACCC said.
But the industry representative Communications Alliance said the default model would hurt consumers of legitimate premium services, such as transport timetables, charity campaigns, medical services, and voting in competitions.