Episode 236

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GLENN’S NOTEBOOK

Nine months after iPhone 4 launch, white model released

Today Apple announced that the white model of the iPhone 4 is available, ending nine months of speculation
It is thought that early builds of the white model allowed light to permeate the unit’s casing, playing havoc with internal components such as the iPhone’s proximity sensor and cameras




Apple moves to quell iPhone data collection fears

The company also said it will fix what it called a software bug that led data to be stored on the device even when location services were turned off.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said the company has “never transmitted” the precise location of iPhones to itself.
Apple defended the process it uses to gather location information via the iPhone and unveiled a software update to scale back such practices.
Mr Jobs, who is on medical leave, said software “bugs” that enabled the iPhone to store months of location data and collect it even when the location services feature was turned off had been discovered in the last few days.
Apple said it would release an iPhone software update in the next few weeks that will limit to seven days the amount of location data stored on the phone and delete it when location services are turned off.
In the next major release of the operating system, the information would also be encrypted, the company said.


iPad arrives in Japan, Hong Kong, and other new markets the second-generation iPad arrives in Japan, Hong Kong, and other new markets this week.

PlayStation users’ personal data not encrypted: Sony

SONY has admitted that it failed to encrypt the personal information of 77 million PlayStation Network users stolen by hackers a week ago.
The hacking has affected around 715,000 Australian consumers, in what has been described as the largest known security and privacy breach in Australia thus far.
It affects not only PlayStation users with network accounts but users of Qriocity, a Sony service that offers streamed movies and music.
Sony has not revealed what is contained in personal data tables but acknowledged that customer names, home address, billing addresses, email accounts, passwords, birth dates and other personal details were stolen by hackers in the security breach.
It has yet to clarify whether customer user IDs and passwords were housed in separate databases.
Local computer emergency response group AusCERT said users needed to change all passwords on accounts that used the same password as their PlayStation account.
PlayStation users particularly should be on the lookout for an increase in phishing emails, including possible fake emails from Sony. Cybercriminals would “go to a lot of effort to make them look real”.
Mr Jarvis said that through phishing, criminal gangs would seek sufficient personal information to open bank accounts in the names of victims to get credit, a driver’s licence or even a home loan. Or they might simply take over email addresses to distribute spam.
Sony’s PlayStation Network remains offline however the company expects to restore some services within a week.

NBN unveils new broadband sites in Tasmania


A statement from NBN Co said 11,500 homes and businesses in Deloraine, Kingston Beach, George Town, Sorell, South Hobart, St Helens and Triabunna would be the next towns in the rollout, after contracts had been signed with construction company Conneq Infrastructure Services.
NBN Co acting head of construction Dan Flemming said construction in the towns would begin in May.
a further 90,000 homes in stage 3, schools and businesses in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie in the near future.”

some things don’t change when it comes to a royal wedding

British royal wedding of the internet age is generating one mention every 10 seconds online and will be streamed live to an estimated audience of several hundred million viewers.

At least 9,000 comments a day are being posted online generally, according to internet research firm Greenlight, with a 700 per cent surge in interest since March, and “fans” of the wedding outweigh opponents by a ratio of six to one

William and Kate’s engagement was first announced on microblogging site Twitter in November
And palace officials have said the wedding will be streamed live on YouTube, the first such coverage of a royal event.
As well as the four hours of internet coverage on the Royal Channel on Friday, there will also be a live multimedia blog put together by royal officials.

News Corp seeks $100m for Myspace

News Corp is seeking bids of no less than $US100 million. News Corp paid $US580m to buy Myspace in 2005

Myspace has attempted to reposition itself as a hub for music, entertainment and games, but its traffic and ad revenues are plummeting. In March, Myspace traffic dropped 49 per cent from a year earlier to 36.1 million unique US visitors, its lowest monthly total since February 2006, according to comScore.
The News Corp segment that includes Myspace reported an operating loss of $US156m for the quarter ended December 31, primarily because of the site’s poor performance.


AFL signs $1.25b broadcast deal

WILL’S NOTEBOOK

Teleprompt inventor Hubert Schlafly (HEW-BERT SHLA-FLY) dead at 91 | News.com.au
HUBERT “Hub” Schlafly, a key member of the team that invented the teleprompter and rescued decades’ worth of soap opera actors, newsreaders and politicians from the embarrassment of stumbling over their words on live television, has died. He was 91.
Schlafly died on April 20 at Stamford Hospital after a brief illness, according the Leo P Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, which handled the arrangements.
A funeral was held yesterday at St Mary’s Parish in Greenwich, where he was a longtime resident.
He did not use a teleprompter himself until he was 88, while rehearsing his speech for induction into the Cable Television Hall of Fame, said Thomas Gallagher, a close friend.
Schlafly helped start the TelePrompTer Corp., eventually becoming its president and accepting an Emmy Award for the company in 1999 – a few years after winning one himself 1992 for his work in developing the first cable system permitting subscribers to order special programs.
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He held 16 patents, Mr Gallagher said.
“Hub Schlafly was the cable industry’s most innovative engineer and, at the same time, one of its ablest executives,” Charles Dolen, the chairman of Cablevision, said Tuesday.
“Whether you were his friend or competitor, he was always congenial and supportive and probably had more friends than anyone.”
Schlafly was born August 14, 1919, in St Louis.
He graduated from Notre Dame University, where he studied electrical engineering.
He worked for General Electric and the MIT Radiation Laboratory before joining 20th Century Fox in New York City in 1947.
Actor Fred Barton Jr wanted a way to remember his lines and approached his friend Schlafly, said Laurie Brown, author of the book The Teleprompter Manual.
Schafly conjured an idea and took it to Irving Berlin Kahn, nephew of composer Irving Berlin and vice president of radio and television at 20th Century Fox.
The result – a monitor facing the person appearing on screen and rolling a script at reading speed – was named the TelePrompTer, which made its debut in 1950 on the soap opera The First Hundred Years, Mr Brown said.
“It revolutionised television and improved the quality of on-air performers,” said Jim Dufek, a professor of mass media at Southeast Missouri State University.
“It also made the politicians look smarter because they were looking right into the camera.”
Herbert Hoover became the first politician to use a teleprompter in 1952, when the former US president gave the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.
Every US president since then has used the device – now also such a staple of television news that occasional technical glitches can turn a news report into unintentional comedy.
In the 1970s, TelePrompTer Corp owned cable franchises in 140 markets and served about 1.4 million customers.


YouTube move in on-demand movies may be end for DVD rentals | News.com.au

  • YouTube to enter on-demand movie market
  • Users able to stream DVD releases on web
  • Release date for Aussie customers unknown

YOUTUBE is set to enter the on-demand movie market in a move that could ring the death-knell for DVD rentals in Australia.
The world’s largest video-sharing site is reported to be putting the final touches to a new service that will allow users to stream new DVD releases over the web.
Sony, Warner Bros and Universal have reportedly signed licensing rights to Youtube, while Paramount, Fox and Disney are believed to have passed on the offer.
YouTube has more than 130 million monthly users and the site will prove a major competitor to iTunes, which has offered new releases from all the major studios since 2008, and Foxtel’s on-demand services.
The new site could launch in the US as early as next week but it’s not known when it will be available to Australian customers.
Streaming movie sites in the US, including Netflix and iTunes, put a major dint in the DVD rental industry and the same is expected in Australia.
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Blockbuster in the US went bankrupt late last year and had to shut 1000 stores while in Australia several stores have either closed or downsized.
Alana Berney, 18, of Red Hill in Brisbane, said streaming movies online was more convenient and less expensive.
“Streaming online only costs between $2 and $3 and you don’t have the hassle of worrying about returning the DVD”,” she said.
Cheyne Honeyman, 25, said DVD stores were a dying fad while Samantha Colledge, 18, of Indooroopilly, said she would struggle to shake the habit of going to a local DVD store.
“I don’t really know how to download a movie online and love the sweet deals DVD’s stores offer,” she said. “It’s just what I have always done. I have to admit that I do get annoyed with the overdue fines that I always seem to rack up.”
Youtube began streaming a limited film selection last year for as little as $2 but its only major partner was independent studio Lionsgate.
It is believed Youtube is waiting to sign all the majors before officially announcing the new service.
For more on YouTube’s move into the on-demand movie market go to the Courier-Mail.


SETI shuts doors on Allen Telescope Array after failing to raise $5 million | News.com.au

It’s a sad day for astronomers and space geeks everywhere.
As of last week, the world will have one less program in its infantry of high-tech devices and scientific experts devoted to discovering the existence of alien life and worlds outside of our own.
The SETI Institute has had to – we hope temporarily – retire the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) because it lacks the funding to run the group of radio satellite dishes that search the skies for signs of alien life.

The collaboration between the SETI Institute and the University of California at Berkeley was originally conceived of as a three-tier plan to build 350 radio-wave antennas that worked in concert with the Kepler space telescope to scan the heavens for signs of intelligent life.
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But as of last week, the ATA will no longer be performing its regular functions, as scientists were unable to raise the $5m needed to keep the project afloat.

The hibernation comes two months after the Kepler Space Project announced the discovery of 1235 potential new planets, several of which scientists believe contain the water and light needed to support life.
In a heartfelt letter to its supporters, CEO of the SETI Institute Tim Pierson listed the reasons for the ATA’s hibernation, and a game plan for what happens next.
“Unfortunately, today’s government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found,” Mr Pierson wrote.
“NSF university Radio Observatory funding for HCRO has been reduced to approximately one-tenth of its former level.
“This is compounded by growing State of California budget shortfalls that have severely reduced the amount of state funds available to the Radio Astronomy Lab.
“Combined, these factors have resulted in the current decision by UCB to reduce operations of the Hat Creek site to a hibernation mode, pending future funding or some alternative solution.
“Hibernation means that starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by significantly reduced staff.”
Mr Pierson is determined that SETI’s good work continues.

While the ATA may be in hibernation, the SETI institute will continue work on a software correlator, new detection algorythms, data storage capability direct to disk from individual antennas and a new feed and received system that can observe up to 15GHz.
They also plan to continue developing open source projects so that citizen scientists can continue to help SETI continue the search for alien planets.
SetiQuest Explorer is a citizen scientists program that allows volunteers to detect patterns in AtA data scientists may have missed.
Users can beta test the data to help discover alien planets and explore frequency bands that are so full of signals the detectors get confused.
SETI recently teamed up with Galaxy Zoo to create a more streamlined, enjoyable SETIQuest experience that runs in real time so that discoveries can be followed up immediately.

Never have the contributions of citizen scientists been as urgent, or needed as they are now.
You can sign up using your Facebook page or Google account to get involved in the project.


Is ‘3D Sex and Zen’ really a new dimension in porn? | News.com.au
IT smashed box office records in Hong Kong and it’s packing out theatres in Australia. But is the world’s first “IMAX 3D erotic film” any good?

!! Warning — this article contains mild spoilers !!

It’s a public holiday and raining and the Tuesday 5pm session of 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy at Hoyts Broadway is sold out but for a few spots in the first two rows.
Hoyts Broadway is one of three Sydney cinemas screening the film which broke the opening day ticket sale record in Hong Kong, taking the title from the $US237 million 3D blockbuster Avatar.
3D Sex and Zen, made in Hong Kong, cost just a fraction of James Cameron’s epic — about one seventy-fifth as much — and is shown in Cantonese with English subtitles.
Like Avatar, its goal is to take the viewer on a trip to “a world they’ve never seen before”, says director Christopher Sun.
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So, does it succeed? During the two-hour-plus screening, news.com.au learned quite a few things.
For example, that subtitles are really hard to read while wearing 3D glasses. Also, that the women of 15th Century China enjoyed spectacularly powerful orgasms.
But perhaps the most important revelation — and the one you are here to read about — is that “3D porn” is still a long way from a must-see.
Most of the 3D effects in Sex and Zen are reserved for computer-generated graphics, rather than the wonders of nature.
3D is only occasionally applied to the movie’s many — many — sex scenes, and when it is the results are hit and miss.
In one instance, when the entire screen is filled with a close-up shot of gigantic, jiggling body parts, it just looks ridiculous.
In others it makes the scene appear more “real” than usual, but also rather blurry.
In fact, Sex and Zen is a bit of a tease — it hints at the potential of porn in 3D without actually giving you much of it.
Viewers who only want to go for the sex scenes without worrying how many dimensions they have won’t be disappointed.
But be warned — the sex comes with quite a lot of blood and guts as well.
Sex and Zen is a film in two halves. The first half is a light-hearted erotic comedy with plenty of softcore porn.

Chinese porn coming to you in 3D


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Chinese porn: coming to you in 3D

Hundreds turn out for the premiere of Hong Kong’s first 3D porn film.
Reuters14 April 2011
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A tough time aheadVictorians are being warned theyll have to tighten their belts even more just six days before the Baillieu Governments first budget.
28 April 2011 1:39 NDM CP – TEN
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iPad 2 makes delayed Japan debutApple’s iPad 2 makes its delayed debut in Japan, a month behind the originally scheduled arrival date due to last month’s earthquake.
28 April 2011 1:23 NDM CP – Reuters
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The second half is darker and more shocking. It’s the sort of thing Quentin Tarantino would love, and gives the phrase “torture porn” a more literal meaning than usual.

Plenty of boundaries are pushed and some Western viewers may find that it’s a little too “out there” for their tastes.
Need an example? The most memorable use of 3D in the film is when a dismembered animal body part covered in blood is flung at the camera.
And that’s in one of the comedy scenes.
Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy is rated R18+.


NBN complicates a Foxtel-Austar deal | The Australian
WHILE price has always been a hurdle to Foxtel’s long-mooted purchase of regional pay-television group Austar, the government’s $36 billion national broadband network is shaping up to be a “left field” stumbling block, say analysts.
The market remains on edge for a deal after Austar chief John Porter yesterday said he expected a resolution on the potential $2bn deal within the next two to six weeks, leading analysts to largely overlook its well-flagged weak first quarter result yesterday.
But Goldman Sachs analyst Adam Alexander said while price and terms have been a stumbling block since talk of the deal emerged as far back as 2005, the addition of the NBN has further complicated the crucial tick of approval required from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
He said while a combined Foxtel-Austar would unlikely be an issue given they already operate monopolies in their respective geographic markets in the pay TV market, the NBN has complicated matters on around broadband.
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Foxtel is owned by Telstra, News Limited (publisher of The Australian) and Consolidated Media, which Alexander said was also a stumbling block to Foxtel working out a price with willing Austar seller, Liberty Global which owns 54 per cent.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s Fraser McLeish agreed the ACCC could be the “main potential hurdle” to the deal occuring, outside of price.
The analysts concerns lie in whether Telstra owning an interest in Austar would make it difficult for broadband rivals to compete in regional areas which are opening up to competition under NBN.
Alexander estimates Telstra has 85 per cent to 95 per cent of the regional broadband market.

“This could be the ‘left field’ issue that the ACCC looks at – whether Telstra having a partial ownership of Austar and offering a triple play in regional markets would make it difficult for smaller broadband players to compete,” said McLeish, who has a target price of $1.50 on Austar, at the low end of RBS’s $1.50 to $1.70 range due to “ACCC risk”.
Others like Macquarie and Deutsche Bank today downgraded Austar to a hold given its recent rally on the back of the speculation, but still see merits in the deal.

“We believe that a deal makes sense given the substantial synergies that could be achieved from merging the companies, especially in the current low subscriber growth environment,” said Deutsche’s Andrew Anagnostellis, adding there could be $70m in cost synergies.
And despite no guarantees of a deal occuring, Credit Suisses’ Jolanta Masojada said the motivations of all parties are “substantially greater” than in the past.
By early afternoon, Austar shares were 2.7 per cent lower at $1.26.


Sony’s Norio Ohga, father of the CD, dies | The Australian
FORMER Sony president Norio Ohga, who helped transform the music industry with the development of the compact disc format, has died at the age of 81, the company said.
The music school graduate served as president from 1982 to 1995 and led the electronics manufacturer to become an entertainment empire with a portfolio encompassing music, movies and computer games.
During the development, Ohga, a passionate baritone singer, pushed for the 12-centimetre format with 75 minutes of recording capacity to fit Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony without interruption.
He died on Saturday of multiple organ failure, Sony said.
“By redefining Sony as a company encompassing both hardware and software, Ohga-san succeeded where other Japanese companies failed,” said Sir Howard Stringer, current Sony chairman, chief executive and president.
“It is no exaggeration to attribute Sony’s evolution beyond audio and video products into music, movies and game, and subsequent transformation into a global entertainment leader to Ohga-san’s foresight and vision.”
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Along with development of the CD format, Ohga led Sony’s negotiations in 1968 with CBS Corp, which resulted in the creation of CBS/Sony Records, now Sony Music Entertainment.
His decision to purchase Columbia Pictures in 1989 cemented Sony’s position as an entertainment conglomerate.
He also designed the Sony corporate logo and promoted PlayStation game console.
Ohga’s career with Sony began in 1953, when the company’s co-founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita made him a consultant while he was still studying music at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
Under Ohga’s leadership, Sony revolutionised the music industry with the CD format in 1982, co-developed by Royal Philips Electronics.
Mindful of the importance of the brand image, he designed the Sony logo, and had always stressed that the “four letter word” was the company’s biggest asset.
Sony said it will conduct a corporate memorial, after a private ceremony.


Taxpayers to foot bill for broadband service double-up | The Australian
THOUSANDS of small housing estates will receive brand new temporary copper connections, which will be disconnected at a cost to taxpayers as the National Broadband Network is rolled out across the nation.
Telstra yesterday confirmed the telecommunications giant had been given responsibility to provide infrastructure for a basic telephone service in new housing estates with fewer than 100 premises.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has given Telstra scope to use fibre, high-speed wireless or copper networks to provide this service, which will become redundant when the $36 billion NBN is rolled out across the nation.
A Telstra spokesman confirmed the company expected to lay new copper connections in “the majority of cases”, while about 200 customers were currently making do with just a mobile telephone.
The government expects that about 1.9 million new premises will be built during the period the NBN is being rolled out.
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NBN Co has a responsibility to ensure all new developments with more than 100 premises receive fibre connections, but for estates with fewer than 100 units Telstra is allowed to install slower temporary copper cables, that will be shut down with the NBN rollout. The policy decision could mean NBN Co — funded with $27bn of taxpayers’ money — would have to pay Telstra to shut down several thousand new copper connections while simultaneously laying high-speed fibre connections.
Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said it was the government’s, not NBN Co’s, fault that there would be a “double handling” of connections to smaller new estates. “It just underlines the poor planning in the NBN, that in these developments copper is going to be laid down, only to be decommissioned within the next few years all at public expense,” Mr Turnbull said.
The comments came after The Australian revealed yesterday that the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy was considering enlisting a dozen high-profile “NBN champions” to spruik the wholesale fibre network.
Mr Turnbull said with the huge public investment, the NBN should be “selling itself”.


Makers of TomTom navigator in Europe sold data to police for use in speed traps | The Australian
THE makers of the navigation device TomToms in Europe has gone into damage control after it emerged Dutch police had been using data collected from drivers who use the company’s products to set speed traps.
TomTom NV, Europe’s largest navigation device maker has apologised for the incident.
Earlier, the company reported weak first-quarter earnings in which it cut 2011 sales forecasts and said it was seeking to compensate for a decline in demand for personal navigation devices by growing service revenues – including selling traffic data to governments.
National newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported that police had obtained the information from the government and used it to set targeted speed traps, prompting angry reactions from TomTom users.
In an emailed apology, Chief Executive Harold Goddijn said the company sold the anonymous data believing it would be used to improve safety or relieve traffic bottlenecks.
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“We never foresaw this kind of use and many of our clients are not happy about it,” he wrote.
He promised licensing agreements would “prevent this type of use in the future”.
TomTom is seeking to diversify its offerings away from the ailing market for its flagship product, dashboard-mounted portable devices. Around half of its revenues now come from automakers who incorporate TomTom products into their cars and from services, including companies – and governments – paying for map and traffic information.
TomTom is still recovering after it got into debt trouble with its acquisition of digital mapmaker Tele Atlas in 2008, and had to issue shares to stave off bankruptcy.


NBN unveils new broadband sites in Tasmania | The Australian
NBN Co has announced the next seven Tasmanian towns and suburbs in which the super-fast broadband network will be rolled out.
The Tasmanian towns of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point last year became the first three locations in the country to be hooked up to the national broadband network.
A statement from NBN Co said 11,500 homes and businesses in Deloraine, Kingston Beach, George Town, Sorell, South Hobart, St Helens and Triabunna would be the next towns in the rollout, after contracts had been signed with construction company Conneq Infrastructure Services.
NBN Co acting head of construction Dan Flemming said construction in the towns would begin in May.
“Tasmania has been at the forefront of the development of the NBN in Australia, and we are very pleased to announce the next phase of construction is ready to commence,” he said.
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“NBN Co has chosen a staged network construction approach as it allows us to incorporate learnings from previous work in a process of continuous improvement.”
Under new state government laws following poor sign-up figures in the initial three towns, residents will have to opt out of the network.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings urged the federal government to push through to the next stage of the network’s development.
“The greatest opportunities of the NBN lie in connecting regional communities to metropolitan areas, overseas business markets and important services such as healthcare and education,” Ms Giddings said.
“I look forward to the federal government meeting its commitment to deliver the technology to a further 90,000 homes in stage 3, schools and businesses in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie in the near future.”


Tiny New Zealand island Tokelau is at the centre of the cyber crime world | The Australian
IT has no capital, no airport and only 1400 people who call it home, but the tiny isle of Tokelau has become the cyber crime centre of the world.
A new report by an international group tackling internet scams has confirmed that Tokelau, a New Zealand territory, has more malicious registrations under its .tk domain name than any other domain except .com.
These fraudulent web addresses are used for phishing, where emails are sent to random web addresses in an attempt to steal banking information and other personal details.
Tokelau sold its domain name to a Dutch company BV Dot TK, which provides the domain free worldwide, making it an easy target for scammers.
“By offering free domain names, .tk has become the third largest country code top-level domain after Germany’s .de and Great Britain’s .uk,” the Anti-Phishing Working Group wrote in its latest global report, released at a technology conference in Malaysia this week.
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The report examined all phishing attacks in the second half of 2010 and found a “significant” number used the tropical nation’s domain.
“While there were phishing domains registered across 183 top-level domains, 89 per cent were concentrated in just four: .com, .tk, .net and .info,” the report stated.
About 80 per cent of Tokelau-registered names used for phishing were targeting Chinese institutions.
Tokelau itself is not responsible for the problem. The sale secured islanders free high speed broadband internet without the hassle of policing their domain.
Owner BV Dot TK appeared to be aware of the problem, admitting on its website: “we are used by fraudsters and we are very aware of this”.
The Anti-Phishing Working Group said the e-crime landscape was a constantly shifting battlefield, where phishers were always moving away from well-defended sites toward ripe targets.
“That makes free domains like .tk especially vulnerable to ongoing abuses,” it said.


PlayStation users’ personal data not encrypted: Sony | The Australian
SONY has admitted that it failed to encrypt the personal information of 77 million PlayStation Network users stolen by hackers a week ago.
The hacking has affected around 715,000 Australian consumers, in what has been described as the largest known security and privacy breach in Australia thus far.
It affects not only PlayStation users with network accounts but users of Qriocity, a Sony service that offers streamed movies and music.
In a post on its PlayStation blog, Sony said it had encrypted credit card details but didn’t extend the safeguard of encryption to its “personal data table”.
“The entire credit card table was encrypted and we have no evidence that credit card data was taken,” Sony said in its PlayStation blog.
“The personal data table, which is a separate data set, was not encrypted, but was, of course, behind a very sophisticated security system that was breached in a malicious attack.”
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Sony has not revealed what is contained in personal data tables but acknowledged that customer names, home address, billing addresses, email accounts, passwords, birth dates and other personal details were stolen by hackers in the security breach.
It has yet to clarify whether customer user IDs and passwords were housed in separate databases.
Sony said access to its data had been restricted both physically and through the perimeter and security of the network.
The company had begun emailing affected customers to notify them of the breach but has warned people to be wary of fake Sony emails requesting credit card numbers or other personally identifiable information.
Some users claim to be victims of illegal credit card transactions but Australia’s major banks said there has been no evidence that the PlayStation data breach has been linked to credit card or identity theft.
The banks said there hasn’t been any significant increase in the number of customers seeking to have their credit cards cancelled or reissued.
An ANZ Bank spokesman said there had been only a small spike in calls to its credit card call centre yesterday — an extra 300 calls in addition to about 30,000 calls it received daily.
However Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said the commission was already getting inquires from Sony customers.
“People are beginning to be concerned and ringing our line to get information,” Mr Pilgrim said.
Mr Pilgrim yesterday said he had begun an investigation into the data breach and would ask Sony to explain how this incident occurred, what security measures were in place to prevent it, and the extent of the breach.
In developments overseas, an Alabama man is reported to be the first person to lodge a lawsuit directly related to the PlayStation Network breach. He is claiming compensation and free credit card monitoring, and is seeking class action status.
Sony yesterday said it knew of the hacking a week ago, but it had been unaware of its severity and the theft of user account details until Monday.
“It was necessary to conduct several days of forensic analysis, and it took our experts until yesterday to understand the scope of the breach. We then shared that information with our consumers and announced it publicly this afternoon,” Sony said on its blog.
Local computer emergency response group AusCERT said users needed to change all passwords on accounts that used the same password as their PlayStation account.
Senior information security analyst Zane Jarvis said it was common for users to use the same account name and password for all types of accounts and their email address and PlayStation password had been linked by the theft.
PlayStation users particularly should be on the lookout for an increase in phishing emails, including possible fake emails from Sony. Cybercriminals would “go to a lot of effort to make them look real”.
Mr Jarvis said that through phishing, criminal gangs would seek sufficient personal information to open bank accounts in the names of victims to get credit, a driver’s licence or even a home loan. Or they might simply take over email addresses to distribute spam.
Australian security expert Bill Caelli said the PlayStation Network hacking would cause great anxiety among users as there was no closure and no way of knowing where or when a threat to personal security would occur.
“The fact you don’t know breeds uncertainty, you just don’t know where and when.”
Professor Caelli, from Queensland University of Technology’s Information Security Institute, echoed Mr Pilgrim’s call for Australian legislation requiring mandatory disclosure of privacy breaches.
He said the world should thank the “governator”, former Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, for California having legislation that requires companies such as Sony to come clean about hacking and data breach events.
“But in Australia we’re still arguing about it. This (case) gives new impetus for Australia having mandatory disclosure with criminal consequences for failure to comply.”
Professor Caelli described the breach as the largest security and privacy breach so far in Australia.
Sony’s PlayStation Network remains offline however the company expects to restore some services within a week.
“Our employees have been working day and night to restore operations as quickly as possible, and we expect to have some services up and running within a week from yesterday,” the blog said.
“However, we want to be very clear that we will only restore operations when we are confident that the network is secure.”
There are over 1.1 million PlayStation 3 devices in Australia — approximately 65 per cent are connected to the PlayStation Network, which gamers use to spar online and purchase services like movie downloads.

Erik’s Notebook

AWESOME LOOKS, CHEAP PRICETAG: ACER ASPIRE 5742 REVIEW

Conrad Bem
25 April 2011, 7:00 AM

A budget price with non-budget performance? Acer’s Aspire 5742 demands your attention, if you can handle a few unusual touches.

Probably the first thing you’ll notice about the Acer Aspire 5742 is its appearance; for such a cheap notebook it looks really slick, with a carbon fibre like finish that has a great tactile feel. While the hinges did give a bit when picking the notebook up quickly, they otherwise stayed still. The chiclet keyboard looks stylish and handles even better, with the keys themselves pleasantly firm to press.
The only disappointment is the hilariously small arrow keys. It’s particularly jarring given how generously sized every other key is. The touchpad, located slightly to the left, is responsive, and has a few helpful multi-touch options like pinch zooming.

The effort put into appearance hasn’t hampered the guts of the notebook, as it has a zippy Intel Core i5-460M. While 2GB of RAM is a bit on the small side, at no point during using the notebook was there any noticeable slowdown or stuttering even when running several programs at once. The PCMark Vantage score of 4,797 is certainly great given the very low price.
Storage is somewhat low at 320GB, but looking at the price tag it makes sense that something would have to give. The 15.6in screen has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 and good colour reproduction and contrast.  The viewing angle is forgiving, as the screen had to be tilted a lot before visibility suffered.
It may not be an all-day workhorse, but in power saver mode it lasted a respectable 4 hours and 30 minutes while only getting mildly warm. It has solid port variety, including an HDMI port on the left along with a VGA, USB 2.0, fast Ethernet, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. On the right there’s a pair of well-spaced USB 2.0 ports along with the DVD burner.
All up this notebook’s only downsides are the small amount of RAM and tiny directional keys, while the pros are numerous. The Acer Aspire 5742 looks and performs great, and for such a low price you really can’t go wrong.
Available from
Acer, retailing for $698
.
APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)

http://apcmag.com/awesome-looks-performance-acer-aspire-5742-review.htm


MOTOROLA XOOM TABLET LAUNCHING IN MAY ON THE TELSTRA NEXT G NETWORK
By Keri Algar
SYDNEY, NSW: Today Telstra has announced its partnership with Motorola for the launch of the highly anticipated Xoom tablet in May, possibly early May. However an RRP or Telstra plans have yet to be revealed.
Australian tech experts have anxiously awaited the Xoom’s arrival after it received an impressive reception at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year. CNET, who tagged CES 2011 as a ‘tablet feast’, gave the Xoom the ‘best of show’ award.
To start with, the 10.1-inch Xoom packs robust hardware including a 1GHz dual-core processor, 32 GB of on-board memory and 1GB of RAM. It also runs on Android’s 3.0 Honeycomb platform, which has been built from top to bottom specifically for tablet functionality and multi-tasking (think a customisable home-screen with moveable widgets, notifications and tabbed browsing). According to Motorola, the software will also jumpstart the global development of apps for the Android ecosystem, already sitting at over 150,000 apps.
The Xoom also features an HD widescreen 1280×800 display, front-facing (2-megapixel) and rear-facing (5-megapixel) cameras, Adobe Flash Player 10.2 (downloadable from Android App Market), a built-in gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer and adaptive lighting.  It supports up to 10 hours of video playback and charges in 3.5 hours.
Meanwhile, Motorola has announced a ‘save the date’ for an event in Sydney for 5 May 2011. It is understood that this is when the Xoom will be officially launched.
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Warwick Bray, executive director, Telstra Mobility Products, said: “Motorola Xoom arrives at a time when Australians are embracing both mobile tablets and devices powered by Android in record numbers. Motorola Xoom’s high-definition touch screen and powerful operating software will make it possible for more Australians to enjoy video, mobile web browsing, gaming and magazines on the go.”
“It brings together beautifully integrated services like Gmail and YouTube, a world of Android apps and an interface that’s easy for our customers to personalise with apps, shortcuts and widgets. Our customers are going to love consuming, creating and sharing content in more places on Australia’s largest and fastest national mobile broadband network.”

http://www.current.com.au/2011/04/19/article/Motorola-Xoom-tablet-launching-in-May-on-the-Telstra-Next-G-network/TWRZHFTRUE




PRODUCTION OF NEW THUNDERBOLT-EQUIPPED MACBOOK AIRS SET FOR NEXT MONTH?
AppleInsider reports on a new research note from Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple is set to begin production on new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air models late next month, setting the stage for an update to the company’s popular ultra-thin notebooks.
Kuo tells AppleInsider that his latest round of checks with suppliers and system builders in the region reveals that MacBook Air shipments are set to rebound during the current calendar quarter, fueled by an upgrade to Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors, integrated Intel graphics, and the expected adoption of the new Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology that made its debut on MacBook Pros earlier this year.
Specifically, he said the new models will “go to mass production in late May,” which corroborates an earlier report that cited reliable sources as saying Apple would be ready to publicly announce and ship to consumers MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors during following month of June.
A production ramp in late May would set the stage for a June launch for the new MacBook Airs, a timeframe that had been rumored several months ago.
While Apple’s current MacBook Airs launched in October 2010 with a new 11.6-inch model joining the redesigned 13.3-inch model, they still rely upon aging Intel Core 2 Duo processors as Apple has struggled to find a suitable pairing of CPU and graphics performance in the wake of a dispute between Intel and NVIDIA over chipset production. But with new Sandy Bridge processors from Intel sporting improved graphics performance now available, Apple now has better options for its small form factor machines utilizing integrated graphics.
Kuo notably revealed Apple’s plans for an 11.6-inch MacBook Air a full three months before the product debuted last year.
http://www.macrumors.com/


IPHONE 5 DETAILS: 3.7-INCH SCREEN, HOME BUTTON WITH GESTURE AREA


Former Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky has revealed possible new information on the upcoming iPhone 5, but that information seems to contradict other recent claims. Topolsky reiterates from his previous Engadget report that the next iPhone is to be completely redesigned, and that it looks “more like the iPod touch than the iPhone 4.” The new phone will be thinner and have a “teardrop” shape which goes from thick to thin, similar to the MacBook Air.
Meanwhile, the home button will be doing “double duty” as both a button and and a gesture area.
this falls in line with testing we’ve seen for gestures on the iPad, and our sources say that gestures are definitely coming in a future version of iOS. The home button will likely be enlarged, but not scrapped altogether.
He also details that the screen will occupy nearly the entire front of the phone leaving almost no bezel. This information is consistent with some earlier rumors that suggested an “edge to edge” screen. In addition Apple is said to be doing very “interesting things” with bonded glass technology and even exploring designs where the earpiece and sensors are behind the screen itself.
Topolsky is also hearing that the screen may go up to 3.7 inches while keeping the same resolution. This would keep the DPI within the “Retina” display moniker at 312dpi. Finally, there are some hints that there may be some form of inductive or touch charging but this seems unconfirmed.
Joshua Topolsky is the former editor-in-chief of Engadget and is well connected with his previous rumors being published to Engadget. This information, however, contradicts some previous reports from Reuters which suggest the iPhone 5 will carry a very similar form factor as the iPhone 4. Notably, in the same original Engadget report that detailed the “completely redesigned” iPhone 5, Topolsky/Engadget had previously predicted that the iPad 2 would carry a higher resolution screen and SD card slot, neither of which came true.
http://www.macrumors.com/


GOOGLE’S ANDROID UNDER MASSIVE ATTACK COMMENTARY: APPLE LOOKS TO BENEFIT; ELEMENTS OF MICROSOFT STRATEGY
By John C. Dvorak
BERKELEY, Calif. (MarketWatch) — The rise of the Android operating system seems to have gotten the attention of just about everyone, as Google Inc. is under attack by various patent holders looking to derail the software and the company. The beneficiaries are Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
The most recent court loss for Google GOOG
0.00%  regarding Android just took place in Texas, where the company was fined $5 million for infringing on a patented algorithm within the Linux kernel. The implications of this are far-reaching, not only for Google and the Android phone makers, but apparently for Linux itself.
To me, it brings up the idiocy of software patents and threatens the future of innovation, but that rant is for another column. For now, this is all about attacking Android.
The exact details of this case have yet to be deconstructed by the media, but suffice it to say that if the verdict stands up, then all the handset makers using the Android OS will be subject to paying fees to produce their phones. That might be enough for these folks to look elsewhere for their OS, and this means Microsoft MSFT 0.00% or maybe Nokia Corp.’s NOK 0.00% Symbian.
In the process, Apple AAPL 0.00% thrives. Android is the only phone OS that matches the iPhone for look and feel, as well as its healthy market for “apps.”
Exactly what will happen to the developing market for tablets remains to be seen, but it will probably be taken over altogether by the iPad. Even the Barnes & Noble Inc.BKS 0.00% Nook e-reader would be at risk, since it runs Android.
All this is up in the air until the fallout from the lawsuit gets analyzed. In the meantime, Oracle Corp. ORCL 0.00% is attacking Google for some implementation of Java within Android that it says is some sort of licensing violation or infringement.
This appears to be an Apple initiative. It’s a well-known fact that Steve Jobs is good friends with Larry Ellison, and I do not see such relationships as benign. There is no doubt that Oracle is acting as a proxy for Apple and the iPhone.
Luckily, Google has the resources to fend off many attacks, but losing any court cases for any amount of money is a bad thing, and it puts the company’s road map
The good news is that the offending code within the Linux kernel can be rewritten, unless it is so tightly embedded that it would take years. I have no idea, but the way everyone is reacting to this verdict, that’s what it sounds like. Details of all this should shake out in the weeks ahead.
We’ll also know how this got triggered. Personally, I see elements of Microsoft strategy here, since it involves the future of Linux, and Microsoft hates Linux and realizes it is a bigger threat than anyone can know.
Combine this with the revelations that Google has been using Android to track people and report user movements, which could result in a congressional hearing. Now you have a moment of reflection regarding the Google persona as a company that supposedly does everything right and by the book.
Apparently not.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/googles-android-under-massive-attack-2011-04-22?link=home_carousel

BUBBLE 2.0: AUSTRALIAN STYLE




Nick Abrahams

April 15, 2011



Investment in technology companies globally is very active, prompting many journalists to describe current conditions as “Bubble 2.0”. The Bubble 2.0 label is not new. The Economist called it in 2005 when eBay bought Skype and PCMag called it again in 2007 when YouTube and social media sites were just starting to explode. But do we have a true Bubble 2.0 in Australian tech companies?

The stats show that the market in the US has some remarkable valuations for tech companies, but these valuations are largely directed at the Big 5, being Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, Twitter and LinkedIn, whose valuations total $71 billion. This compares to 1999 when it took 24 web companies to total a valuation of $71 billion. There is definitely heat at the top end of the US tech market. Goldman Sachs bought into Facebook on a valuation of $50 billion (some 100 times earnings), while 3-year-old Groupon knocked back $6 billion from Google in order to seek to list later this year for $15 to $25 billion.

We have had some big deals recently in Australia with US coupon powerhouse WhaleShark Media acquiring relatively unknown Melbourne company retailmenot for $90 million, US venture fund Accel Partners picking up a minority stake in collaboration software company Atlassian for $65 milllion and Yahoo!7 acquiring group buying site Spreets for a reportedly large amount of money. While these are healthy valuations, there are a number of things that make today very different from 1999/2000.

1. The internet overthrows the Tyranny of Distance

One of Australia’s major problems is that there is a small domestic market. This means that companies need to look offshore for significant growth. The move offshore is expensive and often fraught with issues. However, the internet allows Australian entrepreneurs to participate in a global market without having to leave home. Look at Atlassian, a world-class software company that came on the radar of Accel Partners because so many of their investees were using Atlassian.

Down in Melbourne, two young guys set up the website retailmenot some four years ago and now boast traffic of 95 million unique users a year – mostly from outside Australia, especially the coupon-obsessed Americans.

2. Strategic not financial buyers

The main buyers for Australian tech assets have been companies acquiring the targets for strategic reasons. Ten Network has been very active, buying a share in the sports site theroar.com, buying 40% of dating site Oasis Active, and joining with News Limited to invest in the group buying site, Our Deal. Sensis bought online business matchmaking site Quotify, Mortgage Choice bought the online home loan comparison service HelpMeChoose and News bought comparison shopping site GetPrice.

This does not mean the financial buyers are not interested. Caledonia Investments picked up 25% of online auction success story, GraysOnline and Accel Partners came into the market again, joining with Carlyle Group in investing $70 million into online exchange service OzForex.

3. The revenue

As a refugee from dot com, I am heartened to see that the new breed of tech entrepreneurs have leant from the errors of dotcom – namely that just spending shareholders’ money is a finite business model. Today’s internet companies are different, rather than just PowerPoint decks with hockeystick growth curves, they have real revenue to show potential investors. This is especially the case in the social commerce/group buying area which combines the power of social media with local search and home shopping. Groupon in the US was the fastest company ever to $500 million in revenue. In Australia, in addition to the Yahoo!7/Spreets deal and the Ten/News/Our Deal transaction, Amazon-backed Living Social invested $5illion into Jump On It and US investors Insight Venture Partners put $14.5 million into members-only shopping site, Ozsale.

4. The technology works

Back in dot com times, I lived in fear of being asked by a potential client to do a “live demo”. Put simply the technology did not work too well – leading to a number of awkward moments telling the customer what they would be seeing on screen if the internet connection had not dropped out. I saw a presentation by web video play Viocorp (recently backed by David Kirk’s Bailador fund for $5 million) and it was not without a touch of envy when I saw the ease with which they were able to demonstrate their product live from the web.

5. Inexpensive technical infrastructure

With cloud computing vendors like Amazon, it is possible to spin up servers in a matter of minutes for the outlay of a few dollars a day. This means that companies can develop complete scaleable platforms without having to raise significant funds to acquire hardware and software. It is this ease of development that has led to the remarkable number of group buying sites which appear to be hitting the market each month.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the US is seeing some heady valuations and all eyes are focussed on the IPO market later this year as a number of the Big 5 are targeting a listing. However, Australia has seen strong investment activity across the range of tech businesses and multiples, while high, are not necessarily excessive, given the historical revenue growth of these companies. Certainly the social commerce sector seems crowded at the moment and it may be ripe for a consolidation, but the impact is not widespread enough to warrant comparisons to the bubble conditions of 1999/2000 – but of course who knows what tomorrow might bring.

Nick Abrahams is a specialist technology M&A and projects lawyer and is a partner at global law firm Norton Rose. Nick advised the vendors of Spreets on their sale to Yahoo!7. During 1999-2001, Nick was the Chief Operating Officer of listed dot com, Spike Networks in the USA.



Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/bubble-20-australian-style-20110415-1dgv0.html#ixzz1JpHvjMjA



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CAN WINDOWS CUT IT ON CONSUMER TABLETS?

April 15, 2011

In the face of Android and iOS, should Windows stay on the desktop where it belongs?

The more I use handheld devices, the more convinced I become that the best user experience comes from operating systems designed from the ground up for a mobile, touchscreen user experience. Windows running on a tablet might make sense for business users needing to replicate the desktop user experience, but trying to shoehorn a desktop OS like Windows into a consumer touchscreen device doesn’t work. I just don’t think consumers will tolerate it. And why should they when Apple and Android devices have come so far?

Acer’s recent tablet launch was a real eye-opener, with Windows 7 tablets and Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablets sitting side-by-side. Despite Windows 7’s supposedly touch-friendly features, Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets were clunky, cumbersome and expensive compared to their Android counterparts. Right now I’m reviewing the sleek new Acer Iconia Tab A500 running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” and I’m going to write it up on the blog next week. Spending time with the A500 running Honeycomb I feel it’s safe to say that, after a slow start, Android tablets have come of age – making Windows tablets look worse than ever.

Back in the old days, handset makers such as HTC made the best lipstick for the pig that was Windows Mobile – designing a skin that evolved to become Sense UI running on Android and WinMo 6.5 phones. Efforts to do the same for Windows 7 on a tablet aren’t having much success, judging by Asher Moses’ review of the Leader Slate 12 Windows 7 tablet. He found that you can’t judge a handheld device by the spec sheet alone, it’s the user experience that counts (a point that the iPhone and iPad have been making painfully clear for years).

The Leader Slate 12 relies on lipstick in the form of the ExoPC UI tablet skin for Windows, which failed to impress Asher. Other efforts I’ve seen to improve the Windows tablet experience, such as on Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets, also fail to impress. You constantly feel that you’re fighting with Windows rather than it working for you – it actually reminds me of using XP on the desktop and then switching to Leopard.

When Apple’s iOS4 and Google’s Android Honeycomb are providing such slick devices at reasonable prices and with impressive app support, why would you want to pay a premium for a Windows device that’s a pain to use? It’s not that I’m pro-Apple or anti-Microsoft, it’s just that I’m pro-usability. I’d really like to see Windows Phone 7 running on a tablet, I think it would provide a much smoother user experience than desktop Windows given a sloppy mobile makeover. Until then, I can’t see Windows making much headway in the consumer tablet space. Life’s too short to tolerate desktop Windows on a tablet.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/blogs/gadgets-on-the-go/can-windows-cut-it-on-consumer-tablets-20110415-1dh68.html#ixzz1JpHejbbR






CAN WINDOWS CUT IT ON CONSUMER TABLETS?

April 15, 2011

In the face of Android and iOS, should Windows stay on the desktop where it belongs?
The more I use handheld devices, the more convinced I become that the best user experience comes from operating systems designed from the ground up for a mobile, touchscreen user experience. Windows running on a tablet might make sense for business users needing to replicate the desktop user experience, but trying to shoehorn a desktop OS like Windows into a consumer touchscreen device doesn’t work. I just don’t think consumers will tolerate it. And why should they when Apple and Android devices have come so far?
Acer’s recent tablet launch was a real eye-opener, with Windows 7 tablets and Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablets sitting side-by-side. Despite Windows 7’s supposedly touch-friendly features, Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets were clunky, cumbersome and expensive compared to their Android counterparts. Right now I’m reviewing the sleek new Acer Iconia Tab A500 running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” and I’m going to write it up on the blog next week. Spending time with the A500 running Honeycomb I feel it’s safe to say that, after a slow start, Android tablets have come of age – making Windows tablets look worse than ever.
Back in the old days, handset makers such as HTC made the best lipstick for the pig that was Windows Mobile – designing a skin that evolved to become Sense UI running on Android and WinMo 6.5 phones. Efforts to do the same for Windows 7 on a tablet aren’t having much success, judging by Asher Moses’ review of the Leader Slate 12 Windows 7 tablet. He found that you can’t judge a handheld device by the spec sheet alone, it’s the user experience that counts (a point that the iPhone and iPad have been making painfully clear for years).
The Leader Slate 12 relies on lipstick in the form of the ExoPC UI tablet skin for Windows, which failed to impress Asher. Other efforts I’ve seen to improve the Windows tablet experience, such as on Acer’s new Windows 7 tablets, also fail to impress. You constantly feel that you’re fighting with Windows rather than it working for you – it actually reminds me of using XP on the desktop and then switching to Leopard.
When Apple’s iOS4 and Google’s Android Honeycomb are providing such slick devices at reasonable prices and with impressive app support, why would you want to pay a premium for a Windows device that’s a pain to use? It’s not that I’m pro-Apple or anti-Microsoft, it’s just that I’m pro-usability. I’d really like to see Windows Phone 7 running on a tablet, I think it would provide a much smoother user experience than desktop Windows given a sloppy mobile makeover. Until then, I can’t see Windows making much headway in the consumer tablet space. Life’s too short to tolerate desktop Windows on a tablet.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/blogs/gadgets-on-the-go/can-windows-cut-it-on-consumer-tablets-20110415-1dh68.html#ixzz1JpHejbbR

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