Twitter won't have ads in 2009, says Biz Stone

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

TWITTER has no plans to put advertisements on the popular microblogging site this year, cofounder Biz Stone says.

Mr Stone said Twitter was "pretty good right now" with regards to funding. He said the company's immediate focus was on improving and introducing new features, including an upgraded search function and paid-for commercial accounts.

"Any kind of approach toward advertising is going to be a while. We're not thinking about that just yet," Mr Stone said at the 140: Twitter Conference in Los Angeles.

Privately held Twitter has received plenty of venture funding, but Mr Stone declined to disclose the amounts or valuation.

TechCrunch recently reported that a new round of funding would value Twitter at $US1 billion ($1.14 billion).

Still in its infancy, the fledgling company has become a cultural phenomenon – but Twitter and other social networking websites have yet to show investors how they will start earning a profit.

To that end, Mr Stone said Twitter would aim to sell premium features to commercial users this year.

"We wanted to show people that we're here to stay and here we are making money," Mr Stone said.

Those features could include "light analytics" tools that allow commercial users to gather data on their followers, he said.

Playstation 3 Slim

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There is a lot to like about Sony's newest PlayStation, nicknamed the PlayStation 3 Slim.

Undoubtedly an effort to move consoles en masse before Christmas, this games machine seems like a cunning purchase for those who didn't jump on board the PlayStation 3 bandwagon in 2007 when the machine cost $999.

This slimmed-down $499 model replaces that pricey machine, and Sony insists it is just as good. Connect broke the new games machine from its packaging to find out if that is true.

One thing is certain about this new console: it's slimmer and prettier than the one before. The new PlayStation is neither as wide nor as tall as its predecessor, giving the 32 per cent smaller machine a fresh and sleek appearance.

Also improving its aesthetics is the finish on this console: it now has a textured feel on its top and bottom, with glossy accents on the sides alone, limiting fingerprint smudges.
Other changes are more subtle, including the new PS3 logo on its top and the physical eject and on buttons that replace their touch-sensitive counterparts.

It's worth noting that this console also consumes 34 per cent less power than the other PS3, and is 36 per cent lighter.

The game machine still weighs 3.4kg, however, so while convenient this weight loss is not likely to make the PS3 a regular passenger in your carry bag.

Like the last model, this PS3 has only two USB ports, down from four on the original, and no slot for a memory card.

It does, however, boast a sizeable 120GB hard drive that Sony intends to put to use in future with more PlayStation Network games for download and, by the end of the year, movie downloads.

Tricky techy users can also swap this hard drive for an even larger model with instructions provided in the pack.

The operation can be as simple as undoing one screw and slotting in the replacement drive, and goes a long way to future-proofing this device.

The new PS3 still works as a Blu-ray DVD player, making it one of the cheapest players on the market, and it comes with wireless internet connectivity built-in and a DualShock3 SIXASIS controller.

The new model comes with an optical cable that plugs into the red, white and yellow AV ports on older TVs, though it also has an HDMI connection you can use if you own a spare HDMI cable and high-definition TV.

After setting it up, there is no discernible difference between the $1000 original PlayStation 3
and its new, half-price replacement. The graphics are slick, the sound punchy and the controller quakes in your hands as if you really are holding a rifle.

The only difference is if you try and insert a PlayStation 2 game disc into the new machine.

As it lacks the Emotion Engine of the original model, it cannot play these discs and a sad message appears to inform you that ``this PS3 is not compatible with PS2 software''. As long as you keep a working PS2, this should be an inconvenience rather than a deal-breaker.

The new PlayStation 3 seems like it delivers a lot of technology for the money, and is further proof that good things come to those who wait.

With this machine on the market, and a fresh price cut to the top Xbox 360 model, new gamers
appear to be in for an interesting Christmas.

Cops busted playing Nintendo Wii during raid

Monday, September 28, 2009

police officers in the US may have bowled themselves out of a job after they were caught playing a Nintendo Wii bowling game during a drug raid.

The undercover drug investigators face disciplinary action after a security camera filmed them playing the video game while they raided a convicted drug dealer’s home in Polk County, Florida, the Associated Press reports.

The officers were executing a search warrant but, within minutes of entering the home in March, several officers discovered the Nintendo game and started playing it.

Video footage shows one officer continuously stopping her work to play the game, and jumping up and down in celebration after hitting two strikes in a row.

The officers were not aware a security camera on the home owner’s computer was filming their every move during the nine-hour raid.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the incident would not invalidate the search, but called it an embarrassment.

“I’m not pleased that they played that Wii bowling game,” Mr Judd said, according to local news site

"That is not appropriate conduct at a search warrant.

"But I am less pleased with the supervision that didn't walk in and say, turn that off. That's what supervision should have done."

Mr Judd said an internal investigation had been launched into the incident.

iPod Nano

Sunday, September 27, 2009

heralds the arrival of spring but it is also the time Apple announces its annual iPod refresh and this year was no different.

Chief executive officer Steve Jobs, in his first public appearance since undergoing a liver transplant during a six-month leave of absence, took to the stage for the announcement and received a not-unexpected standing ovation.

But apart from the good news on Jobs's improving health, there was new products to reveal, including an all-new iPod Nano with an integrated video camera and FM radio, updated iPod Touch and iPod Shuffle and a brand new version of the popular music application iTunes.

Outwardly the new Nano looks similar to its predecessor except it now has a polished anodised aluminium finish. The screen is also slightly larger 5.6cm up from 5cm.

But glance at the back of the iPod and you will find something never seen before on an iPod - a video camera.
Its small dimensions mean the iPod Nano is easy to carry and now, apart from playing music and videos, it can also capture videos.

Video is recorded at a VGA resolution of 640 x 480 and at 30 frames per second. It is also possible to add 15 special effects including sepia, black and white, film grain, motion blur and mirror.

And sharing those videos is a snap once the Nano is docked with a PC. Mac users can upload the videos directly via iPhoto to a blog or Facebook. The videos are also easy to send up to the most popular video sharing site of all - YouTube.

One criticism of the iPod range has been the lack of a built-in FM tuner which has been a common feature on rival MP3 players and mobile phones. Well that shortcoming can now be scratched from the list. Apple has added an FM radio to the Nano and thrown in a few more cool features as well.

The first is Live Pause which, as its name suggests, allows the listener to put the brakes on during a broadcast and resume exactly where they left off.

It is also possible to rewind the broadcast for up to 15 minutes and then fast forward to get back to the live broadcast.

And trying to find out the name of that song you just heard is also easier as the Nano can now keep a list of songs played on its memory.

Runners and gym users will find the iPod Nano's small size convenient. When used with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit it will keep track of your fitness but also doubles as a pedometer using the built-in accelerometer to keep track of the number of steps taken per day.

The iPod Nano is priced at $199 (8GB) or $249 (16GB).

Google taken to court for 'forgery'

Saturday, September 26, 2009

publishers and authors have taken Google to court, saying the US internet giant was counterfeiting their books by digitising them for sale online. Backed by France's 530-member Publishers' Association (SNE) and its SGDL Society of Authors, the plaintiffs are contesting Google's 2005 campaign to digitise books without the prior authorisation of publishers or authors.

"It is unacceptable that someone would arrogantly take your books and digitise them without asking," Herve de la Martiniere, whose eponymous publishing group controls France's Seuil publishing house, said.

Seuil filed its suit accusing Google France and Google Inc of forgery back in June 2006 but had to wait until today before the case finally reached a courtroom.

Mr De la Martiniere reckons up to 4000 works published by his group have been digitised by Google without his consent.

The SNE estimates about 100,000 French books that are still under copyright have been digitised by the internet company.

Controversy over the 2005 Google Book Search plan has been particularly strong in France since the launch of talks in August between Google and France's National Library, the BNF.
The BNF's move to digitise its collections with Google's help due to the huge cost of the process has triggered a storm of protest.

And the French Government this month slammed Google's plan to create the world's largest digital library and online bookstore.

It said it did not conform to either "intellectual property law or to competition law and constitutes a threat to cultural diversity".

The remarks were made by the culture ministry in a submission to a New York court considering the legality of Google's plans. The submission argued that the deal would undermine French authors' rights.

The internet giant responded by offering to remove all books still on sale in Europe from a US online market offering millions of titles that are out of print in the United States.

And Google France said: "Our goal is to give fresh life to millions of books that are out of stock or difficult to find, while respecting authors' copyright."

The court case in Paris comes as Google and US authors and publishers agree to go back to the drawing board to revise a controversial legal settlement on the same issue.

The US Justice Department had said the book-scanning project "has the potential to breathe life into millions of works that are now effectively off limits" but it raises copyright and anti-trust issues in its current form.

Google and the authors and publishers reached the settlement last year to a copyright infringement suit they filed against the Mountain View, California, company in 2005.

Under the settlement, Google agreed to pay $US125 million ($144 million) to resolve outstanding claims and establish an independent Book Rights Registry, which would provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitise their books.

But Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo! filed objections to the settlement with the court along with the French and German governments, privacy advocates and consumer watchdog groups.

The Justice Department raised a number of issues in opposing the settlement.

It said the settlement would give Google sole authority over so-called "orphan works" - books whose copyright holder cannot be found - and books by foreign rights holders.

The department recommended providing additional protections for unknown rights holders and addressing the concerns of foreign authors and publishers.

It also proposed setting up a mechanism by which Google's competitors can gain comparable access to book collections.

Victorians would give up sex, partner or car before internet

Friday, September 25, 2009

T'S official - Victorians simply can't live without the internet.

A new survey shows most of the state would give up sex, our car or even our partner before surrendering the beloved internet.

When given a list of things they could survive without for a month, seven out of 10 Victorians said they would rather give up their partner than their internet - higher than the national average, the Herald Sun reports.

Victorians also claimed they could give up chocolate or their daily coffee in favour of the worldwide web.

The list of things they were asked to rank in order included sex, their car, mobile phone, annual overseas holiday and landline telephone.

Internet users in NSW, South Australia and Queensland were less likely to trade their partner for the net.

Victorian families have doubled and even tripled their internet usage in the past five years, the Optus Family Communication Survey reveals.

But only 26 per cent is reserved for work or study.

The rest is spent browsing entertainment sites or social sites for personal reasons.

It revealed kids aged 10 to 17 are twice as likely to use the internet as a gateway for social networking than as a tool to help with their homework.

Asked how the internet improved the quality of their family life, nine out of 10 Victorians said it was the best way of obtaining new information.

Eight out of 10 prized it for cheap and effective communication, while others love its ability to let them work from home.

Advertisers pay for personal Facebook information

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FACEBOOK users beware: advertisers are watching your page and they know what you need.

Relationship status single? Dating agency ads pop up on your Facebook page.

Update your status to engaged and the spruiking is suddenly about wedding gowns, weight loss and planning hens' nights.

Married? Then you must be thinking about babies, credit cards and mortgages.

Australia's six million Facebook users are being targeted by businesses, which pay tens of thousands of dollars a month for access to personal information.

The advertising strategies are so refined businesses can target their products according to sex, age, location, relationship status, job title, workplace or university.

Even subjects such as favourite music or pastimes can be drilled into for the purposes of marketing.

Advertisers respond to a Facebook page update in the blink of an eye.

The Sunday Telegraph witnessed one user change their status from single to engaged last week.
Related Coverage

Your Say

Stop ads and stop facebook. It free so stop your complaining. Or go back to the old days of friends reunited when you paid an annual subscription...

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CB of Perth

Within half an hour, an ad for a dating agency was replaced by one for a building inspection company that asked: "Buying a property?".

Shannan Human, 30, of Dee Why, said ads on her profile page changed drastically when she changed such identifying details as her relationship status.

"Since I've changed my status to married I keep getting all this baby stuff, and I don't want to have a baby," she said.

"And when I changed to engaged I used to get stacks of wedding gown ads and weight-loss ads.

"I find it a bit of a pest, to be honest. I use Facebook primarily as a social networking site to keep in touch with my friends and family.

"I feel like it's an invasion of my privacy if I don't want my stuff sold to a third party - I'm there to socialise with friends, not to make money for other people."

Ben Bevins, 30, became engaged to his fiance Lauren in December and noticed the ads for wedding suits and rings straightaway.

"It was actually a good break from all the muscle-building ads and 'single women in your area' ads," he said, laughing.

Facebook regional vice-president Paul Borrud defended the advertising policy.

He said an engaged woman receiving ads for wedding shoes was better than her being bombarded by ads for singles nights.

"The internet has moved from anonymity to authenticity," Mr Borrud said. "It is about real people; the advertising is going to a real person, and what you were into 10 years ago - movies, music, books - has changed.

"So it gives the advertiser the chance to engage with a community based on what they are today."

He refused to say how many complaints Facebook received about advertising, saying users were more likely to find the ads useful if they applied to them specifically.

He said online-ad spending had increased by 18.5 per cent in the past year and in Australia was worth $1.8 billion.

Australian companies that recently embarked on big Facebook campaigns include Coca-Cola, KFC and Cricket Australia.

CA's official fan page, which is part of its marketing strategy, has 26,467 "fans", who are given information about ticketing, events and special offers.

KFC Australia has 86,084 fans and Coca-Cola enticed people to join their page by offering free surf lessons in conjunction with local surf schools.

Mr Borrud refused to reveal how much campaigns were worth, or how many local companies every one of them is an ad man's dream advertised on the site, but admitted the growth had been "exciting".

Information on the site says campaigns can cost anywhere from $200 to more than $100,000, and can be paid per click or per impression.

But Facebook groups have begun protesting against the ads, with incensed users labelling it a "violation". The group People Against Intrusive Advertising on Facebook states: "Facebook is getting greedy at our expense".

The petition for no advertising on Facebook says the site is for networking, not marketing.

Facebook tells users in its conditions that it supplies information in their profiles to third parties.

"We do this for purposes such as aggregating how many people in a network like a band or movie and personalising advertisements and promotions so that we can provide you Facebook," the privacy policy reads."We believe this benefits you.

"You can know more about the world around you and, where there are advertisements, they're more likely to be interesting to you.

"For example, if you put a favorite movie in your profile, we might serve you an advertisement highlighting a screening of a similar one in your town."

More money goes on mobile than petrol

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

THE mobile phone is eating a larger slice of the household budget than petrol this year, as the aftershocks of the global financial crisis force Australians to shift some of their consumption back to home base.

Spending on food, electricity, gas and water have increased as part of the changing patterns of consumption.

A study by The Australian using unpublished official data shows spending on motoring fuel was at historic lows at just 2.4 per cent of household expenditure in the June quarter national accounts, while the share that went to telecommunications was 0.1 points higher at 2.5 per cent.

It is the second occasion this decade the mobile phone has cost more consumer dollars than petrol, following a similar run between 2001 and 2004.

This is part of a wider pattern in which Australians are spending more time and money in the kitchen and living room.

$900 a month on telecommunications for a month, including $500 for mobile phones - all for a family of 4? I don't fe...

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A snapshot of the typical household budget in the June quarter last year, before the global financial crisis hit, showed energy bills accounted for 20.5 per cent of spending, followed by transport on 12 per cent and food on 10.8 per cent.

A year on, the share of spending that went to electricity, gas and water was 0.7 points higher at 21.2 per cent, while food was up 0.3 points to 11.1 per cent. This filled the vacuum left by the reduction in spending on transport, which lost 1.3 points to 10.7 per cent.

Transport comprises the purchase and operation of vehicles. All items were significantly down on a year ago.

Car buying dropped from 3.7 per cent to 3.2 per cent of total spending, while motoring fuel slipped from 3.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

Telecommunication services, by contrast, held their ground at 2.5 per cent.

The swings and roundabouts suggest the typical family put off the purchase of a new vehicle in 2008-09, drove their existing car less often and used the savings indoors on home-cooked meals and long nights in front of the flatscreen television.

The lower spending on petrol comprises both a short-term shock and a longer-term trend.

Petrol's share of the household budget is now almost half what it was a generation ago, when it claimed 4.4 per cent of total spending in the June quarter of 1984. At that time, telecommunication services were a mere hobby at 1.3 per cent.

The price of petrol is considered the most politically sensitive product after property and both sides of politics have been unwilling to increase taxes on motorists.

iPod Nano

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SEPTEMBER heralds the arrival of spring but it is also the time Apple announces its annual iPod refresh and this year was no different.

Chief executive officer Steve Jobs, in his first public appearance since undergoing a liver transplant during a six-month leave of absence, took to the stage for the announcement and received a not-unexpected standing ovation.

But apart from the good news on Jobs's improving health, there was new products to reveal, including an all-new iPod Nano with an integrated video camera and FM radio, updated iPod Touch and iPod Shuffle and a brand new version of the popular music application iTunes.

Outwardly the new Nano looks similar to its predecessor except it now has a polished anodised aluminium finish. The screen is also slightly larger 5.6cm up from 5cm.

But glance at the back of the iPod and you will find something never seen before on an iPod - a video camera.
Its small dimensions mean the iPod Nano is easy to carry and now, apart from playing music and videos, it can also capture videos.

Video is recorded at a VGA resolution of 640 x 480 and at 30 frames per second. It is also possible to add 15 special effects including sepia, black and white, film grain, motion blur and mirror.

And sharing those videos is a snap once the Nano is docked with a PC. Mac users can upload the videos directly via iPhoto to a blog or Facebook. The videos are also easy to send up to the most popular video sharing site of all - YouTube.

One criticism of the iPod range has been the lack of a built-in FM tuner which has been a common feature on rival MP3 players and mobile phones. Well that shortcoming can now be scratched from the list. Apple has added an FM radio to the Nano and thrown in a few more cool features as well.

The first is Live Pause which, as its name suggests, allows the listener to put the brakes on during a broadcast and resume exactly where they left off.

It is also possible to rewind the broadcast for up to 15 minutes and then fast forward to get back to the live broadcast.

And trying to find out the name of that song you just heard is also easier as the Nano can now keep a list of songs played on its memory.

Runners and gym users will find the iPod Nano's small size convenient. When used with the Nike+iPod Sport Kit it will keep track of your fitness but also doubles as a pedometer using the built-in accelerometer to keep track of the number of steps taken per day.

The iPod Nano is priced at $199 (8GB) or $249 (16GB).

5 Keys for Full Recovery in the Cloud

Monday, September 21, 2009

While cloud computing Boost customer satisfaction + retention with Service Cloud 2. Click to learn more. is a familiar term, its definitions can vary greatly. So when it comes to online backup, the cloud is an important feature that can play a large role in securing and protecting during a disaster, which I like to refer to as "cloud recovery."

In order to be worthy of this cloud recovery title, a solution should have the following five features, which I have outlined below.
1. Recover Workloads in the Cloud

There is an old saying in the data protection business that the whole point of backing up is preparing to restore. Having a backup copy of your data is important, but it takes more than a pile of tapes (or an online account) to restore. You might need a replacement server, new storage, and maybe even a new data center, depending on what went wrong.

The traditional solutions to this need are to either keep spare servers in a disaster recovery data center or suffer the downtime while you order and configure new equipment. With a cloud recovery solution, you don't want just your data in the cloud -- you want the ability to actually start up applications and use them, no matter what went wrong in your environment.
2. Unlimited Scalability

If you were buying disaster recovery servers for yourself, you would have to buy one for each of your critical production servers. The whole point of recovering to the cloud is that they already have plenty of servers.

The ideal cloud recovery solution won't charge you for those servers up front but is sure to have as much capacity as you need, when you need it. Under this model, your costs are much lower than building it yourself, because you get the benefit of duplicating your environment without the cost.
3. Pay-Per-Use Billing

I love pay-as-you-go business models because they force the vendor to have a good product. Plus, this make the buying decision much easier -- just sign up for a month or two (or six), and see how it goes.

Removing the up-front price and long-term commitment shifts the risk away from the customer and onto the vendor. The vendor just has to keep the quality up to keep customers loyal.

We also know that data centers are more cost-efficient at larger scale, especially the management effort, and they require constant improvement. In your own data center, you might have some custom configurations, but in the data recovery data center, you just need racks, stacks of servers, power and cooling. You are much better off paying a monthly fee to someone who specializes.
4. Secure and Reliable Infrastructure

Lots of people like to bash cloud providers for security and reliability, but I think they hold the providers to the wrong standard. Although it is fine, in the abstract, to point out all the places where cloud providers don't achieve perfection in security and reliability, as a customer evaluating a cloud vendor, it seems better to compare them to your own capabilities.

I believe that most of the major cloud providers' infrastructures are more secure and more reliable than those of most private data centers. The point is that security and reliability are hard, but they are easier at scale. Having control over your own data center isn't enough -- you also have to spend the money to buy the necessary equipment, software Manage and grow your business with Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition, and expertise. For most companies, infrastructure is a necessary evil. Companies like Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) More about and Rackspace do infrastructure for a living, they and do it at huge scale. Sure, Amazon's outages get reported in news, but do you think you can outperform them over the next couple of years?
5. Complete Protection

Remember the "preparing to restore" line? For me, it really comes home in this idea of complete protection. If your backup product asks you what you want to protect, I am already suspicious. My vote is, "get it all." I see lots of online products offering 20GB plans, and to me, they look like an accident waiting to happen. I don't want to know which files I need to protect -- I want to click "start" and know that any time I want, I can click "recover", and there won't be any "please insert your original disk" issues.

The places people normally get bitten by this are with databases (do you have the right agent?), configuration changes (patched your server, or added a new directory of files?), and weird applications (the one that a consultant set up, and you don't really understand how it works). Complete protection means that all of these things can be protected without requiring an expert in either your own systems, or with the cloud recovery solution

Nokia reveals Booklet 3G netbook

Friday, September 18, 2009

THE world's top mobile phone maker Nokia has announced its entry into the computer market with a cut-size notebook.

The Nokia Booklet 3G netbook will run Microsoft Windows, weigh 1.25kg and offer up to 12 hours of battery life.

Nokia said it would announce more details, including the price, in September.

Netbooks are low-cost notebooks designed for surfing the web and other basic functions.

Pioneered by Asustek with the hit Eee PC in 2007, netbooks have since been rolled out by other brands such as HP and Dell.

"A growing number of people want the computing power of a PC with the full benefits of mobility," said Kai Oistamo, Nokia's executive vice president for devices.

A source close to Nokia said the new netbook would use the upcoming Windows 7 operating system.

A stripped-down version of Windows 7 will be released for netbooks at the same time as its general release on October 22.


Nokia's announcement comes as mobile phone manufacturers such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson are facing sliding sales for their handsets.

The financial crisis has deterred many customers from buying new phones, while "smart" models such as the iPhone and Blackberry have taken sales away from the established phone giants.

Cut-throat market

Nokia said earlier this year it was considering entering the laptop industry, crossing the border between two converging industries in the opposite direction to Apple, which entered the phone industry in 2007 with the iPhone.

However analysts have worried that entering the PC industry, where margins are traditionally razor-thin, could hurt Nokia's profits.

"We are fully aware what has the margin level been in the PC world. We have gone into this with our eyes wide open," said Kai Oistamo, the head of Nokia's phone unit.

"There's really an opportunity to bring fresh perspective to the PC world," he said, adding that Nokia would introduce extended battery life and continuous connectivity.

Nokia has produced PCs before, but divested the unit in 1991 when it started to focus on the mobile phone industry.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said the success of Nokia's netbook may depend on how well it stood out from other products.

"The question is: How will Nokia differentiate? This is already a crowded market," she said.

"If they manage to differentiate it's going to give them competitive advantage."

Apple in hot water over 'exploding iPhones'

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SIX new cases of "exploding iPhones" have emerged in France as Apple faces an official inquiry and calls to come clean over possible risks linked to the iPhone.

An 80-year-old pensioner from the Paris suburbs said his iPhone screen cracked up in his hands, a day after a supermarket watchman claimed he was hurt in the eye when his screen suddenly shattered this week.

In the latest French incident, Rolland Caufman, a pensioner from the Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Sec, says his iPhone screen broke up the week after he bought it.

"I went out shopping, with my iPhone in my left pocket, when I suddenly felt it heat up and start vibrating - even though I never use the vibrate setting.

"I took it out of my pocket and held it to my ear - and saw the screen crack up like a car windscreen," he said.

Mr Caufman says Apple initially refused to believe him, before finally sending him a free replacement.

Watchdog investigation

Ten French consumers have now come forward saying their iPhone screens exploded or cracked without explanation, including the first case in mid-August in which a teenager suffered an eye injury.

Apple is accused of trying to hush up 15 cases of iPod music players overheating and bursting into flames in the US and in one similar UK case, all apparently due to overheated lithium ion batteries.

None of the incidents has caused a serious injury but Apple was forced to defend the safety of its flagship smartphone before the European Union this month, insisting the exploding screen cases were "isolated incidents".

The US technology giant, which has sold 26 million iPhones and 200 million iPods to date, said it been informed of the French cases, but would not comment until it had examined the damaged phones.

"We are aware of these reports and we are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers. Until we have the full details, we don't have anything further to add," said Alan Hely, head of communications at Apple Europe.

But France's official competition, consumer affairs and fraud watchdog, the DGCCRF, has launched an investigation to find out whether the Apple smartphone could pose a threat to consumers.

"An investigation is under way. We have been alerted to the problem and we are looking into it closely," a spokesman said this week.

Coming clean

France's consumer rights group, UFC-Que Choisir, also called on Apple to come clean about possible faults with its iPod and iPhone devices.

"We want to know if this is an isolated incident as they claim, or a real problem involving the iPhone - in which case, what are they planning by way of compensation and to prevent it happening again?" a spokesman said.

On Tuesday, 26-year-old security guard Yassine Bouhadi, claimed he was hit in the eye with a glass shard when the screen of his iPhone cracked up. He said he would seek a full refund and file suit for damages.

French mobile phone operator Orange said it had been contacted by two customers with shattered iPhone screens, out of 1.2 million iPhones sold.

The European Commission has asked all 27 EU nations to keep it informed of any problems, under the community's rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products, known as RAPEX.

Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said "Apple has been very cooperative", stressing that RAPEX alerts were issued every week - sometimes leading to mass product recalls, but at other times with no consequence.

"We're not there yet. We just need to monitor closely now and see if these are isolated incidents," she said.

"We'll be vigilant and if necessary we'll take further actions. But we need to examine the situation better."

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W180

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BACK in the day, keen photographers were forced to choose between investing in a big-screen TV and a 3-megapixel digital camera.

So cutting-edge was the technology, you'd have to pay through the nose for a device you could barely fit in a carry bag and photos you could barely print.

Now, as proof of how far the devices have come, Sony has released a super-slim 10-megapixel shooter with some of the latest technology that will give you change from $300.

Up close, the Cyber-shot W180 does not look like a cheap camera.

Its silver, red or black metal form is sophisticated, minimalist and improbably small. At just 1.8cm thin, this camera will slip into the tightest of jeans pockets and at 118g it won't make a big impact on your carry bag either.

While this camera does not feature every mod con, it fits several inside its modest body.

That includes a 3x optical zoom that will get you a little closer to faraway objects or landmarks and a 6x digital zoom that magnifies the image even more.

Given that this is a 10-megapixel camera, photographers are safe to use this additional magnification without fearing poor photo quality.
Related Coverage

* Canon creates underwater cameraCourier Mail, 1 Jul 2009
* Flash memory shrinks videocamsAustralian IT, 16 Jun 2009
* Sleek Sony camcorder a solid, 3 Jun 2009
* FujiFilm camera will do the, 8 May 2009
* Sony Ericsson, 5 May 2009

Sony has also added its SteadyShot image stabilisation to the camera to keep blur out of your photos and this can be aided by a light sensitivity rating of up to 3200 ISO. Naturally, photos get very grainy at the highest setting but it's better than missing a photo altogether.

Sony has thrown Face Detection into this camera, so it can correctly identify and light human faces, and has also added its gimmicky Smile Shutter feature.

When engaged, this determines whether a photo's subjects are smiling and won't capture a shot until all faces oblige.

Thankfully, users can alter the feature's sensitivity, so your friends won't have to bare all their teeth. Even so, Smile Shutter's practical use is limited.

Given its price, this camera is designed for happy snaps and simple settings. But it does boast some options in addition to Auto mode.

These include Program Auto mode that offers the flexibility to change settings such as white balance, its flash power, photo colour and light sensitivity.

Dedicated scene modes such as Landscape, Twilight, Beach and Snow also feature for more specific environments and these are easy to select from the camera's unfussy on-screen menu, accessed with one touch of its Menu button.

This camera also captures video, recording it in AVI files, though the zoom is not available when recording.

Read more from the Gadget Girl Though the Cyber-shot W180 has a lot, it lacks plenty too. There is no Intelligent Auto mode on this camera, nor is there any Shadow Adjustment for dealing with highlights and lowlights.

The camera's Macro setting for close-ups requires a few attempts to attain a crisp focus, time-lapse night photography options are limited and the camera takes 2.5 seconds to start and will only capture one photo per second.

This camera also comes without a memory card, so you'll have to add that cost to its price. The Sony Cyber-shot W180 camera gives users plenty for its price, however, and should be a boon to for those who want simple snaps while saving on bulk.

Facebook Looks To Expand

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Facebook expects to generate £300m in revenues this year

He has outlined plans to increase the number of people working for the world's most popular social networking site from 1,000 to 1,500.

"No one else has been hiring," Mr Zuckerberg said. "It's been a great environment for us because the economy has helped out."

Facebook hit 200 million registered users in April this year and its revenues, according to Mr Zuckerberg, will grow by 70% this year.

Since its humble beginnings in his Harvard University room five years ago, Facebook has tried to stay above water financially, he said.

Mark Zuckerberg

"The first servers that I had I rented for $85 (£51) a month," he explained.

"We'd put ads on the site and then when I had money to get another server, I'd get another."

The company has now received investments totalling more than £363m.

Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian investment firm, valued Facebook at £6bn and paid £120m for less than 2% of the company in May.

"We think of that mostly as a buffer," Mr Zuckerberg said.

"We didn't take that round of financing with any particular goal in mind."

Eliminating the Mobile Security Blind Spot

Monday, September 14, 2009

Office-bound workers at most companies today have a significant amount of IT security available to them when best practices are followed. Their computers are physically secure; their hard drives are hopefully encrypted; secure Web gateways, intrusion-prevention systems and firewalls block dangers from the Internet. Audit trails are in place. Passwords and policies are enforced. Data protection is comprehensive.

Take that computer outside of that office Apple Store Discount on Office 2008 for Mac - Home and Student Edition . Click here., and much of that protection is not available or much less effective -- creating a "mobile blind spot," when mobile control is in the hands of the employee and no longer in the hands of IT. It's like a driver changing lanes on a busy freeway -- there's often a blind spot where another car might be hiding outside of the driver's field of vision. No matter what precautions the driver takes, the blind spot presents a potential for danger because the driver simply cannot see what's there. This mobile blind spot is an issue because when a laptop leaves the office, it oftentimes takes with it very sensitive data, and the IT department loses visibility of that data. Additionally, IT has no control over the laptop or its usage, and that punches a hole in its security integrity.

2009 is expected to bring even greater security threats, as industry watchers anticipate more attacks via the Web, increasingly dangerous social networking threats and more effective botnets. Add to this an anticipated slew of cyber-laws that will push companies to prove compliance on all computers and restricted data, and it's easy to see the impact the mobile blind spot can have on an enterprise.

The real issue with getting visibility into the mobile blind spot is the comprehensive nature of the solution needed. It must emulate all of the protections offered to office users -- protecting the data on the hard drive, protecting the laptop itself, guarding the connection, providing network access control and facilitating laptop management. Let's address each of these issues individually.

Protecting Sensitive Data

The value of the data on many remote computers makes encryption of the data on a laptop one of the first solutions that many companies implement for remote worker data security. Too frequently, it is often the only solution they implement, leaving the laptop vulnerable in other ways.

The primary solutions needed to protect data on a mobile computer are encryption as well as "remote kill" capabilities. Encryption has evolved in the past few years from file- and folder-based encryption to full-disk encryption (FDE). This is an important advance because it protects swap space and temporary files that can reveal sensitive information. Also, full-disk encryption eliminates the need for the user to differentiate which location on the drive is encrypted; FDE solutions automatically encrypt every file on the hard disk.

In addition to FDE, "remote kill" capabilities are important in the event that the laptop is misplaced or stolen. Given enough computing power, or the right social engineering, a hacker can break an encryption key and gain access to data. With a remote kill capability, once IT learns of the loss of a laptop, it can delete all of the encryption keys/access to the encrypted drive, making it virtually impossible to decrypt the data. The best of these solutions also have the ability to reinstate access if the laptop is recovered. Strong "remote kill" capability will work whenever IT needs it to, regardless of the end user actions -- i.e. even if the laptop is offline or physically turned off. Such solutions leverage out-of-band networks to initiate the kill feature.

Protecting the Device

According to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, nearly 637,000 laptops are lost each year in large to medium-sized U.S. airports. The survey notes that 76 percent of companies surveyed reported losing one or more laptops each year and that 53 percent of people surveyed said that their lost laptops contain confidential company information. Getting these laptops back is a cost-effective way to manage assets, especially in the case where the laptop is misplaced and regaining possession of it would both keep the remote worker productive and would eliminate a security issue.

GPS tracking is an emerging capability built into many new laptops and available as a security add-on for existing laptops that provides the ability to track the whereabouts of the computer if it is stolen.

Guarding Connectivity

Data encrypted on the hard drive is not always protected if it's being sent via email or transmitted across an unprotected Internet link. Virtual private networks (VPN) are an essential tool for connectivity protection, encrypting data while it is being transmitted. However, many mobile workers are given the choice of whether to use a VPN by their enterprise.

With so many Web-based threats, an effective VPN solution is always up, any time a user connects to the Internet, regardless of the intended use or the interface over which they connect.

Facilitating Laptop Management

Providing patch management protection to remote devices has always been difficult because of bandwidth limitations or other policies. In fact, many companies measure the time it takes a patch to be implemented from the time it's made available by IT in weeks or even months. Naturally, the need for fast patching is now even greater due to faster vulnerability development and too many patches, with simply not enough time between the time an exploit is in the wild and when IT can send out the patch.

The speed of these viruses can be scary. For example, in early January 2009, the Downadup, aka Conficker, virus began spreading to computers at an unusually fast pace. The virus jumped from 2.4 million to 8.9 million infections in only four days, according to F-Secure More about F-Secure. Despite Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) More about Microsoft issue of a patch in October, users continued to become infected by the fast-moving virus because they neglected to install the patch.

According to the SANS Internet Storm Center, an unpatched Windows XP system connected to the Internet can be infected in an average of four minutes. This is a troubling fact, considering a sizable amount of remote users routinely neglect necessary patch downloads.

A strong solution targeting mobile users will proactively push patches to the laptop upon the availability of the patch and not rely on the endpoint to pull the patch from the patch management servers.

Another management issue is data backup. Most enterprises implement systematic backups to alleviate the potential loss of data from a computer malfunction. However, these backups rely on frequent transfers of large amounts of information. An employee faced with inconsistent access speeds or only a few minutes a day to log on to the enterprise network may not wait for the daily backup to complete before taking control of the access connection. Employees commonly postpone imminent backups. As a result, overdue backups may build up to the point where large amounts of critical information are exposed to potential risk.

Software update distributions and inventory collections streamline computer management in enterprises with a large base of managed computers. However, this can be difficult to sustain when a sizable number of laptops are assigned to mobile employees.

Even while on the road, the remote worker will need to tap network resources -- with the potential to bring outside viruses to the enterprise network. One of the most popular approaches to restricting network access is with endpoint policy enforcement applications based on network access control (NAC) or network access protection (NAP). These mechanisms restrict network access for hosts with software that does not comply with current corporate policies. When a policy violation is detected while connecting to the enterprise network, the protection mechanisms validate the host software and quarantine the host to a restricted portion of the enterprise network.

Eliminating Mobile Blind Spot

To fully eliminate the mobile blind spot, IT must do its best to emulate the full protection offered to office-bound worker to those in the field. That means putting together a solution that implements all of the functionality mentioned above. This raises management and updating questions for the IT department, so finding as many of the functions as possible in an integrated solution helps to cut down on management and helpdesk calls.

The cost benefit can make the effort worthwhile, as an effective mobile blind spot solution not only makes mobile computing more effective, but also ensures that customer information is protected and any unfortunate hardware losses have a minimal impact on the business

3 Tips for Brushing Up B2B Security

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Companies are seeking to establish electronic relationships with as many business partners as possible to enhance competitiveness, make it easier for important third parties to engage with them, cut time and space out of transaction cycle times and drive down the cost of doing business. As a result of exponential growth in electronic information sharing, it's no surprise that higher volumes of sensitive and confidential data are being exchanged, and correspondingly, there are many more opportunities for cybercriminals to steal valuable information. Now more than ever, business partners need to make practical, effective data protection part of the DNA of their business-to-business (B2B) communities.

These problems affect any company that communicates electronically with business partners, whether it's communicating with the bank for payroll processing or sending a purchase order to a trading partner. For example, in the retail industry, volumes of confidential documents facilitating the buying and selling of goods up and down the supply chain between retailers, wholesalers and distributors are sent electronically and need to be protected. In the healthcare More about healthcare industry, patient information is sent between hospitals, clinics and insurance providers, and business documents move between suppliers, business service providers and healthcare facilities. Protecting business documents moving up and down the supply chain in any industry is critical to securing company confidential information.

You can establish and maintain secure electronic relationships with all of your business partners successfully by following these three foolproof tips.

1. Keep Trading Partner Information Up to Date

Because of the importance of data security today, companies are taking a wholesale look at their trading partner community. Most companies trade within large B2B communities that use a plethora of technologies for data exchange. The challenge then becomes how to keep up with changes made by what can be hundreds of partners to things like partner contact information, the type of connectivity allowed and security rights information. This also involves setting up an alerting system to keep partners apprised of changes you make to the community, or when things go wrong.

One of the newer best practices for managing business communities is to give partners control over updating this information themselves, much like individuals use business networking sites such as LinkedIn More about LinkedIn to keep business associates apprised of changes in their contact information or employment status. Fortunately, technologies such as online self-service More about self-service B2B business portals now make it easy for companies and their trading partners to update relevant information as it changes and send alerts to all affected parties automatically. This encourages more collaboration and strengthens business relationships while reducing inaccuracies and eliminating the time it takes to update information manually about each trading partner. Empowering your trading partners to update relevant business information simply makes doing business much easier and more efficient.

2. Ensure All Electronic Communication Is Secure

Data exchange connections between trading partners must be secure. The first step to achieving secure e-business is to understand the technological capabilities of each trading partner by conducting an audit.

If your audit identifies the use of an insecure protocol such as FTP or HTTP, the next step is to migrate that connection to a secure protocol that uses SSL or PGP with data encryption such as FTP with PGP, FTPs or HTTPs. You can use one of two models to exchange data with your business partners. You can either encrypt the data before it is transmitted and allow your partner to decrypt it, or you can send unencrypted documents through a secure pipe. Either data transmission approach is secure. The choice of which model to use will depend on the technical capabilities of each trading partner.

Above all, don't let technology get in the way of doing business. Supporting all types of secure protocols will enable your company to establish communications with any company, and they will appreciate your flexibility. While the largest companies can dictate what protocols their partners must use to exchange data, the best practice for establishing a successful e-business community is to maintain an open policy to accommodate all trading partners, from the largest to the smallest.

Finally, it is also important for you to have visibility into the status of all transactions to ensure that documents were transmitted and received. Some secure protocols such as AS2 apprise the sender of when a document is delivered by sending an acknowledgement; with others it's up to the administrator to set up a response system manually.

3. Determine the Best Way to Communicate With Each Partner

The reality is many companies are doing business with hundreds of business partners, some more than others. You can maintain each relationship directly, outsource the relationship to a third party, or adopt a hybrid approach. There are pros and cons to each method, but all approaches are viable and can be adapted to fit your company's unique circumstance.

In most supply chains, the 80/20 rule applies. In general, 20 percent of trading partners generate 80 percent of a company's revenue. If a company trades with 500 suppliers, for example, 100 of those would be responsible for 80 percent of its business. The cost of establishing and maintaining the other 400 connections could be high with little return.

Under a hybrid strategy Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales, you might manage your top-20-percent business partners using AS2, for example, and would outsource the managing of the other 80 percent of your trading partners to a third-party provider. This would allow you to maintain a direct link to your most important business partners, and save money by partnering with a third-party vendor to manage the multitude of smaller trading partners via a portal. To achieve optimal efficiencies and cost savings, your goal should be 100 percent electronic connectivity with your partners.

Implementing a few best practices will make it easier for you to manage your B2B community securely. Establishing a self-service portal enables trading partners to update changes to their technology and business themselves, reducing your company's administrative responsibility and building stronger business relationships. Adopting an "open" policy by supporting all secure protocols makes it easier to do business with new companies, especially those whose technology resources are limited. Finally, realizing that "one size doesn't necessary fit all" when it comes to managing partner communications can heighten your data exchange operational efficiencies while reducing costs

GAO-Predicted GPS Failure Could Have Drastic Consequences

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The business and national security implications of a Global Positioning Satellite system failure would be too enormous to bear, and as a result, the prediction made in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report is unlikely to come to pass, a Gartner (NYSE: IT) More about Gartner research analyst who follows the industry told TechNewsWorld on Wednesday.

However, businesses that depend on the service would be well-served by taking steps to prepare for an outage anyway, Thilo Koslowski said.

"I don't think we'll have a complete blackout. The implications of a failing GPS would be just tremendous," he commented, "but there may be a couple of bumpy spots."

Diffuse Oversight Led to Delays

The GAO reports in a May 7 study that the U.S. Air Force, which is responsible for acquiring and launching satellites for the system, may not be able to move quickly enough to replace satellites expected to begin failing after 2010.

Technical problems and scattershot oversight have delayed the launch of the first next-generation GPS satellite by almost three years, the report notes. It is now scheduled for November.

Fewer Satellites, Poor Accuracy

Fewer satellites would make it more difficult for GPS devices to obtain the signals they need to precisely measure their own location, especially in challenging terrain.

"Such a gap in capability could have wide-ranging impacts on all GPS users, though there are measures the Air Force and others can take to plan for and minimize these impacts," the report's authors wrote.

Industry Growing Quickly

Industries worldwide depend on GPS systems. The global market for global positioning technologies is expected to reach US$48.8 billion in 2012, based on BCC Research's forecast in a 2007 report.

Truck fleets use GPS to route and manage vehicles; shipping companies track vessels worldwide; and commercial aviation pilots depend on the system to get airline passengers safely to their destinations.

Hundreds of thousands of motorists also use GPS devices to find their way, as do emergency responders who rely on GPS-enabled 911 systems to precisely locate trouble calls.

Military Ramifications

The GAO report also notes that even a partial GPS system failure could have important military ramifications. Precision-guided munitions could lose accuracy, resulting in failed missions or injury or death of innocent bystanders.

The Air Force's delay in implementing the new satellites could also prevent military crews from taking advantage of new capabilities, such as resistance to jamming.

Steps to Take

One way to forestall problems would be for device manufacturers to begin evaluating how to provide more precise signals with fewer satellites, suggested Gartner's Koslowski.

Businesses that depend on GPS may also want to consider alternative strategies, where possible, to minimize disruption, he added.

The GAO recommends in its report that the Secretary of Defense appoint a single agency to oversee the full development, acquisition and implementation cycle for the GPS program to minimize potential disruptions; DoD concurred.

In the Market? Don't Hestitate, Maker Says

In the meantime, GPS users and those interested in buying GPS systems shouldn't flinch, said Jessica Myers, a spokesperson for Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN) More about Garmin, which makes GPS units for the consumer market.

India-based research firm RNCOS forecasts in an April report that shipments of GPS-enabled devices should surpass 700 million units by 2013, and Myers said there's no reason that trend should not continue.

"At this point in time, we're confident that the system will continue to provide the signals that our customers and the nation need," she said. "So much is now dependent on the GSP system. It's amazing how much is woven into it."

Xbox Picks Up PS3's Gauntlet

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to school Apple Store Discount on Office 2008 for Mac - Home and Student Edition . Click here. time is upon us, but it's not just students who will soon be facing homework. Thanks to Thursday's announcement that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) More about Microsoft is cutting the price of its high-end Xbox 360 More about Xbox 360 Elite video game console from US$399 to $299 -- matching that of Sony's (NYSE: SNE) More about Sony new PlayStation 3 More about PlayStation 3 Slim -- consumers will have to study up on which console now better fits their affordable entertainment needs in a down economy.

"It's never been a better time to be a gamer," gaming guide author and consultant David Hodgson told the E-Commerce Times. "I think you're finally seeing a price point that is going to attract a huge mass-market buy. I think you've got the battle lines drawn. But it's going to be a tricky decision on which console to buy."

Microsoft clouded that decision-making process further by trimming the price of the Xbox 360 Pro -- with a 60 GB hard drive -- from $299 to $249, the same price as Nintendo's More about Nintendo best-selling Wii More about Wii console. Microsoft will sell the Pro while supplies last and then will discontinue the model. There are no changes to the cheapest Xbox 360, the Arcade; it remains at $199.

The move confirms reports on some gaming blogs of fliers advertising weekend price cuts coming for the Elite.

Spendy Snapper

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The only unlocked (which means it is not tied to just one wireless service) phone I tested, the Nokia (NYSE: NOK) More about Nokia N97 crams a great digital camera and mess of features into a fairly chunky but still pocketable package.

Because it's not subsidized by a wireless carrier, it's pricey: $699 through Nokia's online store, or $599 through

The N97, which has a big, bright touch screen and easy-to-use slide-out QWERTY keyboard on its side, sports a 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss lens on the back and extremely bright dual LED flash.

The camera took great shots in bright and low light, and I had fun playing with the different settings, which range from simple color filters to light sensitivity and image sharpness options.

The digital zoom wasn't that impressive, as it seemed to blur photos. There is plenty of space to store the photos you do like, though, as the phone includes 32 GB of internal memory. There's also a microSD memory card slot for adding more.

If money is no object and you're looking for a handset that can do a bit of everything, this may be the one.

Zoom Power

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

With its 8-megapixel camera and pretty low price, the silver Sony Ericsson More about Sony Ericsson C905a ($180 from AT&T (NYSE: T) More about AT&T with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate or $50 from with a contract) is a fair option.

The handset is thick but compact, with a slide-out keypad on the bottom. There's no touch screen on the C905a, but there are plenty of buttons to help you along: Dedicated "scenes" and "shoot mode" buttons let you fine-tune the light settings and types of shots (you can take panoramas, for example, or add a frame around your pictures).

The C905a's 16x digital zoom was more helpful than I expected, and it seemed to work more fluidly and produce less blurry images than some other handsets. I was very impressed with the clarity of some photos I took, though the colors could have been a bit brighter.

If you like to snap shots quickly, the C905a may annoy you, though, as it doesn't have the quickest response time.

Marvelous Memoir

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My favorite of the bunch is the 8-megapixel Samsung Memoir, which packs an impressive set of camera and phone functions into a slick package.

The Memoir (US$200 from T-Mobile More about T-Mobile with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate, but available for $50 from (Nasdaq: AMZN) More about with a contract) sports a crisp touchscreen that is helpful for accessing the camera's numerous features. Those include mosaic and panorama shooting modes, as well as a feature that can warn you when one of your photo subjects blinked in a picture.

Taking photos is simple with the dedicated capture and zoom buttons on one side. The Memoir's flash can handle darker scenes fairly well, too.

The Memoir's built-in editing options let you crop photos, adjust colors or white balance, insert various effects and more. If you forgot to take a certain shot in black and white, no problem -- you can adjust it after the fact.

The Memoir has its weak points. It snaps photos slower than another contender I tried, the Palm (Nasdaq: PALM) More about Palm Pre. And like most of the phones I tested, it lacks optical zoom, which gives more detailed images and lets you shoot from farther away. The Memoir uses a digital "zoom" that simply crops and magnifies what you see on the screen to give the appearance of moving in closer.

I often felt the touch screen wasn't that responsive, or at least wasn't doing what I expected it would when I tapped it. It would have been nice if the phone came with more storage space than just a 1 gigabyte memory card, too. Here's a look at some other camera phones.

Water Off an Ugly Duck

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Casio Exilim ($280 with a two-year Verizon Wireless More about Verizon contract and online rebate) was the ugly duckling of the bunch -- a colleague compared it to a five-year-old Japanese cell phone -- and the most difficult to use.

Styled like a thick clamshell, the Exilim's main screen flips around 180 degrees so it can lie flat and mimic a regular camera's LCD screen. Unfortunately, the tiny 2.3-inch screen must then be navigated with little buttons on the handset's side. This was often confusing and tedious.

One of the Exilim's few redeeming qualities: It was the only one I tried with optical zoom rather than digital zoom.

Another neat feature is its water-resistant body, which I tested by dunking the phone in a pitcher of water. Indeed, it still managed to take photos, though they came out a bit distorted.

I was able to take crisp photos, but I didn't think they were as bright as on some of the other handsets. Regardless, I quickly ran out of room for them on the phone, since there is very little internal memory and does not come with a memory card. (It has a microSD slot if you want to supply your own).

Apple lands deal to sell iPhone in China

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mobile phone operator China Unicom plans to start selling two versions of the iPhone in China in the fourth quarter of 2009, under a three-year deal, an Apple representative confirmed Friday morning.

China Unicom didn't say what it will charge for the iPhones or what the service plan will include, but it does plan to keep the price modest by offering subsidies to customers, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deal earlier Friday. The agreement does not include revenue sharing, the newspaper said.

In accordance with Chinese regulations, the iPhones will be sold with their Wi-Fi function disabled, the Journal reported.

The news was, by and large, expected. Reports of an impending deal had been circulating for some time now. And at least as far back as March, China Unicom--the country's second largest mobile operator--had been posting iPhone photos and specifications on its Web site. Apple had also been in on-again, off-again talks with the country's largest carrier, China Mobile.

Apple's iPhone has been in widespread use in China for a number of years as people brought the gadget into the country from markets where it was available.

China Unicom also said Friday that its 3G network will launch commercially at the end of September, according to the Journal.

UBS analyst Maynard Um said in a research note Friday that the "formal announcement with specific timing of a launch may be viewed as a modest positive," although it's "still difficult to gauge the level of potential demand." For Apple, Um said, international expansion and partnerships with new wireless operators are central to the company maintaining its iPhone and earnings momentum.

BrowserPlus rides on Yahoo Messenger coattails

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Yahoo has begun bringing its BrowserPlus technology to a broader audience, making installation of the browser-boosting plug-in a default part of installing the beta of the new Yahoo Messenger 10 that emerged this week.

BrowserPlus gives Web sites some better abilities taken for granted in applications that run natively on a computer, and because it's a framework, new abilities can be added later. Among the current features are the ability to drag files from the desktop to the browser, to read accelerometer data to judge a computer's orientation, to edit images, and to upload many files at once.

BrowserPlus is installed by default during the installation of the Yahoo Messenger 10 beta. Those who don't want it can deselect it through the custom installation path.

Yahoo announced BrowserPlus in May 2008, then upgraded it and made it open-source software in November.

BrowserPlus is one of many extras that can be disabled in the custom section of the Yahoo Messenger 10 beta installation.

(Credit: Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

Adobe Systems' Flash Player plug-in is widely installed, but plug-ins in general are hard to propagate enough that Web site programmers can safely assume they can be used. One way to tackle the issue is to piggyback on the distribution of other, popular software--a technique long employed to encourage adoption of browser toolbars.

Many companies are working hard on the "Open Web," in which advanced abilities are built directly into Web standards such as HTML 5. However, plug-ins such as Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, BrowserPlus, and Google's Gears can advance the state of the art faster.

Update 4:55 p.m. PDT: Yahoo said it does in fact plan to include BrowserPlus in the final version of Yahoo Messenger. Also, it shared this list of the browsers and operating systems the plug-in supports:

• Windows XP: supports Firefox 2 or newer, Safari, IE6 or newer, and Google Chrome

Windows Vista: supports Firefox 3 or newer, Safari, IE6 or newer, and Google Chrome

• Windows 7: Same as Windows Vista, in experimental status

• Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5: Recent versions of Safari and Firefox 3 or newer

• Mac OS X 10.6: Firefox 3 or better (Safari support in the works)

Updated 1:58 p.m. PDT to correct the initial release date of BrowserPlus.