Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Grading iOS 6 Maps: pass or fail?

Grading iOS 6 Maps: pass or fail?

Almost as soon as Apple released iOS 6 users flocked to the new first-party (read:non-Google) Maps app and unleased a torrent of complaints (1, 2, 3) about it. There's no denying the sex-appeal of Maps' new photo-realistic and interactive 3D views, but would you trade transit and Street View data for it?

Generally, the biggest complaints are coming from users outside of the major metropolitan cities that iOS 6 Maps supports. For example, check out this screenshot of Bowling Green State University (as noted by @iOS6Maps) in iOS 5:

Bowling Green State University - iOS 5

And then in iOS 6:

(Someone was so put off by @iOS6Maps Twitter account that it got it suspended. Hmmm...)

The other big complaints center around the iOS 6 Maps' lack of transit, Street View, POI data and sub-standard traffic reportage. Theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com is cataloging some of the more egregious failures in the new Maps.

In lieu of them, Apple focused on turn-by-turn navigation, 3D Flyover views and its own traffic data. Michael Degusta blogs that "Apple is risking upsetting 70% of the world’s population" with the feature removals, noting that 63 countries (representing a population of 5 billion+) will be without one or more of the Maps features previously available in iOS 5.

I'm still using my trusty iPhone 4, so my biggest complaint with iOS 6 Maps is that voice navigation isn't supported on the iPhone 4. You need an iPhone 4S or 5 for that. I've been using navigation in the TomTom app on my iPhone 4 for a couple of months, so it's not a hardware limitation. And TomTom includes a huge POI database from FourSquare. iOS 6's lack of navigation on the iPhone 4 is a classic example of planned obsolescence on Apple's part. It intentionally crippled Maps on the (two generation old) iPhone 4 to force users to upgrade.

To be fair, Siri also took a lot of criticism when it was released. It has since maturated into a flagship feature of iOS that many users find very useful. Apple's first-party Maps app is sure to improve over time -- collecting map data is extremely labor intensive and traffic data will grow via crowdsourcing -- but did Apple move too soon?

When Apple killed its YouTube app, Google was quick to respond. Danny Sullivan notes that after only a week, YouTube is the #1 free app in iTunes. So many have taken solace in thinking that Google will release its own Maps app for iOS (like it did with YouTube), but it's being cagey and won't confirm that a Google Maps app for iOS is coming.

City slickers are sure to dig the new 3D flyovers, but what about everyone else? What's your take on the new iOS 6 Maps? (Please note your locale in your comment.)

UPDATE: In June, Wired's Christina Bonnington noted that Google executive Jeff Huber confirmed in a comment on a Google+ post that the company would be releasing its own Maps app for iOS. Huber wrote, “We look forward to providing amazing Google Maps experiences on iOS.”

UPDATE 2: Apple has given this statement to AllThingsD regarding Map-gate:

Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn by turn navigation, and Siri integration. We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.
... and AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski notes that "the team assigned to the app is under lockdown right now working to fix it."

UPDATE 3: 9to5Mac claims that Google has been developing Maps for iOS for "years" and that a version of Google Maps for iOS 6 "has been submitted to Apple" and is awaiting approval.

Entire iPhone 5 shipment stolen from London O2 store

Entire iPhone 5 shipment stolen from London O2 store

Police want to question an O2 shop assistant over the theft of iPhone 5 handsets from one of the operator's stores in London.

Around 250 handsets, worth about £100,000, were stolen from the O2 Store in the Tandem Centre in Colliers Wood near Wimbledon at 1.30am this morning. The stolen devices included the store's entire stock of iPhone 5 smartphones that were due to go on sale at 9am the same day.

The arrival of the iPhone 5 on Friday generated huge queues outside Apple Stores in London and across the world. However, the number of buyers at shops run by networks such as Three were much lower.

Metropolitan Police want to speak to 23-year-old Usman Sethi of Ilford in Greater London, who works as an assistant at the O2 store. He was captured on CCTV footage in the shop in the early hours of Friday morning.

Sethi is an Asian man, 6'1" in height and a Pakistani national. Police believe he may be driving a grey Ford Mondeo.

O2 said that it had alerted the authorities to the theft of the handsets, which include other devices besides the iPhone 5 stock.

"We notified the police and are doing everything we can to help them with their investigation," a spokesperson for O2 said.

A quantity of cash was also taken from the safe in the store. In addition, police are looking to interview Sethi in connection with the theft on Friday morning of jewellery belonging to a family member. They are appealing for anyone who sees Sethi to call Merton CID.

Teenage texting champion wins $50,000 prize

Teenage texting champion wins $50,000 prize

17 year-old Austin Weirschke from Wisconsin won $50,000 at the National Texting Championship held in New York City.

The sixth competition of its kind, the tournament tested American entrants on their ability to text quickly and efficiently.

Sponsored by LG Electronics, the competition featured one device with a physical keyboard. Speed, accuracy and dexterity were all scrutinized through a number of tasks.

Some of the tasks were fairly simple; memorizing a message and then quickly typing it out; translating shorthand 'text speak' to standard English -- for example, TTYL (talk to you later), and others impeded the challengers by blocking their vision or tying their hands behind their back.

One round involved writing messages backwards more quickly than rival competitors, whereas in another, entrants had to type "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are; up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky" while wearing vision-blocking headwear.

Weirschke, who won the competition last year, defended his title by typing a 149-character message in just 39 seconds, beating 10 rivals between the ages of 16 and 24. Since May, competition has been whittled down from over 100,000 entrants.

The teenager says the money will be used to fund his college education, and attributes his success to practicing with his mother, typing random phases and words, and texting friends. He defended his title but had close competition as 16 year-old New Yorker Kent Augustine lost out to the champion by only a few seconds in the final round.

The high school student plans to keep improving and return next year.

Seven reasons to buy the Nokia Lumia 920

Seven reasons to buy the Nokia Lumia 920

The Nokia Lumia 920 was shown off in New York last week and after checking out all of the coverage, I can say without a doubt that I will be purchasing one as soon as they are released. The color I choose will depend on which carrier(s) in the US get the high end Lumia, but with three carrier contracts I know at least one of my carriers will get the device. Based on just what we know so far, Microsoft was very tight lipped about Windows Phone 8, I have seven main reasons I think the Lumia 920 is the device for me.

Reason one: PureMotion HD+ display
The Nokia Lumia 900 has a ClearBlack display and some testing earlier this year revealed that the Lumia 900 has a better outdoor display than the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S. Nokia is now taking that ClearBlack display technology to the next level and showed us all their PureMotion HD+ technology that looks to be the leading display on smartphones today.

The PureMotion HD+ display automatically adjusts to sunlight glare, has those gorgeous deep blacks, provides super smooth scrolling through pixel translation speeds that are 2.5x faster than other phones, and works with fingernails, fingertips, and fingers covered with gloves. Yes, you can use your Nokia Lumia 920 in winter with gloves on without needing anything special in the gloves or any other gimmick. This new display just works and does so in nearly any environment you need. I recommend you read the white paper on the display (PDF link) to learn more about the technology.

Reason two: PureView camera technology
The Nokia 808 PureView sets the bar for all camera phones and really stands alone. Nokia's Lumia 920 doesn't have as much of that amazing technology, but it still has been shown to be an outstanding camera and when the device gets out of the prototype stage you can bet that reviewers will thoroughly test the camera. Nokia has an interesting white paper (PDF link) on the details of the camera technology used in the Lumia 920. As Nokia states this is the second phase in PureView technology and includes some of the core pieces such as high performance Carl Zeiss optics and powerful image processing algorithms. Low light performance is a major feature in this new camera, along with video image stabilization.

Reason three: Nokia Maps
Nokia Maps is the best service Nokia has ever offered and I use it on several different platforms. I love the functional offline maps and GPS navigation features in Nokia Maps Drive on my Lumia 900 and in the Lumia 920 Nokia improves that experience by rolling in several of the utilities that you can get now on the Lumia 900 and is taking Nokia Maps offline as well. You will find offline map support with free turn-by-turn navigation, daily commute and local traffic reports, Nokia Transport for public transit schedules, and Nokia City Lens for augmented reality discovery.

Reason four: Windows Phone 8
I would probably have placed this higher in my list if Microsoft would have allowed Nokia to actually show it off, but it seems Microsoft is running a bit behind on the software so manufacturers are not able to give demos yet. We have seen eight new platform improvements coming in Windows Phone 8 and there are still many details remaining to be revealed. I look forward to seeing what Nokia does with NFC since they have been using it well on their Symbian devices and accessories. The new Start screen looks fantastic for the way I use my Windows Phones and WP8 just cannot get here fast enough for me.

Reason five: Qi wireless charging
I know this is not a huge feature, but it is something unique that distinguishes the Nokia Lumia from other Windows Phone 8 devices. I really appreciated the convenience of Qi charging with my Droid Charge and have been hoping there would be another manufacturer using this standard so I could pull out my pad and use it again. Nokia showed off several accessories that take advantage of this wireless charging technology and I am excited to try some out. The partnership deals with coffee shops is excellent and I hope we see more of these moving forward too.

Reason six: Nokia Music
Nokia Music just launched late last week for US Lumia owners and I have been using it every day since then. I am working on an article comparing it to the Zune Pass and other subscription services, but the big deal here is that it is FREE for Lumia owners. If you enjoy music, then getting a free service like this can provide significant regular savings to your smartphone ownership costs.

Reason seven: Color selection
Again, this may not mean much to many people, but I personally like having color options for my devices and plan to purchase the yellow Lumia 920 as long as it is supported on one of my carriers. Even if Nokia doesn't sell a ton of the yellow models, I think bold colors like this will help get people into the stores and generate conversation around the device, which is exactly what Nokia needs to do to gain marketshare.

Nokia looks to be doing everything possible to help Windows Phone succeed and make sure they are around to compete in the smartphone space. I don't know what else people were expecting from Nokia or Windows Phone 8, but in my opinion they went above my expectations with unique features such as the amazing display and Qi wireless charging.

China's 274M microbloggers is highest in world

China's 274M microbloggers is highest in world

China, which is home to 538 million Internet users, has some 274 million microbloggers as of June this year, a massive jump from 63 million back in 2010.

Citing a report published by the Social Sciences Academic Press, Xinhua said on Monday the number is the highest in the world. It said microblogging has become an important channel for Chinese citizens to express themselves, especially on public issues.

The report's authors said the government has recognized the influence of microblog networks and have made more efforts to use them, since it is also an easy, low-cost communication channel. As of last October, there were 18,132 accounts on Sina Weibo's microblogging platform registered by government officials, it noted.

Between July and December last year, the authorities responded to about 71.9 percent of the issues widely discussed by microbloggers, and 50.4 percent were within 24 hours, according to the report.

It also said statistics from China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC) revealed that the number of Internet users in China rose 10.9 percent year on year to 538 million by June this year. That means four out of 10 Chinese access the Internet.

The number is expected to hit more than 800 million users by 2015.

Apart from microblogging, instant messaging (IM) also gained popularity with about 415 million users, overtaking online search, music and news as the most popular Web application, the report said.

However, legislation for these new Internet media has lagged, and a national strategy to manage the development of Internet is needed. There remains no specialized law for the Web, while many related articles in existing laws need revision, the report noted.

In China, where foreign social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are banned, government regulation of local Web services including microblogs, is not new.

In December last year, the government announced a real-name user registration rule. Later in April, two of the largest microblog sites, Weibo and Tencent's t.qq.com, were banned for three days after users posted comments that fanned complaints over censorship. It was unclear, though, whether the ban was ordered by government regulators or initiated by the companies.

DDoS attacks: 150Gb per second and rising

DDoS attacks: 150Gb per second and rising

On this week's Patch Monday podcast (on Tuesday, thanks to yesterday's public holiday across most of Australia) you'll hear an overview of the current trends in DDoS.

"Certainly, attacks are on the increase, and the size of attacks are also increasing," said Alex Caro, Akamai Technologies' chief technology officer and vice-president of services for Asia Pacific and Japan.

Akamai saw DDoS attacks against their customers double in number between 2010 and 2011, and the company expects this trend to continue for 2012.

"The biggest attack that we've seen is around 150 gigabits per second, and we expect much larger attacks in the future," Caro said.

But even that level of malicious traffic is easily absorbed, he said.

"Today, we're probably serving eight, maybe ten terabits per second of traffic at peak, so a 150 gigabit per second denial of service attack is actually fairly small when all is said and done."

Other attacks seen by Akamai have continued for months.

According to information security vendor Imperva's Hacker Intelligence Initiative, Monthly Trend Report #12 (PDF), DDoS attacks are cheap and easy to conduct, because there's no need to penetrate the network — and so there's no need to identify vulnerabilities to disrupt a web application. Nevertheless, attackers are getting smarter.

"Attackers realise that, instead of firing a really ridiculous amount of traffic to take down a website, they could use some more clever traffic in order to shut it down [with] much less effort," said Tal Be'ery, web security research team leader at Imperva.

"In previous years, they've focused on really flooding the network ... with UDP packets and so forth. In order to do that, you need a lot of firepower. And now, they're going up the application stack and going to the HTTP, and even to the application layer."

Caro and Be'ery also outline the broad strategies for defending against DDoS.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Why the iPad Mini may go HD, like the iPhone 5

Why the iPad Mini may go HD, like the iPhone 5

Assuming the photos and measurements recently posted at nowhereelse.fr (English translation) of a physical model of the iPad Mini from GizChina turn out to be real, the iPad mini won't have a 4:3 display like the full-size iPad.

DisplayMate's Dr. Raymond Soneira notes that Apple increased the iPhone's aspect ratio -- from 1.50 in the iPhone 4 to 1.78 in the iPhone 5 -- and concludes that the same thing could happen with the iPad Mini, especially if it is positioned for selling TV content, which has 16:9.

Soneira notes that 4:3 aspect ratio screens are great for reading because they have the same aspect ratio as content on 8.5 x 11-inch documents, but that smaller 7 to 8-inch screens with 4:3 aspect ratios will be noticeably letterboxed with 16:9 content, with reduced image size.

Keeping the 768 pixel height in the iPad mini will allow apps written for 1024 x 768 to be displayed with letterbox borders as they are on the iPhone 5. Based on this, Soneira thinks that there are four possible resolutions for the iPad mini, with 1152 x 768 being the most likely:

1024 x 768 is 4:3 = 1.33
1152 x 768 is 3:3 = 1.50 
1228 x 768 is 16:10 = 1.60
1366 x 768 is 16:9 = 1.78
If you think about it, a 4:3 iPad Mini really doesn't make very good sense. This might even tie in with Steve Jobs' original objections to a smaller size. But for consuming content, which is how Google and Amazon are marketing their 7 inch Tablets, and how Apple will most likely market theirs as well, something closer to 16:9 makes a lot more sense...
The oft-rumored, 7.85-inch screen "mini" iPad is rumored to go on sales in early November -- November 2 to be exact. Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports that invitations for the Apple event are going out on October 10 for an event on October 17.

Bharti Airtel challenges 3G roaming ruling

Bharti Airtel challenges 3G roaming ruling

Bharti Airtel has submitted a petition to the Delhi High Court challenging the Department of Telecommunications' (DoT) decision to end 3G roaming services outside operators' licensed areas, saying it adversely affects the interest of the customers.

The Times of India reported Monday that local operators had previously entered into 3G roaming agreements to offer services such as video calling, mobile TV and multimedia gaming amongst themselves so that 3G coverage can be extended beyond each operator's license area.

However, the DoT last December issued a statement saying such 3G roaming pacts were illegal and must be terminated immediately. It also said the government was losing revenue because of these agreements.

Responding to this directive, Bharti Airtel, in its petition on Monday, said the directive "adversely affects the interest of the customers and the subscribers who are benefiting from the 3G arrangements".

It added: "The impugned decision of the DoT [violates] Article 14 as it is arbitrary, has no rational basis, is illogical and contrary to the contract between the parties."

Bharti Airtel, together with Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular, had also responded to the directive by writing in to India's prime minister to demand a refund of their spectrum auction payment if such a regulation was to proceed.

Google reportedly buying AR, facial-recognition firm Viewdle

Google reportedly buying AR, facial-recognition firm Viewdle

Google has reportedly purchased mobile facial-recognition and augmented-reality (AR) startup Viewdle.

A source familiar with the deal told ZDNet's sister site CNET that the deal has been in the works for more than a year, and is expected to close this week.

Details of the takeover have not been officially disclosed, and Google has declined to respond, stating that it does not comment on rumour or speculation. However, the source said that the price would be toward the high end in the US$30 million to US$45 million range, consistent with what a source told Forbes — that the deal is similar to Google's recent acquisitions of Neven Vision and PittPatt in terms of monetary value.

When ZDNet asked Viewdle to comment on the claims, CEO Jason Mitura said that the questions should be referred to a Motorola Mobility spokesperson. Motorola did not respond to requests for comment at the time of writing.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility earlier this year for US$12.5 billion.

What Google will use Viewdle's technology for is purely speculative at this point, but it appears as though it could go in any manner of directions. The company drew a large investment of US$10 million from Best Buy, BlackBerry Partners Fund, and Qualcomm in 2010, later developing an AR game called Third Eye for the Android platform. It also developed SocialCamera on Facebook.

Other uses of Viewdle's technology include real-time facial recognition on Android to allow people in videos to be identified, and touch-free gesture recognition, so that users can operate mobile devices from a distance, such as while driving a car.

Philippine cybercrime law under fire, 6th petition filed

Philippine cybercrime law under fire, 6th petition filed

A group of petitioners in Philippines, consisting of lawmakers, bloggers and students, have sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the country's implementation of its Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012--making it the sixth filed against the controversial legislation.

According to GMA News Online on Monday, the petition centered on the definition of online libel stated in the law, specifically sections 4, 5 and 6, which the petitioners say are "unconstitutional due to vagueness". The law also curtails "constitutional rights to due process, speech, expression, free press and academic freedom", it stated.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 , signed by President Benigno Aquino III on Sep. 12, aims to fight online pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming following local law enforcement agencies' complaints over the lack of legal tools to combat cybercrime.

However, the law came with tougher legal penalties for Internet defamation, compared to traditional media.

It also allows authorities to collect data from personal user accounts on social media and listen in on voice and video applications such as Skype, without a warrant. Users who post defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter, for example, could be sentenced to up 12 years in jail.

Hacktivists take aim
The other five petitions filed with the Philippine Supreme Court, too, noted the law infringes on freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication, a separate report by GMA News Online on Saturday stated.

Senator Teofisto Guingona, the sole opponent when the bill was voted on by the Senate and who filed one of the petitions, told the Supreme Court: "Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually any person can now be charged with a crime--even if you just retweet or comment on an online update or blog post."

Hacktivist group Anonymous Philippines also protested against the cybercrime law last week by striking down several government Web sites in the country, according to The Philippines Star. The hackers replaced the sites with an animated logo and statement against the Cybercrime Act, calling it "the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber history of the Philippines".

However, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda defended the cybercrime law last week. "The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace...freedom of expression is always recognized but freedom of expression is not absolute," he said.

Lacierda did say the law could be redefined, and called for critics to submit their concerns to a government panel, which will issue specific definitions of the law, such as who may be prosecuted, by the year's end.

Australia’s love affair with Apple

Australia’s love affair with Apple

Share of web browsing by iOS and Android

According to web analytics company Statscounter, 69 percent of all mobile web browsing in Australia comes from iOS devices. That figure has moved little in the last two years; it is well above the world average of 24 percent, and quite a bit higher than the US' 50 percent.

The Statscounter data seems believable — it is gathered from a tracking code placed on 3 million websites around the world and the sample sizes are large — with more than 17 billion page views per month, 1.5 percent of them from Australia.

Why is Australia so different to the rest of the world? It's not because there has been a slow embrace of Android — it accounts for 28 percent of all traffic, about the same as the UK. Here, in Australia, expensive data plans before the arrival of the iPhone undoubtedly slowed take-up of the smartphones alternatives. In the US, Android adoption started much earlier, and usage is now up to 41 percent of all mobile traffic, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world will follow.

In fact, what makes Australia different is that mobile use has become a two horse race. After iOS and Android, all other platforms account for just 4 percent of the market; compared to 47 percent globally.

This is partially a reflection on slower turnover of models — some countries are still using Blackberry devices, for example — but, also, the influence of Nokia cannot be ignored. By the start of this year, Nokia had sold 1.5 billion such devices, and Statscounter shows that it has captured 15 percent of the world mobile browsing market; Nokia's Symbian OS currently accounts for 12 percent.

Series 40 took off in South America, Asia, and Africa — places where the iPhone is too expensive. Perhaps the real future, at least in emerging markets, is for lower costing and less feature-rich devices.

In last week's Twisted Wire podcast Alcatel Lucent's Jason Collins talked about how the intelligence found on our phones will eventually move into the cloud. We won't need the app-centric features of an iPhone, just a solidly built form factor, with the rich functionality offered through a web browser. If, and when, that happens, you have to wonder whether Aussies will still love their iPhone — and at what price?

URL vulnerability forces Australia Post service offline

URL vulnerability forces Australia Post service offline

Australia Post took its Click and Send service down today for several hours to rectify a security issue at the national postal service.

It replaced the website for the service with a notice that said it had been temporarily suspended due to a "system error."

"The site has been temporarily deactivated, as our team works to ensure the security of the system for all customers," it read during the outage.

The service allows customers to prepare all the necessary documentation to have parcels sent through the mail, such as printing labels, booking a courier, and managing different addresses for items.

HTC announces One X+ with faster processor, more storage, and larger battery

HTC announces One X+ with faster processor, more storage, and larger battery

Back in May I wrote that the HTC One X was the best HTC device I have ever used and I still think it is one of the best choices for Android devices today. The display is better than what Samsung offers and is the best large screen you can find on a phone today. The One X was released to rave reviews and now six months after the One X international release we see HTC announce the HTC One X+. In addition, HTC will be releasing HTC Sense 4+ and Android Jelly Bean to current HTC One X and One S owners starting this month (highly dependent on carrier roll out in the US).

The new international version of the HTC One X+ takes the awesome design of the One X and bumps up the internals with a 1.7 GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, 64GB of internal storage, and 2100 mAh battery. The battery and updated processor provide a reported increase of up to 50% in talk time. Other specifications of the international HTC One X+ include:

4.7 inch Super LCD 2 display with Gorilla Glass 2
Android 4.1 with HTC Sense 4+
8 megapixel camera with ImageSense processor and F2.0 aperature
Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX technology
NFC with support for Tap and Go (think Nokia and NFC speakers)
802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, DLNA, and HDMI out with MHL adapter
Dimensions of 134.36 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm and 135 grams
I had a chance to see HTC Sense 4+ in action and look forward to the speed enhancements and other tweaks that may seem small at first, but together make the entire experience better. For example, a new video hub puts all the video you can watch into a single place rather than having multiple video apps to jump in an out of.

The HTC One X+ will be available in Europe and North Asia from October and in South Asia from November 2012. North America will make a separate announcement regarding availability of the HTC One X+. The Android Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 4+ update is scheduled to begin rolling out for the HTC One S and HTC One X in October.

For new customers, HTC is also launching a cool new web service where you can go through the setup and personalization process from a desktop web browser. HTC purchased Dashwire last year and they helped with this new setup service that will be available at start.htc.com. It is much easier to enter all of your passwords and settings while also customizing your home screens from a desktop computer.

Samsung takes on Apple's iPhone 5 as Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban scrapped

Samsung takes on Apple's iPhone 5 as Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban scrapped

Samsung has launched legal action against Apple's iPhone 5 in the US, and has also succeeded in getting a temporary ban against its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet lifted.

The moves mark the latest chapter in the long-running global battle between the two companies, which saw Apple win more than $1bn in compensation from the Korean manufacturer in August.

In that verdict, the jury found Samsung was infringing on Apple's intellectual property in its Android smartphones but not its tablets. Judge Lucy Koh had previously granted Apple a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and late on Monday — with Samsung pointing out that more than a month had passed since the verdict — she agreed to scrap that ban.

However, that was a relatively small event compared to Samsung taking on the iPhone 5, Apple's flagship iOS device as of September.

In a filing made on Monday, Samsung's lawyers added the iPhone 5 to a previous filing they had submitted in June. They said the alleged infringements were the same in the iPhone 5 as in previous iterations of the smartphone, and they had clearly been unable to include it in the original suit as it had not yet been launched at the time.

According to Samsung, Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch all infringe on two mobile broadband standards patents and/or six feature patents held by the Korean company.

The company has also claimed that the iPhone 5's 4G/LTE functionality infringes on its patents, but has not yet sued over those patents.

The US patents involved in this suit are:

No. 7,756,087: Method and apparatus for performing non-scheduled transmission in a mobile communication system for supporting an enhanced uplink data channel
No. 7,551,596: Method and apparatus for signaling control information of uplink packet data service in mobile communication system
No. 7,672,470: Audio/video device having a volume control function for an external audio reproduction unit by using volume control buttons of a remote controller and volume control method therefor
No. 7,577,757: Multimedia synchronisation method and device
No. 7,232,058: Data displaying apparatus and method
No. 6,292,179: Software keyboard system using trace of stylus on a touch screen and method for recognising key code using the same
No. 6,226,449: Apparatus for recording and reproducing digital image and speech
No. 5,579,239: Remote video transmission system

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

When Jonathan Goldman arrived for work in June 2006 at LinkedIn, the business networking site, the place still felt like a start-up. The company had just under 8 million accounts, and the number was growing quickly as existing members invited their friends and colleagues to join. But users weren’t seeking out connections with the people who were already on the site at the rate executives had expected. Something was apparently missing in the social experience. As one LinkedIn manager put it, “It was like arriving at a conference reception and realizing you don’t know anyone. So you just stand in the corner sipping your drink—and you probably leave early.”

Goldman, a PhD in physics from Stanford, was intrigued by the linking he did see going on and by the richness of the user profiles. It all made for messy data and unwieldy analysis, but as he began exploring people’s connections, he started to see possibilities. He began forming theories, testing hunches, and finding patterns that allowed him to predict whose networks a given profile would land in. He could imagine that new features capitalizing on the heuristics he was developing might provide value to users. But LinkedIn’s engineering team, caught up in the challenges of scaling up the site, seemed uninterested. Some colleagues were openly dismissive of Goldman’s ideas. Why would users need LinkedIn to figure out their networks for them? The site already had an address book importer that could pull in all a member’s connections.

Luckily, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s cofounder and CEO at the time (now its executive chairman), had faith in the power of analytics because of his experiences at PayPal, and he had granted Goldman a high degree of autonomy. For one thing, he had given Goldman a way to circumvent the traditional product release cycle by publishing small modules in the form of ads on the site’s most popular pages.

Through one such module, Goldman started to test what would happen if you presented users with names of people they hadn’t yet connected with but seemed likely to know—for example, people who had shared their tenures at schools and workplaces. He did this by ginning up a custom ad that displayed the three best new matches for each user based on the background entered in his or her LinkedIn profile. Within days it was obvious that something remarkable was taking place. The click-through rate on those ads was the highest ever seen. Goldman continued to refine how the suggestions were generated, incorporating networking ideas such as “triangle closing”—the notion that if you know Larry and Sue, there’s a good chance that Larry and Sue know each other. Goldman and his team also got the action required to respond to a suggestion down to one click.

It didn’t take long for LinkedIn’s top managers to recognize a good idea and make it a standard feature. That’s when things really took off. “People You May Know” ads achieved a click-through rate 30% higher than the rate obtained by other prompts to visit more pages on the site. They generated millions of new page views. Thanks to this one feature, LinkedIn’s growth trajectory shifted significantly upward.

A New Breed

Goldman is a good example of a new key player in organizations: the “data scientist.” It’s a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data. The title has been around for only a few years. (It was coined in 2008 by one of us, D.J. Patil, and Jeff Hammerbacher, then the respective leads of data and analytics efforts at LinkedIn and Facebook.) But thousands of data scientists are already working at both start-ups and well-established companies. Their sudden appearance on the business scene reflects the fact that companies are now wrestling with information that comes in varieties and volumes never encountered before. If your organization stores multiple petabytes of data, if the information most critical to your business resides in forms other than rows and columns of numbers, or if answering your biggest question would involve a “mashup” of several analytical efforts, you’ve got a big data opportunity.

Much of the current enthusiasm for big data focuses on technologies that make taming it possible, including Hadoop (the most widely used framework for distributed file system processing) and related open-source tools, cloud computing, and data visualization. While those are important breakthroughs, at least as important are the people with the skill set (and the mind-set) to put them to good use. On this front, demand has raced ahead of supply. Indeed, the shortage of data scientists is becoming a serious constraint in some sectors. Greylock Partners, an early-stage venture firm that has backed companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Palo Alto Networks, and Workday, is worried enough about the tight labor pool that it has built its own specialized recruiting team to channel talent to businesses in its portfolio. “Once they have data,” says Dan Portillo, who leads that team, “they really need people who can manage it and find insights in it.”

Who Are These People?

If capitalizing on big data depends on hiring scarce data scientists, then the challenge for managers is to learn how to identify that talent, attract it to an enterprise, and make it productive. None of those tasks is as straightforward as it is with other, established organizational roles. Start with the fact that there are no university programs offering degrees in data science. There is also little consensus on where the role fits in an organization, how data scientists can add the most value, and how their performance should be measured.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Inventor of Email - The Facts

Inventor of Email - The Facts

V. A. Shiva Ayadurai, Inventor of EMAIL

In 1978, a 14-year-old named V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai developed a computer program, which replicated the features of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system. He named his program “EMAIL”. Shiva filed an application for copyright in his program and in 1982 the United States Copyright Office issued a Certificate of Registration, No. TXu-111-775, to him on the program. As required by the Regulations of the Copyright Office, he deposited portions of the original source code with the program. Prominent in the code is the name “EMAIL” that he gave to the program. He received a second Certificate of Registration, No. TXu-108-715, for the “EMAIL User’s Manual” he had prepared to accompany the program and that taught unsophisticated user’s how to use EMAIL’s features.

Recently however, a substantial controversy has arisen as to who invented email. This controversy has resulted in an unfortunate series of attacks on Shiva. Part of the problem is that different people use to the term to mean somewhat different things.

The Invention of Email

In the summer of 1978, Shiva had been recruited for programming assignments at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark, New Jersey. One of his supervisors, Dr. Leslie P. Michelson, recognized his abilities and challenged him to translate the conventional paper-based interoffice and inter-organizational communication system (i.e., paper-based mail and memoranda) to an electronic communication system.

Systems for communications among widely dispersed computers were in existence at the time, but they were primitive and their usage was largely confined to computer scientists and specialists. Shiva envisioned something simpler, something that everyone, from secretary to CEO, could use to quickly and reliably send and receive digital messages.

Shiva embraced the project and began by performing a thorough evaluation of UMDNJ's paper-based mail system, the same as that used in offices and organizations around the world. He determined that the essential features of these systems included functions corresponding to “Inbox”, “Outbox”, “Drafts”, “Memo” (“To:”, “From:”, “Date:”, “Subject:”, “Body:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:”), “Attachments”, “Folders”, “Compose”, “Forward”, “Reply”, “Address Book”, “Groups”, “Return Receipt”, “Sorting”. These capabilities were all to be provided in a software program having a sufficiently simple interface that needed no expertise in computer systems to use efficiently to “Send” and “Receive” mail electronically. It is these features that make his program “email” and that distinguish “email” from prior electronic communications.

Shiva went on to be recognized by the Westinghouse Science Talent Search Honors Group for his invention. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology highlighted his invention as one among four, in the incoming Freshman class of 1,040 students. His papers, documenting the invention of EMAIL were accepted by Smithsonian Institution. These are facts based on legal, governmental and institutional recognition and substantiation, and there is no disputing it.

Misconceptions About Email

Standard histories of the Internet, however, are full of claims that certain individuals (and teams) in the ARPAnet environment and other large companies in the 1970s and 1980s “invented email.” For example, the familiar “@” sign, early programs for sending and receiving messages, and technical specifications known as RFCs, are examples of such false claims to “email”. But as some claimants have admitted, even as late as December 1977, none of these innovations were intended to emulate the paper-based mail system - Inbox, Memo, Outbox, Folders, Address Book, etc.

Sending text messages electronically could be said to date back to the Morse code telegraph of the mid 1800s; or the 1939 World's Fair where IBM sent a message of congratulations from San Francisco to New York on an IBM radio-type, calling it a “high-speed substitute for mail service in the world of tomorrow.” The original text message, electronic transfer of content or images, ARPANET messaging, and even the “@” sign were used in primitive electronic communication systems. While the technology pioneers who created these systems should be heralded for their efforts, and given credit for their specific accomplishments and contributions, these early computer programs were clearly not email.

The Unfortunate Reaction to the Invention of Email

Based on false claims, over the past year (since the acceptance of Shiva's documents into the Smithsonian), industry insiders have chosen to launch an irrational denial of the invention. There is no direct dispute of the invention Copyright, but rather inaccurate claims, false statements, and personal attacks waged against Shiva. Attackers are attempting to discredit him, and his life's work. He has received threatening phone calls, unfair online comments, and his name and work has been maligned. It is but a sad commentary that a vocal minority have elected to hijack his accomplishment, apparently not satisfied with the recognition they have already received for their contributions to the field of text messaging. Following the Smithsonian news, they went into action. They began historical revisionism on their own “History of Electronic Mail” to hide the facts. They enlisted “historians” who started discussions among themselves to redefine the term “email” so as to credit their own work done prior to 1978, as “email”.

More blatantly, they registered the InternetHallofFame.Org web site, seven (7) days after the Smithsonian news and issued a new award to one of their own as “inventor of email”. Through the PR machine of BBN (a multi-billion dollar company), they were proclaimed as the “king of email”, and “godfather of email”. These actions were taken to protect their false branding and diminish the accolades and just recognition Shiva was beginning to receive. Shiva’s news likely threatens BBN’s entire brand, which has deliberately juxtaposed “innovation”, with the “@” logo, along with the face of their mascot, the self-proclaimed “inventor of email”. They have removed damaging references to eminent Internet pioneers of the time such as MA Padlipsky who exposed their lies, and showed that BBN’s mascot, was not the “inventor of email”.

Some industry insiders have even gone to the extent, in the midst of the overwhelming facts, to now attempt to confuse the public that "EMAIL" is not "email". It is a fact that the term "email", the juxtaposition of those five characters "e", "m", "a", "i" and "l", did not exist prior to 1978. The naming of the software program EMAIL in all capitals was because at UMDNJ, the names of software programs, subroutines and variables written in FORTRAN IV used the upper-case naming convention. Moreover, at that time, the use of upper case for the naming of programs, subroutine and variable names, was also a carry over from the days of writing software programs using punch cards. The fact is EMAIL is email, upper case, lower case, any case.

A Time for Reflection

Sadly, some of these individuals have even gone further, deciding that false allegations are insufficient to make their case and have resorted to character assassination of the most debased nature including removal and destruction of facts on Wikipedia to discredit Shiva as an inventor of any kind. Threatening and racist emails telling him “to hang himself by his dhothi”, blogs referring to him as a “flagrant fraud”, and comments that EMAIL was “not an invention” are beyond disbelief, and reflect a parochial attitude that innovation can only take place in large universities, big companies, and the military. As MIT's Institute Professor Noam Chomsky reflected: “The efforts to belittle the innovation of a 14-year-old child should lead to reflection on the larger story of how power is gained, maintained, and expanded, and the need to encourage, not undermine, the capacities for creative inquiry that are widely shared and could flourish, if recognized and given the support they deserve.“

Of course a claim such as “I invented email” will leave anyone open to criticism and doubt, and as some suggest “hatred”. In this case, the victim has not made a “claim”, but rather been recognized by the government and top educational institutions in the world as an inventor. Regardless of the vitriol, animosity and bigotry by a vocal minority, a simple truth stands: email was invented by a 14-year-old working in Newark, NJ in 1978.

Source : http://www.inventorofemail.com/
             தமிழில் வாசிப்பதற்கு

Copy Right Certificate

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Microsoft points to security tool to plug IE vulnerability

Microsoft points to security tool to plug IE vulnerability

Microsoft has urged Windows users to install a free security software to protect their PCs from a newly discovered vulnerability in its Internet Explorer browser.

The software giant said it will advise customers on its Web site to install the software as an interim measure, buying some time for it to fix the bug and release a new, more secure version of Internet Explorer, Reuters reported on Monday.

The free security tool, called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), will prevent hackers from gaining access to Windows-based systems and is currently available on Microsoft Web site.

This comes after security researcher Eric Romang discovered a new zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer, which he claimed woud affect fully patched versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9.

Pakistan cuts off all access to YouTube

Pakistan cuts off all access to YouTube

Pakistan has now blocked YouTube entirely from the country, after the video sharing site declined to remove the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer that sparked protests throughout the world.

Attempting to browse to the site results in users within Pakistan being redirected to a page that states "this page is blocked due to restrictions enforced by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA)," even if the video is not related to the offending trailer.

The PTA has stated that it was ordered by the Chief Justice of Pakistan to block all anti-Islamic videos. It had previously been provided with a list of 753 anti-Islamic sites, which has now grown to 934 sites.

Google's Transparency Report shows that, at about 7 a.m. AEST (2 p.m. PT), YouTube traffic from Pakistan dropped off dramatically, and states that the site is inaccessible from the country.

Google has not put in place a country-wide block, and has told ZDNet that there are no issues with its network that would prevent Pakistan users from visiting the site.

YouTube has previously stated that the video is "clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube," but the Australian Department of Broadband and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) disagrees with the video remaining online, stating that the video is "clearly offensive" and is calling on Google to "review its terms of service to see if they are being appropriately applied in this case."

"Australia has strong anti-vilification laws. If people believe this video is in breach of these laws, they can make a complaint to Google or the Human Rights Commission," the department said in a statement.

"What people shouldn't do is engage in violent protests on the streets. It is totally unacceptable behaviour and should be condemned."

DBCDE did not respond to queries as to whether it had actually made a request of its own to have the video removed.

UK gov. should sell its 16 million IPv4 addresses, says petition

UK gov. should sell its 16 million IPv4 addresses, says petition

The U.K. government's department responsible for employment and social security checks has stashed away in its back pocket more than 16 million old IPv4 addresses, which could be worth as much as $1.5 billion (£924 million).

An e-petition has been set up on the U.K. government's website to push the Department of Work and Pensions into selling the chunk of, what are commonly referred to as "/8" addresses, which would plug a sizeable hole in the country's deficit.

First written about by programmer and author John Graham-Cumming, he explains that the block is "completely unused." He says that a quick check shows that there are "no networks for that block of addresses," just as it happens "when IPv4 is running out there's a huge block sitting unused."

IDG-owned Network World believes that an entire "/8" block of addresses could be pegged at between $500 million and $1.5 billion on the IPv4 resale market.

"The world has run out of IPv4 addresses, making connection of new people and computers to the Internet a chore - and making existing addresses extremely valuable," the e-petition author Jo Shields writes.

"Analysis shows that the DWP is not using any of these addresses in public. If they are being used for internal, private networks then this is a phenomenal waste of public funds - the block is specifically earmarked for use on internal private networks, and using the globally routed internally is madness."

Only this week, ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols noted that businesses in Europe particularly are struggling, as the Regional Internet Registry for the European and Middle-Eastern market is "down to its last IPv4 block."

If an e-petition reaches the 100,000 signature mark, it will be eligible for a debate in the U.K. House of Commons, and could be enacted into law.

It's currently in the low-hundreds, so we'll keep an eye out and see where it goes.

Hong Kong no longer sells world's cheapest iPhone

Hong Kong no longer sells world's cheapest iPhone

Apple's iPhone 5 in Hong Kong will be priced from HK$5,588 (US$721) contract-free, which is an increase of almost 10 percent compared to the HK$5,088 (US$656) pricetag for iPhone 4S.

According to overseas reports, an unlocked iPhone 5 in the United States will be priced from US$649, which is lower than what will be offered in Hong Kong.

The duty-free Asian city previously offered Apple products priced in line with those in the U.S. but buyers do not need to pay any consumption tax when they purchase goods in the city. This makes the prices of Apple products in Hong Kong the most competitive worldwide.

However, it also makes Hong Kong a destination for smugglers, especially those trying to resell goods to China where Apple products are generally sold at least 20 percent more than in Hong Kong due to various taxes imposed on the goods.

As the Hong Kong dollar is pegged with the US dollar, making exchange rates between the two currencies stable over time, Apple's move to lift the retail price of iPhone 5 in Hong Kong could only be explained as an strategic approach in the region.

The U.S. company will benefit most from the price hike as the move is unlikely to scare off the consumers since the US$721 per set for iPhone 5 is likely to remain competitive compared to most other countries.

On the other hand, if the retail price of iPhone 5 in China remains unchanged starting from 4,999 yuan (US$792) this time, it will still leave room of some US$70 over the pricetag of a same handset sold in Hong Kong. This will still allow the reselling business in China attractive for potential smugglers

Questions about the iPhone 5 nano-SIM

Questions about the iPhone 5 nano-SIM

It seems that there's been quite a rush to pre-order the newest shiny thing to come out of Apple, the iPhone 5, with 2 million snapped up in 24 hours. Judging from my mailbox, an awful lot of you are expecting your new handsets to land on September 21.

But it seems that some of you are already anticipating a speed bump in your enjoyment of your new iPhone -- the petite nano-SIM that Apple has chosen to adopt. If you're picking up an iPhone 5 and planning on having it replace your current handset, whether that be an iPhone or not, you're going to have to wait until you get your hands on a compatible nano-SIM from your carrier, and then wait for the carrier to transfer your account from the old SIM card to the new one.

Note: Contract handsets will be supplied with SIM cards.However, Apple also sells contract free handsets in a number of territories. 
Some of you are already wondering if you can bypass this potentially tedious process and slash your existing SIM card down to size. Here's a question from today's Hardware 2.0 mailbox:

What's to stop me cutting down my existing SIM to fit into my new iPhone 5? I chopped a full-size SIM to fit into my iPhone 4 when that was released so I don't see why I can't just do the same.
Technically, yes, you can. The chip part of the SIM card is unchanged. All that's different is the plastic housing that it is embedded into. And that's the problem.

With the micro-SIM, all that was different was the height and width of the card, so you could just chop off excess plastic until it would fit. It wasn't really that tricky to do, and it wasn't long until SIM cutters hit the market that allowed you to do the job in one go.

However, things are different with the nano-SIM. Not only is it smaller, it's also thinner. 12 percent thinner, in fact, down from 0.76 mm to 0.67 mm. It doesn't sound like a lot, but if Apple has engineered the tolerance tight on the new SIM card tray, it could be enough to jam the SIM in the handset, or even damage the SIM or the handset.

The tolerances might be loose enough to make this a moot point -- after all, I had a dual-SIM adapter installed in my iPhone 4 that fitted under the existing SIM and had a ribbon cable that squeezed between the SIM tray and slot that worked perfectly -- but at this stage we just don't know.

Some have suggested not just chopping down an existing SIM, but then sanding it down slightly to fit. Over on sister site CNET Asia, John Chan has a comprehensive how-to guide which seems easy enough to follow. If you're feeling adventurous then it's worth a go, but do bear in mind a few things.

First, if you wreak your SIM, your new handset as well as your old handset will be out of action until you get a replacement SIM. Cutting and sanding the SIM exposes it to stresses -- particularly bending -- that it's not designed to handle. Also, if you sand it too much, it's dead.

Secondly, there's also scope for cutting it wrong. Again, do that and it's not going to work.

Also, thirdly, if you're going to attempt this, make sure the SIM card is clean and free from plastic debris before inserting it into your new iPhone 5. You don't want your new handset contaminated with plastic dust.

Personally, as much as I hate waiting, I'd either wait until I get a nano-SIM, or see what result other -- more daring types -- have in cutting down SIMs. If it turns out that the sanding is unnecessary then the whole endeavor becomes a lot easier.

Another question I've being asked a lot is this one:

Do you think that there will be a shortage of nano-SIMs come September 21?
This is a tough question to answer.

I'm not aware of any carrier that has started to send nano-SIMs out to customers who have pre-ordered iPhone 5's, which means that there will be a rush for them once the handsets are out. If carriers started trickling out the new SIMs now would at least alleviate some of the rush come shipping day.

In spite of Apple's figures, we still don't know how new iPhone 5s will actually land on launch day. What we do know though is that carriers all around the world are going to need to make sure they have plenty of nano-SIMs to hand to accommodate for these new handsets, but it's quite possible that there will be shortages in some areas.

I think that it is quite possible that some people picking up an iPhone 5 on launch day won't be able to use it for a few days until they get their hands on a compatible SIM. I know it's tough having to wait, but that's how it is at times.

2M iPhones in 24 hours, Office 2013, power over USB

2M iPhones in 24 hours, Office 2013, power over USB

The Apple craziness has died down (at least until the iPhone 5 launches later this week), but overnight it was Microsoft's turn to shine.

The Redmond-based company officially announced its Office 2013 prices and packaging, and it's really pushing the subscription-based model for its "premium" products. To allay any fears that customers are paying a subscription for a word processor, Microsoft has thrown in Skype minutes and more SkyDrive storage. Small Business Premium customers also have a few added bonuses, like HD video conferencing and hosted email.

Of course, it hasn't completely eliminated its traditional pay-once products, but, depending on your circumstances, they might not represent value for money. If you're having difficulty deciding which is right for you, ZDNet contributor Ed Bott has broken down what you'd lose and gain from each.

While there are no firm dates for the release of Office 2013, the company did finally confirm what we've all known for a while: Windows 8 and its Surface RT tablet will be made commercially available on October 26, and will launch the day before, on October 25, in New York City.

The tablet in particular has some tongues wagging; there are concerns over what the competition might mean for Android. At least on the business front, ZDNet contributor Ben Woods asked, "What does an Android tablet (or even iOS) offer that a Windows tablet can't?" Integrating Android or iOS into a business has always been an issue, but what if Microsoft makes the integration between desktop and device completely seamless? That might be something to give at least Android a run for its money.

Android is also not feeling much love from the Apple camp, which is now able to wave its figures in its face. In just 24 hours, Apple secured 2 million pre-orders, eclipsing previous records for its smartphone and leading to demand outstripping the company's ability to supply the new device, despite the controversy surrounding its changed charging adapter.

But speaking of charging adapters, we could be just a few months out from seeing laptops and more power-hungry devices charged via a new technology called USB power delivery. The idea is pretty smart: TVs of the future, which are already fixed and plugged in to an outlet, may have a special USB port that can be used to charge a laptop and send/receive data at the same time. Sounds like a great idea for those presentations.

But don't expect any Japanese manufacturers to be pumping this sort of technology out of China anytime soon. Panasonic and Canon have shut down their plants following Chinese protests against Japan over a national dispute regarding the ownership of a set of islands in the East China Sea. Sony is also avoiding any travel to the country out of fear for its staff's safety.

Three tips to escape the tyranny of IT metrics

Three tips to escape the tyranny of IT metrics

Summary: IT metrics can be a curse against innovation and becoming a strategic partner with the business. Here are steps you can take to escape the tyranny.

Many IT organizations rely on metrics to evaluate their own work and incentivize employees around specific goals. Although appearing beneficial, metrics can drive shortsighted behaviors at the expense of innovation and real business value.  

One typical white paper (PDF download) on this topic describes 100 IT performance metrics in categories such as:

Infrastructure and operations
Staff resources
Technology change management
Financial management
Delivering value
The metrics are a collection of traditional, almost stereotypical, performance standards that describe IT's ability to maintain its systems and deliver core services to users. Example metrics in the list include:

Total Infrastructure Incidents (by infrastructure type excluding desktop incidents) 
Max Downtime (Peak Hours) 
Average Application Response Time
Actual Hours by Request Priority
Total Backlog Request Hours by Type
Total Defects Introduced from Changes
Actual Costs-to-date by Application Priority
Percent of Hours by Business Priority
Cost savings from efficiency improvements
From an IT-centric point of view, metrics such as these make complete sense. By giving the IT organization a single set of standards, metrics do unify execution and foster consistency. Metrics also play a political role: helping IT demonstrate its value and "proving" that IT does important work. In addition, the numbers give non-technical management a yardstick for evaluating IT. 

Despite the obvious convenience and utility of traditional metrics, there are problems. Most significantly, they perpetuate the old status quo of IT as technical services provider devoid of strategic benefit to the organization. Although measures such as server uptime are important, they do not encourage IT to understand the company's business nor do they reward innovation and strategic partnership. By incentivizing cost and efficiency to the exclusion of innovation, such metrics ultimately devalue IT.


Fighting the metrics battle can make even the most hardened CIO weary and tired. Follow these tips to change the role and perception of IT within your organization and escape the tyranny of technical metrics:

1. Embrace the metrics. Operational excellence is the first step to improving IT's credibility and becoming a strategic partner to the business. If you can't deliver projects on time, within budget, and with high customer satisfaction then your team must improve its game. In other words, learn to handle the basics first.

2. Listen and learn from the business. An IT department that achieves operational excellence naturally gains respect from the business. The next step is engaging with operating folks in lines of business to learn about their goals and strategies; become a friend and learn to understand pains and triumphs in the business.

3. Offer solutions to the business. Having established a history of capable execution and then created a relationship with the business, you are now in a position to offer ideas and solutions. Continue to listen thoughtfully but become proactive in proposing ways that IT can help the business accomplish its goals and relieve its pains. Start slowly but relentlessly engage with good ideas in the spirit of cooperation and helpfulness.

In summary, use metrics to establish a baseline for operational excellence but never forget that innovation and strategic partnership with the business are your true goals. Although traditional IT metrics can be useful, they are not a substitute for finding ways to help your company innovate.

Research: The devalued future of IT in a marketing world

Research: The devalued future of IT in a marketing world

Summary: New research demonstrates the changing role of IT. Here is advice to ensure your IT organization is not marginalized as a consequence of these changes.

The world of IT is bifurcating into infrastructure providers and innovators. It’s time for CIOs to get on the right side of that wave.

Gartner analyst, Mark P. McDonald, wrote a compelling piece showing IT growth rates over the last decade. Here's his graphic showing the trend: 

You can see that IT growth rates have declined dramatically and are rising slowly. Given high activity levels around computing that we see in the enterprise, Mark tries to reconcile these slowing growth rates. His conclusion:

It’s difficult to reconcile these budget numbers against the level of IT activity.  CIOs and IT have been busy over the past ten years.  Activity requires funding, so in an environment of flat budgets you have to ask where is the money coming from?

The answer is most of the money has come from IT sweating its assets and resources — doing more with less.  Or more accurately doing more while keeping the budget flat.  Outsourcing, offshoring, consolidation, renegotiating contracts all play a role in cutting IT costs and keeping them down, even in the face of increased transaction and data storage demands.  This has made IT infrastructure one of the most productive resources in the organization.
We can conclude that most organizations view IT as a means to increase productivity and efficiency, rather than a source of innovation and business transformation.

As another data point, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan predicts, "by 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT Than the CIO." Her webinar on this topic includes the following slide, showing that marketing budgets are large and growing more rapidly than those in IT:

This next chart completes the picture: marketing is taking more control over its own technology budget and leaving IT in the dust:


If you are a CIO, you can take several steps to prevent your IT organization from becoming marginalized.

Also read: Three tips to escape the tyranny of IT metrics

Consider the following points to help turn your IT organization into a source of innovation and transformation:

Execute with excellence: deliver your projects on time and within budget. When IT fails to deliver the basics, it loses credibility and undermines attempts to raise the bar in other areas. Make sure that IT supplies basic infrastructure, security, and reliability without a lot of fanfare. At the most basic level, IT should disappear because things just work.

Make friends with the business. Get engaged and meet with folks from marketing and the lines of business. If you do not understand what these folks need to get their jobs done, you diminish your capacity to offer beneficial assistance. Seriously, spend lots of time with them.
Take a leadership role. Having achieved delivery excellence and learned to understand the business, you are now actually in a position to make a change. Be strategic in your thinking, so the business perceives value in your proposals; if you can help drive a material transformation or improvement, the business will find your suggestions useful.

Communicate with simplicity. After coming up with ideas, develop simple messages and language to test your ideas with folks from the business. Avoiding all technical jargon and concepts has two benefits: first and most important, it forces you to think clearly and crisply; second, simplicity increases the chances that the business audience will understand your intent and see the benefits.
Repeat and evolve. Becoming an innovation partner and breaking patterns of the past requires commitment, so be prepared to invest time and energy. Continue delivering with excellence, talking with the business, being a leader, and presenting your ideas in simple, clear terms.
The world of CIOs and IT is likely to split into infrastructure providers and innovation partners. To become a genuine partner to the business, start taking steps today. If you don't make a change soon, your IT organization end up a commodity shop in a transforming world.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

FBI denies link to leak of 12 million Apple codes

FBI denies link to leak of 12 million Apple codes

The FBI says there is "no evidence" that a hacker group gained access to 12 million identifying codes for Apple devices via an FBI agent's laptop.

AntiSec, a hacker group, posted a file on the internet on Monday that it said contained more than one million of Apple's so-called UDID codes.

UDIDs are a 40-character string unique to each Apple device.

AntiSec said it gained the codes from the laptop of an FBI agent called Christopher Stangl.

Mr Stangl works in the bureau's Regional Cyber Action Team, Wired Magazine reports.

AntiSec suggested that the 12 million codes were being used by the FBI to track the associated users.

Along with the posted file, the group said in a statement that it had only released one million IDs and had scrubbed identifying information, including full names, telephone numbers and addresses.

Commenting on the AntiSec revelation, the FBI said it had no indication of any link to its agent or computer.

"At this time there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data," the bureau said in a statement on Tuesday.

Peter Kruse, an e-crime specialist with CSIS Security Group in Denmark, tweeted on Tuesday that the leak "is real" and that he confirmed three of his own devices in the data.

Johannes Ullrich of the SANS Internet Storm Center told the AFP that while "there is nothing else in the file that would implicate the FBI... it is not clear who would have a file like this".

Hackers identifying themselves with AntiSec have made previous hits this year on the websites of Panda Labs' anti-malware products and New York Ironwork - a company that sells equipment to US police.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yahoo! Voices Website Hacked 450,000+ Compromised

A hacker group going by the name of D33ds Company has claimed responsibility for an attack against the Yahoo! Voices service that has resulted in over 450,000 usernames and passwords being leaked.
The entire username and password list is currently available for download.
The group say a weakness in the website allowed them to access the database using a technique called SQL injection.

“At Yahoo! we take security very seriously and invest heavily in protective measures to ensure the security of our users and their data across all our products,” a Yahoo spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Yahoo! is downplaying the claiming that less than 5 percent of the accounts leaked have correct passwords.

“We confirm that an older file from Yahoo! Contributor Network (previously Associated Content) containing approximately 400,000 Yahoo! and other company users names and passwords was stolen yesterday, July 11. Of these, less than 5% of the Yahoo! accounts had valid passwords. We are fixing the vulnerability that led to the disclosure of this data, changing the passwords of the affected Yahoo! users and notifying the companies whose users accounts may have been compromised. We apologize to affected users. We encourage users to change their passwords on a regular basis and also familiarize themselves with our online safety tips at security.yahoo.com.”

Despite this, all users of the Yahoo! Voices service are advised to change their passwords IMMEDIATELY. Also, if you’ve used the same login credentials on other websites then you should change your password there too.

Security firm ESET have carried out a statistical analysis of the leaked passwords and compiled a list of the top ten passwords used, and all of them and weak and easily guessed:

123456 = 1666 (0.38%)
password = 780 (0.18%)
welcome = 436 (0.1%)
ninja = 333 (0.08%)
abc123 = 250 (0.06%)
123456789 = 222 (0.05%)
12345678 = 208 (0.05%)
sunshine = 205 (0.05%)
princess = 202 (0.05%)
qwerty = 172 (0.04%)

This list accounts for more than 1 percent of the passwords leaked.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Will your Internet data still be there in 100 years?

Does part of social media's future lie in the past? It's a question that's nagging some of the biggest names in the industry as they turn their attention to the swelling digital archives many of us have created online.

One of Facebook's recent overhauls saw the addition of a timeline to help users build a chronological narrative of their lives. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of photo sharing site Instagram, said this week he wants to give his users better access to their older images.
But as we increasingly rely on digital services as a repository for our life stories, is there any guarantee that we will be able to access them in years to come?

Multibillion dollar businesses such as Facebook and Google might seem like rock solid cornerstones of the Internet at the moment, but fortunes change and leviathans can and do go out of business. And a scroll through the fine print of most social media sites' terms reveals no mention of an obligation to safeguard our data.
With such a large question mark hanging over the tech industry, it was only a matter of time before someone smelled a business opportunity.

One of those people is Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, a service that allows users to archive images, documents and other data.

Libin made headlines at tech conference LeWeb London this week when he revealed that Evernote has 34 million users, of whom 1.4 million are paying customers -- up sharply from the 25 million users and 1 million paying customers he had announced in May. Three-quarters of these new users are coming from mobile devices, he said.

Already sitting on a $1 billion valuation, Libin's site -- often described as an "external brain" -- doesn't look like it has any immediate worries for the future. There's even talk of an Evernote IPO in the next few years.

But Libin believes that he can encourage even more people to park their data with Evernote if he can remove any question of doubt about his company's long-term destiny. To this end, he plans to later this year introduce a legally binding promise that guarantees users 100 years of access to their files -- not that his customers will be around that long.

This involves setting up a protected fund that, in the event of Evernote being taken over or shut down, will pay to maintain its data banks.

"We want people to have to believe that Evernote will be around for 100 years," Libin told CNN. "As soon as 10 years go by when it hasn't been in anyone's economic interest to keep your data, you can almost be guaranteed you won't be able to get it back. But as long as it's economical viable, it'll remain alive."

Eliminating this doubt makes smart business sense. Some data services have endured a rocky ride because of fluctuating faith in their prospects. In 2010, social bookmarking service Delicious experienced a sharp user exodus after Yahoo announced it was selling off the site.

Delicious still exists today and may continue to thrive long into the future. But online-archiving services must establish trust with their users to endure, said Maciej Ceglowski, founder of rival bookmarker Pinboard.

"An archive needs to have a credible plan for offering the same basic feature set over a time scale of decades," Ceglowski told the Personal Digital Archiving conference in San Francisco earlier this year.

In a world where computers and storage solutions are constantly evolving, such plans face hurdles.

"The main technology challenge is what format will be available in 100 years?" says Libin. "It's like people who had eight-track tapes of their favorite music from 30 years ago. Who's going to know how to play a CD in 10 or 20 years?

"There's no magical technology solution -- it's not like we have a file format that someone will be able to read in 100 years," he added. "So we have to make it worth someone's time to convert the data into whatever the newest format is."

Libin says his company is taking cues from the Long Now Foundation, a private organization that is examining ways to preserve data for centuries as part of its broader efforts to promote debate over humankind's distant legacy.

"They're planning for thousands of years," he said.

Of course, no one knows exactly what the Internet will look like a century from now. But Libin, and Evernote, are trying.

Source CNN

Oracle chief Larry Ellison buys Hawaiian island

The billionaire boss of technology giant Oracle is to buy 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, Hawaii's governor says.

Larry Ellison's successful bid is unknown, but the asking price was said to be between $500m (£318m) and $600m.

The the 141 sq mile (365 sq km) island is owned by billionaire David Murdock.

Known as "Pineapple Island", Hawaii's smallest publicly accessible island is home to 3,200 residents and now boasts several luxury resorts.

It was previously famous for its pineapple plantations but has seen tourism take over as its key business in recent decades.

Mr Murdock has owned Lanai since 1985 through private company Castle & Cooke.

Compassion sought
Confiming the successful bid, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said on Wednesday: "It is my understanding that Mr Ellison has had a long standing interest in Lanai.

"He is also a businessman whose record of community involvement in medical research and education causes is equally notable. We look forward to welcoming Mr Ellison in the near future."

A co-founder of Oracle, one of Silicon Valley's traditional tech giants, Mr Ellison is listed sixth on Forbes' list of global billionaires, with a net worth estimated at $36bn.

Castle & Cooke is the island's primary employer and owns the hotels, golf courses, water utilities and other businesses on Lanai. But it is losing as much as $40m each year on its projects there, the company has said.

The mayor of Lanai has described Mr Murdock as a caring landowner. Before Mr Ellison's involvement became known, he said he hoped any new proprietor would be considerate to the island's residents.

"I'm hoping that whoever buys the island will have as much compassion for the residents there as David Murdock. I'm hoping they will be conscientious owners," Alan Arakawa told Maui News on Tuesday.

The remaining 2% of the Lanai is not owned by Castle & Cooke.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Twitter crashes hard, Internet freaks out

Twitter crashed so hard on June 21 that the site didn't even display the famous "Fail Whale." Instead, it simply timed out.

Cue the collective Internet freakout! Twitter went down for several hours on Thursday afternoon, depriving users of a place to complain that Twitter was down.
The Twitter outage began at 11:59 a.m. ET, according to Twitter's page on tracking site Pingdom. Service returned intermittently around 1 p.m., but less than an hour later, Twitter crashed again.

"Engineers are currently working to resolve the issue," a Twitter spokeswoman told CNNMoney.
Twitter updated its status blog at 1:42 saying "the issue has been resolved and all services are currently operational" -- but at 2:16, another update from Twitter backtracked and said "the issue is on-going."
An hour later, Twitter seemed to be working for most users. Shortly after 3 p.m. ET, Twitter's PR account tweeted that the issue was caused by "a cascaded bug in one of our infrastructure components."
That explanation came after a hacker group, UGNazi, claimed to several media outlets that it had taken Twitter down in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
The June 21 Twitter outage was the longest service disruption since an hour-long episode on October 7, which came during a month filled with hundreds of very brief outages, according to Pingdom's data.
Downtime is a common problem for websites, though Twitter has been far better lately than it was a few years ago, when the site became notorious for its extensive outages.
Thursday's crash was extensive enough that Twitter didn't even display its famous "Fail Whale" error message. Instead, the site simply timed out.
Twitter's temporary demise sent users to other social networks, including the blogging site Tumblr. As one commenter put it on CNNMoney's own Tech Tumblr: "I enjoy the fact that when Twitter goes down, my Tumblr explodes. :)"
Others confirmed the crash by checking sites like outage tracker downforeveryoneorjustme.com -- which, coincidentally, is the brainchild of a Twitter engineer.
Alex Payne wrote about his creation in a 2008 blog post, which also chronicled Twitter's growing pains at the time: "Of late, I've tried as much as possible to focus my time at Twitter on building a new system that works at scale and does so predictably and measurably. That's not easy when the current system is still on fire."
Compared to those problems, Thursday's outage appears to be just a tiny little brush fire.