20 December, 2004

Game Industry Bigger Than Hollywood -Slashdot

The $10 billion video game industry, which generates more revenue than Hollywood, has never released so many highly anticipated blockbuster titles in a single season. It started in August with the game title Doom 3, followed by The Sims 2 in September, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in October, then Halo 2, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Half-Life 2 last month.

18 December, 2004

Desktop search tools a virus writers' best friend -ZDNet :
Most viruses are designed to harvest e-mail addresses and other personal information from an infected system. Because desktop search tools can index and categorise that information, virus writers are likely to start exploiting the technology. Any change in the desktop environment can create new security vulnerabilities, so when companies decide to adopt a new product they should look beyond the user benefits.

16 December, 2004

Black Holes in Cyberspace -The Hindu Business Line

A shocking true story of sex and death on the Internet, as the subtitle of the Book says. The culprit is John Robinson, "a harmless, unassuming family man whose criminal history began with embezzlement and fraud". Arrested for "the savage murders of six women and his suspected involvement in at least five disappearances", his hunting ground was cyberspace where he "seduced his prey". The book is educational, notes the intro.
What is PlanetLab -The Hindu Business Line
The Internet is so useful that it draws everybody - including crooks. Intel aims to make the Net smarter and more secure through its PlanteLab initiative. Internet pioneer Vint Cerf cheefully says today's Internet is primitive: "I think we're still in the Stone Age when it comes to serious networking." Making fundamental changes to something as popular - and as commercially important - as the Internet is not easy. For example, look at the slow adoption of IPv6. So instead of changing the basics, PlanetLab builds on top of them.

Some of the most useful PlanteLab services measure and monitor the Internet, looking for problems that range from local failures to virus attacks. It turns out that 60% of viruses and 'denial of service' attacks typically come from just 10 sources. and it is this kind of information that can make all the difference.
On the horns of a dilemma -The Hindu Business Line
To outsource or not to outsource... Read on. Last April, a 41-year-old software engineer in California committed suicide, according to his father, because the bank he worked for offshored his job. Is there anything CIOs can do to prevent that kind of tragedy?

On `outsourcing,' again, there is something relevant in a recent issue of McKinsey Quarterly, under `economic studies' - how for every euro of corporate spending that German companies send offshore returns are "just euro 0.80 of value for Germany's economy." The US scenario is different - for every dollar of spending US companies transferred to India, there was new wealth of $1.46. Of this, 33 cents accrued to India in the form of wages, profit and taxes, while the US economy captured $1.13 "through cost savings to businesses, increased exports to India, repatriated earnings from offshore providers in which US companies have invested, and the additional economic output created when US workers are reemployed in other jobs."

Why are German companies not reaping similar benefits of offshoring? Because of language and culture differences, which in turn make it "more expensive to coordinate" .

It's to our credit -The Hindu Business Line
A BPO employee in Chennai tracks credit card frauds in the UK... that's a scene straight out of Xansa Inc's offshore centres in India. High-end BPO services are now coming home to roost.

Chargeback happens whenever a cardholder disputes a credit card purchase. There are a variety of reasons why a cardholder may dispute a charge. These include not receiving the item ordered; not getting what they thought they were buying; the credit card was stolen and the charge was not authorised; and someone simply taking unfair advantage of the chargeback clause. The incidence of chargeback on the Web are ten times higher than in the physical world, the bank report says.
Hatching big plans -The Hindu Business Line
Two Indian telecom players have invested in global telecom networks at considerable cost. Will their measure pay off, or is it a case of counting the chicks before they hatch? Reliance Infocomm acquired FLAG telecom network almost a year ago and VSNL recently signed an agreement to buy Tyco Global Network.

At a time when promoters in the developed western countries are moving out of this business, finding it too commoditised and miserly of margins to be sustained, Indian companies are moving in. Financially, international capacity is extremely cheap, for the next five years, there will be excess capacity. What are these companies planning to do that many international promoters cannot do, are not prepared to do, or failed to do (both Tyco and FLAG had run up losses)? Both these companies are betting on large demand for bandwidth from the information technology and BPO sectors in India.

Each says it bought assets worth a couple of billion dollars for just a couple of hundred million dollars. VSNL paid $130 million on its purchase of Tyco. Tyco spent $2.5 billion to put up its network. Currently of course, international bandwidth prices in India are said to be five times as much as those in the developed markets of the world. Part of the reason is that there is less demand, so the pricing is naturally higher to preserve margins.
Set off with your laptop -The Hindu Business Line
Checkout the story of Pathway world school in Gurgaon(India) where every student from sixth grade onwards carries a laptop and entire school is wi-fi enabled.
Where's the money -The Hindu Business Line
Wi-Fi lets you surf the Net from poolside or coffee shop. Its hotspots are mushrooming, like dotcoms, but with no clear revenue model. A look at the economics of technology.

Early adopters of hotspots, the coffee chain giant Starbucks and McDonalds don't charge their customers for accessing the Net. These companies offer Wi-Fi as a means to enhance the customer experience of visiting their outlets, though they are not sure whether having a hotspot is attracting more customers.

A survey has found that though the growth in hotspot numbers in the world has been beyond analysts' expectations - there were about 40,000 in 2003 as compared to a few hundreds in 2000 - the number of users was not very high. Another report said though about 70% of online consumers were aware of Wi-Fi availability, only 15% actually used it, and just 1% paid for the service directly. Such small numbers have already made many wonder whether hotspots are going the dotcom way: mushrooming all over, but no clear revenue model in sight.

Different combinations are now being worked out the in the US to address the issue of Wi-Fi economics. For instance, some service providers are clubbing their cellular, GPS and hotspot offerings. Also, service providers are joining hands with each other to offer roaming Wi-Fi services.
Might is right -The Hindu Business Line
The operative word is poach. Much like the food chain, where the small are gobbled up by the large, and the large by the larger, IT firms are fighting it dirty in the talent pool... "Nobody can stop these guys," says the HR manager. "Small firms are the sufferers, losing good people to larger firms even before they (employees) can settle down in the company," he says. He has this to say about attrition: "Don't talk about it. It is unmanageable. Losing people is routine in small firms, and if nobody leaves on a day, it is celebration time."

Some employees quit for frivolous reasons. For instance, a project leader quit this small company because his parents happened to remark that many software professionals of his age in their neighbourhood had gone abroad while he hadn't. So he quit his company and joined a bigger one in the hope of an overseas trip after a few months. Employee attrition, a big cause for concern for small software firms, ranges between 15 per cent and 20 per cent.

"Small software companies are today a good place for big players to poach on trained employees. We sow the seeds, and they (the big players) enjoy the fruits," says the HR manager. Then how do these small firms attract and retain people? "It is like a food chain. As big players poach on our employees, we poach on smaller firms and start-ups. We also poach on computer operators from non-software firms and groom them into software professionals with a few months of training. Also, the larger players have two factors in their favour — brand name, and, in most cases, an office in Bangalore. Both are difficult to compete with." he says.

While a certain percentage of manpower turnover is desirable to keep fresh blood coming in, and removing dead wood, higher percentages are definitely not good indicators of an organisation's culture and people practices. The concept of `bench' (employees without a project) is almost alien to smaller firms. Here, talented people get spotted faster, are nurtured better, and become important team members faster. This, often, makes ordinary people perform extraordinary work. And since, despite the extraordinary work, they do not have deep pockets, they are susceptible to migration.

Some small companies service very demanding and discerning clients who expect nothing but the best of talent. This is something that even larger companies do not insist on, at times. Many a time, there is migration from bigger companies to smaller companies too, mainly because of the prestige associated with a certain project or a particular client. Contrary to popular perception, several small IT companies are, in some cases, even better paymasters than larger brands.

A fair start -The Hindu Business Line
NIIT is helping students in government schools to get tech-savvy so they run the race from the same starting point as everyone else, though not for a philanthropic cause, but a commercial deal with a social cause. Some excertps...

"NIIT's computer education movement covers over 2000 educational institutions in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam. What makes the Karnataka case somewhat unique is that 10 villages got power and telephone connections, along with the computer centre, as a result of the IT initiative."

"There is a great deal of motivation in these initiatives. Specially as the excitement of having a computer around also increases attendance of students in different schools. On the whole, the objective is to equip Government school students outside metros with an IT edge that could open windows to future career opportunities."
Recess - The Hindu Business Line
1. Name the game from Traffic Games, launched on the 41st anniversary of a famous assassination on November 22, that has raised a controversy.
  • 'JFK Reloaded' that re-creaes Kennedy assassination.
2. In technical support lingo, what is 'PEBCAK'?
  • Problem Exisists between Chair and Keyborad.

3. World's lightest helicopter

Japanese electronics company Seiko Epson has developed the world's lightest helicopter "Micro Flying Robot II" - 85mm in ht, 136mm in diameter of rotors, and weighing only 8.6g. The flying robot is equipped with micro-actuators to drive rotors, a gyro-sensor to stabilise the machine, and a CMOS camera with blue-tooth unit to transmit images of circumstance.

08 December, 2004

Technology Review: Portable Projectors
Chances are you can’t remember the last time you hauled a projector out of the attic to look at slides or movies. But, says Ramesh Raskar, you may soon carry one with you everywhere you go. Raskar, a research scientist at Cambridge, MA’s Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, sees tiny projectors as the solution to one of the fundamental problems with our ever shrinking cell phones...Raskar’s team has developed hardware and software that can project digital images onto whatever surface is handy—the wall, say, or a desktop—and make them look good even if the impromptu screen isn’t nice and smooth. Check out the site for some pics..

22 November, 2004

Spam gets religion -ZDNet:
The growth area in unsolicited e-mail is now messages that contain religious themes. It is exempt from spam laws, it's legal according to most national laws, it's not commercial, and that's interesting in a way, because there is a cost, yet no financial return. But they may believe there is a spiritual return.

21 November, 2004

Standing on the shoulders of giants - Google Scholar -The Times of India:
Google Scholar, a beta version of which went on stream mid-week, will enable users to look for scholastic literature like peer-reviewed papers, books, abstracts and technical reports.

18 November, 2004

IE, IE ko nah bolo, mangta hai kya - Firefox, toh bolo! -Myself

Heh, just another line of praise for the world's sexiest browser, inspired from the song Aaee aaee yo kil wo, mangta hai kya - woh bolo from Rangeela. Do you understand a word of what I am saying? No? Ok, so you have no idea what Firefox is. Heck, I guess you don't even know what a browser is! Doesn't matter. Even I didn't know when I wasn't a geek. Most do not know what a Browser is. It is the big blue "e" icon on which you click and access internet. Get it? No? Now? Good.
Now this big blue "e" icon is Internet Explorer browser which is a very insecure product, especially if you access bank, trading sites. Also, it's a soft target for virus, hackers, spywares, useless toolbars, hijackers etc. Bouncer gaya? Well, that was intentional :p. These are the things that one finds in almost every PC with net access. Sad. And it's found that more often than not, the user himself is responsible as s/he doesn't follow simple security practices like intalling firewall, antivirus software ....and use Internet Explorer - the big blue icon, incase you have forgotten! Oh, I think, I am diverting from the original topic. Better, if you too divert from my blog and download and install Firefox !

For fellow geeks: Check out this hilarious article
Dear IE, I'm leaving you for good on zdnetindia.
Sun invites outside involvement with Java 6 -Zdnet:
Sun published very early versions of the source code of the Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) 6.0, due to release in first half of 2006. Sun has been wrestling with the open-source Java issue for years. Sun executives have in the past expressed reluctance to make Java open-source software. But now one part of Java is open source, and Sun pledged in June that the rest will follow suit, eventually. Sun lets others see the Java source code after agreeing to the Java Resource License, which Sun introduced in 2003 to encourage broader involvement.

To submit their own code, programmers will have to transfer copyright ownership to Sun, Hamilton said. The bigger barriers will be cultural, he predicted: outside programmers convincing Sun programmers that their code is up to snuff; and Sun programmers helping outside programmers learn the ropes of the Java code quality review processes.
Gates world's most spammed person -The Economic Times:
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates receives four million e-mails daily, most of them spam, and is probably the most 'spammed' person in the world but unlike ordinary users, the software mogul has an entire department to filter unsolicited e-mails and only a few of them actually get through to his inbox.

13 November, 2004

Executive Suite

Why bandwidth is costly in India? -Techree
1. India still "buys bandwidth". It does not actually participate in the worldwide Internet network as a provider, but as a consumer.
2. Untapped last mile connectivity.
3. Taxes at multiple levels, which sometimes add upto as high as 24%.

Rural Outsourcing -Myself

Forget Philippines and China as India's competitors for outsourcing business. Enter Rural outsourcing. Rural outsourcing basically refers to outsourcing to rural areas of America rather than outsourcing to foreign countries. Rural Sourcing, a start-up offers services such as application maintenance and Internet development for roughly 40 percent less than what other domestic tech outsourcers charge. They claim "Rural Sourcing's fees are about the same as the overall cost of using an Indian outsourcer if you consider factors such as communication costs, travel expenses and inconvenience." ...hmm, still Indian outsourcing reduces costs by 1/10th, and that is far greater than what they have on offer. I guess I am taking India's side coz I am an Indian. Perhaps. From an American point of view, patriotism can really drive this thing called rural-outsourcing, and why not. Apart from this I don't think it has any serious advantage over India.
Related links:

12 November, 2004

Terrorists may use net for future attacks -Economic Times
The hacking and identity theft tools now earning mega bucks for mainly eastern European organised crime could be used in terrorist attacks, an FBI official said. FBI deputy assistant director Steve Martinez said cyber crime is no longer the domain of teenage geeks but had been taken over by gangs. “Tools and methods used by these increasingly skilled hackers could be employed to cripple the US economy and attackcritical infrastructure as part of a terrorist plot,” Martinez said.
Now, thats scary!

10 November, 2004

New file-sharing software -Bittorent- tears through the net -Economic Times
A file-sharing program called BitTorrent has become a behemoth, devouring more than a third of the internet’s bandwidth, and Hollywood’s copyright cops are taking notice. BitTorrent accounts for an astounding 35% of all the traffic on the internet — more than all other peer-to-peer programmes combined — and dwarfs mainstream traffic like web pages.

Rather than downloading the actual digital file that contains the show, instead you would download a small file (from websites like supernova.org) called a “torrent” onto your computer. When you open that file on your computer, BitTorrent searches for other users that have downloaded the same “torrent”. BitTorrent’s “file-swarming” software breaks the original digital file into fragments, then those fragments are shared between all of the users that have downloaded the “torrent”. Then the software stitches together those fragments into a single file that a users can view on their PC.

Sites like Slovenia-based Suprnova (suprnova.org) offer thousands of different torrents without storing the shows themselves. Suprnova is a treasure trove of movies, TV shows, and pirated games and software. Funded by advertising, it is run by a teen-age programmer who goes only by the name Sloncek. “They’re doing something flagrantly illegal, but getting away with it because they’re offshore,” said Mr Cohen. He is not eager to get into a battle about how his creation is used. “To me, it’s all bits,” he said.
"To me, it's all bits" ..lolz
Firefox maps its next moves -Zdnet
Now that it has the Firefox 1.0 milestone under its belt, the Mozilla Foundation has identified three areas for future growth and development: Cell phone and small device browsing, desktop search integration, and OEM distribution.The first key initiative is Mozilla's Minimo project to create a stripped-down version of Firefox for use with cell phones, set-top boxes and other nondesktop computing devices. Minimo got a shot in the arm this year when Nokia invested in it.

Rumors have swirled about a possible collaboration between the open-source group and Google. Mozilla was in talks with OEMs to get Firefox placed on the desktops of new computers. As of now, all of Firefox's distribution comes through downloads--a major hurdle for widespread adoption--while IE comes pre-loaded on the vast majority of computers.
Mozilla & Google -partners, ah, that would be great! C'mon Microsoft, "innovate"! ;)
Microsoft feels Mozilla's fire(fox) -InformationWeek
The Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox 1.0 browser was released today, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer marketing team is already, understandably, on the defensive. According to stats from WebSideStory, IE’s market share has slipped from just over 95% in the summer to slightly under 93% today. That’s not a lot, but you can see the trend, and it’s enough to make Microsoft nervous. A major upgrade to IE isn’t planned until 2006. One of Microsoft’s biggest challenges is that only 20% to 25% of the worldwide Windows customer base is using the most up-to-date version of IE. But if Firefox continues to eat Microsoft’s lunch, that plan could change. Says one Microsoft official, “We could always rethink our plans.”
Microsoft will never improvise unless they are forced to!

07 November, 2004

Firefox is the best, oh really ? -Zdnet
IE doesn't follow all standards and thats coz, Microsoft chose to make IE fit the code developers produced, however non-standard, so that compatibility with IE involved little extra work. There is see no reason why we shouldn't expect the same of alternative browsers such as Firefox.
Hmmm..Think of the long term benefits...think,think and you will have the answer.

Firefox is probably a safer security bet than IE. Don't be lulled, however, into a false sense of complacency. Firefox certainly doesn't use Browser Helper Objects, a technology misused by "spyware" vendors to monitor where a user goes on the internet. On the other hand, it's not true that Firefox isn't extensible. Binary installers (the standard way Browser Helper Objects find their way onto a Windows system) can install Firefox extensions just as easily as they install IE extensions. In other words, the reason Firefox doesn't face the threats IE faces is that they aren't the browser used by 95% of consumers.
This is where open-source chips in. There are certainly more developers contributing to Mozilla than IE, and more the developers, better the results. Why I don't recommend Firefox by Adam Kalsey is also a nice read. He basically highlights the interface and marketing problems with Firefox.

06 November, 2004

No mutiny from Microsoft's bounty -Techrepublic
In the year since Microsoft kicked off its Anti-Virus Reward Program, it has tallied only a single success. The program has offered $1 million to informants who help close official investigations into four major viruses and worms.
Time for IT sector to look within now, feel experts -ZDNet :
"In Australia, we have great infrastructure, great quality of life but not much people to use it. So Australia has to come to India (in search of a market)..Yesterday, I heard that TCS had over 38,000 people. We don't even know that many IT professionals in our country,"
ROM Brain: A person who refuses to accept input and ideas from other people.

04 November, 2004

NASSCOM = Software, ISA = Chip Design -ZDNet
The newly-formed Indian Semiconductor Association (ISA) plans to be for the semiconductor industry what Nasscom is to the software industry.
P2P for cell phones -ZDNet :

FoneShare, an application introduced by NewBay Software, does let people share their collections of ring tones, graphics, songs etc with strangers. FoneShare will debut next year as a subscription service, running over privately owned and operated cellular networks, and the sharing will be done via Web sites controlled by a wireless operator.

Because the networks are private, wireless operators can easily identify which files are being shared and even shut down handsets that are doing a suspicious amount of file trading. "If there's any piracy going on, anywhere, the wireless operator can track you down," Holahan, Chief Executive, said. "It's like the Internet, without all the crazy stuff."

30 October, 2004

Gmail accounts 'wide open to exploit' =The Register
A security hole in GMail has been found (an XSS vulnerability) which allows access to user accounts without authentication. What makes the exploit worse is the fact that changing passwords doesn't help. The full details of the exploit haven't been disclosed. The vulnerability was reported by Israeli news site Nana. They were tipped off by an Israeli hacker. Google has been notified and they are working to close the hole.

29 October, 2004

Online registration for .in domain names from Jan 1st -ZdNet:
Internet domain names having .in can now be registered online from January 1, 2005, to generate greater traffic within the country. This initiative is expected to increase the speed of the Internet and reduce the tariffs for subscribers. The minimum fee charged by the .in registry will be Rs 250 and Rs 750 per year for registration at third and second levels, respectively.

The .in registry will offer a 90-day 'sunrise period' to the registered trademark owners, registered companies and owners of intellectual property to secure registration of their domain names. At present, there are 60 million domain names globally, out of which 40 million constitute the .com names and the remaining 20 million are country-specific. In India, however, the .in domain number is less than 7000, department of information technology (DIT) officials said.

28 October, 2004

Plague carriers: Most users unaware of PC infections -ZdNet
A study of home PCs released Monday found that about 80 percent had been infected with spyware almost entirely unbeknownst to their users. Spyware can allow unknown intruders steal important personal or financial information from victims' computers, and some allow the attacker to have full control of the systems. When networked together, the systems can form a digital army, known as a bot net, that can be used to attack other networks.
Hindu: Comparison shopping
All you have to do is take a picture of the product's barcode with your camera-phone and the software will automatically pull up prices for the product from PriceGrabber and Amazon.

24 October, 2004

The Hindu: Cartoon

"Come over for a chat, you said, didn't you?!"

16 October, 2004

Techtree: Resistance Is Futile !:
"It amazes me to see to what extent people are ready to go to in order to protect intellectual property. Especially Americans.

Did you hear the 'We declare war on Intellectual property theft' statement made by the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft? What age does that man think he is living in? This is the civilized world; you can't go 'Declare War' on every conflicting idea you see around you.

The man wants to build specialist units to fight intellectual property crimes in Eastern Europe and Asia. What are they going to do? Put Indian, Korean, Malaysian, Hungarian kids in jail for downloading a Britney Spears MP3?

I may sound prejudiced when I say this, but it seems Americans are going a little mad. As they begin to realize that others have found ways to supersede America's powers with means and ideas they do not approve of, they seem to declare a unilateral war on the idea itself. "

15 October, 2004

ZDNet: Broadband policy announced:
What: DoT has defined broadband as an always-on connection that allows downloads at a minimum of 256 kbps.

How: Through a variety of technologies like DSL, ADSL, wireless, cable.

The Big Deal: Video-on-demand is tip of the iceberg in entertainment. Small business will also benefit.

Charges: Rs.500-800 per month.

12 October, 2004

Wired: Can Math Help in Terror War ?:
A small group of thinking men and women convened at Rutgers University last month to consider how order theory - a branch of abstract mathematics that deals with hierarchical relationships - could be applied to the war on terror.
ZDNet: Kazaa loses P2P crown
Kazaa rival eDonkey was the most widely used peer-to-peer application last month. Kazaa's lead on rivals has been sliding for more than a year--at least since the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) started filing lawsuits against individual file swappers, with a focus on the Kazaa network. Several of the new file-trading software packages, including eDonkey, have created their technology in order to speed the transfer of large files of this kind. Kazaa's core technology, by contrast, is now several years old.

10 October, 2004

Om Malik: Asians buying up phone networks:
Asian phone companies are buying up optical networks world wide on the cheap ..at 10 cents on a dollar, sometimes even cheaper.Since last year Global Crossing has been purchased by Singapore's ST Telemedia, Flag by Reliance of India. Now Tata of India is bidding for the network built by scandal-ravaged Tyco.

"Instead of being small players who have to pay big fees to use the international networks of companies like MCI or AT&T or France Telecom, some of the Asian telecoms can now sit down as equals and simply swap the use of the networks for free," notes OECD economist Sam Paltridge. The result, he says, is "cheaper calls for all of us."

08 October, 2004

ET: Grill in US, Chicken your accounts in Kolkata:
"This eastern Indian city has neither a McDonald's nor a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet, but the accounts of both fast food giants are maintained through a business process outsourcing (BPO) agency here. "
Secunia: .png, .jpeg and now .doc !:
HexView has discovered a vulnerability in Microsoft Word, which can be exploited by malicious people to cause a DoS (Denial of Service) and potentially compromise a user's system. This can be exploited to crash the process when the user opens a specially crafted document.

Microsoft is concerned that this new report of a vulnerability in Word was not disclosed responsibly, potentially putting computer users at risk.

06 October, 2004

ET: Gates too casual about outsourcing:
"Gates was too casual about the outsourcing issue as he said, 'It is not like a war where you have one winner and one loser. China and India are the big change engines for the years ahead, and we should embrace that and understand our new role in that'.

So what do we get to assume from his statements? Well, as the Microsoft man himself puts it across, jobs will continue to move overseas and salaries for computer engineers will fall as a result of great competition with countries offering cheap, yet skilled labour.
The US will have to compete with China and India on merit and not through protectionism."
Hindu: It's all coming back to us
Chinese IT prowess may have been a trifle overestimated. Faced with a shortage of high-end skills, Indian companies working across the Great Wall are, in fact, moving work back to India.

05 October, 2004

FT.com: N Korea’s computer hackers target South and US
North Korea has trained as many as 600 computer hackers to be capable of launching a cyber-war on South Korea, the US or Japan, South Korea’s defence ministry said on Monday.

04 October, 2004

Computerworld: User interfaces of the next generation
..a technology that lets users of PDAs and similar mobile devices put data into their handheld systems by simply typing on an image of a standard-size keyboard projected onto a desktop or other surface. The "electronic perception" technology captures the user's finger motions via emitted light photons that form 3-D real-time images that are then processed and translated into keystrokes.

..projection keyboard heralds the way to much more powerful user interfaces that are based on hand gestures. You could open up a filing cabinet and pick up a file and sift through it with your fingers, using gestures from your hands as if you were actually picking it out of the file cabinet.

This technology is not about replacing the keyboard and the mouse but to supplement them. In 20 years, gesture technologies will be as common as the mouse.

02 October, 2004

Examples of Bad Email Messages
Virus Cat and Mouse, Phishing, Classic Scam, Spam, Bounced Emails. Read it. It may save you a Format or Fortune !
Wired: The New Face of the Silicon Age - How India became the capital of the computing revolution

Project manager Aditya Deshmukh, Patni, worked in Baltimore and New Jersey for three years but has no desire to return to the States; India's where the action is.

More than half of the Fortune 500 companies are already outsourcing work to India. One reason: Nearly every educated person here speaks English. For India - especially in its competition with China, where few have mastered Western languages - English is the killer app.

Today, even innovative firms spend too much money maintaining products: fixing bugs and rolling out nearly identical 2.0 versions. Less than 30 percent of R&D spending at mature software firms goes to true innovation, according to the consulting firm Tech Strategy Partners. Send the maintenance to India and, even after costs, 20 percent of the budget is freed up to come up with the next breakthrough app. The result: more workers focused on real innovation. What comes after services ? Creativity.

From Indian side...
Where is it written that IT jobs somehow belong to Americans - and that any non-American who does such work is stealing the job from its rightful owner ?

Patni's head of human resources, Miland Jadhav, compares the Pissed-Off Programmers' efforts to the protests that greeted Pizza Hut's arrival in India. When the chain opened, some people "went around smashing windows and doing all kinds of things," but their cause ultimately did not prevail. Why? Demand. "You cannot tell Indian people to stop eating at Pizza Hut," he says. "It won't happen." Likewise, if some kinds of work can be done just as well for a lot cheaper somewhere other than the US, that's where US companies will send the work. The reason: Demand. And if Americans don't like it, then it's time to return their iPods (assembled in Taiwan), their cell phones (manufactured in Korea), and their J. Crew shirts (sewn in Indonesia). American's can't have it both ways.

From American side...

"We can't stop globalization but outsourcing, especially now, amounts to contributing to our own demise. If we keep going in this direction, we'll have just two classes in our society - the very, very rich and the very, very poor. We're going to look like some of the countries we're outsourcing to."

..Some US firms now outsource their PowerPoint presentations to India, a blow to the pride of managers everywhere !!

30 September, 2004

ZDNet: Desktop Linux a vehicle for pirating Windows
About 40 percent of Linux PCs will be modified to run an illegal copy of Windows. In emerging markets, where desktop Linux enjoys wider popularity, the trend is even starker. Around 80 percent of the time, Linux will be removed for a pirated copy of Windows.
ZDNet: IBM search engine will find video, audio on the net
"To be able to index the content now requires manual labeling of the content," said John R. Smith, senior manager of intelligent information management at IBM Research. "We're trying to index content without using text or manual annotations."

29 September, 2004

ET: Foreign companies' 'permanent' arms to be taxed
The final word has been said on the taxation of business process outsourcing (BPO) units. Tax will be levied on the income of a foreign company with a BPO arm here which qualifies as a permanent establishment (PE). Simply put, if the foreign company has a fixed place of business of its own in India or functions through a dependant agent, it will be construed to have a PE in India and will be liable to tax.

26 September, 2004

TOI: An e-mail service for the dead !
A Spanish Internet company has come up with a novel idea of providing people the opportunity of writing their last e-mail, complete with video clip or photo attachments, and send it to loved ones or friends after the person dies. "Most people leave notes behind in drawers or boxes knowing or hoping they will be found after they die. This is the same, but via Internet," Alberto Iriarte, director of Global Spectrum, the Pamplona-based company which runs the service, was quoted by The News as saying.

23 September, 2004

ZDNet: Indians top list of Hotmail loyalists:
Brand loyalty may be a dying concept worldwide but Indians still seem to live by it. An online survey conducted across 13 countries by MSN Hotmail shows that Indians top the list of Hotmail loyalists. 92.3 percent Indians are 'loyal for life' MSN Hotmail users and have retained their original MSN Hotmail addresses.

21 September, 2004

CMPnetAsia: Outsourcing To India Shifts To R&D
India, the favored destination for the outsourcing of software development, is also attracting outsourced research and development projects, according to a new study.

18 September, 2004

osViews: Geek Battles - A Call for Perspective
"Linux sucks as a desktop."
"Windows is insecure."
"OS X is for rich, trendy art majors."

Depending on who's in earshot, spouting off any of these statements in the company of geeks is likely to get you anything from a dirty look to a severe tongue-lashing. Geeks tend to take their choice of operating system and applications very seriously, and this has both its benefits and disadvantages. On the good side, it’s a great feeling for developers when they see such quasi-religious followings behind their products, and it can help get the word out about potentially helpful tools. But on the negative side, many people tend to take this loyalty to an extreme - losing sight of more important truths in the process.

“Oh, you like Mozilla mail? I use Pine.” “I see you’re using Pico; try Emacs, it’s way more powerful.” The people I am talking about live for opportunities to say these things.

If someone insists on judging another person, it should be based on what they do with their tools – not what tools they use to do it.

There are people out there running FreeBSD or Gentoo as their desktop because it gives them a high to know that few people are doing the same. Well, what do these users actually produce with these highly superior environments? That’s the question. Many in this category create little or nothing at all; they instead spend their time on USENET and in forums for “lesser” products berating the mouth-breathers for not being as advanced as they are. You seldom see them using their vast powers to actually create something useful.

16 September, 2004

Do you like websites that require you to register just to view their content or access their service ? Are you fed up of feeding the same old details sites ask you to fill up on the registration form ? Do you feel uncomfortable giving out your email id and other personal or demographic details to these sites ? Do you fear spam as a result of the previous question ?

If your answer is YES to any of these, visit www.bugmenot.com. In a nutshell, it's a mechanism to quickly bypass the login of web sites that require compulsory registration and/or the collection of personal/demographic information.
ZDNet: Tech Specialist + Business Consultant rules
Need a job? The growing technology services industry is hiring.
But services employers these days want more than the programming chops of unemployed software developers--they're looking for business smarts as well.

Services companies like Accenture and IBM used to be more content to hire tech specialists separately from business consultants, but now they're looking for broader skills and more versatile workers.

"What they are looking for is a professional who can understand the technology issues that a company faces...and also understand what the business issues are, and be able to link the two,"

Longtime computer programmer Bonny Berger is trying to adapt to the era, in which software skills alone don't always cut it. The New Jersey resident worked for AT&T and IBM for 24 years before getting laid off in 2002. Since then, she's landed two consulting jobs that have tapped her expertise in accounting--a field she majored in as an undergraduate years ago. When she markets herself these days, it's as a business expert first, computer specialist second. "My heading on my resume is not computer programmer or software engineer," Berger said. "It's accounting and billing analyst, with a subheading of computer applications experience."

15 September, 2004

DATA FOUNTAIN - Fountains as potential information displays !
"In the park next to my home is a fountain. I can see it from my window. Day in day out it sprays its water in the same boring fashion, no information in there. I connected this fountain to the cell phone of my secret lover. The fountain now sprays high when she's in neighborhood and low when she's far away. It sprays wild when she is receiving many phone calls. Not spraying at all when her phone is off. People in the neighborhood think it's just a randomly programmed fountain, but they are not into ambient information like I am."
ZdNet: First it was PNG, Now its JPEG !

The critical flaw has to do with how Microsoft's operating systems and other software process the widely used JPEG image format and could let attackers create an image file that would run a malicious program on a victim's computer as soon as the file is viewed.

A sample program hit the Internet, showing by example how malicious coders could compromise Windows computers by using a flaw in the handling of a widespread graphics format by Microsoft's software. More on this, here.

14 September, 2004

What is buffer overflow ?
A buffer overflow occurs when a program or process tries to store more data in a buffer (temporary data storage area) than it was intended to hold. Since buffers are created to contain a finite amount of data, the extra information - which has to go somewhere - can overflow into adjacent buffers, corrupting or overwriting the valid data held in them. Although it may occur accidentally through programming error, buffer overflow is an increasingly common type of security attack on data integrity. In buffer overflow attacks, the extra data may contain codes designed to trigger specific actions.
Yahoo! - Yahoo Buying Musicmatch for $160 Million
...San Diego-based Musicmatch will provide Yahoo with two features that it doesn't currently offer — an online music store that sells individual songs for 99 cents apiece and a popular software program that helps manage digital music on computer desktops...

13 September, 2004

ZDNet: Now Indian firms will take over Foreign firms !!
Research and consulting firm Forrester in its recent report has said that Europe's faltering economy and depressed stock prices of IT services companies make its large IT services companies an ideal target for acquisition by Indian firms.

12 September, 2004

ZDNetIndia.com: Why Web services will be the Next Big Thing
Web services establish a method of standardizing communication, making it easier for applications and devices to share information back and forth across the Internet. Web services use some standards that already exist, a bunch that half exist, and still more that are yet to be created. So when you see semi-familiar and unfamiliar terms and acronyms like UDDI, XML, SOAP, and the rest of the Web services lexicon, don't feel stupid.

09 September, 2004

ZDNetIndia.com: Google Gets the Geeks Going !

The 1000 MB capacity captures your attention, but in truth the huge storage is only the foundation for GMail. When Rediff offers 1024 MB free, and Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. chip in with their few hundred MB sops, it is not the same they still have a folder hierarchy based interface. Google throws away the folders in favour of Labels. You can 'apply' several labels to a mail, as opposed to 'putting' the mail into one folder. Once you get used to labels, folders will feel decidedly primitive. The concept and the technology have been languishing for decades, but Google is the first to implement it on a scale that makes a difference. Score one for Google.

The GMail interface is one huge JavaScript file, weighing in at around 250kB. Sign-in and wait while this downloads. But once it is on your computer, the interface is simply blazing. The JavaScript processes all your clicks right on your computer, instead of relying on the server to decide what to do next. The only data needed from the server is your email contents. Contrast this with almost all other web-mail applications that force a full page reload on every click. Yahoo recently bought Oddpost, the guys who first made this concept work for email way back in '00. Welcome to the next wave of browser-based application interfaces. This interesting approach does have it's accessibility drawbacks though, and Mark Pilgrim does a great job of presenting them at (http://snipurl.com/7ryx). These kinks too will eventually be sorted out, and you can safely credit Google with bringing yet another useful technology to front and centre.

Few tools* for Gmail :-

G-mailto: http://www.rabidsquirrel.net/G-Mailto/

Transferring mails to G-mail...
One neat way to do this is to chain a tool like the free YahooPOPs (http://snipurl.com/7ryp) with a mail redirection/forwarding tool like the free Mail Redirect (http://snipurl.com/7rys). Mail Redirect will download mails from your Yahoo account through YahooPOPs and transfer them to you GMail account with all sender information and the mail body intact.

Migrating from Hotmail is even easier with the free GetMail for Hotmail (http://snipurl.com/7ryn), that will do this in one step!

Local mail client to GMail...
GMail Loader: http://snipurl.com/7rx2

GMail account to POP3 account...
Pop Goes the GMai: http://snipurl.com/7ryj
FreePOPS: http://snipurl.com/7ryl

GMail backup script: http://snipurl.com/7rxt

* - You can't legally use most of these tools ! lol !

07 September, 2004

The Hindu Business Line : Double trouble:
Virus writers were known as the more technical group, while spammers were renowned for their commercial `acumen' as opposed to their programming skills." Their profiles were also different: "The virus writer has stereotypically been the angry adolescent male with a chip on his shoulder, writing viruses to gain approval and notoriety from his cronies. Spammers, on the other hand, had a more materialistic goal in mind - to make a profit."

Now, notwithstanding these differences in their intentions and nature of operations, spammers and virus writers are increasingly acting in connivance with each another
The Hindu Business Line : Pitch for home play:
Indian IT companies are ignoring the home market at their own peril. Especially since the backlash in the US against offshoring is set to get worse before the pressure eases up. Now's the time to play at home like never before...Indian vendors are ignoring the Indian market, at their own peril. The same Gartner report said 92 per cent of all of India's software revenues came from exports and a paltry 8 per cent from India.

05 September, 2004

Spyware Could Bungle XP SP2 Update
Programs such as Ad-Aware and SpySweeper can scour computers for spyware. Microsoft recommends that users clean their PCs of spyware and back up their data before turning on the auto update feature that automatically downloads Service Pack 2, or SP2.
Techtree.com�>>�Putting Passion Back Into Computing

Steve Jobs is arguably the shrewdest, most competent and most daring human being the computer industry has ever seen. He is a visionary, a calculated, wise businessman and no matter what people say about him, a great leader.

What surprises me most about him is how he has the ability to make the world stand up and take notice of everything he does and see it in a positive light.

Look at Apple's core principles. They're a company that believes in total domination. "Our Computer, Our OS, Our Network, Our Music Service, Our Music Player and Our Internet". Despite that, he makes hordes of Open Source developers "crazy about Apple", all because the OS-X kernel is open-sourced. This is the same group of people who hate Microsoft because they're a monopoly.

I say and many would argue, had John Scully, Apple's CEO, not been stupid enough to fire Steve Jobs rather than "Fix" him in the 80s, Apple would have been the monopoly today. And don't be surprised, they're on their way to be there again, maybe in a different market, but they're getting there fast and it's all thanks to Steve Jobs' tactics and business acumen...

29 August, 2004

Did Your Code Ever Make Anyone Deaf ?
"Siemens AG anticipates additional costs from a software problem with new mobile phones that has led retailers to suspend sales. Five models of its new 65 series can emit a piercing melody into users' ears if the battery fails during a call, causing hearing damage in extreme cases, according to a statement."

28 August, 2004

Techtree.com�>>�Virus Snoops via Webcam:
The worm spies on users by taking control of their webcam and microphone, then sending images and soundtracks back to the hackers...With many home users keeping poorly-defended PCs in their bedroom, there is considerable potential for abuse....

25 August, 2004

Internet2: 2004 and beyond: Internet2 was developed by a consortium of universities and technology companies in 1996 to provide vast improvements in connection speeds. The goal of the project has always been to stay three to four years ahead of what is commercially available through the public Internet. The network itself is in its third generation of design. Earlier this year the backbone was upgraded to 10gbps (gigabits per second).

Most of the public Internet today uses 2.5gbps links, but some carriers are upgrading those links to 10gbps.

More than 227 universities, libraries, public schools and research institutions are connected to Internet2. The network connects to more than 57 international high-capacity networks. It provides a test-bed for new technologies such as IP version 6.

24 August, 2004

Software maker exposes hidden data:
Metadata, hidden information that can specify everything from a document's creator to deleted text, has become a growing risk for companies. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was embarrassed last year, when documents meant to bolster his cause for intervention in Iraq contained metadata with information that contradicted the official position.

09 August, 2004

RealNetworks plays to Linux developers
RealNetworks on Wednesday will announce plans to release the source code of its audio and video player to run on the Linux operating system.

The Seattle-based company will announce details of the code-sharing plan at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. With the source code, developers can build tailored versions of RealNetworks' audio-video player to run on Linux and Solaris systems. Linux is an open-source OS based on Unix; Solaris is Sun Microsystems' version of Unix.

The code release also complements RealNetwork's strategy to promote its multiformat system over proprietary systems, such as Microsoft's Windows Media. RealNetworks has taken this approach to recoup market share in the media software business that Microsoft has gained in recent years.
Wi-Fi phones make a splash
Early versions of Wi-Fi cell phones failed miserably because of the enormous drain on the batteries--which must support two chipsets rather than one--and because users were forced to manually switch between networks. But at least one phone maker, Motorola, now claims to have solved the automatic transfer problem. As a result, carriers are promising some dizzying scenarios by Christmas. For instance, a customer could start a call on an office Wi-Fi network, switch to a cell phone network as he or she travels outside the office building, then conclude the call on a home wireless network, all with no interruptions.

The only thing a consumer will notice is the change in the quality of the caller's voice--for the better if the phone is switching to a Wi-Fi network and for the worse if it's hopping onto the cell phone network.

"What's happening here is we're setting up two different IP addresses for the same call, and that's something that's never been done before," White said.

06 August, 2004

Image flaw pierces PC security:
Six vulnerabilities in an open-source image format could allow intruders to compromise computers running Linux and may allow attacks against Windows PCs as well as Macs running OS X.

The security issues appear in a library supporting the portable network graphics (PNG) format, used widely by programs such as the Mozilla and Opera browsers and various e-mail clients. The most critical issue, a memory problem known as a buffer overflow, could allow specially created PNG graphics to execute a malicious program when the application loads the image.

Among the programs that use libPNG and are likely to be affected by the flaws are the Mail application on Apple Computer's Mac OS X, the Opera and Internet Explorer browsers on Windows, and the Mozilla and Netscape browsers on Solaris

02 August, 2004

Top jobs now in telecom, pharma : Hunting for a job? Read on. According to online job players, opportunities are slowly pointing at sectors like pharmaceutical, research and development (R&D), healthcare services, telecommunication and retail. Sunrise sectors infotech and IT-enabled services (including call centres) that created a boom in the job market continue to offer jobs but at a slower pace.

Another trend within the job market, as pointed out by Jobstreet.com, is the upward movement in jobs available in the IT and ITES sector. "Earlier, most of the job postings on our site within IT was for application programming (low-end work) but now the job postings for IT and ITES are also moving up the value chain," JobStreet.com India general manager operations and marketing Arijit Sarkar said. With the success of the Indian software and ITES industry, global companies are more confident in outsourcing high-end work to India. "These high-end areas are R&D in product development, embedded software and chip designing," Sarkar said.
DNS opens networks to data attacks
The data will not normally be recorded or detected by network security, Kaminsky said, because it appears to just be legitimate DNS servers communicating with one another. "The user is not actually sending data outside the network," he said. "They (seem to be) requesting data from the local DNS server and it is sending it outside the network."
IBM to make Java database open source
Raising its stakes in open-source software, IBM plans to create an open-source project around Cloudscape, a specialized Java database.As a Java-only database, it does not compete directly against mainstream relational database servers, such as DB2, Oracle or Microsoft's SQL Server, according to industry executives.

Still, the move to make its database products open source deepens IBM's commitment to the open-source development model. With its multibillion-dollar investment in Linux, Big Blue is credited with having made open-source technology more palatable to corporate customers.

30 July, 2004

Bulk of year's PC infections pinned to one man - News - ZDNet:
Sven Jaschan, self-confessed author of the Netsky and Sasser viruses, is responsible for 70 percent of virus infections in 2004, according to a six-month virus roundup published Wednesday by antivirus company Sophos.

The 18-year-old Jaschan was taken into custody in Germany in May by police who said he had admitted to programming both the Netsky and Sasser worms, something experts at Microsoft confirmed. (A Microsoft antivirus reward program led to the teenager's arrest.) During the five months preceding Jaschan's capture, there were at least 25 variants of Netsky and one of the port-scanning network worm Sasser.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said it was staggering that one person could be responsible for so many infections. Richard Starnes, president of security industry group ISSA UK, was also impressed: "Is he going to put this on his CV?" he asked.

29 July, 2004

ZDNet India : Details of Microsoft antivirus software leak out

..Microsoft has been rumored to be seeking a high-profile acquisition in that arena, and security specialist Network Associates was said to be on the company's radar..

28 July, 2004

Secure Wi-fi ...802.11i standard:
The 802.11i standard encrypts data sent along wireless networks to protect it from anyone who may intercept it.

The most significant feature of the 802.11i standard is Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a strong encryption standard supporting 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit keys, said Robin Ritch, Intel's director of security industry marketing.

27 July, 2004

Yahoo! News - Web Worm Spreads, Slowing Online Search Sites

A fast-spreading computer worm disrupted the world's most popular online search sites on Monday, scanning the vast databases of Google Inc. and other search engines to find the e-mail addresses of new victims.

26 July, 2004

Web Services

Web services is a new software model that doesn't simply extend existing models but reinvents everything from scratch. It addresses software applications architecture within the context of the Internet. Web services allow Web sites to programatically expose their functions to other Web sites or applications (on the desktop, palmtop, or whatever).

Web services use the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to connect to each other. This is akin to HTTP that connects browsers and Web applications. The fact that SOAP is XML at the core, and that it is an open W3C standard adopted by all platforms, means it should be possible to easily build bridges across Web services, irrespective of whether they were created on .NET or Sun ONE.

25 July, 2004

Broadband Blueprint :
The TRAI''s roadmap for broadband will have far-reaching implications. Broadband connectivity, as defined in the TRAI report, is always-on connectivity of 256 Kbps or higher. While one can argue about the connection speed, that is a big leap from what is advertised today (64-128 Kbps). Broadband is the end game for the computer, communications and consumer electronics industries.

"The problem in India, as we have all experienced, is connectivity. TRAI has estimated that bandwidth in India costs 1,200 times more than in south Korea, which is the most wired nation"
Subscription prices of broadband services in India are 60 times higher than those in Korea, which translates to 1,200 times higher considering purchasing power

One of the most important TRAI recommendations is that of local loop unbundling. In simple words, this means that the incumbent telcos (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd) need to open up access on their last mile to others for an appropriate fee.

This way, others do not need to replicate what is an expensive last-mile infrastructure. While the concept is sound, this is a non-trivial decision for the government-owned telcos. The interests of a few are likely to supersede those of many.

Let us set a goal of providing a "whole solution" of hardware (access device), software, broadband connectivity and tech support for Rs 700 per user per month. Of this, broadband access (512 Kbps or higher) should cost no more than Rs 250 a month.

21 July, 2004

Click Fraud
Click fraud is perpetrated in both automated and human ways. The most common method is the use of online robots, or "bots," programmed to click on advertisers' links that are displayed on Web sites or listed in search queries. A growing alternative employs low-cost workers who are hired in China, India and other countries to click on text links and other ads. A third form of fraud takes place when employees of companies click on rivals' ads to deplete their marketing budgets and skew search results.

Human operations can be more difficult to detect because a wide network of people can click on ads from different computers across many regions, without a steady pattern. According to a report in the India Times, residents are being hired to click paid links from home, with the hopes of making between $100 to $200 per month.

In other instances, the source of bogus clicks can be much closer to home.

Joe, the chief executive of an Internet marketing company, enjoys clicking on his rivals' text ads on Google and Yahoo because his competitor must pay as much as $15 each time he does it. Eventually, such phantom clicks can add up and drain a rival's budget.

Read some more here.

10 July, 2004

ZDNet India : Old-school worm loves Windows applications

Although the latest Lovgate worm does not delete any user data--such as documents or spreadsheets--it replaces executable files (with the .exe extension) on the local hard drive with further copies of itself. This process can leave an infected computer effectively useless because it is unable to run any applications.

"The virus might do this renaming operation to hundreds of .exe files in one go. The end result is that instead of finding one or two infected files, the user will find masses of them. With Lovgate, this is normal,"
ZDNet India : Budget 2004-05: Weak links, contentious issues

Good: Eliminating excise on PCs.

Bad: Eliminating excise only on PCs. This benefit given in isolation will adversely affect the local manufacturers of components such as monitors, UPS, and motherboards as importing will become cheaper than buying locally.

..."Computers are being fully exempted from excise duty from the present 8 percent. Parts/components manufactured and captively consumed in the factory of production of computers are also being fully exempted. Computer for the purposes of the exemption would include a central processing unit (CPU) cleared on a stand-alone basis as well as when cleared together along with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. However, accessories such as monitor, keyboard, mouse, modem, UPS, web camera etc. cleared separately would not be covered under this exemption." ....

08 July, 2004

ZDNet India : Cheaper storage prompts email providers to offer larger boxes

...From the storage point of view, costs have come down by 50 percent in last two years...
ZDNet India : Indian president calls for open source in defense

In another public-sector boost to open-source software, Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam called for his country's military to use such nonproprietary technology to ward off cybersecurity threats.

06 July, 2004

ZDNet India : Sun wrestles with open-source Java

Sun Microsystems is grappling with applying an open-source philosophy to its Java software as the company weighs risks and benefits over whether it should jump in further or not. But some experts are suggesting a middle ground.

Open-source software, best exemplified by the Linux operating system, holds the promise of fast innovation, widespread adoption and a lively developer community. But Sun, which invented and oversees Java, has expressed worries that making it open-source software could threaten its essential promise of compatibility.

Placing Java more firmly in the open-source realm could let allies and foes manipulate it for their own ends. Not doing so could push programmers toward Microsoft's .Net.
ZDNet India : Bagle author releases 'dangerous' assembler code:
...the author is spreading the source code to as many PCs as possible so that if he is arrested, he won't be the only person to have that code on his computer...

26 June, 2004

ZDNet India : Online Ad revenue may touch Rs. 100 crore:
"Online advertising has the potential to touch Rs. 100 crore within a year, said V V Kannan, president, interactive services, Sify Ltd, while launching Internet and Online Association (IOA) on Thursday in Mumbai.

IOA is a body formed by a group of portals including Yahoo.co.in, Sify.com, Rediff.com, MSN.co.in and the online media agency Mediaturf. The key objective of IOA is to expand and enhance content and business realisation through online advertising, e-commerce and mobile advertising.

'The Internet population in India is 17 million and current projections are that it will reach 50-60 million by 2007. We believe that the target of 100 million online users by 2007 is possible and IOA will work towards this objective,' said Kannan, who is also chairman of IOA. "
ZDNet India : Corporate Web servers infecting visitors' PCs

The researchers believe that online organized crime groups are breaking into Web servers, surreptitiously inserting code that takes advantage of two flaws in Internet Explorer that Microsoft has not yet fixed. Those flaws allow the Web server to install a program that takes control of the user's computer.

The flaws affect every user of Internet Explorer, because Microsoft has not yet released a patch and most antivirus software curretnly cannot detect the flaw. Moreover, the infectious Web sites are not just those of minor companies inhabiting the backwaters of the Web, but major firms, including some banks

24 June, 2004

ZDNet India : Hotmail to offer 250MB of free storage

...Over the past few years, Yahoo and Hotmail have both taken steps to decrease memory in hopes of convincing free users to become paying subscribers...

Yahoo - 100mb
AskJeeves - 125mb
Hotmail - 250mb
Rediffmail - 1gb
Google - 1gb
ZDNet India : Yahoo to Trillian: Talk to the hand:
"Yahoo said it will continue changing its protocols to prevent clients such as Trillian from finding new ways to incorporate Yahoo. Again, the measure was cited by Yahoo as a way to prevent IM spam.

'By making frequent protocol changes, it is our expectation that spammers will be blocked from abusing our system to spam our users,' Osako said.

IM spam, commonly referred to as 'spim,' has been flagged by experts as a growing problem. However, experts have also written off spim as a far cry from e-mail spam, which has caused enormous headaches for consumers and businesses alike. "
Yahoo! News - US Charges AOL Worker Sold Customer List for Spam

U.S. investigators said on Wednesday they had arrested an America Online employee and a Las Vegas marketer for stealing the Internet provider's customer list and selling it to a purveyor of "spam" e-mail.

AOL members were flooded with millions of unwanted messages because of the scheme, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court in New York.

Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, was charged with stealing a list of 92 million AOL customer screen names and selling them to Internet marketer Sean Dunaway of Las Vegas

21 June, 2004

ZDNet India : IT salaries on the rise: Karnik

Beginners are being offered 15 percent over earlier wage levels, while the hike goes up by around 25 percent 30 percent for the middle and top management levels.

09 May, 2004

ZDNet AnchorDesk: Warning: New Microsoft worm on the way

...half the vulnerable systems in the world get patched within the first 30 days after a vulnerability patch announcement. Toward the end of that same 30 days, someone reverse engineers the patch and finds the real flaw and releases a virus or worm to exploit the unpatched systems...

29 April, 2004

ZDNet India : Sony beams in blue laser discs

The Professional Disc features 23.3GB of storage capacity per single-sided disc and is available in both write-once and rewritable versions. The discs offer 11MB-per-second read capabilities and 9MB-per-second write speeds. They will sell at retail for about US$45.

Sony currently has plans for at least three generations of Professional Disc products, with the goal of doubling capacity and performance with each release. The second-generation discs are expected sometime in 2005, featuring 50GB of storage capacity on a single-sided, double-layer disc with a transfer rate of 18MB per second. The company plans to release third-generation discs in 2007, with a projected storage capacity of 100GB using double-sided media and offering a transfer rate of 36MB per second.

03 April, 2004

ZDNet India : Google to offer gigabyte of free e-mail

Google, the company that made off with the search market, is setting its sights on free e-mail. Hotmail currently offers 2MB of free e-mail storage. Yahoo offers 4MB. Gmail will dwarf those offerings with a 1GB storage limit.

30 March, 2004

ZDNet India : Google takes searching personally:
"As the search wars intensify, Google hopes that making a personal connection with its visitors will give it an edge.The company launched a test version of its personalized search"

The company launched a test version of its personalized search engine on Monday, part of its effort to tailor its search results to users' preferences. Google also plans to e-mail registered users of personalized search with the results of their queries.

The Mountain View, Calif., company introduced testing tools for its Personalized Web Search and Web Alerts on Google Labs, its public developmental playground.

Garcia said she would like to see Google increase the complexity of personalization it offers. The company could encourage greater use of the system by adding more depth in customization, such as providing more localized options and a larger range of buttons for finding content aimed at children and teenagers, she said. The system currently lets people highlight what state they're most interested in; by taking that down to the city or town level, Google could have even brighter prospects, according to Garcia.

"I could see people using this as an alternative to existing yellow pages and directory listings, if Google pushes it to the metro level," Garcia said. "There's also a huge opportunity to attract more local advertisers when that happens, and as much as this is a tool that caters to end users, I think it plays very nicely into that equation."

26 March, 2004

ZDNet India : Microsoft looks to unite PC, Xbox games:
"Microsoft announced a new set of development standards and tools Wednesday intended to cover both PC games and titles for the company's Xbox console."

...Another "smart" move by M$ !
ZDNet India : Google talks without the browser
Google is not the obvious company to telephone when you are looking for directions to a restaurant or hotel, but the popular search engine's development team is hoping that its emerging voice search facility may over time completely change the concept of a search engine.

23 March, 2004

ZDNet India : 'Witty' worm infects, dies quickly
Using a manner of infection similar to the fast-spreading Slammer worm, the Witty program compromised more than 20,000 machines in less than an hour."Because it crashes the machines eventually, (the worm) died off really fast," Ullrich said. He estimated that almost 30,000 computer had been infected by the worm, and most of them had crashed because of file corruption within 30 minutes of being infected.

An unknown author created the worm about two days after news of the flaw became public, in what may be the fastest turnaround of malicious code writing to date. "It is the only time that I can think of that this had happened so quickly," Ingevaldson said. "This was surprising. We didn't think we would see something that could come up this big and fast."
ZDNet India : Tech giants abuzz over VoIP for cell phones:
"Sun Microsystems and other tech giants are calling Internet phone technology the cell phone industry's next big thing, saying it will help solve old problems and create new servi"

VoIP is a technology for making phone calls via IP, the world's most popular method for sending data from one computer to another. After years of overpromising and underdelivering, VoIP is generating significant interest among telecom carriers, corporations and consumers, thanks to significant improvements in quality of service.

Carriers are already embracing VoIP as a way to cut traffic costs on international and long-distance calls, and it is expected to eventually replace the public switched telephone network, as big phone companies convert to IP-based fiber-optic networks. Currently, about 10 percent of all international voice traffic is classified as VoIP, although less than 1 percent of those calls are initiated on a VoIP phone.

15 March, 2004

ZDNet India : U.S. Army to Gates: Halt the free software: "Microsoft has been mailing free copies of its pricey Office productivity software to government employees, but CNET News.com has learned that at least two federal agencies are warning recipients to return the gifts or risk violating federal ethics policies."

Bill sure is smart. :p

11 March, 2004

Cooool !
DiscT@2 technology

After several years in development, it was in the summer of 2002 that Yamaha Electronics introduced its innovative DiscT@2 technology. This allows a CD-RW drive's laser to tattoo graphics and text onto the unused outer portion of a CD-R disc, thereby providing a far more professional looking disc labelling system than possible by use of stick-on labels or felt-tip markers.

19 February, 2004

The Penny Black Project - Outsmarting Spam

Microsoft has a plan in place to put spam into history: increase the cost of sending multiple messages. Currently, it costs the same to send a message to one or more persons. With new software, code-named Operation Penny Black, for every email sent the sender's computer would require to solve a complex math problem that takes 10 seconds. It wont be a problem for sending a few mails but spammers, who send millions of emails, will certainly be haeding for trouble.

Source: India Today (feb 23, 2004)

13 February, 2004

ZDNet India : Windows 2000 code posted on Net:

Microsoft is investigating how a file containing some protected source code to Windows 2000 was posted to several underground sites and chat rooms.

"The 203MB file contains code from Microsoft's enterprise operating system, but the code was clearly incomplete, said Dragos Ruiu, a security consultant and the organizer of the CanSecWest security conference, who has examined the file listing.'It was on the peer-to-peer networks and IRC (Internet relay chat) today,' Ruiu said. 'Everybody has got it; it's widespread now.'

The 203MB file expands to just under 660MB, he said, noting that the final code size almost perfectly matches the capacity of a typical CD-ROM. The entire source code, he said, is believed to be about 40GB, meaning that the file circulating Thursday is only a fraction of the full code base."

02 February, 2004

Virus strikes the Internet - Virus Ithihaas

LONDON (Reuters) - The MyDoom Internet worm claimed its first scalp on Sunday, paralysing the Web site of American software firm SCO Group with a massive data blitz.

SCO is not alone. Microsoft Corp has been targeted by a second variant of MyDoom, dubbed MyDoom.B. That attack is timed to kickoff on Tuesday.

MyDoom, the latest worm to infect computers over the Internet, is the fastest-spreading attack since last summer's twin attacks by the Blaster worm and SoBig virus, computer security experts said.

Following are brief descriptions of some of the major viruses, according to various security firms including TruSecure/ICSA Labs, Trend Micro, F-Secure Corp., Sophos, Network Associates Inc., and Symantec Corp.

-- In 1986, two brothers, Amjad and Basit Farooq Alvi, wrote what is thought to be the first PC virus to infect floppy disks. Dubbed the "Pakistani Brain" virus, it was designed to advertise their software company, Brain Computer Services in Lahore, Pakistan.

-- The first worm -- a virus that spreads through the Internet -- was released on November 2, 1988 by Cornell graduate student Robert Morris Jr. The "Morris Worm" exploited a flaw in the Unix operating system and spread within days to about 6,000 mainframes, or between five and 10 percent of the total on the Internet at the time. Morris, the son of a computer security expert at the U.S. National Security Agency, was convicted of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

-- In 1989, a teenager in Sofia, Bulgaria, released the Dark Avenger virus that destroyed data and contained references to lyrics from metal rock band Iron Maiden, including "Eddy lives ... somewhere in time." He also wrote the first polymorphic virus, which changes characteristics to avoid detection.

-- Ching Ing-hau, a sergeant in the Taiwanese army, wrote the Chernobyl virus, also called CIH, in 1998. Set to activate on the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, April 26, it would try to erase the hard drive on an infected computer. Experts said he wrote it to get revenge on the anti-virus industry after the army got infected by a virus.

-- In 1999 David Smith of New Jersey wrote the Melissa virus that spread via e-mail and infected Microsoft Word documents. Smith had two aliases, "Vicodin" for his virus writing, and "Doug Winterspoon" for when he was posing as a legitimate virus expert, experts said. Smith did not go to prison for several years but is now serving time.

-- Filipino university student Onel de Guzman released the "IloveYou" or "LoveLetter" e-mail virus in 2000. It tricked people into opening an infected e-mail attachment and installed a keystroke logger so he could get access to passwords on infected machines.

-- Jan De Wit, from The Netherlands, wrote the Anna Kournikova virus in 2001 using the alias "On the Fly". Created with virus generation software, the worm tricked e-mail users into clicking on an attachment that purported to be a picture of Russian tennis star Kournikova. He was charged with spreading data via a computer network with the intent to cause damage.

-- Blaster worm and the Sobig e-mail virus disabled computers and snarled Internet traffic across the globe in August and September 2003. Sobig.F became one of the most widespread viruses ever, crippling corporate e-mail networks and filling home users' inboxes with a glut of messages before jetting copies off exponentially to more victims. The "Blaster", or "LovSan" worm spread through a security hole in Windows.

-- MyDoom - also known as Novarg or Shimgapi has spread rapidly, mostly in North America, accounting for one in nine messages globally. The volume of messages clogged networks and appeared to be concentrated in corporate environments. Later MyDoom.B, a new variant emerged to target Microsoft Corp.'s Web site, security experts said.

01 February, 2004

Radiation from PCs can be used for spying

In a computer, some of the most powerful radiation emanates from the monitor, a cathode-ray tube in which electron guns fire streams of electrons more than 60 times a second to produce the images displayed. That bombardment produces wave frequencies, some of which overlap with the familiar VHF and UHF television bands.

In short, the invisible, information-bearing radio waves from a monitor are remarkably similar to a broadcast TV signal. A spy's scanner need only tune in the waves and process them line by line to replicate the image on the original screen.

31 January, 2004

One superb copy protection technology !!!

Software pirates who make illegal copies of a particular computer game are finding the games companies are coming up with a radical new anti-copying strategy.

Illegally copied games protected by the system work properly at first, but start to fall apart after the player has had just enough time to get hooked. As a result, the pirated discs actually encourage people to buy the genuine software, the developers say.

The new protection system, called Fade, is being introduced by Macrovision, a company in Santa Clara, California, that specialises in digital rights management, and the British games developer Codemasters, based in Leamington Spa. It makes unauthorised copies of games slowly degrade, so that cars no long steer, guns cannot be aimed and footballs fly away into space. But by that time the player has become addicted to the game.

Fade exploits the systems for error correction that computers use to cope with CD-ROMs or DVDs that have become scratched. Software protected by Fade contains fragments of "subversive" code designed to seem like scratches. The bogus scratches are arranged on the disc in a subtle pattern that the game's master program looks for. If it finds them, the game plays as usual.

When someone tries to copy the disc on a PC, however, the error-correcting routines built into the computer attempt to fix the bogus scratches. When the copied disc is played, the master program then cannot find the pattern it is looking for, so it knows the disc is a copy.

Similar technology is being planned for Dvds as well wherein the movie stops playing after a key plot.

14 January, 2004

ZDNet India : IE bug lets fake sites look real

Malicious hackers frequently lure victims to convincing replicas of e-commerce sites such as eBay, where they're tricked into handing over financial and other private information. The method is said to be a key tool in credit card and identity theft.

Click here for a demonstration.

11 January, 2004

ZDNet India : AMD, Intel put antivirus tech into chips: "Advanced Micro Devices and Intel plan to soon release technology that will allow processors to stop many attacks before they occur."
Mailblocks Debuts New Free Web-Based Email Service at CES; Adds Innovative Features to Premium Services

Jan. 8, 2004--Mailblocks, Inc. today launched a free version of its Web-based email service and announced a host of new features for both its free and premium services, furthering its goal to provide the best consumer email experience possible.
Mailblocks helps consumers manage, protect and consolidate their email. Among the service's signature features are:

-- 100% elimination of spam with no false positives via Challenge/Response 2.0.

-- Consolidation and management of existing Yahoo! Mail, AOL, MSN, Hotmail and POP3 accounts into one universal inbox.

-- Email access from a super-fast, application-like Web interface or through desktop email applications.

-- Largest storage and attachment allowances at best pricing for consumers.

07 January, 2004

ZDNet India : Almost half of Kazaa downloads 'threaten security':
Around 45 percent of the files downloaded from Kazaa contained planted viruses, back doors and Trojans...

01 January, 2004

ZDNet India : The duel of the dual-layer DVD formats

One side of the ongoing recordable DVD format battle is expected to be first with products that nearly double the amount of data held on one disc. But that victory may not put an end to the feud.

The skirmish began a few years ago, when a group of companies did not like the recordable DVD technologies developed by the DVD Forum standards body. The DVD Forum approved formats called DVD-RAM and DVD-R, for write-once recording. Later, the DVD Forum added the DVD-RW rewritable standard for the ability to record, erase and record again on the same disc.

The dissident companies formed the DVD+RW Alliance, which put out its own technology for write-once and rewritable recording. As a result, seemingly countless recordable drives and disc media types are on the market, creating potential confusion for consumers. For example, a DVD-R/-RW drive cannot record on +R or +RW discs. In theory, discs that are recorded using +R, +RW, -R and -RW media all can be read by DVD players. But a recent government study found that DVDs and DVD drives are compatible only 85 percent of the time.