Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blogger sued over topless Aniston

A Hollywood film studio is suing a gossip blog for publishing topless photographs of Jennifer Aniston.

Universal City Studios Productions claimed the images on the Perez Hilton site were stolen and illegally copied.

The case, filed in a Californian court, seeks a bar on further publication and the return of the pictures, which were taken during the making of a film.

A lawyer for Mario Lavandeira, aka Hilton, who runs the popular celebrity blog, said he had "done nothing wrong".

The pictures were allegedly "misappropriated and illegally copied" during production or post-production of Aniston's 2006 romantic comedy The Break-Up, the studio said.

Their legal action claims Mr Lavandeira, 28, "posted all or parts of the stolen footage from the motion picture on his website".

The studio wants an injunction on future use of the picture and a court order "directing the US Marshal to seize" the copyrighted material.

Universal is also demanding a jury trial and monetary damages to be determined by the court.

A statement from Mr Lavandeira's lawyer said: "It is unfortunate that Universal has chosen to bring this lawsuit as our client has done nothing wrong.

"The use of a portion of a single photograph that was previously published on numerous websites, for the purpose of commentary and satire, constitutes fair use."

Aniston 'disdain'

The blogger immediately removed the shot as soon as he learned that it was allegedly stolen, it adds.

"Our client questions whether this lawsuit was in fact motivated by Ms Aniston as a result of her disdain for viewpoints expressed about her on the site."

The legal action follows a separate case last year, when Aniston sued celebrity photographer Peter Brandt.

She claiming he invaded her privacy by using a telephoto lens to photograph her inside her home when she was topless or partly dressed.

The pair reached a "confidential" and "amicable" settlement in September, Aniston's lawyer Jay Lavely said.

Google charges for web programs

Google has introduced a paid-for version of its web applications it hopes will be popular with small firms.

The paid version adds more storage, phone help and guarantees of availability to the Gmail, calendar, word processing and messaging package.

Industry analysts suggest the move is aimed squarely at Microsoft and its Office suite of programs.

At the same time BT and Microsoft signed a deal to create a marketplace of web-based programs for small firms.

'Brutal timing'

Google's new service costs $50 (£27 or 40 euros) for every account and for this customers get phone support, a guarantee that the online applications will work 99.9% of the time and 10 gigabytes of storage for each e-mail address.

The package of programs available includes e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, calendar and Google Talk.

By paying, users also get the option to turn off the adverts that usually populate the free versions.

The free version of this package was introduced in August 2006 and Google said that more than 100,000 businesses had signed up.

Google hopes that the chance to collaborate on key documents via the web will prove popular to small firms who are more used to e-mailing copies back and forth.

Analysts said the announcement was intended to give people an alternative to Microsoft's Office 2007.

"The timing is just brutal for Microsoft," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research. "It's definitely a shot across their bow."

In related news Microsoft has revealed details of a partnership with telecoms firm BT to create a marketplace for a series of business programs designed for small businesses.

The subscription-based marketplace will host all the programs itself and allow small businesses to use the different applications as a service.

As well as generic applications such as payroll programs the marketplace will also host niche applications designed for particular types of small businesses such as dentists and estate agents.

A spokesman for BT said it would be signing up software firms to make the programs soon and that it was aiming to launch by the summer.
An Egyptian court has sentenced a blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president.

Abdel Kareem Soliman's trial was the first time that a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt.

He had used his web log to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak, whom he called a dictator.

A human rights group called the verdict "very tough" and a "strong message" to Egypt's thousands of bloggers.

Soliman, 22, was tried in his native city of Alexandria. He blogs under the name Kareem Amer.

A former student at al-Azhar, he called the institution "the university of terrorism" and accused it of suppressing free thought.

The university expelled him in 2006 and pressed prosecutors to put him on trial.

'Slap in the face'

During the five-minute court session the judge said Soliman was guilty and would serve three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition, and one year for insulting Mr Mubarak.

"On blogs everyone is allowed to write what they want. This proves how unintelligent the president and Al-Azahr are"

Send us your comments

Egypt arrested a number of bloggers who had been critical of the government during 2006, but they were all subsequently freed.

Hafiz Abou Saada of the Egyptian Human Rights Organisation called the sentence "a strong message to all bloggers who are put under strong surveillance".

The UK-based organisation Amnesty International said the ruling was "yet another slap in the face of freedom for expression in Egypt".

Fellow blogger Amr Gharbeia told the BBC it would not stop Egyptian bloggers from expressing opinions as "it is very difficult to control the blogosphere".

There have been no reported comments on the sentence from the Egyptian authorities.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Long-Delayed Ad System Has Yahoo Crossing Its Fingers

BURBANK, Calif., Feb. 1 — Starting around 3 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, a group of Yahoo executives will begin shuttling among three “war rooms” at the company’s search marketing unit here.
They will be scrutinizing an array of moving charts and graphs projected on walls and checking with a team of 30 to 40 engineers for any signs of trouble as Yahoo flips the switch on a new search advertising system.

“It’ll be a good event if it is a nonevent,” said Brian Acton, senior director of engineering at Yahoo Search Marketing.
Yahoo’s investors and advertisers, on the other hand, will be looking for something eventful to start happening, if not on Monday, then in the weeks and months after.

The much-delayed ad system, known as Project Panama, is Yahoo’s effort to close the wide gap with Google in the race for search advertising dollars, a fast-growing and incredibly lucrative business that Google dominates. As such, Panama is the most important new product for Yahoo in years.

“You are talking about something that could potentially affect the single largest and most profitable business segment that Yahoo has,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at Citigroup.

Among those who will be keeping close tabs on Panama is Yahoo’s chief executive, Terry S. Semel.

“I think we will be watching this closely for many Mondays,” he said. “It has been and continues to be our No. 1 company priority.”

That is no surprise. Some analysts who follow Yahoo say the delay of Panama is the biggest reason Yahoo shares dropped from a high of more than $35 early last year to just over $22 in October. They have since regained some ground, closing Friday at $28.77.

In its simplest terms, Panama is Yahoo’s attempt to place ads in front of users that are more likely to be clicked on. Until now, Yahoo gave top billing to the advertisers who were willing to bid the most to have their ads listed alongside a particular search result.

Google has a different formula, which Yahoo is trying to emulate. It ranks ads on a mix of bid prices and relevancy to the user. That leads users to click on ads more frequently, and since advertisers pay only when a user clicks on their ad, Google, on average, makes more money on every search than Yahoo does.

And since Google is better at matching ads with users, the system is more efficient for advertisers, too, creating a sort of virtuous circle that gives Google a powerful edge.

“I spend a majority of my dollars on Google,” said Amy Wong, global online marketing manager for the software security firm Trend Micro. “I’m glad to see that Yahoo is trying to get their act together.” Ms. Wong said she would like to distribute her ad dollars more evenly among Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, the third major player in search advertising.

Mr. Mahaney estimated that in 2006, Google made 4.5 cents to 5 cents on every search, while Yahoo generated only 2.5 cents to 3 cents a search. The difference adds up to billions every year.

As critical as the success of Panama is for Yahoo, it is not the only challenge facing the company. As Google’s share of all searches has grown steadily over the last year, Yahoo’s has remained largely flat. The company also faces increasing competition in its display advertising business.

In addition, while Yahoo is going through a reorganization aimed at making it more nimble and more accountable, crucial posts remain unfilled, and some investors are waiting for the company to lay out a clear strategy.

“Panama is very important to Yahoo, but it is not the only thing they need to focus on,” said Ellen Siminoff, a former Yahoo executive who is now chief executive at Efficient Frontier, a search marketing firm.

For now, however, all eyes are on Panama.

Mr. Semel acknowledges that Yahoo was late in starting the project. He said that happened partly because Yahoo’s search advertising system, which the company acquired through its takeover of Overture Services for $1.6 billion in 2003, was performing well, and it took time for executives to realize just how much better Google’s system was.

But once Yahoo assembled the Panama team in mid-2005, “things did come together quite quickly,” Mr. Semel said.

Those who worked on the project described the effort as a huge undertaking. They compared it to rebuilding an airplane in midflight, as engineers had to keep the old advertising system running while they put the new one together.

The first phase of the project, which went into operation in mid-October, two months later than planned, includes a completely new system for advertisers.

It provides them with a digital dashboard where they can manage their marketing campaigns, aim ads geographically and test their effectiveness. It includes interactive tools that suggest to advertisers what to bid based on their budget and the number of users they want to attract. Most of those features are already available from Google and Microsoft.
Yahoo engineers say Panama has some unique features, like a “quality index” that gives advertisers a sense of how the system will rank an ad, and sophisticated analytical tools that give advertisers insights on why certain campaigns are effective.
Yahoo says the system can be upgraded without disrupting it. It is intended to be flexible enough eventually to handle video and audio ads and to distribute ads to mobile devices. And while Yahoo gives few specifics, it says Panama will some day play a role beyond search advertising.

“Panama is a foundation for us to start sewing together all our advertising assets,” said Tim Cadogan, vice president of Yahoo Search Marketing.

Yahoo has been moving advertisers to the new system gradually and expects to complete the task in the United States in March. And while some advertisers have run into problems, the new system has generally been well received.

“In terms of ease of use, Google is still the leader, but Yahoo and Microsoft have made great strides in coming up to par,” said Matthew Greitzer, director of search marketing at Avenue A Razorfish, an online ad agency.

But the part that matters most to Yahoo’s bottom line will come Monday, when the new ad-ranking algorithm begins its work.

Last Thursday, the company ran a test in which searches originating on the West Coast ran the new ad ranking system. The team started at 3 a.m., and by lunchtime, the engineers gathered in the war rooms, many with bags under their eyes, and appeared satisfied things were running smoothly.

“Our tests today went beautifully,” said Mark Morrissey, vice president for product at Yahoo Search Marketing.

Just about everyone inside and outside Yahoo expects the system to generate more revenue for the company, but no one knows exactly how much more. Last month, Yahoo cautioned investors not to expect the financial impact of Panama to show up until the second half of the year.

That is in part because as the system is introduced, some advertisers will end up paying less and some more for each click, as ads vary in how likely they are to attract a click from a searcher. Search marketing experts say that in general, the well-known brands will get better placement for their ads at lower bids, because people are more likely to click on them. The reverse will be true for lesser-known brands.

But those dynamics may vary depending on keywords and how carefully advertisers aim their pitches. Yahoo says a customer service team has been working with advertisers to help them understand how to make ads more relevant.

Regardless, it will take time for the marketplace to adapt to the new system and for Yahoo to fine-tune it.

Whatever Yahoo’s gains turn out to be, they will not necessarily come at the expense of Google.

“If this is successful, advertisers will not shift from Google or MSN, but rather from other mediums, such as e-mail, display advertising and offline budgets,” said Stuart Larkins, vice president for search at Performics, a division of online advertising firm Doubleclick.

No matter how good Panama may be, it is unlikely to catch up with Google’s system in the near term. Google has been perfecting its ad-ranking software for years. And on Wednesday, Google’s chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, said the company was placing fewer ads in front of users, yet receiving more clicks. That means not only that the ads are more relevant, but also that the experience of users is better.

Even Yahoo executives acknowledged that the version of Panama they are introducing on Monday is only a first step.

“I don’t think it gets us ahead,” Mr. Cadogan said. “It gets us to a place where we can compete more effectively.”

Be the Next American Idol With Karaoke You Can Carry

If you cannot get enough karaoke at the local sushi house, the engineers at Griffin Technology have created a low-cost karaoke system you can carry anywhere.
The iKaraoke is a microphone that plugs into any iPod with a dock connector and processes any music that you own. Its software mutes the vocals so you can be Bono’s fill-in. The playback can travel by cable to a headset or amplifier, or it can be broadcast wirelessly to an FM receiver up to 20 feet away.

The muting is not perfect You will still hear the lead singer at least faintly in the background, and, unpredictably, it works better with some songs than others. The microphone has three reverb settings to enhance your voice and help you compare more favorably with the vocalist you are replacing.

The iKaraoke is $50 and is available now at RadioShack and Apple stores. Now when you get the urge to sing “Behind Closed Doors,” it can stay behind closed doors.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tagging 'takes off for web users'

Tagging or labelling online content is becoming the new search tool of choice among web users, shows research.

As more and more people put their own content online, they are also being invited to tag it with descriptive keywords to help organise their data.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the trend in tagging is growing among US web users.

It found that over a quarter of online Americans - 28% - had tagged content such as a photo, news story or blog.

The business of intelligently tagging content is seen as a crucial element for a next-stage, so-called "semantic web".

But for users of social networking sites it is just an obvious tool to navigate around the sites they visit.

Social networking

Tagging is the process of creating labels for online content. Somebody creating an account on a site such as Flickr is invited to upload photos and then apply labels to the pictures that make sense to them - for instance, labelling a picture of the sun going down as "sunset".

Tagging allows social groups to form around similarities of interests and points of view
David Weinberger, Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Once the labels are applied, anyone entering the term "sunset" into Flickr's search will find the photo and any other pictures with the tag.

In this way, tagging makes it easier to organise information for all the users of a site and this social dimension means tagging is becoming a hallmark of the so-called web 2.0 - the social networking element to the net that encourages sharing and collaboration.

New hierarchy

Tagging comes in many forms. Google's tagging feature is called "bookmark", while other sites offer the ability to label content so effortlessly that people may not be aware they are doing it.

David Weinberger, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a prominent blogger, told Pew that tagging was becoming increasingly important for the web.

Mr Weinberger makes the case for tagging in his book Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder.

This new way of organising information in the digital age, he argues, is a classic example of how the web is enabling the bottom-up building of categories rather than having such things imposed on users.


"Tagging lets us organise the vastness of the web, and even our e-mail, as Gmail has shown, using the categories that matter to us as individuals," he said.

Some have criticised tagging as being too imprecise or ambiguous but Mr Weinberger is not concerned that one person may tag, say, a Stephen King story as "horror" while someone else calls it "ghost story".

"Tagging allows social groups to form around similarities of interests and points of view. If you're using the same tags as I do, we probably share some deep commonalities," he told Pew Internet.

Data from web-tracking firm Hitwise shows that tagging sites such as Flickr and - a bookmarking site that lets users tag websites with descriptive terms - are gaining popularity as people become more aware of them.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Vista to Aibo = DO NOT COMPUTE

In 2005, Sony had announced a drastic restructuring plan to stop losing money. That meant Aibo was going out the window, as well as the GPS for car unit and the Qualia luxury brand.

Following suite, Sony announced today they will not develop a driver or any software compatible with Vista for Aibo...

Storage growth sets a fast pace

A decade ago a 500 megabyte (MB) photo collection was something to boast about. Nowadays it is more likely be a collection measured in the gigabytes.

But as our appetite for storage continues to grow thankfully so does the capacity of our hard drives.

Hitachi has unveiled a drive which has reached the new heights of one terabyte (TB). Its drive looks like any other, but uses perpendicular magnetic recording to make space for all that data.

"The previous generation of recording technology was called longitudinal and it basically recorded the bits laying down, now we're recording the bits standing up," said Kelly O'Sullivan from Hitachi.

"So if you think of it that way, you're stacking a lot more data in a shorter area, therefore you get a terabyte."

With so much data being written to the hard drive, wear and tear is inevitably a concern. So the Hybrid Storage Alliance is promoting a new laptop unit with a built in flash chip that stores all the data you are currently calling on.

That reduces disk spinning time, increases longevity and has other benefits.

"A hybrid solution will extend your battery life. If you're on a plane for two or three hours and you don't want to stop working on a project you want to keep going - so battery is really important in a laptop PC," said Joni Clark, chair of the Hybrid Storage Alliance.

Flash memory

Some storage firms, such as SanDisk, are doing away with the mechanical hard drive completely and are opting for an all flash solution. Its flash drive is due out in Spring.

Using flash memory has many advantages. A modified laptop using only flash memory can start up faster than an ordinary one; is less of a drain on battery power and is far less likely to suffer data loss when dropped.

However, the biggest it can currently get is 32GB which says something about its target market.

"If you look at my kid, he will never use it as he is downloading movies every day," said Amos Marom, general manager of SanDisk Corporation's Computer Solutions Division.

"But if you look at myself I am a road warrior, I work in airports, in aeroplanes, on trains and in hotel rooms. I am consuming about 20GB today, that's all.

Another advantage of this little device is that it helps alleviate burnt knee syndrome in laptops. Flash hard drives stay cool.

Gadget friendly SD flash memory cards are also advancing in leaps and bounds. They come in high-capacity varieties up to a staggering 8GB hence SDHC - as in Higher Capacity.

Those planning to use them should be aware that they run at a variety of speeds and can only be used in compatible SDHC hardware.

For reliability and endurance, optical storage is considered one of the best options. Holographic disks start at 300GB capacity and store data all the way through the disk rather than just on the surface.

Data is written using a split laser beam which creates holograms in the light sensitive material of the disk at the point of intersection.

That's quite a bit of money, but on a cost per gigabyte perspective it's very, very attractive.
Elizabeth Murphy, InPhase Technologies

But even if you wanted to buy a holographic burning kit you cannot - at least not in the shops.

"The reason that it's not entering the consumer market initially is because of fairly high pricing," said Elizabeth Murphy of holographic storage maker InPhase Technologies.

"The drive will be $18,000 (£9,135) list price, so that's a little bit outside the average consumer's price range. And then the media will be $180 for one disk.

"That's quite a bit of money, but on a cost per gigabyte perspective it's very, very attractive."

Still the cheapest is the traditional hard drive, which now comes in a new form - this is an external Serial ATA drive - the same kind that sits inside your PC.

This is an improvement because it does not use the slower types of connections your computer supports

"USB really was made for keyboards and mice and it's not really made for storage, neither was Firewire," said Conrad Maxwell, chairman of the SATA-IO Marketing Work Group.

"They both require protocol translations to make them work and the drives come out with SATA, so direct SATA is faster and you get six times faster performance."

While hard drive advances are impressive, losing 1TB of data is not likely to be much fun in the future. That is why devices built around a technology known by the fearsome name of Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) are becoming more popular. One such is Seagate's 1.5TB device that is actually made up of two 750GB drives.

A continuous backup is created by the same data being written to both drives simultaneously. It might well save your life. Well, your digital one.

Friday, February 02, 2007

PS3-eSATA: free the SATA port on your PS3

If, like me, you’re the owner of a PS3, you’ve probably realized by now its potential for games and video, and also the fact that there is not a single great game on the market yet! Well, except for MotorSport (I’m totally hooked), but where’s the online mode?? Anyway, let's say we’ll have games on the PS3 at some point, or maybe we’ll have a console emulator (for NEC PC Engine, Super Famicon, Neo Geo, etc.), even a nice DivX player… You’ll also realize that 60GB is good, but hardly enough after a while… Kurouto Shikou is coming to the rescue with their PS3-eSATA, a SATA and eSATA slot for PS3 that allows you to plug any kind of hard disk, and even install the OS of the PS3 on them. You can even unplug the hard disk from your PS3 and plug it on a PC to backup your data, Great!


SRV-1 Mobile Surveillance Robot

Mars Rover for your Home

Explore the dangerous terrain of your home or office with the SRV-1 Mobile Robot. This palm sized bot packs tank-like treads, a 32-bit ARM processor and a mini video camera. The included wireless transmitter interfaces via USB with any PC up to 300 feet away. The Java based host software supports Windows, Mac or Linux OS and features a built-in web server to monitor and control the SRV-1 Robot with a web browser anywhere in the world. Live video from the robot updates at a few frames per second and runs at resolutions of up to 320 x 240. The built in proximity sensors can be toggled on or off to assist when driving the robot manually. An autonomous roving mode allows the SRV-1 to explore independently while avoiding obstacles. Video surveillance recording can be scheduled based on time or date and saved as an AVI video file. Built in web based user-management controls who has access to pilot the robot or change settings. Multiple users can watch the live video feed from the robot without having access to control it. The included software is completely open source on both the host computer end and the robot firmware. Budding programmers can exploit some other nifty features of the robot such as visual object tracking.

Important Note:
The SRV-1 Mobile Robot comes fully assembled and ready to use, but requires some basic technical knowledge of Java and the command line to set-up the software. If you feel comfortable tinkering and have had experience configuring a basic web server you should be in fine shape.

Product Features

* Drive robot manually via web browser with live video feed
* Built in proximity sensors can be toggled on or off to assist when driving the robot manually
* Archive video on demand or via schedule
* Control access to robot and video feed via multiple user accounts
* Roving mode allows autonomous exploration with basic vision detection
* Wireless control up to 300 feet from host computer
* Fully open source and programmable

Hardware Specifications

* Robot moves at 20cm - 40cm /second (about 1/2 mile/hour or 1 ft/sec) with variable speed control and differential steering
* 60MIPS ARM7TDMI 32-bit processor
* Digital video camera with resolution from 80x64 to 640x480 pixels (Currently only up-to 320 x 240 supported in software)
* Four infrared sensors detect object proximity and allow communication with other Robots
* Zigbee USB 802.15.4 wireless module included (Range 100m indoors and 1000m line-of-sight)
* Updatable internal robot firmware
* Internal 7.2V 2AH Li-ion battery pack, provides operation in excess of 4 hours
* Included AC Adapter for Charging Robot (100-240V 50/60Hz)

Software Specifications

* JAVA based Control Application Runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux
* Robot firmware source code, written in GNUARM-compatible C, is available under open source (GPL) release


iPhone court battle put on hold

The legal dispute between Apple and Cisco Systems over the iPhone name has been temporarily suspended.

Cisco's lawsuit has not stopped, but the two firms have agreed to extend talks aimed at "reaching agreement on trademark rights and interoperability".

The Apple iPhone, which the company has said will hit shelves in June, was launched last month in San Francisco.

Cisco immediately sued Apple for trademark infringement; Cisco has its own line of internet-enabled iPhones.

The company, which makes much of the hardware that underpins the internet, has owned the trademark on the iPhone name since 2000 after it acquired another company Infogear.

Different uses

Infogear's original filing for the trademark dates to 20 March, 1996. Cisco's Linksys division has been producing a range of wireless VOIP phones under the name since 2006.

The phones allow users to make calls over the internet

Apple unveiled its iPhone at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January.

The touch screen phone allows users to download music and videos and comes in two versions - one with 4GB of storage space, the other with 8GB.
At the time. Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel for Cisco said: "There is no doubt that Apple's new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission."

Apple responded by saying the lawsuit was "silly" and that Cisco's trademark registration was "tenuous at best".

"There are already several companies using the name iPhone for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) products," said Apple spokesman Alan Hely.

"We are the first company to ever use the iPhone name for a cell phone, and if Cisco wants to challenge us on it we are very confident we will prevail."

Under US federal law, two companies are allowed to share the same name providing their uses are not similar.

Apple is no stranger to trademark battles. Last year the company was sued by Apple Corps, the Beatles' recording company, over its entry into the music business. Apple Corps lost the case.

The extended talks between Cisco and Apple are aimed at resolving the dispute before it goes to court.

A joint statement from the two companies read: "Apple and Cisco have agreed to extend the time for Apple to respond to the lawsuit to allow for discussions between the companies with the aim of reaching agreement on trademark rights and interoperability."

Vista has speech recognition hole

Microsoft has admitted that speech recognition features in Vista could be hijacked so that a PC tells itself to delete files or folders.

Vista can respond to vocal commands and concern has been raised about malicious audio on websites or sent via e-mail.

In one scenario outlined by users an MP3 file of voice instructions was used to tell the PC to delete documents.

Microsoft said the exploit was "technically possible" but there was no need to worry.

The firm has pointed out that in order for the flaw to be exploited the speech recognition feature would need to be activated and configured and both microphone and speakers would have to be switched on.

"There are also additional barriers that would make an attack difficult
Microsoft security researcher"

"The exploit scenario would involve the speech recognition feature picking up commands through the microphone such as 'copy', 'delete', 'shutdown', etc. and acting on them," a Microsoft security researcher wrote on the team's official blog.

Some Vista users have already tested the exploit and were able to delete files and empty the trash can so that the documents were not retrievable.

Microsoft has said that even if the machine was primed to accept voice commands it would be unlikely the user would not be in the room to hear the file with malicious instructions being played.

The firm also said that voice commands could not be used for privileged functions such as creating a new user or formatting a drive.

"There are also additional barriers that would make an attack difficult including speaker and microphone placement, microphone feedback, and the clarity of the dictation," wrote the Microsoft researcher.

While speech recognition was a feature of Windows XP, in Vista the use has been widened.

"While we are taking the reports seriously and investigating them accordingly I am confident in saying that there is little if any need to worry about the effects of this issue on your new Windows Vista installation," said the researcher.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Portable Temperature Data Logger

Log temperatures - and then graph them!

The Portable Temperature Logger is a single channel logging device that can record up to 52,000 measurement samples of temperature in user selectable intervals ranging from 1 second to 12 hours. The unit can then be connected to your computer via USB for retrieving and graphing the data using the included software.

In addition to recording samples at set intervals, the Portable Temperature Logger can also record events (such as low battery, button pushes, or connection to a PC). So, you can press the button on the front of the logger unit for one second and the unit will record "button down" and "button up" events. This is useful if you want to mark the datafile at a certain point in time, for later reference. The unit can be programmed to start at a specific time and date or via a manual push-button start.

This gadget is great for server rooms, wine cellars, mad scientist laboratories, caffeine storage facilities, or any location where temperature is an important consideration. It can also be used around the home to check for furnace short-cycling or programmable thermostat settings.

* Temperature range: -4° to 158°F (-20° to 70°C)
* Resolution: 0.2°F at 77°F (0.1°C at 25°C)
* Battery life: 1 year typical use (CR-2032 lithium)
* Dimensions: 2.4" x 1.85" x .75" (6 x 4.7 x 1.9 cm)
* Weight: .82 oz (26 grams)
* Includes: data logger, software CD, USB cable, mounting kit with magnet/hook-loop tape & double-sided tape
* One year warranty
(Taken from:ThinkGeek)