Thursday, September 29, 2005

This blog sucks.

Well, that seems to be the general consensus around here. Normally, I'd just think to myself Screw all of you and carry on with whatever, but I really don't know.

So, I obviously haven't been posting for about a fortnight now. Not that it's really anyone else's business, but I've been a little busy with my thesis. My time is normally divided between research, being online and hanging out with friends/gaming. When my research load increased, I made the decision to temporarily give up online time in favour of continuing to hang out with my friends, and that's kinda why I haven't been on lately. Anyway, I don't know why I'm bothering to explain myself.

Thing is, why I got back from my hiatus, I didn't really know if I wanted to continue this thing. Firstly, pretty much 100% of comments posted so far about the blog (as opposed to a particular post) have been negative. And this from people I don't even know. The fact that no one else can be bothered to say anything speaks volumes for itself.

Also, the main reason I even started this blog in the first place was that I normally follow tech news anyway, and figured some others might appreciate it if I summarised the current happenings. Guess I was wrong, because nobody ever comments on the tech articles anyway.

Then I come to the blog page and saw StupidBoy's tag and just got pissed. I'd like to think that's not normally like me, but in any case, it didn't help. Dave being his usual assholic self wasn't a big assist either.

I guess the main point of this post is that I've lost the reason why I bother doing this. If people want to read about tech stuff, they're sure not letting me know. And they have thousands of alternatives anyway. Sifting through the mounds of articles might take more time, but tough.

And I don't like the idea of being obligated to write on my blog just because my friends are going to be idiots whenever I decide to take a break. It's my damned blog, and I'm pretty sure I don't owe it to anyone else to write here. I don't tell anyone else how to blog, so who are you to tell me?

So I guess there it is. I might go back to posting tech news daily; I might not. I might post once in a while about stuff in general (I've started reading philosophy stuff again) when I can be arsed. And if you don't like it, fuck off somewhere else because I've stopped giving a shit. It's not like I actually get anything back to begin with.

And I guess I should give credit where it's due, so here's a big thanks to anyone who posted negative comments (without suggesting how anything might be improved). You helped remind me that I really don't have to care what you think, and to just blog the way I feel like blogging. You might still want to stay clear for a few days, though.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The million dollar homepage

Quite a bit of press coming in the last couple of days about the million dollar homepage. I have to admit it's quite a brilliant scheme: advertisers pay US$1 for each pixel they want to advertise on, and there's a million pixels for sale, cut up into 10x10 chunks (i.e. $100 per block).

The site was started by an English bloke, Alex Tew, to "pay his way through college". To quote off the site FAQ:
First and foremost, if I make enough money, I will pay my way through University. That includes 3 years worth of tuition fees, accomodation fees, textbooks etc, and [god forbid] - having a social life!

After that, I would like to pay for my parents to have some time off because they work so hard and they deserve a break. I would like to return some of the support they have given me over all these years.

Thirdly... socks! I definitely need some new socks. Whenever I buy new ones they seem to disappear, or they disintegrate. So I want to buy some really expensive, long-lasting socks.

Finally... if I reach the $1m target and still have money left over after buying my swanky new socks, then I have a couple of interesting business ideas I would love to invest some money in. So watch this space!

He's sold 39 blocks at the time of writing, but it's likely many more will be go. He's said the site will stay up for at least 5 years. Worth checking out, if just for kicks.

As is typical, there are already a few imitations up on the web, like the million penny homepage, but this one appears to be the original. The one dollar homepage also attempts at an interesting twist to the idea.


PBS launches "Nerd TV"

The Public Broadcasting Service (creators of Sesame Street) recently launched Nerd TV, a web-only weekly one hour TV show featuring interviews with technology inventors and executives. This week's (episode 1) interview features Andy Hertzfield, the original Mac systems programmer, who talks about Mac history and OSS.

Each episode is available for download as a video file with/without subtitles, as well as audio-only files, which come in mp3, aac and ogg formats. Transcripts for each episode are also available for those who are restricted by download caps. The episodes are distributed under the Creative Common License, which allows users to legally share them with their friends, or even edit their own versions.

The schedule is as follows:
  • September 6
    Macintosh operating system programmer Andy Hertzfeld

  • September 13
    PayPal co-founder Max Levchin

  • September 20
    Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy

  • September 27
    Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak

  • October 4
    Internet publisher Tim O'Reilly

  • October 11
    Autodesk co-founder Dan Drake

  • October 18
    TCP/IP inventor Bob Kahn

  • October 25
    Computer mouse inventor Doug Engelbart

  • November 1
    Former Lotus chief scientist Jerry Kaplan

  • November 8
    Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle

  • November 15
    Amazon CTO and former Apple chief scientist Larry Tesler

  • November 22
    Google CEO Eric Schmidt

  • November 29
    The father of Linux, Linus Torvalds

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Intel enters anti-virus market via Grisoft

Intel announced Tuesday that it has signed an agreement to acquire a $16M stake in Czech Republic anti-virus firm Grisoft, subject to approval by the Czech competition council. Grisoft is the developer behind the relatively popular AVG Anti-Virus, which is among the leading security products in terms of widespread adoption with a userbase of around 25 million worldwide.

AVG Anti-Virus has gained popularity as a stable, frequently updated, easy-to-use security product, which doesn't hog all your system resources when it's running. Arguably the most important reason for its widespread adoption is that there's a free edition available for home or non-commercial use.

Hopefully, with the backing of Intel, Grisoft will be able to achieve greater market penetration and be able to integrate even better features into their already great product. Even more hopefully, Intel's involvement won't see the end of another great and free product; those two words don't appear together often enough.

Cross your fingers, folks.

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Microsoft is Roadkill(?)

Steve Gillmor over at ZDNet has just put up a post on his blog with an interesting take on everything Microsoft is doing wrong, and everything Google is doing right.

Nick over at ThreadWatch has put up a post emphasising the key points in Steve's article (for those lazy to read the whole thing). Scoble has also posted a rebuttal, as well as warning us that it's Y! we have to watch out for instead of Google.

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More music products from Apple

Apple Computers should consider changing their name to Apple Music Players.

At yesterday's invitation-only Apple press event in San Francisco, Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) revealed the new ROKR (pronounced Rocker), a mobile phone capable of playing music and accessing iTunes. The phone is produced in collaboration with Motorola and will hold around 100 songs.

Also revealed at the press conference was the new iPod Nano, a super-slim version of the iPod that is reportedly thinner than a number 2 pencil. This new offering will come in 2GB and 4GB versions.

Look! Pictures!

ZDNet is also running an article discussing whether the time is right for such music-phone hybrids.

Read: C|net, ZDNet

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More on Intel's strong-arming

C|net is running an article investigating further into the history of Intel applying strong-arming tactics on both comptition and partners alike.

(Read about the current AMD v Intel antitrust lawsuit)

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What motivates a virus writer?

BBC Techdesk is running an article about the recently arrested creators of last month's Zotob virus, which talks about how the motivations of virus writers are changing. While the majority of virus writers used to be kids and teenagers, writing viruses for kicks or just to prove they could, more and more modern virus writers are motivated by a very different aspect: money.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Is WoW hurting the gaming industry?

There have been a few analyses lately that seem to indicate the spectacularly popular World of Warcraft (WoW) MMORPG appears to be hurting the gaming industry.

Read: CNN, NYTimes

The reports mainly cite how WoW, with its subscription-based model, has made it difficult for other developers in the gaming industry to compete in the already tight market, either with other subscription-based games, or with one-time-payment games.

That's honestly a little ridiculous. WoW isn't the first overwhelmingly popular MMORPG to hit the market; EverQuest did that years ago. Just as EQ eventually died down, so will WoW eventually be replaced with another game. That's how the industry cycle works.

The more important issue here is the lack of quality games to compete for the gamer's dollar. Back when EQ ruled the MMORPG world, there were still plenty of quality games being released to compete for the gaming dollar. Nowadays, however, there just aren't enough good games being released.

Don't compare games like Matrix Online and City of Heroes with WoW; MO was never good to begin with, and City of Heroes started its slow slide into oblivion when the developers couldn't keep up with the demands of their hard core gaming customers. Even non-subscription-based games have seen a slump (50 Cent: Bulletproof?! Seriously, now).

Additionally, games are taking longer, and requiring more resources, than ever to create. Once upon a time, a game might have been created in a matter of months; nowadays, any serious effort seems to require developers upwards of three years to complete. This is largely due to the additional complexity required in new generation games. However, this means that each development company will be working on less games now than they would have, say 5 years ago, which again contributes to the lack of quality alternatives out there.

So, here's my take on things: Does WoW's success make it harder to compete for the gaming dollar? You bet it does. Is this bad for the gaming industry? Hell no; it just means developers have to work harder, and more importantly smarter, to create good games that will attract the gaming hordes away from WoW. When did competition ever hurt the industry? What we really need now is for developers to step up to the plate and start looking at the gaming public as customers who demand more bang for their buck, and not just cash cows looking for the next hot game.

GuildWars tried to be the WoW-killer, but the reception's been very mixed. So, who's next?

Innovate, or get out of the way.

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Firefox says goodbye to SSL 2.0

The Firefox team has decided to discontinue support for SSL 2.0, and only support SSL 3.0 and TSL 1.0. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is basically an encryption protocol that provides security for internet connections; it's what creates that little "lock" icon at the bottom of your browser.

Janz was slightly miffed by my excitement over this seemingly trivial news. Let me explain: the SSL 2.0 protocol has been outdated and vulnerable for years (SSL 3.0 was introduced in 1996 by then browser-king Netscape). However, a number of websites still use the old protocol.

The effect of Firefox's discontinuation of support for the SSL 2.0 protocol is it effectively puts pressure on web administrators and designers to upgrade to SSL 3.0 or TSL 1.0, and such pressure will only increase as more users (hopefully) flock towards Firefox.

You can disable SSL 2.0 in Firefox with current versions by going to Tools>Options>Advanced and unchecking Use SSL 2.0 under Security

(What is SSL and TSL?)
Read: Mozillazine announcement

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ARIA 1 : Kazaa 0

Meant to post this last night, but got a little lazy. So anyway, the Australian Federal Court ruled largely in favour of the ARIA camp (led by Universal Music), determining that Sharman Networks was infringing the copyrights of the music industry by means of its Kazaa peer-to-peer software.

Specifically, Justice Murray Wilcox stated three reasons for ruling against Kazaa:
  • Although notices have been put up on the Kazaa website and in the EULA warning against the sharing of copyrighted files, it has long been known that such measures are ineffective, and that the respondents have known that Kazaa is widely used for the sharing of copyrighted material.
  • Technical solutions exist, which would help reduce the sharing of copyrighted files, and none of these have been implemented in Kazaa since it would be in their financial interest to maximise such sharing.
  • The Kazaa web page openly encourages users to increase their file-sharing using such taglines as "Join the Revolution" and creating the "Kazaa Revolution" targeting record companies, which effectively encourage the predominantly young user base to think that it is "cool" to defy the record companies by ignoring copyright constraints.
Justice Wilcox also identified two matters that the case was not about:
  • Whether the record companies should make their copyrighted works available on a licensed basis for a fee;
  • Whether it would have been possible for the record companies to make their CDs less vulnerable to being ripped by issuing them in a DRM instead of open format.
The result of the judgement were that six of the ten respondents were found to be infringing on intellectual property rights. It was ordered that they be restrained "from authorising Kazaa users to do in Australia any of the infringing acts". However, Kazaa would be allowed to continue, provided that any new users be provided only versions of the software include non-optional keyword-filter technology designed to protect the copyright works of the record companies, all future versions of the software contain such filtering technology, and "maximum pressure" be placed on existing users to upgrade to the newer versions.

The infringing respondents were also to pay 90% of the costs of the proceedings for the applicants. The applicants had to pay the full cost of the proceedings for the four dismissed respondents.

A seperate hearing would be held to determine damages in the case.

The Kazaa camp has said (naturally) that they would appeal the ruling.

Read: Court Judgement
Reports: Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian IT, C|net, Reuters UK, Copyfight

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ballmer loses his cool

Apparently Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) isn't the only one with a hot temper (the Cnet incident); in a sworn testimony made during the ongoing legal battle between Microsoft and Google over Kai Fu Lee, Mark Lucovsky, a former MS engineer, alleges Steve Ballmer (MS CEO) hurled a chair across his office when he found out Lucovsky was defecting to Google.
"I'm going to f------ bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again," the declaration quotes Ballmer. "I'm going to f------ kill Google."
Hmmm. Having an explosive personality appears to be a requirement for a tech CEO these days.

Original Source: Threadwatch

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Zoom zoom splash!

I want one.

I'll settle for this.

But no DIY, please.

Trivia: Did you know Richard Branson used the Aquada in his 2004 record crossing of the English Channel?

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From Mambo to Joomla

Mambo, one of the most popular content management system (CMS) packages available, experienced difficulties recently when the development team left en-masse from Miro International, the company that founded and commercialised the Mambo project.

The development team stated disagreements with Miro over the governing of the software and the control of its intellectual property, while Miro insisted the dev team had been attempting a power grab. Whatever the reasons for the parting, it is the results that interest me.

Miro has since transferred all intellectual property rights of Mambo over to the Mambo Foundation, which was originally created to manage the Mambo project. They have also started a recruitment drive for a new development and forum moderation team.

The multi-award-winning original Mambo development team (which just last month beat the Firefox team at the LinuxWorld Expo to win "Best Open Source Solution") have created a new entitiy called Open Source Matters, and have developed a new CMS called Joomla!, of which version 1.0 is based on version of Mambo. Joomla! is governed by the General Public License (GPL) like Mambo, which basically allows anyone to modify, redistribute and use its code.

Read: C|net (split, Joomla)

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Intel replies to AMD's charge

AMD sued Intel on June 28, claiming the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer was using scare-tactics and "under the table kickbacks" to coerce computer manufacturers into not using AMD processors. Responding to the antitrust accusations in a filing with the U.S. District Court in Delaware yesterday, Intel denied its business practices broke any laws and dismissed the claims as "factually incorrect and contradictory".

Read: MSNBC, Macworld, BetaNews
Also: AnandTech readers' comments

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

RIAA at it again

Reuters is running an article about the RIAA unleashing a fresh round of 754 "John Doe" lawsuits, in spite of recent research showing that illegal filesharers spend, on average, four and a half times as much on digital music as normal users. This follows a previous salvo of lawsuits against 765 "internet thieves" in July.

That's all, folks.

Apple loses MP3 patents to MS, Creative

Apple has recently lost two patents covering their iPod to Creative and Microsoft. In July, Microsoft was awarded a patent for MP3 player user interface over Apple, when it was noted that Microsoft developer John Platt filed for a similar patent 5 months before Apple did (Source: Cnet, MacWorld).

Then on August 9th, Creative was awarded a patent for the navigational system used in many MP3 players (including the Creative Zen, Nomad Jukebox and Apple's iPod and iPod Mini), again over Apple (Sources: MSNBC, BBC). Discussions are currently underway between the various parties to resolve these issues.

Vista (Beta 1) vs Tiger: Round 1

Paul Thurrot has posted part one of an article comparing the recently released Windows Vista Beta 1 (formerly Longhorn) and Apple's Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger". In this article, he compares looks, desktop search and data management on the two operating systems.