Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Shuffle fans get ready for Friday: smallest iPod ever is here!

Apple Computer announced that the second generation of its iPod Shuffle will be available globally on Friday, Nov. 3. The 1-gigabyte screenless iPod, has been the subject of much fan speculation because of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' claim that it's the world's smallest digital-audio player--it's half a cubic inch in volume.

From: CNET News

Windows Media Player 11

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", and that's exactly what you think when you have a look at the new Windows Media Player 11. Microsoft found the formula: imitate those that are successful and you just might be successful too.

Let's have a look:

  • The new WMP11 is very similar to iTunes
    • it has the same metal-like skins
    • similar configuration of the controls
    • similar arrangement of the media files
    • browsing through album covers (just like iTunes 7)
  • The new WMP11 has some Firefox features too
    • tabbed browsing
    • toggling between player, library, ripping, burning and syncing up media
But that's where the similarities end. The Urge tunes store embedded in the WMP11 is in no way comparable to the quality of iTunes.

Wired News Verdict:
"Windows Media Player 11 is definitely a significant improvement over its predecessors. Taking a cue from Apple, Microsoft has devised a gorgeous and surprisingly uncomplicated media player. However, if the boys from Redmond want to truly gain ground on the folks at One Infinite Loop, they'll have to integrate a better music store than Urge into future WMP sequels. And hey, Microsoft, you guys are on the right track, but you should spend more time listening to what your customers actually want instead of telling them what they need."

Homepage: Windows Media Player 11
Source: Wired News

You can change Windows Vista 10 times, after all!

Microsoft stepped back on its decision of allowing only "one time" transfer of the Windows Vista License. As up to now, Microsoft would only allow you to re-install Windows Vista once. But now, Microsoft has changed the EULA and apparently you will be able to re-activate Windows Vista 10 times.

Even though this may seem a "good-will" attitude from Microsoft, I can't help feeling a little bit deceived on their marketing techniques:

  • Ok, so first they limit our possibility of transferring the license from one computer to another. This would pose quite a problem once you decided to change some major piece of hardware in your computer (for example, the HD). What would then happen if you decided to add a new motherboard? Forget about it...Windows Vista would detect that and would "decide" that you would have to buy a new license.
  • Now, they give us 10 pseudo-licenses. And you start thinking: "Ah, much better! This way I can change my computer the way I want. 10 times should be enough". That's exactly the point: it might not be enough! I have countlessly re-installed Windows XP on my computer in the last years.
People shouldn't even feel grateful for Microsoft allowing to change the computer 10 times. It shouldn't even be limited at all. But I guess Microsoft doesn't have enough money. They need to impose this kind of licenses to earn a little bit more.

Source: Peopleware (Portuguese)

Wireless Internet for free in Lisbon's gardens

Lisbon (Portugal) is now offering free Wireless Internet access in 21 of the capital's public gardens in a move to promote the use of WiFi technology and, at the same time, the use of these "green spaces".

So far, the free access is guaranteed until June, 2007. After that, the decision of whether this free access will continue or not, will be taken based on the results of this initiative.

More Info: CM Lisboa (Portuguese)
From: SIC Online (Portuguese)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Security pushed to the limit

A new mobile phone in Japan takes security pretty seriously: It can recognize its owner, automatically locks when the person gets too far away from it and can be found via satellite navigation if it goes missing.

Read the entire article at Wired News

Friday, October 27, 2006

Internet Explorer 7: my experience...

I've just installed the last version of Internet Explorer and I'm not totally convinced. What does it offer that Firefox doesn't offer in previously (over one year ago) versions?

Ok, it is fast and secure...but so is Firefox 2.0.
Ok, it has Feeds reading support...but so had Firefox 1.1.
Ok, it has Tabbed browsing... but so had all Firefox versions.

It totally follows Firefox, but it's never quite there. Here's an example on why Microsoft will never please the users:

While installing IE7 I got this screen telling me that it was (already) downloading updates before installing the web browser.
What kind of installer needs updates??? If there are (already) updates to be made, why not create a new installer that already includes the updates?

Another thing: this screen was shown for about 20 minutes and as you can see, no button to cancel, exit, minimize or anything else (and if you look closer, even the close button is gray - unusable). And all I had was a stupid blue marker going back and forth in the slide bar, without giving me any real notion of the progress of this procedure.

After installing it, I also had to (re)install some plug-ins, and update the internet settings.

This kind of attitude by Microsoft is just completely ridiculous and will always piss off users for providing such a poor service. Specially, when the alternatives are so good and easy to use.

I installed Firefox 2.0, here's my experience: setup last 2 minutes, no updates were installed, all my settings/plug-ins/bookmarks/everything was kept and the browser is running perfectly.

What else can I say?

If you're still want to try it yourself, click here.

Firefox 2.0

Here it is: the final release of Firefox 2.0. I've installed it and so far I must say, even though not many interesting features have been added since the last version, it is quite lighter and faster than before.

Homepage: Mozilla

iPod will play all tunes...

A hacker who as a teen cracked the encryption on DVDs has found a way to unlock the code that prevents iPod users from playing songs from download music stores other than Apple's iTunes, his company said on Tuesday.

Jon Lech Johansen, a 22-year-old Norwegian who lives in San Francisco, cracked Apple's FairPlay copy-protection technology, said Monique Farantzos, managing director at DoubleTwist, the company that plans to license the code to businesses.

"What he did was basically reverse-engineer FairPlay," she said. "This allows other companies to offer content for the iPod."

From: Wired News

Create your own (customizable) search engine

A new Google tool will let people use Google's search platform to create search engines focused on the content of their choice. Google Co-op is a platform that enables web site and blog publishers to customize the web search experience for users of both Google and their own website.

With a Google custom search engine, publishers can provide custom results most relevant to their readers, incorporating a site's online community and its ability to provide contextual ads. The customized search engines can also be tailored to aesthetically match any Web site.

The search engine can be customized quickly by choosing keywords and a list of sites the publisher wants included in the search index. These can be the only sites searched, or simply the ones with the highest priority. Alternately, users can exclude sites from the search index.

From: CNET

A trojan horse that keeps you safe from virus?

In addition to setting up a compromised computer to relay spam, the new malicious software SpamThru (as it has been called) also installs Kaspersky Lab's anti-virus program to get rid of competing malicious software.

When it first gets onto a PC, SpamThru connects to a control server and subsequently installs a pirated copy of Kaspersky AntiVirus. The system then starts a scan for malicious software, skipping files that it detects are part of its own installation.
Any other malware found on the system is then set up to be deleted by Windows at the next reboot.

From: CNET's Security Blog

No more MP3 for Denmark

A Danish court has ruled that an ISP in that country must block access to allofmp3.com, the Russian download site accused of pirating music, according to a story in the Register.

Allofmp3, which has denied violating the copyright law in Russia, has suffered several setbacks as much of the world attempts to isolate the site.

From: CNET's Media Blog

A new test-bed for Google Search

Google has launched a new search site on a move to study and implement new search features that may be useful to the users of this giant search engine. This new search engine, SearchMash, uses the same "database" as Google, but it adds new interesting features, in an attempt to innovate the well-known search engine. Each user can test this and provide feedback on the features section.

Here are some of the new features:

  • No need to have your cursor in the search box to start typing your query
  • Click the green URL of a web result to open a menu of options for viewing the URL or refining your query
  • The top three image results are displayed next to your web results
  • Click the number next to a result and drag it around to reorder. For now, this does not affect the way the results will appear in the next queries, but Google may use this feature to improve the rank of web results
Website: SearchMash

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sony profits fall because of costly recalls of batteries

Sony continues the recalling of its own batteries, since the discovery of explosion hazard. Because of this, Sony said on Tuesday it may change its full-year earnings forecast because of these costly recalls of its batteries.

From: Reuters Technology News

Google to have largest solar-powered office

Google is planning to have a solar-powered electricity system at its Silicon Valley headquarters that will become the largest U.S. solar-powered corporate office complex.

The Web search leader said it is set to begin building a rooftop solar-powered generation system at its Mountain View, California, headquarters capable of generating 1.6 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 1,000 California homes.

A Google executive said the company will rely on solar power to supply nearly a third of the electricity consumed by office workers at its roughly one-million-square-foot headquarters.

From: Reuters Technology News

5.5G iPods with Windows virus

Apparently, is not only McDonald's and Coca-Cola that have shipped mp3 players with unwanted software.

Apple has announced that less than one percent of their 5.5G iPod shipments made after September 12th have a little present in the form of the RavMonE.exe virus, which propagates via mass storage devices, and purportedly had infected a PC at the manufacturer where the iPods were produced. RavMonE.exe, which "technically is worm, not a virus", only affects Windows-running computers, lowering the security of the PC but not actuallly messing with your data itself.

Apple is working really hard to weaken Microsoft, but this time, they have been a little too far :-)

From: Engadget

Zune now available for pre-order

EBGames has started taking pre-orders on Microsoft's premiere entrant into the portable audio space, the 30GB Zune.

From: Engadget

Google working on "GoogleDrive"?

Rumour has it that Google is working on a new product called the "GoogleDrive", or simply "GDrive", that will enable users to share and store files.

Apparently, this product is already available but only for internal use, to allow Google employees to exchange/share/store files.

Let's wait for further developments...

From: CNET's Google Blog

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Second Life - The Virtual World

There's another world, a Virtual World, where you have a second opportunity. This is called the Second Life. This site is a 3D online digital world imagened, created and owned by its residents.

This site is a simulation game, where people use characters to interact with other people and services. It even has its own news service by Reuters.

From: Second Life, Reuters News, Wired News

iPod - Happy Birthday (5 years)

Congratulations to the iPod family! 5 years of excellent design and performance.
Here's a little bit of History.

See: Wired News

"GooTube" won't be the next Napster

Google won't let recently acquired YouTube to become the new Napster and be the target of all copyright holders destruction rage. Instead, Google will work together with these corporations to find a solution profitable to all and still let the users to use this tool to broadcast all kinds of videos.

From: Wired News

"This page requires Internet Explorer..." pseudo-fix

For those enlighted ones that use Firefox browser there has always been a problem with viewing some pages that are specifically made for Internet Explorer. Sometimes, these pages even display a boring message such as "This page requires Internet Explorer to function properly".

This is somewhat annoying and arrogant, since Firefox can do anything that Internet Explorer can do, and better. So, the problem remains in the User Agent that is being sent over the HTTP Connection. When some of these sites (usually related to Internet Banking) receive the connection and see that the User Agent is Firefox (or any other) they display this ridiculous message.

To avoid this, you can use a Firefox extension called the User Agent Switcher. This extension allows you to "deceive" these sites by saying that in fact you're using Internet Explorer. As long as the web page doesn't have ActiveX content, you're home free.

I know that this may come as a sacrilege to some, but at least we can prove that Firefox is a better tool and that this discrimination is useless and ridiculous.

Tip from: Monkey Bites

Another Power Point security flaw

Microsoft is investigating a report of a new, yet-to-be-fixed security vulnerability in PowerPoint, the company said late last week.

Sample attack code that exploits the vulnerability has already been released on the Internet, a Microsoft representative wrote on a corporate blog. Use of the code in an attack could cause a complete system compromise, according to Microsoft.

From: CNET

"Black Box" for cars

A new device, invented by Fujitsu-Ten, will allow monitoring and analyzing the driving behaviour that can cause accidents. The device, connected to 2 cameras and microphones, is powered by the lighter plug and is equipped with a sensor that manages the recording of all suspicious activity.

It stores in memory only the sounds and images captured inside and outside the vehicle in case of sudden acceleration, braking or other abnormal driving situations. The data, stored in a memory card, can then be further analyzed in a computador using a specific software.

From: SIC Online (Portuguese)

Monday, October 16, 2006

McDonald's and Coca-Cola's MP3 Players "play" malware

Recently, McDonald's and Coca-Cola joined forces to launch a campaign where they would give away 10,000 self-branded MP3 players. These players were pre-loaded with 10 tunes and... apparently, some delicious malware.

It looks like some of those players also brought a variant of the QQPass family of trojan horses which capture passwords and other personal information when the MP3 player is plugged into the users' PC. The code then proceeds to email the details to the author.

McDonald's has already set up a hot line to answer any questions on this subject. And I bet they will receive a lot of them :-)

From: Engadget

Your car is watching you

This past week at the Intelligent Transportation Systems exhibition in London, a new set of cameras mounted on the dashboard in a prototype vehicle will make sure that a driver's attention is focused on the road.
The new cameras will be trained on the driver's eyes and will flash a warning light and will sound an alarm if it finds that the driver's eyes aren't staring at the right places at the right times.

Furthermore, these new sensors -- developed by researchers at University of Southampton in the UK-- are also able to determine what other cars and objects around the car are doing, all of which could lead to safer road design and a more thorough understanding of driving behavior.

From: Engadget

Singapore to "give away" free WiFi and computers purchasing aid

On a move to boost the use of the Internet, Singapore government will invest over $63 million to launch a free WiFi service for all of the laptop public community. Further, the government will provide subsidies on computer purchases for low-income families.

From: Engadget

RFID tags on your boarding ticket

The inventors of a new monitoring system that uses RFID tags claim it could improve airport security by tracking passengers as they mingle in the departure lounge.

The plan is to issue an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag to every passenger at check-in so human traffic can be monitored throughout the airport via transponders and video cameras.

From: CNET

Friday, October 13, 2006

TIP: how-to make the AVG paid version freeware

Here's a nice tip for AVG users:
Apparently, if you install AVG version 7.5 (which is supposed to be paid) on top of the free-version 7.1, the anti-virus software remains "free".

The installation process assumes the same license as in the previously installed version and if that version happens to be the free version...there you go. "Free"-paid version 7.5 of AVG :-)

From: Peopleware (Portuguese)

Network monitoring with Dude 2.0 beta

Dude Network Monitor is quite a useful tool for network administrators. It allows to automatically scan all devices within specified subnets, draw and layout a map of your networks, monitor services of your devices and alert in case some service has a problem.

License: Freeware
Homepage: MikroTik
From: Peopleware (Portuguese)

Secure P2P sharing with Hamachi

Hamachi is a zero-configuration virtual private networking application, which allows you to arrange multiple computers into their own secure network just as if they were connected by a physical network cable.

With this application, you can share musics, movies and all types of files with your friends in a total secure and private way.

License: Freeware
Homepage: Hamachi
From: Peopleware (Portuguese)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

J2ME Polish

If you're working on the development of J2ME applications for mobile devices, you should seriously consider the use of J2MEPolish.

J2ME Polish is a collection of tools for developing J2ME applications:

  • Build tools for creating application bundles out of one source project - for multiple devices and multiple locales.
  • A device database which can be used to adjust your application to different handsets with Preprocessing.
  • A user interface (GUI), which is designed outside of the application code with simple text-files (CSS).
  • Utiliy classes like the BitMapFont or ArrayList.
  • Standalone Tools like the editor for modifying binary data files.
Check i out! It's simple and you will achieve excellent results.

Website: J2MEPolish

It's true after all: Google will buy YouTube!

It's not a rumour anymore: Google will buy YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Web search leader Google Inc. said yesterday it agreed to acquire top video entertainment site YouTube Inc. for $1.65 billion in stock, the highest price yet paid for a consumer-generated media site.

The first deal to value one of the new generation of user-participation Web sites at more than $1 billion combines two of the most popular Internet brands: Google, synonymous with Web search and rapid innovation, and YouTube, a Silicon Valley upstart that has spearheaded the video-sharing craze.

But YouTube has been the target of criticism in the media industry for allowing pirated video clips to be uploaded. "YouTube until now has been a community garden. Once you get the corporate backing of Google I do think it becomes a more inviting target for lawsuits," said Jeff Lindgren, an intellectual property attorney with Morgan Miller Blair, a law firm in Walnut Creek, California.

What's left is to see how's Google going to face the imense river of potential lawsuits that flooded YouTube in the last few months.

From: Reuters Tech News

Monday, October 09, 2006

Online Media Converter

This website converts all kinds of multimedia files between formats. For example: convert a WMV file to MP4 and you have a video for your iPod, convert images from JPG to PNG, WAV to MP3, etc...

A must-have in your favourites. 100% free, no software installation or registration required.

Homepage: Media Convert

Intel Wireless x3

Intel has announced a new wireless chip for 2007 which will integrate support for 802.11n, for WiMAX and for 3G HSDPA.

The new technology will be implemented in the next version of the Centrino Duo platform, which means that all future laptops equiped with this new technology will be able to exchange data in all 3 mentioned standards.

This is a great step towards the goal of "always-on": Wi-Fi for hotspots access, Wi-Max for Wide Range Networks (range of several kilometers) and 3G HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) for access in areas with 3G mobile phone coverage.

Intel had previously announced the intention of providing a new mixed chip for Wi-Fi/WiMAX, but decided to include the 3G support due to a collaboration with Nokia.

From: Exame Informática (Portuguese)

Google will buy YouTube?

It seems that Google is interested in buying YouTube, the biggest free video player in the Web, for 1.6 billion dollars according to some recent news in the Wall Street Journal.

This technique based on the idea of "If you can't beat them, join them" (but with a more agressive touch of "If you can't beat them, buy them and then merge with your own service") seems all but a good idea for Google.

Even though after this acquisition, Google would own more than 50% of this market of free video in the Web (40% of YouTube and 11% of Google Video), it hardly seems true that Google is interested in "collecting" the million-dollars law suits that YouTube is getting everyday on copyright issues.

Anyway, these are only rumors at this point :-)

From: ars technica

What color is this???

Ever wonder about what was the code of the color you're looking at in the screen but you never got around to know its RGB code? Well, now you can.

This applications gives you the RGB code of the color your mouse cursor is pointing to in the screen. Really handy for Web developers, huumm?

Homepage: WhatColor 1.0 from 1 Hour Software

Google Code Search

The Open-Source Code of the world is finally accessible over the world-wide known search engine Google. You can now search for millions of lines of code in languages such as C, C++, Java, PHP and other languages in programs that are Open-Source.

This service is meant for students and professional programmers that need to find solutions for specific programming issues that were already addressed in Open-Source applications that are freely open to the public.

Homepage: Google Code Search

VDownloader 0.3 Alpha

VDownloader is a program that easily allows downloading videos from websites like YouTube, Google Video and others, and converting to standard formats such as AVI or MPEG.

Usually websites such as YouTube use a format known as FLV which, after downloading through some of the possible existing solutions (such as the VideoDownloader extension for Firefox), only allows visualization through specific players that can play FLV files.

This program changes that since it allows, besides downloading the files, converting the files to well-known formats such as AVI and MPEG, allowing for normal visualization of the videos in programs such as Windows Media Player, Winamp or BSPlayer.

From: epuertas Blog (Spanish)

Download: VDownloader 0.3 Alpha

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Firefox UI Tweaker 1.7.0

Don't like all those options in Firefox? With Firefox UI Tweaker (the software formerly known as Toolbar Cleanup) you can customize your very own Firefox.

Remove options that you don't use, optimize the toolbar, and more...
The application is very simple and intuitive.


License: Freeware
Homepage: Firefox UI Tweaker

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Real-time HTML editor

For those that are starting their way on HTML, here's an excellent training tool.

This site does not teach how to make web sites in HTML, it is only a place were you can test, in real-time, some HTML code. The code that you write on the upper part of the website, originates the webpage on the lower part of the website.

Homepage: HTML Editor

3-way view LCDs

The Japanese company Sharp has announced that it was able to develop the first screen capable of reproducing 3 different images in 3 different directions. It allows for a user that is on the left side of the screen to see one image (or video), the one on the right side to see another image (or video) and the one on the center to see another completely different image (or video).

So, no more fights at home to see who gets the remote control, as now everybody can see their own program at the same time in the same living room.

From: Reuters Technology

Invisible clothing

Another amazing technology. Still in the beginning but you can see where this is heading :-)

Invisible clothing!

Multi-touch Interface Screens

This technology will change our view of Human-machine interface.

I want one of these. Amazing :-)

Fading windows with Jedi Concentrate

I found this app and I think it is very interesting. It is simple to use and it allows fading all windows on screen except for the currently active one.

This enables a higher concentration on a specific window for when you need that extra concentration on work :-)

Download, unzip, launch the executable and once the icon appears near the clock, it's loaded. From now on, just click F12 and all windows (except for the currently active one) fade to the background.

The app is highly customizable, however it appears that somehow this application influences the accentuation in the keyboard, which is very "nagging" for me when I have to write Portuguese ;-)
Also, the application doesn't appear to work accross multiple expanding desktops.

Homepage: An App A Day


  • Ghoster 1.1 - does practically the same but less customizable
  • Compiz - more advanced windows manager but for Linux

New short-range wireless standard

Nokia, along with a consortium which includes Broadcom and Epson, has announced the attempt to create a new industry standard for short-range wireless connections between small devices.

"Wibree", which is the name of the radio communications technology to come, would fit with other local linking systems, but use just a fraction of the power, allowing for smaller and cheaper applications. That would provide radio links of up to 10 meters (30 feet) between devices like watches or sports sensors.

Nokia also said this technology would be easy to integrate with Bluetooth short-range radio technology, currently mostly used to connect mobile phones to devices like headsets, printers or microphones.

From: Reuters Technology News

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Let's change Yahoo Mail

Do you want to add new innovative services to your Yahoo Mail? Now you can!
Yahoo is planning to release the code for its Yahoo Mail software in order to encourage software developers to build new applications based on e-mail.

This move is based on the success of initiatives of open software like Google Maps and Yahoo's Flickr, which inspired a new wave of programming where the client users are the developers of "extensions" to the original software.

From: Reuters Technology News