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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Netscape Browser 8.0 (beta) review by PC Magazine

Netscape Browser 8.0 (beta) review by PC MagazineNetscape Browser 8.0 (beta)
REVIEW DATE: 05.16.05

Total posts: 1

The new Netscape 8.0 is more than just a browser; it's an information platform. Chief among this version's enhancements is the Multibar, a feature that lets you customize up to ten different browser toolbars that can be accessed within a click or two. Such toolbars can provide quick access to live news feeds, stock feeds, weather, shopping, or anything else that you add to them. You can also use them to view RSS feeds on the fly. Customization is easy and can be done mainly via Netscape's drag-and-drop interface.

Netscape's tabbed interface is plain-Jane in terms of organizing and working with tabs, but like Opera, it can be configured to open a group of tabbed pages at start-up. At installation, Netscape did a perfect job of importing bookmarks, history, and passwords from Firefox. The My Sidebar feature also returns, in much the same format as in earlier versions of Netscape. With tabs for News, Search, Bookmarks, History, and access to integrated AOL instant messenger, My Sidebar is another feature that puts a great deal of functionality right in the browser window.

From the "if you can't beat them, join them" department, Netscape offers a choice of the Gecko rendering engine (the same used by Firefox) or the IE rendering engine. You choose between them simply by checking a radio button. This feature is unique to Netscape and removes the problem of not being able to run ActiveX or VB script or to display pages with proprietary HTML tags.

One interesting feature is Netscape's Trust Ratings (displayed on a page's tab), a service that catalogs Web sites on a regular basis. Sites fall into the categories of "I trust this site," "I'm not sure," and "I don't trust this site"; security levels are adjusted accordingly. For example, some sites are verified for browsing and exchanging sensitive information, while others are placed on warning lists due to their malicious intent. This information is updated dynamically and can be manually overridden. Security settings, such as whether to allow ActiveX or JavaScript, can be set on a site-by-site basis.

Like Opera, Netscape offers password and form-data management. Where Opera uses its Wand feature, Netscape offers datacards and passcards. Datacards contain site-specific form information, and passcards contain username and password information. And of course, Netscape (as does Opera) lets you control which information is submitted and when.

With its multibar setup, Netscape becomes more of an information platform rather than a simple browser. This can be a drawback, as its interface can become cluttered and confusing—the exact opposite of Firefox. But if you want this kind of all-encompassing platform, it's a solid choice.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | BBC eases rules on news feed use

BBC NEWS | Technology | BBC eases rules on news feed use BBC eases rules on news feed use
The BBC has opened up its content more so that people can use news stories and headlines on their own sites via RSS.

Revised licence terms mean other sites can integrate RSS feeds from the BBC without offline contract negotiations, as was previously the case.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a way of keeping automatically aware of website updates.

BBC News and Sport have made their content available for online news reader programs via RSS since 2003.

But this relaxing of the licence means a much more open approach, according to the BBC News website editor, Pete Clifton.

"We've raised the profile of how we are promoting them and are much more relaxed about other sites making use of feeds, which is an important step," he said.

"We want to share as much of our information as we can and reduce the restrictions we put on sites that can access them. We are making it much clearer and more simple for people to understand how they do this."

It is only right we build in some safeguards so that if they appear on sites we feel are completely beyond the pale, we can act
Pete Clifton, editor BBC News website
He explained that previously the approach was to encourage people to use the feeds for personal use, using news reader programs.

Now, the approach is more open so that people can put BBC content on their own websites. It also allows people to interact much more with the content that the BBC produces.

Mr Clifton added that the BBC had been "cautious" since introducing RSS to the site, but that there was now a real demand for news delivered to people in this way.

Like sushi restaurant conveyor belts, RSS delivers content to people so they can easily pick what they want to read.

"If we are to build public value it's important that we respond to this demand," he said.

Mr Clifton said that RSS had already proved to be a big driver of traffic to the website.

Figures for April 2005 showed that 18 million click-throughs - the number of hits generated by links to the site - were driven by the feeds to the news and sport websites.

Safeguards in place

Initially, the RSS feeds will be available from the BBC's news and sport websites.

The revised licensing agreement lays out certain terms and restrictions to use, including the appropriateness of the sites carrying BBC content, which Mr Clifton said was a necessary safeguard.

Sites that incite racial hatred or promote, facilitate or encourage illegal activity, for instance, are not permitted to display BBC content.

But in reality, said Mr Clifton, policing all sites in any substantial way would be restricted.

"It is only right we build in some safeguards so that if they appear on sites we feel are completely beyond the pale, we can act; although we can't ever claim we are going to be watching every use of it," he said.

"We will keep an eye on where they are going though."

Other BBC websites are to join the initiative in the next few months.

This means content such as film reviews and chart news could be available as RSS feeds to external sites.

Weblogs and global news sites are making much more use of RSS, and net users are becoming increasingly aware of the technology as small orange icons carrying RSS/XML text appear on sites.

There is also a plethora of news reader programs available for free through which the feeds can be collected and read at leisure.

Some news organisations, such as the UK's Guardian Online, have created bespoke news reader and aggregator programs for subscribers to use.

Mr Clifton said the BBC had considered producing its own news reader program, but felt that there was no need because there were so many other good aggregators already freely available.

Other news providers, such as the New York Times, Yahoo and Reuters offer similar services.
Story from BBC NEWS:

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Basics: Now, Audio Blogs for Those Who Aspire to Be D.J.'s

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Basics: Now, Audio Blogs for Those Who Aspire to Be D.J.'sBASICS
Now, Audio Blogs for Those Who Aspire to Be D.J.'s

What do the pope and Paris Hilton have in common? They're both podcasters - and you can be one too.

Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, podcasts are essentially do-it-yourself recorded radio programs posted online. Anyone can download them free, and, using special software, listeners can subscribe to favorite shows and even have them automatically downloaded to a portable digital music player.

Despite what the name suggests, podcasts can be played not just on iPods but on any device that has an MP3 player program, including PC's and laptops.

Podcasts are the natural technological offspring of Web logs or blogs, those endlessly meandering personal Web musings that now seem to be everywhere online. Similarly, many podcasters have a diaristic bent, ranging from Mr. X, in upstate New York (, who has recorded his ruminations while driving to work, to Dan Klass, an underemployed actor in California whose podcast, "The Bitterest Pill" (, has been known to feature invectives against Elmo.

There are celebrity podcasts like Paris Hilton's (houseofwaxmovie, intended to promote movies. Another, more high-minded site, Catholic Insider (, links to podcasts of Pope Benedict XVI from Vatican Radio.

Many radio stations are embracing the technology. WGBH in Boston, Q107 in Toronto and BBC Radio are already offering regular podcasts. Tomorrow, Sirius Satellite Radio will begin broadcasting a best-of-podcasting program with the podfather of podcasting, Adam Curry, formerly of MTV, as host.

Taking the experiment a step further, Infinity Broadcasting plans to restart its San Francisco talk station KYCY-AM (1550) with an all-podcasting format beginning Monday. KYCY's broadcasts will feature amateur programs from around the Web, but because of Federal Communications Commission regulations, each will be screened in advance.

Record companies are also beginning to use podcasts to fish for fans. "We think podcasts are a great way to form a relationship with our fans," said Damian Kulash, the lead singer of the rock band OK Go, which has an album coming out this summer on Capitol Records. When the band is on tour, OK Go phones in its podcasts (

Finding and Listening

For those wanting to find a podcast, there are online directories that list thousands of them, including (, Podcasting News (, Podcast Alley ( and (

Several free software programs - like Doppler ( and iPodder ( - help users subscribe to and download podcasts. IPodder comes in Windows and Mac versions. The program includes a directory of podcasts available for subscribing on a scheduled basis or for downloading at will. The Web address of a podcast that is not listed can be cut and pasted into iPodder to add it to a user's roster of subscriptions.

Podcasts are usually indicated by an orange logo with the initials RSS (for really simple syndication) or XML (for extensible markup language), standing for the technologies that make such subscriptions possible.

IPod enthusiasts and Mac owners might also consider iPodderX (, a $19.95 program that not only downloads programs but also puts them directly into the iTunes manager so that they can be automatically copied to a connected iPod player.

Unencumbered by professional standards or government broadcast rules, podcasts can devolve into fits of uncontrollable giggling and include more than their share of expletives. (Family Friendly Podcasts, at, has some suggestions for those who prefer tamer shows.) Still, it is the freedom that has inspired many homegrown podcast producers.

"The whole beauty of it is that I don't have to censor myself," says Jason Evangelho, host of "Insomnia Radio," which showcases independent radio ( "And I can say 'um.' "

Programs dedicated to music still dominate the podcast universe. Many offer an eclectic mix of underground music, but there are also classical music shows like "Your Daily Opera." While most get only a handful of listeners, some programs have developed a devoted fan base.

"I'm averaging about 10,000 to 11,000 listeners per show," says Brian Ibbott, whose "Coverville" ( originates from his basement outside Denver. Mr. Ibbott's podcasts feature rare and unusual cover songs. He has a sponsor to offset the $30 to $40 a month he says he pays his hosting service for the extra traffic that his listeners create downloading his shows.

Making and Distributing

In addition to the chance to be heard by millions of Internet users, the relative ease of producing a show has driven the popularity of podcasting. A group of college friends unable to get their film careers off the ground, for example, decided to tell their stories, which are a cross between Firesign Theater and Hunter S. Thompson, in a podcast at the Peanut Gallery ( Those looking for a similar creative outlet need only a computer with a connected microphone and Web access.

Stay-at-home disc jockeys can record tracks using the basic recording software included with the Mac and Windows operating systems. Free software like EasyPodcast ( can help upload efforts to a Web site. Services like Liberated Syndication ( will provide Web hosting for as little as $5 a month.

Many podcasters end up creating digital studios, using more expensive microphones, mixers and audio editing software, like Adobe Audition ($299, Audition lets a podcaster carefully edit voiceovers, mix up to 128 stereo sound tracks and even correct the pitch of a recording. Unfortunately, Audition does not include the tools for uploading to the Web.

Consequently, a new class of software designed for podcasters is beginning to emerge. Two noteworthy examples are Propaganda ($49.95, and iPodcast Producer ($149.95, Both Windows applications enable producers to record, mix multiple tracks and automatically post shows to the Web.

Of course, unlike a live radio broadcast or streaming music online, podcasts are downloaded and stored in their entirety. So the programs have the potential to generate thousands of copies of songs, raising legal issues. "Podcasters, like the users of any other sound recordings, must obtain the appropriate licenses from the copyright owners, or their designees," the Recording Industry Association of America said.

At "Insomnia Radio," Mr. Evangelho plays only independent bands that own the rights to their own songs, and gets permission directly from the artists to play their music. At "Coverville," to satisfy the royalties owed to songwriters and composers, Mr. Ibbott pays annual licensing fees totaling about $500 to Ascap and B.M.I. The R.I.A.A. has not specified if or how podcasters should pay the labels.

The programs are stored in the MP3 file format, and companies that use MP3 compression must pay a licensing fee to Thomson, a co-creator of the technology. But according to Rocky Caldwell at Thomson's licensing unit, fees are not applicable unless users make at least $100,000 a year from their podcasts. Now that's the kind of problem many podcasters wish they had.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

HTC Universal Posted by Hello

MS MOBILES > HTC breaks tradition

HTC breaks tradition
May 11, 2005 [Pocket PC phone]
HTC never ever did it before. Yesterday was the first time. HTC is the bigest manafucturer of Windows Mobile powered cell phones and it produces devices that are later on branded by operators (like T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, etc) and by distributors (like i-mate, Qtek, etc).

(click here to read mobile version of this page - if you have problems reading this news item due to ultra-high resolution photo included)

By now website of HTC was very poor and never included information about individual products. Yesterday, for the first time ever, HTC has broken the tradition of presenting products on their website and published in a press release information about one individual product: HTC Universal (also known as MDA IV, VPA IV, 3G SPV, etc):

HTC Announces The World's First Windows Mobile 5.0 Based 3G Device Global distribution expected in the second half of 2005

Taoyuan, Taiwan and Las Vegas, United States -High Tech Computer Corp. announced its plans to release the world's first 3G Windows Mobile 5.0-based device, the HTC Universal. The Universal will enable customers to be more productive while having powerful multimedia and internet browsing capabilities. Global distribution plans for the device are expected in the second half of 2005 with mobile operators in Europe, North America, and Asia.

Microsoft Corp. chairman and chief software architect, Bill Gates, unveiled Windows Mobile 5.0 during his keynote at Microsoft Mobile & Embedded DevCon 2005 in Las Vegas and displayed its versatility on the HTC Universal.

"This is the first time we are seeing the same internet experience, which you can only have in your office, with universal 3G high speed wireless data capability and large VGA display legibility. The new features from Windows Mobile 5.0 will greatly improve the keyboard experience and persistent storage feature will keep user data forever." said Peter Chou, president of HTC.

Certain technological breakthroughs are seen in the HTC Universal featuring improved support of more multimedia and productivity applications, broad integration of digital multimedia features, and faster connections to the Internet and email servers. With seamless synchronization to Office applications, faster connection speeds and versatile multimedia features customers can be more productive and have fun anywhere, anytime.

"The familiarity and flexibility of Windows Mobile 5.0 enables industry partners like HTC to differentiate itself themselves and provide extremely compelling mobile solutions for its customers," said Pieter Knook, senior vice president for the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division at Microsoft. "We look forward to our continued work with HTC to deliver forward-thinking and advanced mobile device solutions."

The HTC Universal is a 3G-enabled device that takes advantage of the advanced Windows Mobile 5.0 features, The built-in keyboard enables users to create and edit files with Microsoft Office applications. For phone and communications, the latest video telephony and dual-camera functionality facilitate high-speed connections and videoconferencing. The clamshell design of the device features a 180 degree pivot screen. With its new user interface boasting portrait and landscape modes, the new 3G phone will automatically change to the best interface. Users can also switch between the two display modes at their own discretion. In addition, users can send and receive pictures and video files at more rapid connection speeds. With its dual speaker stereophonic sound system, users can enjoy smooth and high-resolution videos at anytime.

Note : The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Critical flaws found in Firefox

BBC NEWS | Technology | Critical flaws found in Firefox Critical flaws found in Firefox
The Mozilla Foundation has said it is "working aggressively" to fix two flaws in its open source Firefox browser.

The vulnerabilities, reported on Saturday, were identified as "very critical", but no cases had been reported of them being exploited.

Several security firms identified the flaws which could let websites run malicious code on a person's computer.

Mozilla has responded by changing its update service and says people should temporarily turn off JavaScript code.

Manual downloads

The first flaw reported fools the browser into thinking software is being installed by a legitimate, or safe, website.

The second flaw happens when the software installation trigger does not properly check icon web addresses which contain JavaScript code.

A hacker could potentially take advantage of the security flaws to secretly launch malicious code or programs.

Mozilla advised people to download add-ons to its software manually from the Foundation's site.

Danish security firm Secunia said called the flaws "extremely critical" because cookie and history information could be used to get access to personal information or gain access to sites previously visited.

The Mozilla Foundation, which developed the browser, said it was working hard to provide a comprehensive and more permanent fix for the problems.

Main competition

Last week, Firefox celebrated its 50 millionth download since its official launch in November.

Firefox is Microsoft Internet Explorer's (IE) main rival in the browser market. Many like it because it is easily customised, and others say it has fewer security flaws than IE.

Being open source means people can adapt the software's core code to create innovative features, such as add-ons, RSS news feed readers, or extensions to the program.

The Mozilla Foundation was set up by former browser maker Netscape in 1998. Netscape dominated the browser market in the early 1990s.

Microsoft releases its next-generation IE7 later this year which promises to be more secure.

The New York Times > Technology > Internet Attack Called Broad and Long Lasting by Investigators

May 10, 2005
Internet Attack Called Broad and Long Lasting by Investigators

SAN FRANCISCO, May 9 - The incident seemed alarming enough: a breach of a Cisco Systems network in which an intruder seized programming instructions for many of the computers that control the flow of the Internet.

Now federal officials and computer security investigators have acknowledged that the Cisco break-in last year was only part of a more extensive operation - involving a single intruder or a small band, apparently based in Europe - in which thousands of computer systems were similarly penetrated.

Investigators in the United States and Europe say they have spent almost a year pursuing the case involving attacks on computer systems serving the American military, NASA and research laboratories.

The break-ins exploited security holes on those systems that the authorities say have now been plugged, and beyond the Cisco theft, it is not clear how much data was taken or destroyed. Still, the case illustrates the ease with which Internet-connected computers - even those of sophisticated corporate and government networks - can be penetrated, and also the difficulty in tracing those responsible.

Government investigators and other computer experts sometimes watched helplessly while monitoring the activity, unable to secure some systems as quickly as others were found compromised.

The case remains under investigation. But attention is focused on a 16-year-old in Uppsala, Sweden, who was charged in March with breaking into university computers in his hometown. Investigators in the American break-ins ultimately traced the intrusions back to the Uppsala university network.

The F.B.I. and the Swedish police said they were working together on the case, and one F.B.I. official said efforts in Britain and other countries were aimed at identifying accomplices. "As a result of recent actions" by law enforcement, an F.B.I. statement said, "the criminal activity appears to have stopped."

The Swedish authorities are examining computer equipment confiscated from the teenager, who was released to his parents' care. The matter is being treated as a juvenile case.

Investigators who described the break-ins did so on condition that they not be identified, saying that their continuing efforts could be jeopardized if their names, or in some cases their organizations, were disclosed.

Computer experts said the break-ins did not represent a fundamentally new kind of attack. Rather, they said, the primary intruder was particularly clever in the way he organized a system for automating the theft of computer log-ins and passwords, conducting attacks through a complicated maze of computers connected to the Internet in as many as seven countries.

The intrusions were first publicly reported in April 2004 when several of the nation's supercomputer laboratories acknowledged break-ins into computers connected to the TeraGrid, a high-speed data network serving those labs, which conduct unclassified research into a range of scientific problems.

The theft of the Cisco software was discovered last May when a small team of security specialists at the supercomputer laboratories, trying to investigate the intrusions there, watched electronically as passwords to Cisco's computers were compromised.

After discovering the passwords' theft, the security officials notified Cisco officials of the potential threat. But the company's software was taken almost immediately, before the company could respond.

Shortly after being stolen last May, a portion of the Cisco programming instructions appeared on a Russian Web site. With such information, sophisticated intruders would potentially be able to compromise security on router computers of Cisco customers running the affected programs.

There is no evidence that such use has occurred. "Cisco believes that the improper publication of this information does not create increased risk to customers' networks," the company said last week.

The crucial element in the password thefts that provided access at Cisco and elsewhere was the intruder's use of a corrupted version of a standard software program, SSH. The program is used in many computer research centers for a variety of tasks, ranging from administration of remote computers to data transfer over the Internet.

The intruder probed computers for vulnerabilities that allowed the installation of the corrupted program, known as a Trojan horse, in place of the legitimate program.

In many cases the corrupted program is distributed from a single computer and shared by tens or hundreds of users at a computing site, effectively making it possible for someone unleashing it to reel in large numbers of log-ins and passwords as they are entered.

Once passwords to the remote systems were obtained, an intruder could log in and use a variety of software "tool kits" to upgrade his privileges - known as gaining root access. That makes it possible to steal information and steal more passwords.

The operation took advantage of the vulnerability of Internet-connected computers whose security software had not been brought up to date.

In the Cisco case, the passwords to Cisco computers were sent from a compromised computer by a legitimate user unaware of the Trojan horse. The intruder captured the passwords and then used them to enter Cisco's computers and steal the programming instructions, according to the security investigators.

A security expert involved in the investigation speculated that the Cisco programming instructions were stolen as part of an effort to establish the intruder's credibility in online chat rooms he frequented.

Last May, the security investigators were able to install surveillance software on the University of Minnesota computer network when they discovered that an intruder was using it as a staging base for hundreds of Internet attacks. During a two-day period they watched as the intruder tried to break into more than 100 locations on the Internet and was successful in gaining root access to more than 50.

When possible, they alerted organizations that were victims of attacks, which would then shut out the intruder and patch their systems.

As the attacks were first noted in April 2004, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, found that her own computer had been invaded. The researcher, Wren Montgomery, began to receive taunting e-mail messages from someone going by the name Stakkato - now believed by the authorities to have been the primary intruder - who also boasted of breaking in to computers at military installations.

"Patuxent River totally closed their networks," he wrote in a message sent that month, referring to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. "They freaked out when I said I stole F-18 blueprints."

A Navy spokesman at Patuxent River, James Darcy, said Monday said that "if there was some sort of attempted breach on those addresses, it was not significant enough of an action to have generated a report."

Monte Marlin, a spokeswoman for the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, whose computers Stakkato also claimed to have breached, confirmed Monday that there had been "unauthorized access" but said, "The only information obtained was weather forecast information."

The messages also claimed an intrusion into seven computers serving NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A computer security expert investigating the case confirmed that computers at several NASA sites, including the propulsion laboratory, had been breached. A spokesman said the laboratory did not comment on computer breaches.

Ms. Montgomery, a graduate student in geophysics, said that in a fit of anger, Stakkato had erased her computer file directory and had destroyed a year and a half of her e-mail stored on a university computer.

She guessed that she might have provoked him by referring to him as a "quaint hacker" in a communication with system administrators, which he monitored.

"It was inconvenient," she said of the loss of her e-mail, "and it's the thing that seems to happen when you have malicious teenage hackers running around with no sense of ethics."

Walter Gibbs, in Oslo, and Heather Timmons, in London, contributed reporting for this article.

Top Tech News - Tech Trends - Bloodbath at IBM - 13,000 Fired

Top Tech News - Tech Trends - Bloodbath at IBM - 13,000 Fired: "Bloodbath at IBM - 13,000 Fired

Bloodbath at IBM - 13,000 Fired By Jay Wrolstad
May 5, 2005 11:23AM

This reorganization effort is a clear indication that the I.T. industry is in transition, said Yankee Group analyst Dana Gardner. 'The competition worldwide is moving quickly up the food chain. Open source technology, outsourcing and enterprise buying decisions are putting the pressure on IBM, Sun, HP, Seibel, among others,' he said. "