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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Judge cuts file-sharing fine to $67,500 | Web | Macworld

Judge cuts file-sharing fine to $67,500 | Web | Macworld

Even after cutting a damages award in a file-sharing case to one-tenth the original sum, a
judge said Friday the new fine was still excessive.
The Massachusetts judge on Friday reduced to $67,500 an original $675,000 award that a jury had ordered a Boston Ph.D student to pay for illegally sharing music files.
“There is no question that this reduced award is still severe, even harsh,” Judge Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts wrote in her opinion on Friday. “It not only adequately compensates the plaintiffs for the relatively minor harm that [Joel] Tenenbaum caused them; it sends a strong message that those who exploit peer-to- peer networks to unlawfully download and distribute copyrighted works run the risk of incurring substantial damages awards.” More...

Apple flagship store opens in Shanghai (3) - People's Daily Online

Apple flagship store opens in Shanghai (3) - People's Daily Online

Customers queue to enter an Apple flagship store, the first of its kind in Shanghai, in the Lujiazui area of Pudong District, Shanghai, China, July 10, 2010. The flagship store not only sells Apple products, but also offers technical support.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Five reasons why China will rule tech - Computerworld

Five reasons why China will rule tech - Computerworld: "Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- China's focus on science and technology is relentless, and it's occurring at all levels of its society. Its labor pool is becoming increasingly sophisticated, its leadership is focused on innovation, and the country is adopting policies designed to pressure U.S. firms to transfer their technology.

The trend is causing increasing worry in Washington, but there are five reasons why China may yet succeed in its goal to achieve world dominance in technology." More...
This is of great significance. America must regain its momentum in technological innovation. China is a closed and politically repressive society. In spite of this undeniable fact China is becoming a role model, for development in countries in Asia as well as in Africa and South America. This is not good for the world. We must demonstrate that democracy is a better system. We must rejuvenate both our educational system and our industrial infrastructure. Its not just our future at stake. It is the future of much of the world.

John H. Armwood

Google Says China Has Renewed Its Content Provider License - PCWorld

Google Says China Has Renewed Its Content Provider License - PCWorld: "The Chinese government has renewed Google's Internet Content Provider license, the company announced Friday in an update to an earlier blog posting.

'We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China,' the updated post said."
Is this the first crack in "The Great Chinese Firewall"?   Google stood up for the free flow of information, a basic human right, by redirecting it mainland severs to an uncensored Hong Kong server.   This allows Chinese users to freely search the web. The problem is however that when they click on certain sites or domains they cannot access them due to China's wall of censorship.  Websites which contain what China considers "sensitive" information" are blocked.

This blog cannot be seen in mainland China, but it is viewable in Hong Kong.  I have a tool which allows you to see which sites China blocks, on the right side of this blog (Website Test Tools).  Pull down the drop down window, under the "HTTP" tab and select the "Chinese Firewall Test".  You can then enter a web address and test whether that site is viewable either in Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong.

Google's license renewal is a small victory for freedom of speech in China.   China has made a wise decision.  It is time it drops all censoring of websites. China cannot be considered a great, modern nation until it takes this step.   Chinese citizens need more than just the right to see search results for "sensitive sites"  They should have the basic right to view them.

John H. Armwood

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Skype 2.0 for iPhone Review

Skype 2.0 for iPhone Review:

The Skype app for Apple's iOS adds a second line to an iPhone or turns an iPad or iPod touch into a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone. It is a free download from the App Store.

Computer-to-computer calls are free; Skype Credit or a monthly subscription plan must be purchased to make calls to landlines and cell phones. Skype Credit is used for calling and extras including text messaging and voicemail. Subscription plans start at $2.95/month for unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada." More...
This is an excellent app. I use it on my iPod Touch, second generation. It turns that device, used with Apple's proprietary headset, into a portable wifi telephone. I use it, along with my Macbook, as my home telephone. For $2.95 per month you cannot go wrong using this device, wherever there is a an available, wifi connection.  The one caveat is that the app has to be open to receive calls.  That is not a problem for me because I almost always have my MacBook turned on at home.  I receive calls on my MacBook's Skype application.  

John H. Armwood

YouTube Leanback: YouTube That Looks Like TV - PCWorld

YouTube Leanback: YouTube That Looks Like TV - PCWorld: "The average American watches five hours of TV a day. For YouTube, it's more like five minutes-a fact which the folks at YouTube don't like a bit. They think is due to it being too hard to consumer their service in mass quantities. So they're launching a new service-which the company showed as a sneak peek back at Google's I|O conference in May-called YouTube Leanback." More...
This new YouTube service is another step forward in the continuing convergence of television and internet content. I really like this service. Go to YouTube Leanback and check it out.

John H. Armwood

Apple Making New Push Into China -

Apple Making New Push Into China -

SHANGHAI — Although Apple is widely admired in China, most fans of its products here have been buying their iPhones, iPods and Mac computers from smugglers who operate through underground electronics markets. The company has few sales outlets in the country and only one Apple Store, a branch in Beijing.

But with Apple set to open a flagship Saturday in Shanghai — one of its largest stores in Asia — the company is embarking on a concerted effort to raise its profile in the world’s biggest mobile phone market and tap more directly into China’s fast-growing consumer electronics market.

Apple intends to open 25 retail stores in China over the next two years, starting with the Shanghai outlet, which it previewed for reporters Thursday.

“We view this store as a kind of launching pad,” Ron Johnson, senior vice president of retail operations at Apple, said Thursday.

By opening retail outlets in China, Apple is following other global brands eager to market to the country’s increasingly affluent consumers. While overall retail sales in the United States and Europe are weak, China’s economy is booming, and companies like Best Buy, the Gap, Nike, Starbucks, Zara and most of Europe’s big luxury brands are opening new stores in China.

Analysts who follow Apple say that China offers a huge opportunity for the a company because Apple’s market share in the country is tiny — less than 5 percent in most major categories. More...

Facebook Makes Headway Around the World -

Facebook Makes Headway Around the World - "Sergey Brin, a Google founder, takes issue with people who say Google has failed to gain a foothold in social networking. Google has had successes, he often says, especially with Orkut, the dominant service in Brazil and India. More...

Mr. Brin may soon have to revise his answer.

Facebook, the social network service that started in a Harvard dorm room just six years ago, is growing at a dizzying rate around the globe, surging to nearly 500 million users, from 200 million users just 15 months ago.

It is pulling even with Orkut in India, where only a year ago, Orkut was more than twice as large as Facebook. In the last year, Facebook has grown eightfold, to eight million users, in Brazil, where Orkut has 28 million.

In country after country, Facebook is cementing itself as the leader and often displacing other social networks, much as it outflanked MySpace in the United States. In Britain, for example, Facebook made the formerly popular Bebo all but irrelevant, forcing AOL to sell the site at a huge loss two years after it bought it for $850 million. In Germany, Facebook surpassed StudiVZ, which until February was the dominant social network there."   More...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Apple Admits iPhone 4 Reception Woes Are Hardware-Related - PCWorld

Apple Admits iPhone 4 Reception Woes Are Hardware-Related - PCWorld

It’s been like pulling teeth, and it took journalists mailing AppleCare rather than Apple’s notoriously tight-lipped and selectively-responding public relations department, but we have our answer. That iPhone 4 software update will do nothing to fix the reception problems–it is a hardware issue.

Gizmodo e-mailed AppleCare support three times this week and got the same answer every time, which means that Apple has changed their tone ever so slightly. AppleCare representatives confirmed an antenna interference issue when the phone is held near that infamous lower left-hand corner. The software update would only make iPhone 4′s signal meter more accurate, and not fix the problem.

In other words, now you’ll really get an idea of how much this issue is killing your reception.

Apple is telling its customers as it has in its most recent public statement to not hold the phone in a manner that causes the hand to touch that lower left hand corner, or purchase a $30 bumper from Apple which would solve the problem (a case from any manufacturer would, too).

Neowin’s Brad Sams has an obviously Microsoft-centric take on the issue, but its definitely true: Apple’s iPhone 4 problem is beginning to look a lot like Xbox 360′s Red Ring of Death Issue. Microsoft attempted to sweep the issue under the rug, but waseventually forced to take action just based on the sheer scope of it.

It could be argued that Apple is getting close to this point, and that’s why we’re beginning to see a change in its tone. I do agree that if customers are having enough of an issue with the phone that Apple should be providing these bumpers at no cost. It wasn’t the consumers’ fault that designers decided to make the antenna out of bare metal that surrounded the case.

Either way, it doesn’t look like this issue will be going away anytime soon. I highly doubt Apple would change the design of the phone in midstream, so we’ll probably be waiting until iPhone 5 for a true fix.
The nature of the antenna problem has been obvious to everyone but the people in Apple's Public Relations Department from the beginning.  Apple has injured its reputation by its incalcitrant attitude.   Hopefully the company learned a lesson from this episode.

John H. Armwood

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 Review - A Review of the Microsoft Office 2010

"Every few years, Microsoft refreshes its industry leading productivity suite and gives the millions of consumers and businesses that run older versions of the software a difficult choice: pay for an upgrade or stand pat? With the recent release of Office 2010, Microsoft has upped the ante with a variety of new features, ranging from video editing and online conferencing in PowerPoint to better copy and paste options in Word. Office 2007 owners and users with more basic needs may find this suite to be a less-than-compelling upgrade, but overall Office 2010 is a strong package." More...
I really question the need to update to a newer version of Microsoft Office. I do not believe most people use the full range of tools available in this suite. Users end up having slow, bloated programs on their computers loaded with features they do not need. The free "Open Office" has enough features for most users or for Mac users there is the wonderful and much cheaper "iWorks" suite.

John H. Armwood

Secret Google Tricks: How to Search Smarter - PCWorld

Secret Google Tricks: How to Search Smarter - PCWorld: "I like to think that my vocabulary and usage skills are above average; I am, after all, a professional writer. But a little known search function in Google showed me that I've been misusing 'peruse' for years. And it taught me that when a teenager says he's 'pwned' me, it wasn't a compliment.

Google is full of useful functions and search tricks that you probably don't know. I recently spent some time with Google engineers Jake Hubert and Dan Russell, learning ways to get more out of Google search. These are tips you'll find useful, whether you're wondering how to convert Centigrade to Fahrenheit before you head for the beaches in the south of France, or need to look at a patent for a technology innovation.

We had hardly started our conversation, when Russell gave me his first, and over-arching, tip: If you want to know something about Google search, simply search for it. 'Don't bother to remember a URL. I don't,' he said." More...

Quick Tip: Send PDFs to iTunes for iBooks Syncing

Quick Tip: Send PDFs to iTunes for iBooks Syncing

Getting PDFs into iTunes to sync them with iBooks on your device can be a bit of a chore. But by using the method below, you can send any document or even web page straight to the Books section of iTunes for syncing with ease.

To get iTunes ready is simple. All you have to do is open your Applications folder, and make an alias of iTunes by control-clicking its icon and selecting ‘Make Alias’. Now drag your newly-created alias and drop it in [Your Home folder] → Library → PDF Services. What this does is adds iTunes as an option when you select the PDF button in a Print dialog.

At the moment when you click PDF under Print, it’s going to say ‘iTunes alias’, which isn’t very informative. Rename your iTunes alias in the Finder to something along the lines of ‘Send PDF to iTunes’ or ‘Add PDF to iTunes’ and the menu item in the Pront dialog should update next time you open it.

Now whenever you have a document or web page open that you’d like to read in iBooks, all you have to do is go to File → Print, then click the PDF button in the lower left and choose your menu item for iTunes. The document will be saved as a PDF and sent straight into the Books section of your iTunes library.
This method works for any application that can open PDF files, not just iTunes.
* Make sure you do this process with your Mac's built in Finder program and not with software like Cocoatech wonderful Pathfinder, Finder replacement program that, with all of its wonderful features, does not give you the option of creating aliases.
John H. Armwood 

'Frash' Brings Adobe Flash to Apple iPad - PCWorld

'Frash' Brings Adobe Flash to Apple iPad - PCWorld: "An enterprising developer has proven that with a little work, Flash will work just fine on the iPad and iPhone, as long as you’re comfortable jailbreaking your device. Yes you will have problems–Flash is intended for use with a mouse, and not touch-based input methods. But certainly it gives hope that enterprising developers can be able to force Apple’s hand.

The program is called “Frash,” and will work in Safari Mobile through a compatibility layer. The program is actually a port of the official Adobe Flash plug-in that is already available for Android devices. Performance is actually pretty decent–sorry Mr. Jobs, there goes your trademark excuse for not allowing Flash at all." More...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Apple Seeks A Way Into Africa : NPR

Apple Seeks A Way Into Africa : NPR: "While Apple products are available over much of the globe, the company lacks presence on the continent of Africa. Dayo Olopade wrote about this dearth of iTunes, iPods and iPhones, in particular, in Foreign Policy magazine. She speaks with host Michele Norris."

Rolling back your iPhone 3G to OS 3.1.3 | Phones | Mac 911 | Macworld

Rolling back your iPhone 3G to OS 3.1.3 | Phones | Mac 911 | Macworld

Rolling back your iPhone 3G to OS 3.1.3
by Christopher Breen,

Friends who know what I do for a living occasionally contact me with their technology problems. Take this one from my friend Margo:

"I installed iOS 4 on my iPhone 3G and I hate it. It’s really slooooow and the screen acts like it’s numb. Plus, it takes forever for it to respond or react. Is there any way I can uninstall OS4 and go back to what I had? This sucks and I won’t be able to upgrade until next May."

After commiserating a bit with suggestions of deep breaths, I scoured the Web and came up with this nicely put-together Lifehacker article. I encouraged her (and now you) to read the article and comments. In the meantime, here’s the gist for downgrading the iPhone 3G (not the 3GS):

1. Locate or download a copy of the iPhone OS 3.1.3 .ipsw file. The Lifehacker story points to sources.

2. Put your phone into Device Firmware Update (DFU) mode. (Plug in the phone, turn the power off, press and hold Sleep/Wake and Home buttons for 10 seconds, let go of the Sleep/Wake button but continue to hold the Home button for 10 seconds. iTunes will then indicate that the phone is in recovery mode.)

3. Select the iPhone in iTunes’ Source list. Hold down the Option key and click Restore. You’ll be prompted to choose a file to update from. Navigate to the 3.1.3 .ipsw file and click Choose.

4. You’ll likely see an error message on your Mac and the phone will ask that you connect to iTunes. Download a copy of RecBoot. In the RecBoot package you’ll find the RecBoot Exit Only application. Launch it and use it to compel your iPhone to leave recovery mode.

5. Your iPhone should now boot to the Home screen. Restore it from a backup in iTunes. At this point it should be running the 3.1.3 software.

All good advice, but here are the caveats:

It’s been reported that these instructions don’t work with the iPhone 3GS. has an entire forum devoted to downgrading the 3GS.
Margo did this with a Windows machine and had nothing but trouble. (It’s been said that Windows users have more difficulties because, well, they’re using Windows.) She never could move her phone to 3.1.3 and so restored it back to iOS 4.
When she did, she found that it performed far better than when she first upgraded to iOS 4. Given that, if you have a slow iPhone 3G running iOS 4, it might be worth your while to restore it again. Good things may happen.
And, of course, this is completely unsupported by Apple. If The Bad Thing happens, expect no help from Apple (or me). You should be able to restore it back to iOS 4 as Margo did. But there's always the (small) risk that you'll brick the phone. So, think before you try this.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Do the Feds Really Know Tech? - PCWorld

Do the Feds Really Know Tech? - PCWorld

Back when I was a younger man, I was a Beltway Bandit. What that means is that I worked as a technical contractor for the federal government. In my case, I worked for several years for NASA and NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command ). Then, I worked with numerous bright developers, network engineers and system administrators. Unfortunately, we often worked with federal staffers who were often, ah, clueless. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Much worse.

Illustration: Lou BeachThen, we usually only had to contend with managers who didn't understand the technology, but were capable of giving us realistic goals. For example, one NASA executive knew that the agency wanted a way to keep track of the current status of all telecom and datacom links to the STS (Space Transportation System, or space shuttle to you), but he didn't know how we would do it -- a combination of C and Datatrieve running on VAX/VMS and AT&T Unix systems, as it turned out -- and as long as we delivered the goods, he was happy.
That was when things worked well. Am I glad I'm out of the consultant/contractor game these days.

For starters, a U.S. Senate committee has approved a cybersecurity bill, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act , that appears to say that the president can have the authority to shut down parts of the Internet during a cyberattack.

Actually, Sen. Joe Lieberman has said that what he wants the bill to do is put limits on the powers the president already has to cause "the closing of any facility or stations for wire communication" during war, which had already been given the presidency in the Communications Act of 1934.

OK, so it's not quite the "Internet kill switch" that earlier reports suggested, but tell me exactly how the president, or anyone else, is going to shut down even a significant part of the Internet on demand? We've come a long way since 1934.

Sure, you can wreck parts of the Internet for hours or days at a time with a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack . And you can try to block parts of the Internet, as China does with its so-called Great Firewall of China . But if you know what you're doing, you can walk around the Great Firewall without too much trouble. Heck, even, Google , while backtracking on its stance toward China's censorship , was able to jump right over it by directing to its uncensored Hong Kong Web site.

But for practical purposes, there's no good way you can "turn off" even part of the Internet. It's silly to even think that there is.
Still, that's just a dumb idea. If it makes the Congress-critters happy to think that they can legislate the power to the Internet off and on or to make the value of pi equal 3 , let them continue to dream on.

What's far, far more serious is the suggestion that the government be allowed to set up a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace . This sounds good. The plan is to create an Internet-based identity ecosystem, "where individuals, organizations, services, and devices can trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities."

It would work by issuing everyone security tokens such as a state-issued "smart identity card," or perhaps a digital certificate on our PCs and smartphones. This token would contain all of the identity information about a person.

Can you say national identification card? I knew you could. I hate this plan. More...
I experienced this kind of identity verification system for posting on the internet while living over two years in South Korea. It is a method of censoring free speech. South korea has a statute, "The Media Act of 2003" which allows the government to arrest citizens for "posting rumors on the internet. To post on a Korean website or blog you must use your national identity card number or your Alien Registration Card, in my case. There was a very famous case in South Korea in 2008 involving a blogger who used the handle "Minerva". He was arrested after he accurately predicted the economic downturn and drop in the value of "the Won", the counties' currency, the previous year. We do not want to be a country like South Korea or even worse China where the government either controls or censors free speech.

John H. Armwood