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Sunday, September 30, 2012

uTorrent Will Ensure More Privacy

Results of a recent research disclosed quite an upsetting fact: peer-to-peer traffic is heavily monitored on. In order to address the concerns of its users, BitTorrent Inc. took a decision to modify its most popular file-sharing application – uTorrent.

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Perhaps, you already know that way for 3rd parties to track file-sharing activity of the Internet users is through the IP-address. However, there’s another source of data that may expose them: the peer id. Of course, the BitTorrent’s team of developers knows about this issue. That’s why they took a decision to solve the problem by integrating a new feature into the uTorrent’s code.

BitTorrent explained that it wants to introduce a new feature whose operation would randomize peer ids in an n-hour cycle in a bid to mitigate tracking of the Internet users during the use of non-private torrents. As a result, the control will increase for the uTorrent users of their own data and activity which they ask for and are entitled to.

It means that people using uTorrent will feel more secure, because 3rd parties won’t any longer be able to track the peer id for longer than a few hours. Since IP-addresses are concerned, the users must always be careful, particularly when using public trackers. Of course, any Internet user worries about the free flow and use of his or her personal data and habits.

That’s why BitTorrent Inc. works on the features that are aimed at protecting privacy of the customers of such companies as Microsoft, Google, and Firefox. This move would bring the users more control of their data through user-friendly private browsing features. Of course, privacy is always an issue in the talk about file-sharing, but BitTorrent gives us hope that this issue might one day turn into a matter of the past.

India Will Reduce Tax for Software Sector

The country’s government is planning to make tax rules easy for the information technology sector. India hopes that reduced tax will attract software development companies from abroad and encourage local producers to export their products. 

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Prime Minister of India has recently gathered a panel in order to make sure India is involved into the $70-billion software industry. Another question on the agenda was how to repair the flagging investment from abroad. Reportedly, Prime Minister recommended making tax rules favorable for the sector.

According to the local media reports, this panel conducted a range of consultations with software analysts before making its own recommendations. For example, Infosys was one of the companies that claimed the tax problem was a key problem for software sector.

The panel gathered by Prime Minister will now be busy with completing the basis for “safe harbor” tax rules for each sector of the industry by the end of the current year. In the end, tax authorities are expected to accept transfer prices of the software companies. But this was not the only complaint for Indian software companies. Another problem is the tax treatment of the revenues made from work that is done at the customers’ websites. The matter is that tax authorities have recently raised demands on the software makers, arguing that onsite activities can’t be regarded as exports and therefore can’t be qualified for a tax exemption. In response to the complaints of the software companies, the government said it will probably take a look at this problem later.

Riots at Chinese Hardware Plants

Today Apple might have some regrets about its attempts to choke the supply of the iPhone 5 which aimed at artificially creating a buzz about a device which is actually the same as the last one.

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The Apple’s plan was to manage to bring out lots of new devices after the buzz had ramped up enough. But it seems that something has gone bad behind the bamboo curtain. According to the reports that came a few days ago from China, a mass disturbance or riots may have broken out at a local Foxconn factory. The proof can found on the local popular twitter-like service called Weibo, which shows pictures and video of lots of police in riot gear gathering around the factory to block off people crowds.

The troubles began when Foxconn security guards hit a worker the other night, with the local censors being frantically deleting photos from the incident. In fact, this is not the first time that there’s a mass disturbance at the factory: this past March, there were also strikes at the location because the employees didn’t get a pay raise they had been promised before.

In the meantime, Foxconn's Chengdu factory located in Sichuan province has also seen rioting – for example, three months ago, a number of Foxconn workers were fighting with a local restaurant owner, with the police having to break up the fight. It looks like rioting became the only way the employees can force management to listen to them.

Moreover, media reports reveal that the company also had to deal with a string of suicides at its locations throughout China. They even had to install anti-jump nets at the factories in order to prevent more suicide attempts a couple years ago.

So, thus far it’s unclear what effect this will have on the supply of the iPhone 5, as the factory in question makes backplate for the device. By the way, Apple recently shifted iPad production from Foxconn to Pegatron.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note II at Rs 39,990


Samsung Electronics launched its latest Galaxy device as part of efforts to better compete with Apple's newly released iPhone 5. Priced at Rs Rs 39,990 in India, the new version of the Note features a thinner and slightly bigger 5.5-inch screen, quad-core processor, the latest version of the Android operating system called Jellybean, and improved stylus function.



Priced at Rs Rs 39,990 in India, the new version of the Note features a thinner and slightly bigger 5.5-inch screen, quad-core processor, the latest version of the Android operating system called Jellybean, and improved stylus function.

The Galaxy Note II is powered by the latest version of Android operating system, 4.1 Jelly Bean


The device is equipped with a new 1.6 GHz quad-core processor that helps run multiple applications faster than the dual-core processor of the previous version.


It has 2GB of internal RAM; and comes with 16 GB of onboard file storage and supports up to 64GB of additional memory


The Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen with 16:9 aspect ratio and it it allows users to split the screen in half to view two programmes at once.


The device also comes with a much larger battery but weighs slightly less than the original Galaxy Note


The S Pen has been redesigned to provide a more precise and natural writing and drawing experience. The new S Pen can sense 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, four times more than the original S Pen


The new device has got 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.9-megapixel front facing camera with HD (high definition) video recording.


The Galaxy Note II is available in Marble White and Titanium Gray color options.


It has 16GB internal storage with support for 64 GB expendable memory and a 3,100 mAh battery. Additional features include Air View, Quick Command and single hand operations



Windows 8 Significance Exaggerate

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, keeps talking up the oncoming Windows 8. He insists that Windows 8 will most likely be the most significant product launch in the history of software giant.

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Ballmer admitted that Windows 95 was undoubtedly the most important thing in the last two decades until now. Microsoft CEO believes that Windows 8 will certainly surpass it. During the interview to local media, Steve was so confident about Windows 8 that he wouldn’t even entertain the idea that the new OS and the software built around will be anything more than a huge success. His confidence is built on the idea that the computer market is stronger than it seems.

Ballmer claimed that there will be around 400,000,000 computers sold in 2013, which creates a huge market for Windows 8, which will propel that volume. Here Microsoft CEO comes up against analysts who believe that the personal computer has been replaced by the smartphone. In fact, they can prove this with computer sales drop.

But Ballmer may believe that computer sales decrease is probably due to the global economic recession. In addition, the software giant is not ignoring the tablet space, with the company going to start selling its new Surface tablet on the Internet and in Microsoft stores in October.

Nevertheless, it looks like Ballmer was preparing a spectacular own goal on that: according to the rumors, his tablet was to be cheap in order to win competition. But he admitted that the device wouldn’t be that cheap: $300 to $800. This changes things: such price would actually be surrendering the software market to Apple while leaving Ballmer dependant on Microsoft’s PC roll of the dice.

Iran blocked Google Services

Iranian authorities explained that their decision to block access to Google services, including Gmail, was due to an anti-Islam movie which caused protests throughout the globe.
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The film in question, Innocence of Muslims, which appears to have been created to trigger riots in Arab countries, has finally put the search giant in a position where Iran wanted. The matter is that Iran had been looking for a reason to ban Google for a while, but couldn’t find a good one until YouTube refused to remove the anti-Islam movie. Now the local authorities can claim they are saving their citizens from the evil Google.

Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an Iranian official responsible for censorship in the web and computer crimes, announced that both Google and Gmail will be censored throughout Iran until further notice. However, there was no indication whether the filtering would be temporary or permanent. Actually, the country is going to pull itself out of the web and run the nation as a huge Intranet of state controlled data. Of course, such giants as Google and its mail service would have no place in this scheme anyway.

At the moment, Iranians don’t really care about the anti-Islam film, but aren’t happy that they’ve lost their Gmail accounts. They understand that this move is just a beginning of their cunning Internet plan.

Ali Hakim-Javadi, deputy communications and technology minister, told during the interview that all governmental agencies and offices have already been connected to the national data network (Intranet). In the meantime, the country is worried about another outside hacker attack, especially if Iran gets involved in a war with Israel or the United States.

American Banks to Expect Cyber Attacks

One of the financial services industry groups has recently warned American money men to be alert for hacker attacks after both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase had suffered unexplained outages.
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According to the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the outfit had some credible intelligence about the possibility of cyber attacks. It turned out that some unnamed individual posted a statement online, where they threatened to attack Bank of America and the New York Stock Exchange as part of a campaign against American corporations.

Industry experts are sure that the campaign and attacks were because of the anti-Islam movie which has made its way around the web. In the meantime, Dan Holden, head of security research at Arbor Networks, also confirmed that a few American banks were under assault by a DDoS campaign.

In other words, it seems that the hacker attacks are quite big and targeted at disrupting the official sites and other computer systems at the targeted entity. This is usually done though distributed denial of service attacks, i.e. by overwhelming the networks of the company with traffic.

Last week the FBI has also announced a “fraud alert”, which advised financial services companies that cyber criminals might be disrupting service to their official sites in attempt to prevent the financial institutions from detecting a recent surge in fraudulent large-sized wire transfers. As for the alleged reason for the cyber attacks, the Feds believe that anti-Islam movie will only be used as cover for bank hacking. Anyway, regardless of the reason, the US banks are alert and should cope with the attacks.

Microsoft Tablet Plans

For quite a while now, the industry experts believed that Microsoft was planning something spectacular. This move was supposed to make people forget both Android and Apple and establish Microsoft as a leader in the tablet market.

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There was a speculation that Microsoft was going to introduce a subsidized Windows RT tablet for around $300, which is basically a giveaway. Although this would make hardware makers unhappy, it would at the same time establish Microsoft’s new OS and lead to the software giant becoming a leader in the market of mobile devices.

However, the speculation was based on the belief that the software giant would use common sense and its resources to make the company relevant again. But Microsoft is in fact a huge and clumsy company, which has yet to create anything either responsive or innovative in order to enter the mobile market.

A recent leaked slide from Asus revealed that the price of its Vivo Tab RT, which is scheduled to be released along with Windows RT in a month or so, will start at $600. Actually, this is even more expensive than the iPad 3. And, of course, it’s a full $200 more expensive than the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Therefore, the only reason to be so expensive is to have some insane hardware specs. But it turned out to be a wrong assumption.

In fact, Vivo Tab RT is just an Android Transformer that can be plugged either into a keyboard/battery dock for additional $200 or a docking station for $150. In the meantime, Microsoft believes that people will be ready to pay $600 for the tablet only because it carries Windows RT. However, this belief is quite arrogant, as most people are happy with their Android tablets.

It seems that Microsoft better have something planned. The matter is that its new OS, Windows 8, was developed as a tablet OS, and this feature was one of its main claims to fame. Indeed, the very fact that the operating system is too tabletish may cause users to look somewhere else. In case tablet users believe the software is too expensive, Microsoft will simply fail to make up the money on the new crowd. The new generation of users is more tech-savvy and readily chooses the cheaper alternatives. It seems that Microsoft will get another caning and now the company might appear unable to escape in its current form.

Huawei Asked Aussie to Stop Discrimination

Huawei corporation was banned from tendering for work on the country’s national broadband network due to security fears. Recently the company has urged Australia to lift the spying ban.

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Media reports confirmed Huawei is miffed that the United States and Australia have refused to let it apply for lucrative telecommunications work due to fears that it can install spying programs. Here Australia is following the direction of the United States, while the United Kingdom is quite happy with Huawei.

Actually, Huawei is not able to win business in the United States and some other markets because of the government security concerns. Back in 2011, the company was blocked from participating in the country’s $38 billion broadband network.

Huawei representative in Australia told a local parliamentary intelligence committee that he was summoned to the Attorney-General’s at short notice. Nevertheless, the statement never explained why the company didn’t get the contract, nor it was given a chance to respond to any concerns.

Huawei admitted it was worried that the new legislation would discriminate against the organizations from particular countries. The company called on the local government to adopt a principle of non-discrimination, saying that the businesses should have the opportunity to address their security concerns. However, there are also other pressures out there. For example, 6 months ago, China’s Ministry of Commerce has also voiced the concern about the decision of Australian authorities to ban Huawei from the broadband project, saying that such decision was at least very unfair.

China, in its turn, could also start introducing embargoes against Australian goods/services and particular companies. However, Huawei representative explained that the company is independent and doesn’t have any links to the government, so this can’t be happening. The Chinese authorities have no say in the running of Huawei, which is 100% owned by staff.

Last week, the Chinese giant testified before a United States House committee on Intelligence in Washington, DC, in a bid to appease them. We’ll see what will be the results of this move.

Microsoft Criticized Google for Breaching Privacy

Microsoft was noticed marketing its Bing search engine by claiming that Google breaches the privacy of its users.

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Microsoft is reported to be sending out warnings to people who use Safari, urging the Internet users to use Bing since Google is careless about their privacy. Microsoft has launched a Bing landing webpage for Safari users. They have a reason to do so – recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had fined Google $22,500,000 for a breach in its Safari browser. The matter is that Goggle was found to track users without their permission.

The page of a software giant is going out of its way in order to make sure that nobody forgets. This webpage tells about what happened with Google who promised not to track Safari users: the company used the data to target advertisements for profit. So, Microsoft claimed that the best option for Safari users to avoid this risk is to try its Bing browser.

However, something is wrong with the company’s cunning plan. First of all, Safari users will never really see Microsoft’s ad. Secondly, these Internet users are part of Apple’s Walled Garden of Delights, which usually tells them what to purchase and where to go, and Bing is not in their plans. So, the only result of the whole campaign is that Safari users became certain that Microsoft was even more evil than anything else out there.

Japan Attacked by Hackers

The government of Japan has claimed that hacker attacks on its financial sector represent retaliation from China over a land dispute.

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Recently, the sites of nineteen Japanese banks went offline due to hacker attacks originating from China. The National Police Agency announced that many of the targets had been named on hacking group websites. In the meantime, other outfits like the Tokyo Institute of Technology claimed they had been hacked and this resulted in the theft of personal information. Moreover, other government departments were also targeted during DDoS attacks.

Local press points out that a number of sites were altered, with a picture of the Chinese flag being demonstrated on one of them. Although the cyber attacks are believed to have ceased, the government of Japan is warning the entities to take some precautions against possible further threats.

The hacker attacks in question are thought to be protesting the nationalization of islands in the East China Sea – Diaoyu and Senaku – that were earlier privately owned. The decision of the Japanese authorities to buy the resource rich islands has caused outrage in China and consequently led to a number of anti-Japan protests.

In addition, such protests have forced a few Japanese companies operating in China to suspend factor production. For instance, Panasonic became one of the firms that had to choose to temporarily suspend production last week. The international giant admitted that workers in its Chinese component factories had simply sabotaged the company’s operations.

French Hacker Released after Court Hearing

An individual who admitted that he managed to find his way into a bank server was released at the court building, because judges ruled he did nothing wrong.
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A Breton citizen was recently acquitted by the criminal court of Rennes, with the judges claiming that there was no mens rea in the case in question, which in this country means that the defendant can walk free.

Media reports say that the individual’s brief Sipa Laudic-Hélène Baron revealed that four years ago an unemployed individual was trying to avoid premium rate numbers through Skype. He entered a random number and then dialed the code 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Finally, he arrived at the debt service of the Bank of France. However, he had no idea where he was, as no message showed him.

In the meantime, the Bank of France detected his “hack” and called the police who fell on the individual with the full weight of the lure. Actually, it wasn’t that difficult to find the hacker, because he had logged his name and address on Skype. However, it took the police almost 2 years to tail the individual to Paris and arrest him.

Apparently, the police were furious, because they admitted to book some of the best computer hacking minds in the country in order to examine the individual’s server and find everything about his elaborate hacking scheme. However, when they saw his ancient and cheap PC, they couldn’t believe this was the gear the hacker would use to break the security of one of top banks in the country. Even after the individual explained everything and showed how he did that, they were still insisting on charging him with hacking. Finally, the case is solved in hacker’s favor.

Germany Encourage Users to Abandon Internet Explorer

It seems that history is repeating itself with the German government, known for giving Firefox a leg up in the past, telling users to abandon Microsoft’s IE for something safer.

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The German government is reported to tell its citizens that they should temporarily stop using IE browser due to the discovery of a yet-to-be repaired vulnerability in the Internet browser. The flaw in question is said to make personal computers vulnerable to cyber attacks. The bug was found last weekend and is said to allow a zero day attack to be carried out on machines with Internet Explorer 9.

The German Federal Office for Information Security explained that it knew about targeted attacks. The plan of the hackers was the following: they wanted to lure Internet users to a site where intruders had planted malicious software which exploited the abovementioned IE flaw in order to infect their computers.
So, German authorities announced that a fast spreading of the malicious code should be feared. That’s why it has called on all IE users to switch to an alternative browser until Microsoft has released a security update. In the meantime, Microsoft hasn’t provided any comments over the issue.

According to some media reports, the software giant urged IE users to install a piece of security software instead. The industry experts believe that the company is just buying time to fix the vulnerability and build a new version of the browser. Nevertheless, the fix in question involves the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit. And the latter is believed to be too complicated for most users, so it won’t help.

Until Germany called to abandon the browser, IE was the 2nd-most widely used web browser in the world, accounting for 1/3 of the market.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nokia Unveils Asha 308 And Asha 309 Full-Touch Smartphones



Nokia today unveiled the Asha 308 and Asha 309, the latest additions to the Asha Touch family of mobile devices. They are tagged as the Nokia’s most affordable capacitive touchscreen devices to date giving consumers fast web access at low cost. The Nokia Asha 308 features easy swap Dual SIM and Asha 309 is the single SIM variant with WiFi. They deliver a full smartphone experience enriched with new Nokia web services and developer tools. Nokia estimates the retail price for the Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 to be about Rs. 5,300, excluding taxes and subsidies, with shipping expected to start in the fourth quarter 2012.





Nokia today unveiled the Asha 308 and Asha 309, the latest additions to the Asha Touch family of mobile devices. They are tagged as the Nokia’s most affordable capacitive touchscreen devices to date giving consumers fast web access at low cost. The Nokia Asha 308 features easy swap Dual SIM and Asha 309 is the single SIM variant with WiFi. Asha 308 and 309 deliver a full smartphone experience enriched with new Nokia web services and developer tools. Nokia estimates the retail price for the Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 to be about Rs 5300, excluding taxes and subsidies, with shipping expected to start in the fourth quarter 2012.





The new devices offer a fluid 'swipe' user interface and an open environment for third-party application development, characteristics that have earned the complete Asha Touch range full smartphone classification from global market research companies and analysts such as GfK and IDC."Our innovative Asha Touch family of devices is designed for people who want a great smartphone experience with lower running costs," said Timo Toikkanen, executive vice president, Mobile Phones, Nokia. "By introducing the Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309, we're expanding our affordable smartphone lineup and bringing new mobile experiences to more people."





The Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 are Nokia's most affordable capacitive touchscreen devices to date. A view shared by independent analysts is that the Asha line represents great smartphones available for less than USD 99. "Nokia's Asha Touch family delivers all the core smartphone experiences, and with the new software developer kit, provides ever-increasing flexibility for developers to build compelling new experiences for consumers," said Will Stofega, Mobile Phone Program Director, IDC





The Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 are 2G-enabled devices featuring a 3.0'' WQVGA capacitive display, multiple home screens, stereo radio, loud speakers and up to 32GB microSD card support. The Nokia Asha 309 is the single SIM variant with WiFi, while the Nokia Asha 308 is a dual SIM device featuring Nokia's industry-leading Easy Swap technology. Easy Swap enables people to switch between multiple SIM cards quickly and easily to get the best local tariffs without having to remove the battery or turn off the phone






The phones also come with the free* gift of 40 premium EA games, social features such as standalone Facebook and Twitter clients, the Nokia Messaging Service, and video streaming through the browser from sites like YouTube - a first within the Asha Touch range.
The phones also come with the free* gift of 40 premium EA games, social features such as standalone Facebook and Twitter clients, the Nokia Messaging Service, and video streaming through the browser from sites like YouTube - a first within the Asha Touch range






Nokia Asha 308 key specifications
Nokia OS>br> 3-inch WVGA capacitive touch display with 400x240 pixel resolution
Dual-SIM
2MP camera
Bluetooth 3.0connectivity
1110mAh
64MB internal storage, expandable upto 3GB via microSD
FM Radio with RDS

Nokia Asha 308 key specifications
Nokia OS>br> 3-inch WVGA capacitive touch display with 400x240 pixel resolution
Dual-SIM
2MP camera
Bluetooth 3.0connectivity
1110mAh
64MB internal storage, expandable upto 3GB via microSD
FM Radio with RDS






Nokia Asha 309 key specifications
Nokia OS
3-inch WVGA capacitive touch display with 400x240 pixel resolution
2MP camera
WiFi and Bluetooth
1110mAh
64MB internal storage, expandable upto 3GB via microSD
FM Radio with RDS

Nokia Asha 309 key specifications
Nokia OS
3-inch WVGA capacitive touch display with 400x240 pixel resolution
2MP camera
WiFi and Bluetooth
1110mAh
64MB internal storage, expandable upto 3GB via microSD
FM Radio with RDS






Nokia also introduced two extensions to its Xpress Browser Internet platform, the only cloud-based web browser to support web apps. The Nokia Nearby web app helps people discover new places by searching nearby locations and presenting the options on a map.
Nokia also introduced two extensions to its Xpress Browser Internet platform, the only cloud-based web browser to support web apps. The Nokia Nearby web app helps people discover new places by searching nearby locations and presenting the options on a map






The service is available via Nokia Xpress Browser or as a feature within Nokia Maps.The Nokia Life+ web app will give millions of people access to content that spans education, health and infotainment to enhance their daily lives. Nokia Life+ is available in English across 18 countries, with local versions coming to India, China and Indonesia in the fourth quarter of this year.
The service is available via Nokia Xpress Browser or as a feature within Nokia Maps.The Nokia Life+ web app will give millions of people access to content that spans education, health and infotainment to enhance their daily lives. Nokia Life+ is available in English across 18 countries, with local versions coming to India, China and Indonesia in the fourth quarter of this year






Nokia Life+ can be accessed through Nokia Xpress Browser or the Nokia Store.Both services work with Asha Touch smartphones. In addition to these services, Nokia introduced a new web-based tool that makes it even easier to build new applications. With Nokia Xpress Web App Builder, publishers can create appealing web apps for Asha Touch devices, and even novices can turn their web content into a fun and sophisticated web app for Nokia consumers.
Nokia Life+ can be accessed through Nokia Xpress Browser or the Nokia Store.Both services work with Asha Touch smartphones. In addition to these services, Nokia introduced a new web-based tool that makes it even easier to build new applications. With Nokia Xpress Web App Builder, publishers can create appealing web apps for Asha Touch devices, and even novices can turn their web content into a fun and sophisticated web app for Nokia consumers


Why The Same Goods Have Different Prices Around The World


What if you could compare the prices of goods across the world and then buy the products where they are the cheapest?Pricerunner.com had exactly that idea and compared the prices of a number of electronic goods in 28 cities around the world. The products the site compared included the movie "Thor" on b lu-ray, the Canon Powershot s95 camera, the Playstation 3, the Samsung Galaxy S2 phone and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. According to the research, if a person bought all the items it would cost him or her $1,757 in Tokyo; $1,969 in New York City; $2,012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; $2,450 in Copenhagen; $2,441 in Vienna; $2,540 in Cape Town, South Africa; $2,965 in Reykjavik, Iceland; and $3,387 in Sao Paulo.
In another survey, the site compared the prices of a MacBook Air, 32 GB iPad 2 and a 16 GB iPhone 4. The three items combined were cheapest in Tokyo at $2,225, and most expensive in Sao Paulo at $4,160. The same items would cost $2,745 in New York.
It's not only electronics that vary in price across the globe. Cars vary in price, too. For example, a standard 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee that sells for about $28,000 in the U.S. costs a whopping $89,500 in Brazil. The cost of buying gas is less than a dollar in OPEC countries, while Americans pay about $3.90 per gallon of gas. Most Europeans have to pay double that. There are a number of factors that affect the prices of these products in different countries.
Taxes and Import DutiesOne of the major factors that affects the prices of goods is the difference in taxes and import duties across countries. Brazil, for example, has an extremely high import duty of 60%, which makes imported goods such as cars and phones so much costlier there. Many products are cheaper in Japan thanks to lower import taxes and better wholesale prices.
Even local taxes make a big difference. If San Francisco has an 8% sales tax and London has 20% Value-Added Tax (VAT), this will significantly affect the prices paid by the consumers. When talking about exports and imports, there is a significant difference between the treatment of sales tax and VAT. When exporting a good, VAT is charged on the item, but sales tax is not. When importing a good, the importer pays sales tax on the full price of the item, but pays VAT only for the value added by the importer. If you are importing into a country that doesn't have VAT from a country that has VAT, the product will be double taxed. The exporting country adds VAT, while the importing country charges sales tax.
With respect to oil prices, the prices vary significantly because of subsidies in some countries and fuel taxes in other countries. This is the reason why gas is absurdly cheap in oil producing nations such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. In the U.S., the taxes vary from sate to state .
Perceived ValueAnother important factor is that the prices of items like electronics and cars are not always determined based on the cost of producing them. A pro

Anti-Islamic Film Censored by YouTube

After the release of a controversial film “Innocence of Muslims”, a few people even died in protests against it. Today, YouTube service has blocked the movie in Saudi Arabia, as was requested by Saudi ruler King Abdullah.

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The authorities of Saudi Arabia threatened to block the most popular streaming service in the world throughout the entire territory in case YouTube refused to block access to the film “Innocence of Muslims”.

First of all, the streaming portal was approached by the White House with a request to block the movie, but YouTube refused. However, then the movie couldn’t be accessed by the states where such content was illegal, including Egypt and India. Finally, King Abdullah claimed that the streaming service was going to block the movie in Saudi Arabia in case Google didn’t agree to remove the links to it.

Moreover, the Communications and Information Technology Commission of the Saudi Arabia has even asked for the help of Saudi citizens to report any remaining links. Unsurprisingly, the Russian government also joined the request of removing the film. While the Russian courts are trying to come to a final decision on whether such content can be considered “extremist”, YouTube has already been banned by all ISPs in some regions of Russia under the request of the local authorities. The Russians are nearly shocked – because of this video, all of YouTube could soon be blocked throughout the entire country.

In response, a YouTube representative claimed that the portal was working hard to build a community that everyone can enjoy, which enables people to express different opinions. The movie in question is of course widely available elsewhere online and is definitely within the company’s guidelines, and therefore will stay on the portal. In the meantime, YouTube showed respect to the countries where such content is against the law, like India and Indonesia, by blocking access to the file there. YouTube’s approach to the problem is consistent with its corporate principles that the service first laid out five years ago.

Although Google, which owns YouTube, tries to consider local cultures and needs while creating and introducing its global product policies, it still can’t be arbiter of what appears online.

Alibaba Bought Back Its Shares

Alibaba Group has recently bought back half the stake that Yahoo owned in the company. The deal is estimated at around $7.6 billion. The move in question ended the years of horse trading that actually cost the careers of a few Yahoo chiefs and cleared the path for Alibaba Group to make an IPO.

According to the financial information, Alibaba has paid the company around $6.3 billion in cash and $800 million in its own preferred shares. In addition, Alibaba also made a single cash payment of $550 million due to amendments to the two outfits’ intellectual property license agreement. Media reports revealed that Yahoo was going to give its shareholders $3 billion of the $4.3 billion of the sale proceeds, that’s in addition to the $646 million down payment which it has already gave back to its shareholders via buybacks.

In fact, most of the company’s value was tied up in Alibaba and for different reasons Yahoo didn’t want to lose its Chinese investment. That’s why the company still owns around a quarter of Alibaba’s common stock. The latter is valued at over $8 billion and taking into account its preferred stock, its stake would be valued at almost $9 billion.

Prior to the purchase Yahoo owned almost 40% of Alibaba. The latter noted that when it comes to its IPO, the company will have the right to buy back 50% of the Yahoo’s remaining share. According to Alibaba Chief Executive Officer Jack Ma, the completion of the deal would start a new level of the company’s relationship with Yahoo.

By the way, Yahoo acquired its stake in Alibaba seven years for only $1 billion and the sale of its Yahoo China business to the company. Decent investment it seems to be

Wikipedia Faced Paid Editing Scandal

A couple of trusted Wikipedia types were noticed editing encyclopedia pages and facilitating front-page placement for money. Media reports say that Jimmy Wales is furious.

A “high-return-earning PR consultant” named Roger Bamkin, who is also a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation UK, was noticed using Wikipedia’s “Did You Know” feature which is posted on front page and the resources of GLAM WikiProject in order to hawk Gibraltar, which apparently was his customer.

Last month, Gibraltar appeared as a Wikipedia “Did You Know” front page feature 17 times in 2 to 3 days, an astonishing number. In fact, Gibraltar managed to receive more publicity than the Olympics.

Founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has written a stiff missive, claiming that it was absolutely inappropriate for anyone taking an official position to take money from clients for securing favorable placement on the main page of the online encyclopedia.

In the meantime, the community members also managed to expose a PR-strategy Wikipedia page editing strategy employed by GLAM editor Max Klein as a lucrative business. Max Klein has created a consulting business named “untrikiwiki”. Business in question aimed at using Wikipedia articles to guarantee a top 3 Google hit. Klein explained that he had found out how to circumvent the encyclopedia’s “conflict of interest” editing. As a result, he has made over 10,000 edits within the last 8 years.

Jimmy Wales announced he was unaware of this case, and then he had no time to take a look at it. However, if this case was true, Wales will be very unhappy about it. In the meantime, another problem is that there’s no existing Wikimedia UK policy which would prohibit paid editing for encyclopedia pages. However, Jimmy Wales claimed that paid editing was undoubtedly against the service’s values and policy. 

Online Outfits Created Alliance against the Entertainment Industry

Alliance, known as the Internet Association, includes fourteen Internet giants such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The aim of the alliance is to defend online freedom and human right for privacy.

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The Internet Association was officially announced last week. Its president, Michael Beckerman, explained that if given the chance, the outfit would have boycotted SOPA bill. However, SOPA died long ago, so the outfit doesn’t have to make sure that the government understands how exactly it would have censored the web and harmed its infrastructure. Anyway, the alliance says that its mission is to be the unified voice of the online economy in all policy debates.

Michael Beckerman had worked with Capitol Hill for a dozen years, ending as a deputy staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for Rep. Fred Upton, a vocal opponent of network neutrality. In the meantime, there are some concerns about the FCC, so a federal court is going to hear the changes brought by the outfit’s new rules next year.

Beckerman added that the alliance also realizes the importance of a reformed Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Moreover, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has suggested new digital privacy protections which demand the authorities to get a probable-cause warrant in order to obtain e-mail and other information stored in the cloud. This suggestion will be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee soon.

While there are a lot of groups that lobby against the abusive regime governed by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, the Internet Association is supported by such giants as Apple, Microsoft and Oracle. Nevertheless, these companies aren’t part of the group.

The association also lists Google, Amazon, eBay, AOL, Facebook, Monster Worldwide, Salesforce.com, TripAdvisor, and Yahoo. The president of the Center for Democracy and Technology confirmed that the Internet giants play a crucial role in educating policymakers about how political debates affect Internet innovation and the ability of Internet portals to empower people and entities around the world. Hopefully, this association will be able to protect Internet users’ rights.

Google Acquired Photo Editing Tool Like Instagram

The software giant has recently snapped up German company Nik Software, thus also acquiring Instagram rival called Snapseed.

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Senior Vice President for the company, Vic Gundotra, confirmed on Google+ that the company had made the acquisition, but he didn’t provide any other financial details. He just welcomed +Nik Software to the Google family, explaining that the company is dedicated to provide its users the opportunity to create photos they absolutely love, and Google believes that +Nik could do this better than anyone.

As for Nik Software, the company also published a statement on its official website, announcing the deal that would provide Google with access to photo editing instruments. The firm said it was pleased to announce that the software giant has acquired Nik Software, also noting that the company has spent seventeen years creating “world class digital image editing instruments”. The company added it has always aspired to share its passion for photography with the others, and with the support of the search giant it hopes to be able to help millions people make awesome photos.

In the market, Nik Software’s application called Snapseed is referred to as a competitor to the very popular now photo editing instrument named Instagram. The latter was recently acquired by Facebook in a billion dollar deal and is widely used by Twitter users. The experts believe that since the search giant announced the deal through its Google+ service, it seems likely that the photo editing application will be used together with its own social network offering, which also represents one of the Facebook’s rivals.

Open Source Is Better Than Cloud

A recent study conducted by prominent British IT academic says that CIOs shouldn’t trust the cloud. Instead, it is recommended to try replacing the legacy systems with open source.
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While the industry is trying to convince the world that using cloud strategy is better, a recent study said that open systems is preferable to an immature cloud.

The study, commissioned by travel industry processing giant Amadeus, was meant to investigate the role of open source software in critical transaction systems. The matter is that airlines and railways has been using outdated systems for a few decades already and therefore were long due for an upgrade. The study claims that in most cases re-engineering open source software is better than bunging it all on a cloud.

Indeed, open source could provide enterprise IT with better access to innovation through a self-re-enforcing community of shared resources. The report quotes other studies from the London School of Economics, saying that investments to deploy open source lead to longer-term savings of 20% over anything else. However, you have to pass a slightly more expensive transition period, and such cost savings may not apply to everyone.

Anyway, the study found out that public cloud computing services were still half-baked. For instance, interoperability barely existed, nor did the ability to audit the security of the company’s hosted services. The study also warned of the cloud system’s dangers to be pushed too quickly in the cloud direction as a very immature business. The British IT academic admitted that though business processes would eventually catch up with the technology, it might not happen in the near future.

Facebook Shares Went Up after Zuckerberg confession

A week ago Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement, saying that he was unhappy about how the shares in Facebook had slid.
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However, he was also upbeat when it came to a few troubles that Facebook was facing. Zuckerberg was especially bullish about how he had a plan to treat mobile technology. Press reports said that Wall Street was actually impressed by Zuckerberg’s performance. As a result, Facebook shares eventually went up. His half-hour talk turned out to add $6.785 billion in market valuation for Facebook, with shares going up to $22 a piece.

Financial experts said that people are starting to feel a little more comfortable. In fact, the industry observers believe that if the founder of the largest social network in the world got out there and talked to people more instead of developing the network, it would be better for the company.

However, the share price was also helped by the company announcing that its nascent advert exchange wasn’t in testing mode anymore. At the same time, a few advertising agencies reported encouraging early results.

Still, the network can’t fix the major problem it faces. First of all, there’s a large number of “locked-uped” shares that belong to Facebook insiders, which will enter the market in the near future. Secondly, there are many people who purchased Facebook shares in the IPO, and they will also be allowed to sell those shares soon enough.

All these factors point to the share price falling during the next half a year to one year. The experts keep forecasting that the price will stabilize at $13 a piece, unless a company can pull out some huge profits rapidly.

Google Chrome Won’t Track Users Anymore

The company has finally given in to pressure from everyone else in the industry and is currently planning to introduce a “do-not-track” feature on its browser.

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The company is well-known for standing up for the rights of its advertisers to know what its users were doing. Nevertheless, it seems that Google finally changed its mind and is planning to support a “do-not-track” feature (DNT).
Support for DNT has been introduced in Chromium version 23.0.1266.0, but Google’s Chrome browser that incorporates the Chromium code hasn’t added the feature to its developer channel yet.

Mozilla's Firefox browser was first to welcome a “do-not-track” feature, which then was supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, and Opera – in other words, the majority of the market. In the meantime, Google only tried using a plug-in named “Keep My Opt-Outs”, but still was unenthusiastic about the “do-not-track” feature itself. Of course, not many advertisers did anything when they knew about this feature, and Google didn’t want to lose its clients. As for its latest decision, media reports say that the company was now quite happy with the move to the feature because it isn’t that effective as its developers insist. The matter is that there are still a couple of disagreements about how to implement the feature.

However, the largest software giant in the world, Microsoft, has raised the bar: the company announced it will set the default “do-not-track” to high on its Internet Explorer browser to ensure that users’ tracking isn’t possible anymore. In the meantime, Vole has been accused of setting a standard that didn’t comply with the specification.

$222,000 Penalty in File-Sharing Case Reinstated

Back in 2011, the Recording Industry Association of America appealed the fine reduction in Jammie Thomas “notorious” file-sharing case. In result of the scandalous case, a Federal Appeals Court decided to order her pay damages to the entertainment industry of almost a quarter million dollars for merely downloading and sharing two dozen of tracks through the file-sharing service named Kazaa. By the way, the latter doesn’t exist anymore.

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The concern of the industry experts, however, is the very fact that the court decided to support the industry’s stand stating that judges can’t reduce a jury’s verdict in copyright lawsuits. So, when the events led to deciding also with respect to copyright industry having to prove actual distribution of the illegal material aside from just making it available on file-sharing portals, the court simply let that one unresolved.

The matter is that this court decision may very well mean the end to 3 industry’s trials against Jammie Thomas unless there’s one more appeal. Actually, the defendant can be credited with the courage to be the first person to ever take the matter to court instead of just settling with the anti-piracy’s lawyers for several thousand dollars.
In the meantime, Joel Tenenbaum is also known as a victim of the other file-sharing case, who refused to settle with the RIAA and challenged the outfit in court. This past May, the Supreme Court decided to uphold the award of $675,000 against the college student guilty of sharing 30 tracks handed down by a federal jury.

The copyright lawsuit in question seemed to be everlasting since 2006, as it has already gone through so many turns. The case had 3 different verdicts: last year a jury awarded the industry $1.5 million, but this amount later got cut back to $54,000 after a judge ruled that the original fine was appalling. Finally, last week the court reinstated the decision which favored RIAA with $222,000 fine

Estonia Will Teach Kids Programming

It seems that the country is hoping to push children into programming from primary school. Media reports reveal that the Estonian Tiger Leap Foundation has recently started a program titled "ProgeTiiger". In frames of this program, students in grades one to twelve will be taught computer programming and creating Internet and mobile apps.

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Estonia, known for giving the world Skype and Playtech, is now going to set its kids onto programming from their very first day at school, though in other countries kids are just mumbling their way through the alphabet during the first year.

According to Tiger Leap Foundation training sphere manager, children are quite interested in modern technology from a very early age, so the ProgeTiiger program is supposed to create prerequisites for kids to shift from consumers of software to its developers.

Thus far, the program is being tested in pilot schools, but the company is planning to roll it out to state schools in the near future. Nevertheless, the first kids to start the programming lessons will be primary school students. This will happen after their teachers pass through corresponding training this month.

In addition, the program includes the programming hobby groups for middle school students, as well as selective courses for high school students.
The country’s Tiger Leap Foundation explained that it launched the project in question because it saw how many enterprises keep struggling to find good programmers. After the program is in force, the outfit thinks it’ll push the country to the forefront of the rest of the Eastern Europe in terms of programming development and growth.

Microsoft Plans to Expand in China

Microsoft is definitely moving its forces behind the bamboo curtain, as the company announced it is going to hire over 1000 personnel in China.

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Despite the fact that Redmond has already hired 4,500 staff in the country, Microsoft claims it needs more people if it hopes to dominate the local market.

In the meantime, industry experts point out that Microsoft actually has a love/hate relationship with this country. The matter is that Microsoft loves the fact that there’re plenty of customers willing to buy its products, but at the same time it hates the fact that most of its potential customers choose software piracy.

According to Ralph Haupter, CEO for Microsoft's Greater China operation, about 1000 new employees will be hired in R&D, sales, marketing and services. The purpose of doing this is clear: the software giant is planning to reach potential Chinese customers like local governments and public institutions, and it needs more people to do so.

In the meantime, Microsoft has been launching lawsuits against a number of the bigger named local companies in a bid to fix its piracy problems. For instance, this past January, the software giant sued Gome Electrical Appliances, the largest electronics retailer in the country, for installing pirated versions of Microsoft’s software on its personal computers.

In addition, Microsoft claimed that it also wants to boost China R&D spending by 15% over 2013. At the moment, the company has $500 million invested every year on research and development in China. Finally, the software giant is currently building a large cloud computing centre in Shanghai which will also require about 600 people to work there.

University of California Launched Lawsuit against Facebook

The University of California has made a decision to join Eolas Technologies to dash off writs to Facebook, Wal-Mart and the Walt Disney based around 4 patents relating to interactive technology. The patents in question include those for hypermedia display and interaction that were issued to the University of California and licensed to Eolas – a Texas-based firm chaired by Michael Doyle.

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Media reports explain that Eolas Technologies was founded to help the University of California commercialize technology which based on the patents that Doyle and his team helped develop during his time of working at the University.

In response, the largest social networking website claimed that it will fight the case vigorously. The experts believe that the case in question is by no means a done deal, since a couple of the patents mentioned in the latest lawsuits had already been declared invalid in the beginning of the year by a Texas jury in a separate lawsuit.

In the previous case a number of the international corporations, including Amazon, Google, and Yahoo, have sent the University of California packing. In the meantime, media reports confirm that Eolas Technologies settled patent litigation with Microsoft five years ago for an undisclosed amount, though the University of California admitted at the time that its share of the settlement amounted to $30,400,000. This endless chain of lawsuits looks confusing for many, and the experts are tired to count which company sues which and why in the field of the intellectual property, but at least the lawyers have something to do, so the economy doesn’t suffer.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What's Inside Apple's New iPhone 5


Apple's iPhone 5 uses chips from Qualcomm , Avago and Skyworks Solutions , according to repair firm iFixit, which pried one open. The latest iPhone, which first went on sale in Australia, has a larger, 4-inch screen and is slimmer and far lighter than previous models. The iPhone 5 supports faster 4G networks thanks to a chip supplied by Qualcomm. It also comes with a number of software updates, including Apple's new in-house maps feature. The latest iPhone includes a new A6 processor that Apple says runs twice as fast as the previous generation. Apple booked over two million online pre-orders for the device in the first 24 hours.



Handout image released by iFixit.com shows different parts of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia 


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows the Qualcomm MDM9615M chip on a board of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia 


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows chips, including the A6 chip, on a board of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia 


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows the logic board and 8 megapixel iSight camera of a new iPhone 5 as other components are seen in its rear case in Melbourne, Australia


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows the A6 chip of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows a new iPhone 5 being opened with a screwdriver in Melbourne, Australia 


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows the logic board being lifted out the rear case of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia 


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows various chips of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows a bracket being unscrewed on a logic board of a new iPhone 5 in Melbourne, Australia 


Handout image released by iFixit.com shows a new iPhone 5 being opened with a screwdriver in Melbourne, Australia