Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category


Private sector's supports

This compilation shows the latest efforts by private companies in addressing flood impacts. Contact achara_d@nationgroup.com.

Beverages for flood victims
Aje Group is boosting capacity of its beverage plants, to cope with rising demand in Thailand.

Hernan Cordova, managing director of Aje Thai Co Ltd – its local unit, said that so far the company has donated beverages worth over Bt2.1 million to flood victims, aside from “Ceilo” drinking water worth over Bt10 million which is distributed through 7 relief centres.

“We hereby extend condolences to Thais in light of the historical floods and goods shortages. In this unfortunate event, Thais help each others and this should be shown to the world. In recognition of Thai hospitality, Aje Thai is giving our beverages to ease the suffering.

Hopefully, the situation will wind up and return to normal soon,” Cordova said.

Goods Fair

Bangkok Bank, in partnership with more than 30 manufacturing customers and business alliances, is hosting an ‘Emergency Shopping Fair’ to sell essential consumer goods at factory prices. Taking place at its headoffice on Silom Road on Nov 11 from 8am to 5pm, the fair features bottled drinking water, soy milk, eggs, salted eggs, chilli paste, canned sardines in tomato sauce, rice, instant noodles, processed and frozen foods, sausages, snacks, cooking oil, kitchenware, plastic buckets, waterproof pants, life vests, sleeping bags, sandals, medical supplies, garbage bags, calcium dioxide, alum, torches and lighters. House renovation advisors will also be on hand at the fair.

Similar events are planned at Bangkok Bank branches to provide convenience and relief to customers and people having difficulty buying essential consumer products during the floods.

Free car auctions

Union Auction Co Ltd will host second-hand car auctions during Nov 15-Dec 31 specially for flood victims. Upon registration for the participation, the car owners will get Bt7,000 from the company and the owners will be waived from operating cost. They will also get a full sum reaped from the auction.

Ekpithaya Iamkhong-ek, president of the company, said that the CSR campaign is open for all types of cars, including those with financial obligations.

“This is part of our CSR campaigns, to help the affected. Normally, we charge both buyers and sellers for the operating cost, but we’ll give the sellers all the operating cost of Bt7,000 collected from buyers,” he said.

He added that all parties should lend a hand when the country suffers from a natural disaster which affects a large number of people. The interested can contact Union Auction at Tel             0-2934-7344       or get more information from www.union-auction.com.

Early bonus payment at Tesco Lotus

Tesco Lotus is paying bonus this month to staff members in level 1 and 2, who represent nearly 95 per cent of its work force. The payment is normally made in December.

HR Director Siriphan Thongtheppairot said that during the flooding crisis, the staff have shown real commitment and dedication to serving customers and getting essential products to them. “I’m delighted that we are able to make this early payment as a way of saying thank you to them for their continued hard work. We hope that this early payment will also go some way to ensuring that these staff members have a speedy improvement and recovery to their personal situation.”

A number of Tesco Lotus have also been personally impacted by the flooding. The company has so far provided nearly Bt28 million wroth of financial aid, 7,000 relief bags, as well as food, temporary accommodation and transportation where needed, worth nearly Bt6.5 million.

Latest help from TMB

TMB Bank provided 15,000 food boxes and clothes to soldiers worth about Bt1.5 million, on top of Bt500,000 cash. To assisted affected soldiers, the bank will also waive principal and interest repayments for three months.

Fujitsu offers free server rental

Fujitsu System Business (Thailand) Ltd will waive rental server fees on flood-affected customers for two months from October, to help customers who are rebuilding business after the floods.

Masaki Kajiyama, president of the Thai unit, said that the program is a collaboration between Fujitsu Business System (Thailand) and Fujitsu Technology Solutions.

UMS in Ayutthaya

Unique Mining Services Plc’s volunteer staff recently visited the flood-damaged community in Tamboon Klong-sa-gae, Ayutthaya province, to donate relief bags to the flood victims. These bags included dried foods, rice, drinking water and other essential items.

UMS is committed to being helpful to community and encouraging all of their employees to participate in social and community activities.

Free SIM to soldiers

Total Access Communication (Dtac) recently handed 500 pre-paid SIM cards worth Bt250,000 to soldiers, who are assisting the rescue and relief efforts in the Greater Bangkok.


(CNN) — A bug in Apple’s mobile operating system allows hackers to take control of iPhone and iPad apps, using them to steal people’s photos, contacts and even send text messages without the device’s user knowing about it, according to a notable computer security researcher.

Charlie Miller, a researcher at Accuvant and one of the world’s best-known Apple hackers, said Tuesday that the bug proves the Apple App Store isn’t as safe as advertised.

“Until now, you could just blindly trust and download as many apps as you wanted and not worry about it,” Miller said in an interview with CNN. “But until they fix this, you really should think twice about any apps you’re downloading, because they could be malicious.”

Miller said he alerted Apple to the bug three weeks ago and the company told him a fix was in the works. Apple did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the apparent security flaw, which Miller explains in detail on YouTube.

He plans to show people how the bug works at an upcoming computer security conference in Taiwan, called SyScan. To date, he has not released details that would allow hackers to take advantage of the apparent security flaw, and he said he has no evidence that hackers have used the hole to manipulate iPhones and iPads.

Miller says he has exposed the bug to prevent a hacker with bad intentions from taking advantage of iPhone and iPad owners.

As thanks for that work, he said, Apple banned him from the iOS developer program for a year.

“I think it’s pretty rude,” he said. “If you think about what I’m doing — I’m pointing out a flaw that would affect everybody and that the bad guys could use to install malware (malicious software). And they’re not paying me, I’m just doing it to be nice.”

He did upload an app, called Instastock, which was armed with this capability, he said. That app only was capable of hurting his own devices, he said, and was uploaded to the App Store to test the bug. “It’s not evil or bad or anything,” he said. “It never even downloads code and runs it unless I run it.” It since has been removed from the App Store.

If hackers found the security flaw, he said, any iOS app could be compromised in a way that malicious code could be installed through the app and onto the device.

“It could grab your address book and ship it off to the bad guy,” he said. “It could grab all your photos and ship them off to a bad guy.”

That’s a big deal for Apple’s App Store, he said, since until now, that online marketplace for iPhone and iPad programs had been free of malicious software. Apple checks each app before it’s approved for sale at the App Store, which allows the company to keep bugs out.

This hack could take advantage of a flaw in that checking system to compromise any app, Miller said. He said that essentially reduces the App Store’s security to that of the Google Android Market, since Google doesn’t screen apps in the way Apple does.

But overall, the App Store is still safer than the Android Market, Miller said.

“It’s totally just a blip,” he said of the security hole. “I’m very happy with the way (Apple has) designed the system to prevent malware. It’s really the ideal situation.”

He added: “It’s a very safe environment except for this. It just shows that you’ve never completely safe.”


Harvard students gather around Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Monday afternoon.

Harvard students gather around Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg Monday afternoon
(CNN) — Mark Zuckerberg went back to Harvard on Monday on a recruiting trip, his first visit since he dropped out of the prestigious university to found social-media giant Facebook.

Clad in his trademark hoodie and T-shirt, Zuckerberg told reporters, “This is a great time to come.”

“There’s a lot of really smart people here, and a lot of them are making decisions on where they are going to work when they graduate in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

The university posted a slickly edited video on YouTube of Zuckerberg’s outdoor remarks.

Zuckerberg quit Harvard and moved to California to found Facebook in 2004. The university’s student newspaper says he was back on campus for the first time since he left to recruit students for internships at Facebook.

Students, not surprisingly, sounded thrilled about the visit.

“If you’ve seen the movie ‘Social Network,’ you know that when Zuckerberg attended a talk by Bill Gates it was a pivotal moment,” Harvard senior Michael Wong told The Boston Globe. “This could be another iteration of that. The next Mark Zuckerberg could be in the audience.”

Harvard students applied for the Facebook internships within seconds of their being posted online, a university official told the Crimson.

Harvard, for its part, was happy to welcome back the billionaire drop-out.

“We’re very happy to have him here. We’ve rolled out the red carpet,” Tania deLuzuriaga, a spokeswoman for the university, said before Zuckerberg’s arrival. “The excitement on campus is palpable. There is a big waiting list of students who want to go to this event and can’t get in. It’s the talk of campus today.”

The meeting serves Facebook’s purpose of looking for new engineers. The site, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, already has more than 2,000 employees.

Zuckerberg “is eager to connect with computer science and engineering students from some of the best schools in the world, and may well be tomorrow’s Facebook innovators,” Facebook’s Andrew Noyes told the Crimson in an e-mail before the visit.

Facebook has grown from a dorm-room project to an international sensation, with more than 800 million people using the social-networking site.

Zuckerberg’s fame has risen in tandem with the site’s success. Last year, the Oscar-winning movie “The Social Network” profiled the somewhat socially awkward king of social media. At a Facebook product release in September, “Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg did impressions of Facebook’s founder on stage


Among the findings in the Technorati
Among the findings in the Technorati “State of the Blogosphere 2011” study: More women are blogging.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mobile marketing is next new media frontier
  • Study finds that women make up 41% of bloggers, up from 36% last year
  • “Blogs are still the center of the social media universe,” expo organizer says
  • More traditional media outlets are using blogs to build brands

Los Angeles (CNN) — The blogosphere — arguably the first engine of the new-media age — is becoming more female, while traditional media is horning in on the blogging action, a new study said Friday.

“It’s healthy and it’s mature,” said Shani Higgins, CEO of Technorati Media, about the state of the blogosphere. “It’s becoming more and more blurred with traditional media: Every traditional media source has a blog and is using a blog to create communities around their topics and articles.”

Among the findings in the Technorati “State of the Blogosphere 2011” study: More women — or fewer men — are blogging, although men still are in the majority at 59%, down from 64% last year, Higgins said.

The annual Technorati study, released Friday at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, is regarded as the blogging industry’s standard-bearer and a measuring stick of its explosive growth over the past decade. The expo is the first and only industry-wide trade show promoting new media, organizers said.

“It cannot be stressed enough that blogs are still the center of the social-media universe,” said Rick Calvert, co-founder and CEO of the expo. Of course, Facebook and Twitter might disagree.

Traditional media outlets have been trying to leverage the popularity of blogs to enhance their brands, Higgins said.

“Go to the websites of The New York Times and CNN, any of them. Blogging is a huge component of what is happening,” Higgins said. “They are bridging the gap between opinion and real-time happenings.

Traditional media see blogs as an opportunity to communicate in a more conversational voice, she said. Those outlets maintain ethical and professional standards in their online postings, but their blogs do “get to be edgy,” Higgins said.

But blogging remains largely a hobby for the vast majority of practitioners, as most can’t afford to quit their day job.

Only 4% of all bloggers say that online writing is their primary source of income. And for those who say they do it full-time, only 37% of those pros say their blogging work is their primary income, according to the study.

As for being on a payroll, only 14% of bloggers receive a salary for blogging, with the average pay being $24,000 a year, the study said. The highest reported salary was $140,000.

For those bloggers who get paid for each posting they write, the majority receive less than $50 per post, and only 6% of professional bloggers get more than $250 per post, the study said.

During the conference, many of the 4,000 participants discussed new media’s next great leap: mobile marketing.

Smart phone users were told of this unfolding future: They’re strolling past their favorite bookstore or restaurant, and suddenly they receive a message about a sale or a coupon.
Or they’re walking past a home for sale and want to know more. The smartphone can scan on the “for sale” sign an image called a QR code — a square graphic conjuring up a resemblance to a jigsaw puzzle — and consumers can have the listing’s details, with a virtual tour.

Some of this future is happening, but it’s on smartphones only. As Americans steadily shift from cell phones to such smartphones as iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys, more and more consumers will enjoy — or dread — the advent of mobile marketing, conference participants said.

This trend of the digital age was being touted at the three-day expo in Los Angeles, which began Thursday.

“What’s funny is that a lot of us have seen ‘Mad Men’ and the birth of advertising and what was happening back then when TV came along. Advertising follows where the audience is. Where there are eyeballs, ears or attention, marketers are going to follow. And mobiles are the next great frontier,” said Calvert.

Yet, the forecasts of how smartphones are the next great frontier are dampened because most Americans don’t own a smartphone — yet.

More than 80% of U.S. adults own a cell phone of any kind, but only 35% own a smartphone, according to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
In another indicator of how the technology is relatively new, virtually all smartphones now include a built-in GPS receiver to enable location tracking, but only 55% of U.S. smartphone owners have used their phone’s GPS to help get local directions or recommendations, the study found.

The GPS technology is at the heart of “geosocial services” and its applications such as Foursquare or Gowalla, where you “check in” to a location.

It’s that technology that will allow retailers to blast out a coupon, discount or other advertisements to the smartphones of people who happen to be in the area — especially when business is slow and the retailer wants foot traffic, according to conference organizers and sponsors.

Some consumers may have already seen the QR, quick response, codes on pieces of mail or other advertisements.

Expected to become as ubiquitous as the UPC codes now seen on merchandise, the QR code is typically a square with a black-and-white image that looks like a partially completed jigsaw puzzle. It’s also called a two-dimensional code.

Scott Monty, global digital and multimedia communications manager for Ford Motor Co., said his firm is going to use the QR codes on the camouflage over the 2012 Escape at the conference. To get a peek under the veil, attendees can use their smartphone to scan the QR code and see an exclusive preview of the car, he said.

The real unveiling of the car will occur later this month at the L.A. Auto Show, Monty said.
The key to a successful QR code is to offer experience consumers want, he said.

“People want to be able to say they have seen or done something first so that they can be seen as an ‘experiencer’ in their group,” Monty said. “They want to seem smart and informed and entertaining, and it’s incumbent on us to give them a smart and informing and entertaining experience.”

This week’s QR code for the Escape will reveal the car’s technology, which is being used for the first time in North America, Monty said.

“Bar codes have been with us for a long time and QR codes give us a different level of data. It’s more of a Web experience than specific product information,” he said.

But many phone users find QR codes a bit alien, he said.

“The challenge right now in using QR codes with mass marketing is that it’s not a mass accepted technology yet,” Monty said.

Mike Callaghan, vice president of digital marketing of Century 21 Real Estate LLC, said smartphone users are starting to find the two-dimensional codes on “for sale” signs outside houses, and even on business cards.

The codes are also increasingly evident in newspaper ads or on billboards. Smartphone users typically have to download an app to enable the QR code scan technology.

“There are some creative ways to use them in the real estate search process,” Callaghan said. “One of the most popular, the one that has a lot of attention from agents and brokers, is to put a QR code on a yard sign and then have the URL link back to property details, images, virtual tours, photos. It’s a very immediate way: Hey, I’m out in front of this place, let me learn more, and let me learn literally what’s behind the door.”


Mark Milian, CNN

(CNN) — The “Call of Duty” franchise is a perennial blockbuster, with more than 65 million units sold so far in the United States and hordes of fans lining up each fall to buy the latest installment of the war-simulation video game.

Now, Activision Publishing will find out whether fans who are accustomed to dropping $60 on a new “CoD” game each year will also cough up an extra $50 to keep their game content fresh.

The much-hyped “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” is set to arrive in stores on Tuesday. As usual, players get inside the helmets of soldiers — in this case, fighting a near-futuristic global war against Russian forces who have invaded multiple countries, including the United States.

The storyline, with battles in London, New York and Paris, is a continuation of its 2009 predecessor.

But “Modern Warfare 3” will be the first game in the series to launch with a new member service called “Call of Duty Elite.”

Players will be able to sign up for a free social network that encapsulates the new game, last year’s “Black Ops” and future “Call of Duty” games. They’ll be able to create a profile that extensively tracks gameplay statistics for multiple “CoD” games across the various console platforms for which they’re available.

Stat systems are typically maintained by console developers, like Microsoft and Sony, which means Xbox 360 gamers cannot rank themselves against PlayStation 3 players. The Elite service bridges that gap, although gamers still will not be able to play against someone using a different type of console.

Elite users will also be able to share videos or screen shots captured within the game and download “Call of Duty” stat-tracking applications to their smartphones or tablets. Microsoft and Bungie maintain a similar dedicated service for “Halo.”

Despite competition this fall from fellow first-person shooter game “Battlefield 3,” which sold 5 million units in its first week, Activision is confident the “Call of Duty” franchise has enough muscle to persuade customers to spend the $50 per year for premium services.

“‘Call of Duty’ is a franchise that’s grown every year of its existence,” Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said in a recent interview. “I think that we are finding that people have a very healthy appetite for content.”

Subscribers will be served a new piece of content they can download each month and use to participate in competitions. The content will include new maps and gameplay modes.

“The things that we’re charging for are things that we really wouldn’t be able to provide if we didn’t,” Hirshberg said. “It’s not modeled after anything. It’s kind of a new entry into the model here.”

Activision has been working on the Elite service, which was previously called Project Beachhead, for two years, Hirshberg has said. The company formed a division called Beachhead Studio to maintain its development. “Black Ops” players were able to beta test Elite until mid-October, when Activision shut down parts of the service in advance of “Modern Warfare 3’s” debut.

Subscription gaming has proliferated in a genre called massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMO, or MMOG), the most prominent being “World of Warcraft.” That game happens to be owned by Activision’s Blizzard arm, allowing the Beachhead team to learn from the pros.

“There are a lot of big brains that we picked down at Blizzard,” Hirshberg said. “They’ve done this kind of relationship with consumers, with gamers, very well, probably better than anybody.”

Sony has tried to marry the first-person shooter genre with vast online worlds in a game called “PlanetSide.” It wasn’t a hit, but the company announced a sequel this summer. Activision believes it has found a sweet spot that won’t muck with the “Call of Duty” formula but will still spur gamers to open their wallets.

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” will be available Tuesday for PCs and the PlayStation3, Xbox 360 and Wii consoles. The game retails for $60 and is rated Mature, meaning it contains content suitable for people ages 17 and older.


A tablet and an iPhone  
Demand for data is putting the squeeze on networks

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A committee of UK MPs has criticised mobile operators for fighting over how to share out the airwaves that will deliver next-generation services.

The radio spectrum auction will provide more bandwidth for operators.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee urged operators to stop delaying the process.

The UK is currently on track to be one of the last European countries to hold its 4G auction. Regulator Ofcom hopes to hold the sale mid-2012.

O2 and Vodafone have threatened legal action if the auction goes ahead in its current form.
John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “Ofcom has had a very difficult job adjudicating between competing and polarised interests, and we are concerned that constant disagreement and special pleading from the four mobile network operators appears to have further delayed the spectrum auction.

“We believe that the basic rules for the auction which Ofcom has laid down are sensible and fair, and that further delays will result in the UK falling further behind in this vital area. The auction needs to proceed as soon as possible,” he added.

Start Quote

MPs have joined in the criticism but they are putting the blame fairly and squarely on the mobile operators”

Spectrum gift
 

The sale of airwaves freed up by the switch-over to digital TV is seen as key to providing the much-needed bandwidth for data services following the exponential rise of smartphones.

The spectrum being auctioned is particularly valuable because it is low frequency and therefore covers greater distances.

It is also better at penetrating buildings, crucial as more consumers use their smartphones to surf the web at home.

Three has always claimed that it is at a disadvantage to the other three operators because it has no 2G spectrum. It also claims it is unfair that the other operators have been “gifted” 2G spectrum by the UK government.

It was further angered by a decision made by Ofcom in January to allow O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere to reuse their 2G spectrum for 3G services.

The select committee looked at that decision and concluded that it had not “permanently distorted the market in favour of those licence holders”.

However it did voice concern that the proposed spectrum sale by Everything Everywhere may result in the company making a substantial profit from a public asset that was granted to it for free.

It said that the government and Ofcom should look into mechanisms to ensure that at least a significant proportion of the proceeds be used to benefit consumers.

Clashes
 
Ofcom has made clear that it wants Three to remain as a competitor in the UK mobile landscape because it has ensured that consumers get innovative services and low prices.
In its proposals for the spectrum auctions the watchdog set mechanisms to ensure that Three got a portion of the 4G spectrum at a minimum price.

This angered O2 and Vodafone who threatened legal action over the floors, claiming they amounted to state-aid for Three.

The committee said that in its view, Ofcom’s proposals were the right ones.

Ofcom also proposed that one of the spectrum licences should have a condition of providing mobile internet coverage to least 95% of the population.

The Committee said that Ofcom should go further to hasten the rollout of broadband and set it at 98%.

It also argued that the regulator should consider applying this obligation to more than one licence.

Ofcom is holding a second consultation, due to end in December, to finalise how the auction should work.

During the course of this month all four mobile operators will meet with the regulator and government to find the best solution to the issue.
……..
BBC


Screengrab of Newzbin 2, BBC  
Newzbin claims it is unaffected by the block

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BT has started blocking access to the controversial website Newzbin 2.

But the group behind the site claims that its users are still able to access it via a workaround that it issued in September.

Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which aggregates a large amount of the illegally copied material found on Usenet discussion forums.

Last month the movie industry won the right to impose blocks via BT.

BT told the BBC that the block had come into force on 2 November.

It is implementing the blocks by tweaking software developed to prevent users from finding websites showing images of child abuse.

“Newzbin have offered their customers a client for over a month that they claim will bypass Cleanfeed. However we’re not in a position to comment on whether that claim is true or not,” said a spokesman.

The group behind Newzbin 2 commented: “We’ve heard that the British Telecom censorship of the free web has begun.”

It told the BBC that 93.5% of its active UK users have downloaded the workaround software.
It is not willing to reveal how the code attempts to get around the Cleanfeed block.

However, tests run by website TorrentFreak found that the program relies on encryption to hide communication between users and Newzbin2.

Another technique it uses is to route all traffic through a well-established system known as TOR, which masks the identity of users and what they are trying to look at.

TorrentFreak reports that some users are getting an error message when attempting to access the site.

Some are able to get to it by typing the raw IP address into their browser, while others are relying on the anti-blocking software provided by Newzbin.

Copyright infringement
 
The court case against BT was brought by the Motion Picture Association and is the first of its kind in the UK.

It is expected that other ISPs will be taken to court in coming months in order to impose further blocks on the site.

The MPA has described Newzbin as a “criminal organisation whose business model is based on wholesale copyright infringement”.

The first version of the Windows program Newzbin2 members will use to get at the site was released in September. Versions for Apple’s OSX and Linux are planned.

“Newzbin2 shall go on, its users shall continue to access the site and its facilities,” the Newzbin team told the BBC.

“Nothing has changed and they [the MPA] have no change after paying millions of dollars in legal fees,” it added.
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BBC