Google recently announced a new look for the GMail client on the iPhone (and Android).

The new interface is pretty intuitive, and pleasing to the eye. However, since GMail supports free IMAP, I use the built-in email client to check my email.

The new architecture involves more usage of the internal database on the iPhone to cache data. This reduces the number of calls to the server, which is more than handy when on EDGE or 3G. According to their blog, they’ve even implemented some HTML5 features.

Related Link:

Official Gmail Blog: A new mobile Gmail experience for iPhone and Android.

The April Fools’ Worm, or Conficker has been in the news for a few weeks now. This is one of the few times since Y2K that a date was important. People around the world braced for April 1, 2009 – the worm was supposed to wake up and cause havoc of epic proportions. That never happened. Maybe the author(s) were waiting till people’s defenses were lowered. Maybe it woke up early and no one knows what it’s doing (the sheer possibilities send a shiver down my spine).

It’s not like this came out of the blue. The author(s) took advantage of a vulnerability in Windows, specifically crafting a RPC call sent to the Server service. This practically has a potential to affect all Windows machines. Microsoft issued a patch way back in October 2008 (6 months ago!) with the recommendation that customers apply the update Immediately.

It is understandable that there are a number of individual users who are not computer-savvy and don’t have automatic updates turned on. I think Microsoft should build in intelligence within their operating systems to determine what kind of users the OS is dealing with. If a user appears to be ignorant of computer security and safety, then the level of nagging should increase – maybe disable certain OS features until they install updates.

The area where I am really surprised is with corporations and institutions. The fact that there are a number of infected computers, professionally managed by IT staff, is appalling. It was reported that 800 computers were affected at the University of Utah (link below). Why weren’t these computers patched with MS08-067 back in October? This is the same question I ask of companies who have affected machines (or will be affected in future). I understand that these patches have to be tested and verified before deploying to all servers and other computers. But, if it takes over 6 months to deploy a “immediate” patch, it is ridiculous.

Cyberthreats are to be taken very seriously. A new form of terrorism, cyber-terrorism is brewing. By not closing security holes immediately, you’re only increasing opportunity and aiding terrorists/virus-writers/spammers/cybercriminals. ALL companies must review their IT policies with respect to safety & security – and patch deployment and maintenance.

Individuals can do their part by ensuring the following:

  • Update your computer regularly. Turn on automatic updates if you think you can’t deal with manual updates.
  • Have anti-virus software installed and updated regularly. If you don’t want to spend money, there are some good free anti-virus software like AVG and avast!
  • Do not open files received by someone you don’t know.
  • Do not open files that are reported as viruses/worms, even if you receive it from someone you know. Spammers are known to spoof their aliases.
  • Don’t install software if prompted by a web site (unless you’re specifically trying to download and install a particular software)

Microsoft Virus Alert about Win32/Conficker.B worm ::

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 (published October 23, 2008) ::

Conficker Worm Hits University Of Utah ::

Best Free Antivirus Software ::

Last weekend, I was watching an online video, when my custom-built desktop machine suddenly shut down. I attempted to boot it up, and it shut down within 5 seconds. It was apparent that it was a hardware problem. The lack of POST beep pretty much confirmed this.

A lot of forum-surfing led me to believe that one or both of my RAM sticks were fried. I unseated both RAM sticks and booted the machine. There was a lot of beeping (expected due to missing RAM), but it shut down within a few seconds. RAM wasn’t the issue.

Other suggestions on the forum were related to the power supply (PSU), graphics card and CPU. The fact that I had a display meant that the nVidia 8800 GTS graphics card was just fine. I also have a 520W PSU which is more than enough. Moreover, this machine ran fine for over a year and a half.

The next time I booted the machine, I had just enough time to get into the BIOS Health Status page – CPU was at 50C and rising … and then the machine shut down. Further inspection revealed that the CPU fan had become a little loose from the motherboard. I reseated the CPU fan (after ensuring that the silica gel silicon paste (thermal paste) [thanks Amit for pointing out the error] layer was fine), and rebooted the machine. CPU temperature was under control and there are no more issues!

Interesting Wikipedia stat: 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive.

While researching for a topic, I was led to Wikipedia. I noticed that they had almost reached the $6,000,000 figure they were targeting for donations. ($5,775,345 at the time of writing this).

Just before this round of appeals, there was an earlier donation appeal (and I think, one earlier as well). Given the track record, and current state of the economy, I doubt this will be the last of donation appeals.

Why does the Wikimedia foundation (who run Wikipedia) not want to place any ads on Wikipedia? If Wikipedia places a simple text link ad (Adsense?) on their pages, they can earn millions every month.

Wikipedia receives over 10 billion page views a month. For the sake of calculation, I will consider 10 billion page views exactly. Typical Adsense CPM for big sites is $5-$10 (not a proven stat – this is just the consensus).  That translates to $50-100 million a month! Even consider a 10% fraction (a very unrealistic $0.50 CPM) and it is still $5-10 million a month.

Is the Wikimedia foundation afraid to take on that much money? Are they afraid that they will be served with all sorts of lawsuits (copyright, defamation, piracy, etc…) when they see some green? Isn’t that what happened with YouTube when Google bought them? No one wanted to sue a small YouTube company, with no money. Once Viacom & co. saw the money in Google’s kitty, they attacked!

Here are some options for Wikimedia to earn just enough ad money:

  • Show ads at random intervals of time.
  • Show ads at the beginning of the month and stop when the monthly goal is reached.
  • Only select important pages to show ads.
  • Provide affiliate links to Amazon (or similar companies) for books, CDs, videos, etc… and venture other affiliate opportunities.

Or why don’t they just share money with contributors? One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) that people stop contributing is the lack of financial reward. Editing a wiki is exciting at first, but the amount of time that has to be invested, especially in this kind of economy, is not appealing to many people. The sheer statistics are overwhelming. There are a little over 8.5 million registered Wikipedia users and just under 150,000 active users (users who have a logged action in the past 30 days). In other words, 98.3% of users have become inactive. Why? 98.3% …. that is staggering. TANSTAAFL – the acronym for the popular, and very true adage “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.

Wikimedia Foundation – it is time you start making money and rewarding people, starting with your employees.

To close, here is a tid-bit from the archives (March 2002) where Jimmy Wales talks about advertising:

Therefore, all plans to put advertising of any kind on the
wikipedia is called off for now.

We will move forward with plans for a nonprofit foundation to own
wikipedia, and possibly to solicit donations and grants to help us
carry out our mission.  (Ironically, I think that grant money would
come with many annoying strings attached, which we could not accept,
comparted to advertising money, which is virtually 100% string-free.)


W3C Logo

HTML5 is currently in the draft stage, and the latest specification is available at the W3C web site. User experience on the Internet will change for sure, and here’s why:

1. Persistent Local Storage: Two different mechanisms are introduced for local storage, not including cookies. Name/Value pairs can be stored easily. But, more significantly, the introduction of a local database that supports SQL makes life a lot easier for web developers. However, this opens up a whole new world of security risks.

2. APIs: A bunch of APIs have been introduced that support local database interaction (mentioned above), dynamic bitmap drawing, interaction with multimedia content, drag-n-drop, network interaction and cross-document messaging.

3. <audio> and <video> tags: In HTML 4, audio and video content had to be embedded using the <embed> tab. This grouped multimedia content with plug-in content. By having their own tags, a lot of flexibility can be offered – including their own APIs.
===>> Click HERE to Read More < <===

Yahoo! aims to have a more social web page. This is a desperate attempt by Yahoo! to get back into the portal business. Some of the business decisions by Yang & Co. have come under fire in the last few months.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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