Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sony PlayStation relaunch begins

Sony has announced that it will begin restoring its online PlayStation video game network on Sunday.
The phased restoration of services will begin in the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.
The move comes more than three weeks after Sony discovered a huge security breach that led to the theft of personal data from millions of users.
The firm said its expects to have the network, including Qriocity services, fully restored by the end of May.
The restoration of Japanese and Asian services would begin soon, it added.'Aggressive actio
The news of PlayStation Network's restart will be welcomed by gamers, many of whom were beginning to give up hope of it ever reappearing.
However porous the company's internet security was previously, you can bet it has now seriously beefed-up safeguards.
But that in itself creates a new problem.
There is nothing hackers love more than a challenge, and cracking the PlayStation Network for a second time will almost certainly become one of the holy grails for these electronic invaders.
Sony will be under no illusions that there is such a thing as perfect security, but the mere suggestion that its system has been "fixed" makes it a hostage to fortune.
Another breach would be disastrous for the beleaguered company.
In gaming parlance, Sony has used up all its lives, and the enemy is still at the gates.
Sony said it had implemented "new and additional security measures" that would provide users with better protection.
These were designed in conjunction with a number of external security firms, the company said, and include increased encryption levels and additional firewalls.
"I'd like to send my sincere apologies for the inconvenience this incident has caused you, and want to thank you for all the kind patience you've shown as we worked through the restoration process," said Kazuo Hirai, Sony's executive deputy president.
He added the company was taking "aggressive action" to resolve the security issues and was making "consumer protection a full-time, company-wide commitment".
The company said it would be offering a "welcome back" package to users that included some "premium content".
Sony first discovered the security breach, which led to the theft of personal data from 100m online accounts, on 20 April.
Many users were upset about the company taking two days to contact the police and almost a week to inform those people affected.
Sony hired outside specialist cyber-security firms to investigate the breach, and earlier this month blamed the online vigilante group Anonymous for indirectly allowing it.
The group has denied being involved in the theft.

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HP unveils first Wi-Fi mouse

Hewlett Packard has announced a ground-breaking new mouse.
The HP Wi-Fi Mobile Mouse is the first to connect to your computer using Wi-fi technology according to the company, eliminating the need for an additional dongle.
The mouse features five customisable buttons and a four way told scroll wheel. It also has a battery life of up to 9 months, say HP.
The HP WiFi Mouse can connect up to 30 feet away, and it will go on sale in the US in June and will retail for $49.99,  (£30 GBP).
Th HP press release for the mouse can be found at;

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Thursday, 12 May 2011

Google Chrome notebooks available next month

Google has announced that the first Google Chrome OS notebooks will be available next month.
Acer and Samsung are both set to launch Chrome OS devices as early as June 15th.
Samsung’s device will sport a 12.1-inch screen with an 8-hour battery life, while Acer’s device will be a 11.6-inch display and a 6.5-hour battery life. Samsung’s device will retail for $429 (£263) for the Wi-Fi version and $499 (£305) for the 3G version. Acer’s more portable notebook will start at $349 (£214) and up.

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Security warning for Chrome and Firefox users

Security firm Context has warned users of Chrome and Firefox browsers to turn off their WebGL tool following 'significant' security problems.
Part of the HTML5 Canvas functionality, WebGL is a rendering engine that allows 3D images and animations without plugins. It is used in the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, as well as the newest builds of Safari.
“The risks stem from the fact that most graphics cards and drivers have not been written with security in mind so that the interface (API) they expose assumes that the applications are trusted,” says Michael Jordon, research and development Manager at Context.

“While this may be true for local applications, the use of WebGL-enabled browser-based applications with certain graphics cards now poses serious threats from breaking the cross-domain security principle to denial-of-service attacks, potentially leading to full exploitation of a user’s machine.”
Techdows have published details of how to disable WebGL on
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Microsoft release Games for Windows

Microsoft has released Games for Windows 3.5.0050.0.
The new games package promises quality branded titles that have undergone extensive testing to deliver reliabilty and performance.
The download is available free and is compatible with Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7 / XP64 / Vista 64 / Windows 7 64
Download from or
Filename; gfwlivesetup.exe

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Microsoft to buy Skype for $8.5 billion

Microsoft has agreed to buy Internet phone service provider Skype for $8.5 billion in cash, the companies announced Tuesday.
Skype -- currently owned by a group led by private equity firm Silver Lake -- will become a new business unit within Microsoft, which will be run by Tony Bates, the company's current chief executiv
Microsoft said it plans to incorporate Skype's real-time video and voice communications into its existing product lines, including Office, Windows Phone and the Xbox gaming system.
As the largest acquisition in its history, the deal marks a significant change in strategy for Microsoft, which has not bought another company since 2006.
"Today is a big day for Microsoft and Skype, as well as businesses and consumers around the world," said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. The goal, he said, is to "empower people around the world with technology that will bring them together."
Skype has become one of the most recognizable brands in the Internet communication business. It draws 600,000 new registrations every day, and has had annual revenue growth of 40%, according to Microsoft.
The company, based in Luxembourg, filed for a $100 million IPO last year. But the actual offering was delayed, and rumors surfaced last week that the company was in talks with Microsoft and Facebook.
"We're in a very special place in the industry," said Bates, adding that Skype has 100 million users that log 100 minutes each month.

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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Japanese lab invents Internet kissing machine

We admit to being sort of creeped out by this: A Japanese lab has created a device that may let let you "French kiss" someone over the Internet.
And by "kiss," we mean waggle your tongue on a plastic straw, thereby making another plastic straw waggle remotely on someone else's tongue.
Hot, huh?
Well, the folks at Tokyo's Kajimoto Laboratory say it's just the beginning of what could become a full-on person-to-person experience over the Internet.
The lab, part of The University of Electro-Communications, posted a video in which a researcher demonstrates the "Kiss Transmission Device." It's a motorized box that looks a little like a police Breathalyzer.
Watch the video of the "Kiss Transmission Device"
In the video, Nobuhiro Takahashi, a graduate student and researcher at the university, manipulates the plastic tube on one device with his tongue. A program stores the movements on a computer and then transmits them to another device, causing its tube to move -- presumably in someone else's mouth.
The idea is to help lovers -- in long-distance relationships, say -- by transmitting the tactile sensation of kissing from one person to another. The lab is running both devices on the same computer, but says a system could be set up to connect them via the Web.
"Kiss information" can be recorded and replayed, presumably meaning someone could save and share a "kiss" over and over.
"For example, if you have a popular entertainer use this device and record it, that could be hugely popular if you offer it to fans," Takahashi says. (Can you say, "Justin Bieber"?)
The researchers seem to realize that most people might not exactly find licking a plastic tube a suitable replacement for sucking face. But there are refinements on the way, they say.
"The elements of a kiss include the sense of taste, the manner of breathing and the moistness of the tongue," Takahashi said. "If we can re-create all of those, I think it will be a really powerful device."

Facebook paying users 10 cents to watch certain ads

 Facebook on Thursday introduced a program that, in effect, offers consumers a financial incentive to watch ads on the site.
Facebook will now reward users who watch certain ads on the site with Facebook Credits, which can be redeemed to purchase goods on Facebook Deals, the company's new Groupon-like daily deals service.
The incentive, however, is not huge. Initially at least, the average ad will yield one credit, which is the equivalent of 10 cents.
The ads will mostly be in games. CrowdStar, Digital Chocolate and Zynga are among the participating game publishers. Facebook is working with Sharethrough, SocialVibe, Epic Media and SupersonicAds to serve ads on the program as well as TrialPay, which will provide analytics.
Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough, says that Facebook's move represents "a step away from interruptive advertising." Greenberg, whose clients include Microsoft and Nestle, says his network won't deliver traditional advertising, but rather branded entertainment, which consumers will want to not only watch, but share with their friends.
Incentivizing consumers to watch ads is one solution for Facebook's low banner click-through rates. The move comes after Facebook expanded its Credits program last week to let consumers use the Credits to buy real-world goods advertised in Deals.
Previously, the credits, which were awarded for consumers who signed up for various programs (like magazine subscriptions) or bought outright could only buy virtual goods.


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Facebook to buy Skype?

Tech website Mashable has reported rumours that Facebook are contemplating a Skype buyout.
According to Reuters' sources, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is talking to Skype about either buying the company outright or forming a joint venture,.
Reports suggest the buyout would cost $3 -$4 billion.
Another report said that Google are also interested in Skype.
Skype has reportedly stated; “As a practical matter, we avoid commenting on rumor and speculation.”

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Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sony to resume some PlayStation gaming services

Sony has said it will resume some services on its PlayStation Network, which was shut after the theft of personal details of about 77m users.
Sony officials said they had boosted the security of their computer systems after user names, email addresses and log-in details were stolen.
Executives, including Kazuo Hirai, the head of Sony's PlayStation unit, apologised for the security breach.
The theft has prompted legal action and investigations in the US and Europe.
"The organisation has worked around the clock to bring these services back on line and are doing so only after we had verified increased levels of security across our networks," said Mr Hirai in a statement.
He is seen as the frontrunner to take over as head of Sony Corp.

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Monday, 25 April 2011

Google fined $5m over Linux patent row

A judgement by a Texas jury against Google could have major implications for the search giant and the open source world said experts.
The internet titan was found guilty of infringing a patent related to the Linux kernel and fined $5m (£3.2m).
The software is used by Google for its server platforms and could also extend to its Android mobile platform.
The kernel is at the core of the open-source operating system meaning this verdict could be far-reaching.
The case resulted in a victory for a firm called Bedrock Computer Technologies which has also sued Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, and AOL.
"The amount of the fine is not what makes this an important issue," intellectual property activist Florian Mueller told BBC News.
"This is a modest amount considering Google is probably the largest scale Linux user in the world.
"The implication here is really that there is a huge number of Linux users who will be required to pay royalties if this patent holder knocks on their doors in the US. This is definitely a major impediment to the growth of Linux and makes companies, including Google, that rely on open source code particularly vulnerable to patent threats."
That is also the view of other industry watchers who expect a flood of lawsuits against companies who rely on open source code.
"Those looking to cash in on buried patents need only spend time poring over code and looking for infringements," said Christopher Dawson of technology blog ZDNet.

Yahoo buys TV sharing app IntoNow

Yahoo has announced a deal to buy TV-sharing start-up company IntoNow as part of its plans to increase its social media presence.
The financial terms of the deal, including price, were not disclosed.
IntoNow's software allows users to identify TV shows and share them with friends using mobile internet.
Amid falling revenue and profits, Yahoo is looking to expand into the mobile internet market, and to increase video advertising on the site.
"Relying on social channels as a means for discovering content - whether it's on a PC, mobile device, or TV - is rapidly on the rise," said Bill Shaughnessy at Yahoo.
"IntoNow's technology combines the ability to check-in to what a consumer is watching, engage in conversations, and find related content."
The application is integrated with Facebook, Twitter, iTunes and Netflix.
Launched in January this year, California-based IntoNow is led by Adam Cahan, a former executive at Google and Viacom's MTV.
Last week, Yahoo reported profits of $223m (£137m) for the first three months of 2011, down from $310m last year.
However, the figure was better than analysts had expected.

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Officials in Iran say they have found a computer virus designed to target the country's government institutions.
The malicious software - dubbed Stars - was capable of inflicting minor damage, according to the head of Iran's civil defence organisation.
If the reports are accurate, it would be the second major attack in a year.
The recently discovered Stuxnet worm is thought to have been created to take control of equipment used in Iran's nuclear programme.
It would take some time to establish Stars' intended purpose, said Gholam Reza Jalali, military head of the Iranian Passive Defence Organisation.
"The Stars virus has been presented to the laboratory but is still being investigated," he said.
"No definite final conclusions have been reached."
Mr Jalali revealed that the virus could have been "mistaken for executive files of governmental organisations", but gave no indication about who might be behind the attack.
Last week, the same official suggested that Stuxnet was the work of the United States and warned that it could have caused large-scale accidents and loss of life.
Stuxnet first came to light in July 2010. Analysis by security firm Symantec showed that, while it could be transmitted via the internet, it was designed to infect specific types of industrial controllers.

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Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Army's first smartphone? Android, of course

 I was recently in Fort Knox, Kentucky, to visit my nephew in Army Basic Training, where my sister gave him a basic Tracphone so he could call home more easily.
But he might soon be getting a substantial upgrade: The U.S. Army announced that it has chosen the Android operating system to power its first smartphone.
This news comes just about when (according to the timeline set forth by Sarah Connor in "The Terminator" franchise) the world-dominating, human-exterminating computer network Skynet becomes self aware.
I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
Wired's Danger Room blog reports, "A prototype device running Android called the Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P Handheld), developed by tech nonprofit MITRE, is undergoing tests."
This platform will allow soldiers to quickly and (hopefully) securely share geotagged notes about obstacles they encounter on the ground. It will also support mapping, critical messaging and other support functions.
The Army announcement explained that the JBC-P Handheld is an "Android-based smartphone framework and suite of applications for tactical operations. ... Applications will be secure and interoperable with existing mission command systems so information flows seamlessly across all echelons of the force."
Third-party developers will be building apps and services for this Army smartphone. In July, the Army will release a development kit for the platform.
The Army wants applications that share data and resources across the platform, to avoid the "stovepiping" problems that have plagued so many military and government information technology projects.
Systems integration is key: It could allow soldiers on the ground to fine-tune targeting for missiles and other munitions, as well as request specific aerial drone or satellite reconnaissance. It might also borrow from supply-chain software to manage requests for equipment and supplies. And it could support or enhance field medical treatment, as well as all kinds of in-field training.
Rather than sign up for thousands of pricey two-year wireless carrier contracts, the JBC-P Handhelds will communicate over several existing military radio networks.
When connected to the radio, the prototype device weighs about 2 pounds. That's considerably heavier than the current heftiest smartphone, the HTC ThunderBolt (6.23 ounces). Still, Wired notes that it's "way lighter than the Nett Warrior suite of sensors, computers, radios and mapping functions -- the Army's program of record for doing much of what a smartphone already does."
Battery technology and power management have been big problems for commercial smartphones. Bright displays (often necessary in full daylight) and GPS are notorious energy vampires that leave many smartphone owners hunting for outlets on a daily basis.
In the field, military smartphones would require far more power than commercial models, and they'd have to operate for much longer periods. It'll be interesting to see what battery and charging options (including possibly solar and hand-crank) are supplied with these new Army phones.
Also, military smartphones must be far more rugged than commercial models, able to withstand sand, dust, water, temperature extremes, impact, concussion and more. Microphones that don't get destroyed by loud blasts will be crucial, as will noise filtering for incoming and outgoing audio (something most commercial smartphones generally do poorly).
The Army did not specify whether the phones will come with unlimited text messaging. I hope a remote wipe service comes standard.
The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of Amy Gahran.
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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Amazon fault takes down websites

Scores of well-known websites have been unavailable for large parts of Thursday because of problems with Amazon's web hosting service.
Foursquare, Reddit and Quora were among the sites taken offline by the glitch.
Amazon EC2 is the retailer's cloud computing business. It provides processing power and storage to companies that do not have their own data centres.
No reason has so far been given for the outage.
Visitors to the website of location-based social network Foursquare were greeted by an apology.
"Our usually amazing datacentre hosts, Amazon EC2, are having a few hiccups this morning, which affected us and a bunch of other services that use them.
"Everything looks to be getting back to normal now," read the statement.

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iPhone sales double in 2011

The sales of iphones has nearly doubled Apple's profits in the first 3 months of 2011.
Net income for the three months to March jumped 85% on the same period a year ago, with iPhone sales of 18.65m - a rise of 113%.

Apple reported quarterly net profits of $5.99bn (£3.6bn), 95% up on the $3bn it made a year ago. Revenue was $24.67bn, a rise of 83%.
However, iPad sales have been below expectations, selling only 4.69m in the first quarter, and iPod sales also fell by 17%.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a statement: "With quarterly revenue growth of 83% and profit growth of 95% we're firing on all cylinders."
Mr Jobs, who went on medical leave in January with an undisclosed illness, continued: "We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year."

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Microsoft's Office 365 available for public testing

Office 365, Microsoft's set of business tools that includes an online-only option, opened up for a public round of beta testing on Tuesday.
The office suite includes Exchange, Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Lync Server, among other web-based productivity tools.
In conjunction with the beta release, Windows opened the Office 365 Marketplace, an online store where customers can add apps and services from Microsoft and partner companies to their accounts.
The major shift Microsoft is pushing with this round of its widely used office tools is the ability to use them via cloud computing. The most basic version of the new Office 365, as it stands, would be completely web-based, with no desktop tools required.
That service would cost $6 a month for each user.
By making the tools available remotely, Microsoft would let users access the suite from any device that's enabled to do so. (And what office doesn't want to make it easer to take your work home with you, right?).
Cloud-based computing like this has been a major push for Microsoft in recent months.
"We are betting big on the cloud with our most successful product, and we are investing heavily both in the product engineering side and the physical infrastructure side," Tim O'Brien, Microsoft's senior director of platform strategy, said last year when the company first unveiled a Web-based version of its Office software.
Office 365 was opened for closed, or invitation-only, testing last fall. Microsoft says more than 100,000 organizations signed on to put it through its paces.
Parties interested in the Office 365 beta can apply to join the beta test on Microsoft's site.

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BlackBerry PlayBook strong, well-priced

 You need three things to compete with Apple’s iPad tablet computer: A gorgeous, easy-to-use device that people will love, a bustling app store and an attractive price tag.
Nobody has been able to match the iPad thus far. But the PlayBook, the first effort from BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion, has emerged as one of the strongest contenders.
On the surface, the PlayBook looks similar to other iPad competitors: Its slick touch screen measures 7 inches diagonally, smaller than the iPad’s but comparable with those of others. It has front and rear cameras for snapping photos and video conferencing and a black rubberized plastic back and sides.
What’s different is the software powering the PlayBook. Most non-iPad tablets use Google’s Android software; RIM developed its own – a smart decision, yielding a device that is a pleasure to navigate and filled with cool features. Although RIM’s software was built from scratch, it has hints of the BlackBerry phone’s interface.
When it goes on sale on Tuesday, the cheapest version will cost $499 – the same as the cheapest iPad. It comes with Wi-Fi capabilities and 16 gigabytes of memory. A model with 32 GB will cost $599, and the 64 GB version will go for $699. Sprint plans a version that works over cellular connections this summer, rivaling the ability of different iPad models to connect to the Verizon or AT&T network.
Unfortunately, the PlayBook isn’t yet much of a competitor on the app front: There are just 3,000 applications currently optimized for the tablet, and during my testing it appeared unable to download App World apps available for BlackBerry smartphones.
By contrast, there are more than 65,000 apps available for the iPad, which can also run iPhone apps (Apple offers more than 350,000 apps total). And while it’s unclear exactly how many tablet-specific Apps there are for Android, Android tablets can run any of the more than 150,000 apps in the Android Market.
But the PlayBook aims to catch up, in a way: Later this year, it will be able to run Android apps, too.
In my hands, the PlayBook felt solid and easy to use. There are just a few buttons on the top for adjusting volume and playing or pausing music or videos. There’s also a tiny button for turning on the device – so teeny, in fact, that I regretted trimming my nails right before testing.
Finding my way around the PlayBook was delightfully easy and fast because it has a speedy processor.
At the top of the main page sit device settings and alerts for things such as software updates. Across the bottom, you see a scroll of apps that you can swipe through or expand to fill the screen by swiping a finger upward.
In the middle of the screen are small thumbnails of your open apps; you can slide your finger left or right to sort through these and pick or dismiss them with a tap or a flick.
One cool feature: Open apps remain active even when you’re looking at them from this view. So if you open the camera and later sort through your open apps, the viewfinder will still be working in the tiny thumbnail of the camera app.
Even though the PlayBook is smaller than the iPad, its screen was bright, colors looked rich and images were sharp. I felt immersed watching videos – a combination of the excellent display and simple frame surrounding.
The PlayBook supports Flash video playback – something the iPad doesn’t do – and HTML5 for rich video content. Thus, you can browse the Web much the way you do on a computer. There are a few annoying quirks: For example, the PlayBook took a long time when scrolling through long documents or Web pages.
In general, though, the PlayBook’s screen was very touch sensitive, and I especially liked how the PlayBook takes advantage of it. Instead of hitting the power button to wake up the device, you can make one long swipe upward with a finger.
When using an application, a long upward swipe will bring you back to the main page that shows the settings and your applications. Make a hard swipe to the left or right to flip through your other open applications. Another neat trick: You can zoom in on Flash videos by spreading two fingers on the screen.
Like so many other tablets, the PlayBook includes cameras for taking photos and videos and for video chatting. On the rear, the PlayBook sports a pretty simple 5-megapixel camera that took decent photos (no flash, though) and videos. The 3-megapixel front camera is probably more suited to video calls. I wasn’t able to try it, though, as RIM isn’t planning to roll out a video chat app until after the device is available.

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Yahoo plans to keep search records for 18 months

Yahoo plans to extend the amount of time it retains records on what its users search for online, less than two and a half years after breaking from the other big Internet search engines and promising to delete such data promptly.
The new policy brings the company in line with Google Inc., which dominates the industry and failed to follow Yahoo Inc.’s lead when it shortened the amount of time that it keeps online search records to 90 days in most cases.
Beginning this summer, after notifying customers, Yahoo will join Google in keeping search logs for 18 months.
Yahoo said it will consider keeping other types of information about its users for longer durations, too. The company’s announcement Friday comes amid mounting unease about the vast amounts of personal information that companies are scooping up online – including Internet search records, Web surfing habits, pages views and ad clicks. That information is used to personalize Web content and target online advertising.
But privacy watchdogs fear that as companies store this information, they are compiling vast databases that could become easy targets for government surveillance, identity theft and online scams – as well as marketing.
Government officials are starting to take note. The Commerce Department has called for a ‘‘privacy bill of rights’’ for Internet users, and the Federal Trade Commission has proposed a ‘‘Do Not Track’’ tool to let consumers stop or restrict advertisers from studying their online behavior to target ads.
Several lawmakers have also introduced bills to set ground rules for companies that collect consumer data online.           In late 2008, Yahoo became the first major Internet search engine to commit to ‘‘anonymizing’’ a wide range of user data after 90 days in most cases.
Microsoft Corp., which powers Yahoo’s search results under a partnership reached last year, followed in early 2010 with its own pledge to anonymize search records after six months.
Yahoo anonymizes the data by stripping out portions of users’ numeric Internet addresses, altering small tracking files known as ‘‘cookies’’ and deleting other potential personally identifiable information. Under the new policy, Yahoo will keep such personally identifiable data for the full 18 months before anonymizing the records.
“Yahoo is absolutely backtracking from what had been an industry-leading position,” said Erica Newland, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a privacy watchdog group based in Washington.
Anne Toth, who oversees privacy matters at Yahoo as its chief trust officer, said the company is operating in a different competitive environment today – with social networking sites, mobile apps and other online services all battling for consumer attention.
To keep up, she said, Yahoo needs to be able to offer its own highly personalized services – including online shopping recommendations, customized news pages and search tools that can anticipate what users are looking for. To pick out patterns for such personalization, Toth said, Yahoo needs to analyze a larger set of data on user behavior.
But Newland said Yahoo’s policy change underscores the need for government-imposed limits, rather than the self-regulation the industry largely enjoys now. She said the pressure on Internet companies to mine consumer data for commercial purposes has produced to “a race to the bottom” in privacy protection.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

European Union to investigate net-neutrality concerns

The European Union is to investigate whether internet service providers (ISPs) are providing fair access to online services.
It may lead to new rules banning ISPs from restricting access to data-heavy services during peak periods.
ISPs argue that traffic management is key to maintaining a quality service.
However, the EU's annnouncement falls short of the demands of net-neutrality campaigners, who want all traffic to be treated equally.
The investigation will cover both mobile and fixed providers and will be published by the end of the year.
Announcing the action, the EU's commissioner for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: "I am absolutely determined that everyone in the EU should have the chance to enjoy the benefits of an open and lawful internet, without hidden restrictions or slower speeds than they have been promised.
"The Commission has asked the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec) to undertake a rigorous fact-finding exercise on issues crucial to ensuring an open and neutral internet."
She added that the investigation will also ask businesses and consumers to highlight shortcomings, and if the findings indicate "outstanding problems" they will assess further measures.

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Court results put on Twitter by West Midlands Police

Results from cases heard at Birmingham Magistrates' Court have been put on Twitter by West Midlands Police.
Ch Supt Stephen Anderson said there had been a decline in court reporting in recent years.
He said the initiative was designed to make the public more aware of the cases police dealt with.
The force sent its own staff into court for a morning on Tuesday to cover the cases and post them online minutes after they had concluded.
It said the updates on the micro-blogging site were the first ever "tweet-a-thon" from a justice centre.
The tweets from the Grade I-listed Victorian courthouse were posted on Tuesday morning.
Police said they had received a "really positive" response from the public.
Their final tweet from court was: "Morning court session finished, hope today's court tweeting has been interesting. Watch this space for more court tweeting soon."
Among the first cases the force tweeted about were a woman accused of stealing flour and cucumber from a shop and a 58-year-old man who admitted a charge of drinking and driving.

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Apple sues Samsung for 'copying' iPhones and iPad

Apple is suing its rival Samsung Electronics for allegedly copying the design of its iPad and iPhone.
It claims Samsung's Galaxy range of mobile phones and tablet "slavishly" copy the iPhone and iPad, according to court papers.
Apple's claims focus on Galaxy's design features, such as the look of its screen icons.
Samsung said it had conducted its own research and development and would contest the allegations.
'Blatant copying'
Galaxy products use Google's Android operating system, which directly competes with Apple's mobile software.
As well as being a competitor, Samsung supplies Apple with microchips that are used in some Apple products, such as the A4 and A5 processors, as well as memory chips used in MacBook Pro computers.


Nasa backs 'shuttle successors'

Nasa has given an indication of the companies it thinks may be closest to offering commercial systems to carry American astronauts into space.
With its shuttles about to retire, the agency has offered $270m (£166m) of funds to four firms to help them mature designs for new orbiting vehicles.
Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp and SpaceX hope to sell astronaut "taxi" services to Nasa by mid-decade.
Until then, US crews will have to go to the space station on Russian rockets.
"We are pleased to be completing a significant milestone today in the development of US commercial crew systems, and we are very excited about the future," said Philip McAlister, acting director of commercial spaceflight development at the US space agency.
"We hope someday soon we will see commercial human spaceflight to low-Earth orbit as a robust, vibrant, profit-making, commercial enterprise with many providers and a wide range of public and private users."
The winning companies have a range of concepts under development.
SpaceX, which has garnered much publicity recently, is perhaps the most advanced in its plans. The Hawthorne, California, company has already flown a rocket called Falcon 9 and a capsule called Dragon. It is being offered $75m over the next year if it meets certain targets in advancing Dragon's crew-carrying capabilities.
The long-established Boeing company stands to win the largest award depending on its achievement of goals set by Nasa. Boeing's Houston, Texas, team has a capsule design called CST-100 which could transport up to seven astronauts to the space station. The $92.3m support on offer will help the company get the vehicle through to a key, or preliminary, design review.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colorado, has already received considerable financial support in Nasa's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) effort. It is now in line to get a further £80m in the latest round of funding. SNC is developing a shuttle-like vehicle called the Dream Chaser that would launch atop a rocket.
The fourth recipient, Blue Origin, of Kent, Washington, is a company set up by founder Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin has kept much of its space development activity secret, but it has requested funds from Nasa to help it mature systems for a cone-shaped crew vehicle. It has been awarded up to £22m.
Perhaps just as interesting as the companies that have won awards are the companies that have missed out.
These include ATK which makes the solid-fuel rocket boosters (SRBs) that lift the space shuttle off the ground. ATK wants to marry an evolution of these SRBs with the main core stage of Europe's Ariane 5 rocket. The concept, known as Liberty, would be used to launch other companies' capsules and spaceplanes.
ATK will now have to secure funds elsewhere if it wants to carry the Liberty idea forward.
Also missing out on CCDev money is United Launch Alliance (ULA). This is the company that operates Atlas and Delta rockets for the US Air Force and for Nasa.
These vehicles frequently orbit satellites, but ULA believes the rockets could be modified to launch humans also.
Sierra Nevada, Boeing and Blue Origin had all talked about using an Atlas 5 to loft their proposed crew ships.
Where Monday's announcement from Nasa leaves ULA's plans is uncertain. Again, it will need to use its own funds or find a partner if it wishes to continue with the project to man-rate the Atlas and Delta rockets. The CCDev process is not a down-selection, so it is conceivable ULA could get an award in a further round.
"Given enough time and money I am confident that multiple US companies could develop safe, reliable and cost effective commercial crew transportation systems," Mr McAlister said.
"And it is my sincere hope that the companies not selected for award today will continue maturing their systems and making progress on their designs so that they can potentially be available at some point in the future for purchase by Nasa and other customers."
Nasa awarded about $50m in its first round of commercial crew contracts. It plans to substantially increase this funding next year to $850m.
There is still much debate, particularly in the US Congress, about the readiness of the private sector to provide safe crew transportation systems. There are also doubts over whether the procurement strategy will deliver significant savings to the US taxpayer.
But John Gedmark, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, was adamant that Nasa was now on the only sustainable path forward.
"Leveraging private investment is the only way Nasa can make its dollars go farther in these times of belt tightening," he said.
"And by investing in commercial spaceflight rather than continuing to send billions of dollars to Russia, Nasa's commercial crew programme is creating American jobs instead of sending them abroad."

story source

Latest Flash Player released

Adobe has released it's latest Flash Player update.
Flash Player (Non-IE) is a stand alone installer for Firefox, Opera and other Gecko-based browsers, and features;
Immersive experiences with Flash video, content and applications with full-screen mode.
Low-bandwidth, high-quality video with advanced compression technology.
High-fidelity text using the advanced text rendering engine.
Real-time dynamic effects with filters for Blur, DropShadow, Glow, Bevel, Gradient Glow, Gradient Bevel, Displacement Map, Convolution, and Color Matrix.
Innovative media compositions with 8-bit video alpha channels.
Blend modes, radial gradient, and stroke enhancements.
Additional image formats: GIF, Progressive JPEG, and PNG.

Monday, 18 April 2011

US Government seize gambling domains

On-line gambling has come under scrutiny this week after the 3 largest gambling sites operating in the US have been shut down by the American Government.
Full Tilt Poker, Pokerstars and Absolute Poker have all had their domains seized and sites shut down while the US courts decide if this kind of gambling is legal or not.
Federal prosecutors accused the three founders of the gambling sites and eight others with illegal gambling, bank fraud and money laundering, according to the Financial Times.
The paper also reported that the government has filed a $3 billion civil suit to recover profits from the operations.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

IBM is testing smartphone software designed to predict traffic jams and warn motorists before they even take to the roads.

IBM said that its employees in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas of Northern California have been testing technology that “will ultimately help drivers around the world” avoid fouled traffic.
Those involved in the pilot project agree to have location-sensing capabilities in their smartphones automatically track where they drive and when, according to IBM Smarter Traveler program manager John Day.
The information is fed through the Internet to computers that identify patterns such as commutes to and from work.
Meanwhile, data collected from roadway censors commonly used for online traffic maps is analyzed to determine conditions that usually lead to trouble.
For example, congestion at a certain off-ramp or bridge entrance may consistently lead to traffic backing up in another area.
The results are combined to form personalized predictions of when a motorist is apt to run into highway headaches.
“We wanted to take advantage of analytic tools to provide predictive capabilities; to get correlations with minor slowdowns and major ones that happen after that,” Day told AFP.
“So you can run a query at any point for a journey and predict 35 or 40 minutes in advance what it will look like, then couple that with a personal approach for the individual traveler.”
IBM researchers worked with California state highway authorities and a Mobile Millennium Team at the University of Berkeley, California, on the project.
The smartphone application lets people receive customized alerts warning of probable traffic trouble before they set out on commutes or other routine drives.
The service is powered by a “first-of-its-kind learning and predictive analytics tool” called the Traffic Prediction Tool (TPT) developed by IBM Research.
TPT continuously analyzes congestion data, commuter locations and expected travel start times throughout a metropolitan region that can affect commuters on highways, rail-lines and urban roads.
“The idea is to learn a traveler’s habits, then run it on the predictive model to see what traffic they can expect,” Day said.
“The objective was to make it much more personal and provide it to them just before they were about to leave.” IBM researchers envision integrating real-time data from bus or train systems into the equation so the service could advise people when it would be smarter to divert to public transit.
Privacy protections included obscuring start and end points of trips as well as letting people manage their travel data online.
The pilot project has been going on for about five months.
“The predictive capabilities are head and shoulders above what exists today,” Day said. “Everything out there is showing you traffic as reported five or 10 minutes ago. Nobody does predictive.” While testing is in California, IBM is intent on building a system that can work around the world.
“Unlike existing traffic alert solutions, we’re helping take the guesswork out of commuting,” said Stefan Nusser of IBM Almaden Services Research.

Stephen Fry prison 'pledge' over 'Twitter joke' trial

Fry was appearing at a benefit gig for Paul Chambers who is appealing to the High Court against his conviction for sending a menacing communication.
He had tweeted: "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"
Fry argued that Chambers' tweet was an example of Britain's tradition of self-deprecating humour and banter.
Appeal funds
Chambers' case has become a cause celebre on Twitter, with hundreds of people reposting his original comments in protest at the conviction.
"This [verdict] must not be allowed to stand in law," Fry said, adding that he would continue to repeat Chambers' message and face prison "if that's what it takes".
Among the other celebrities lending their support to the fundraising evening were Al Murray, Rufus Hound, Katy Brand and Father Ted writer Graham Linehan.
Linehan told the audience: "We've got this incredible tool and we should fight any attempt to take it out of our hands."
The benefit gig, at London's Bloomsbury Theatre, aimed to raise funds for Chambers' appeal.

FBI closes in on zombie PC gang

US crime-fighters are closing in on a gang behind a huge botnet after taking control of the criminals' servers.
It is the first time FBI investigators have used such a method.
The US Justice Department had to seek court permission from a judge to carry out the sting.
It enabled the authorities to issue its own commands, effectively ordering the malware to shut down. It also logged the IP addresses of compromised machines.
It means the authorities will be able to notify ISPs about which machines have been infected and ISPs in turn can let victims know that their machines had been taken over.
A similar approach was used last year by Dutch police as part of its shutdown of the Bredolab botnet.
At the time, privacy experts questioned the legality of such a move.
Millions recruited
A botnet is a network of infected computers, also known as zombie PCs.
Coreflood, the malware program prompting the FBI investigation, has been around for at least a decade and can record key strokes, allowing criminals to take over unsuspecting computers and steal passwords, banking and credit card information.
It is believed to have recruited around 2.3 million machines and raked in millions for those behind it.
Officials have not said where the attacks came although it appears consistent with cybercrime activity in Eastern Europe.
Investigators seized five of the botnet's servers that were controlling hundreds of thousands of infected machines.
They also seized 29 domain names used by the botnet.
"As a result the zombie machines in the Coreflood network are being re-routed to communicate with the server controlled by law enforcement agencies," explained Noa Bar Yosef, a senior strategist at security firm Imperva.
"The 'good' server can then issue commands to stop the malware execution on the compromised machines."

Cisco shuts down Flip video camera business

Cisco Systems has said it is shutting down its Flip video camera business and cutting 550 jobs as it overhauls its consumer products unit.
In recent years, Cisco, the world's largest maker of computer networking gear, has sought to diversify and move into the consumer market.
Analysts criticized the group for trying to do too much.
Last week, Cisco chief John Chambers admitted the firm had lost its way and vowed to take "bold steps" to refocus.
"We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy,"
Unable to sell?
Cisco bought Pure Digital Technologies, the maker of the Flip camcorder, for $590m in 2009.
The Flip quickly became a top seller thanks to its ease of use, with its signature feature a USB connector that flipped out of the case, allowing the camera to be connected directly to a computer.
"They announced they are shutting it down, so that implies that they were unable to sell it," said Philip Alling, an analyst with Atlantic Equities.
"It's disappointing they wouldn't be able to generate any proceeds from a sale of the business."
But Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of the Solaris Group, said: "This is one step in concentrating the focus of Cisco on the enterprise. This came faster than we would have expected, but perhaps Cisco has been studying this for a while."
He added that the company may be restructuring its consumer business so that it can sell the division.
story source;

Friday, 15 April 2011

Sony considers two-week shutdown due to power shortages

Sony Corporation is considering shutting down some of its company premises in Japan because of the continuing power shortages.
In order to save energy, the company said it was planning to give its staff two weeks off during the summer months.
Japan has been suffering power shortages due to the damage caused to its nuclear and thermal power stations.
Last week the government set energy-saving targets and asked manufacturers to reduce their energy consumption.

Google sees a sharp rise in first-quarter earnings

The world's leading search engine reported $6.54bn (£4bn) in net revenue in the first quarter, up 29% from $5.06bn the same time a year ago.
Google has about a 65% share of the US search engine market and about 90% in Europe.
The firm said it would continue "to invest for the long term".
Announcing the results, Patrick Pichette, Google chief finance officer, said: "These results demonstrate the value of search and search ads to our users and customers, as well as the extraordinary potential of areas like display and mobile."

Nokia X7 released

Nokia has released the X7, a brand new gaming phone.
The pverall chassis is made from stainless steel and glass and comes equipped with a 4-inch display and an arching back panel, perfect for gamers.
Other features include an 8-megapixel rear camera with a dual-LED flash and is also capable of recording HD 720p video.
the X7 will come preloaded with “Galaxy on Fire” and “Asphalt 5 HD”, other games will be available in the Ovi Store. The X7 will be arriving around Q2 of 2011 and priced at $547, (£334 app).

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Intel launches Oak Trail tablet processor

The new microchip is smaller and uses less power than other models in its Atom range.
Despite being the world's largest manufacturer of microprocessors, Intel has been largely pushed out of the growing tablet market.
Until now, most devices have used chips designed by Apple and Cambridge-based Arm Holdings.
Announcing Oak Trail's retail name - the Z670 - Intel conceded that it was currently lagging behind the competition.
"You won't find a lot of Intel based tablets on the shelves at the moment," said Kevin O'Donovan, marketing manager for notebooks and tablets.
However, he insisted that the company now had a competitive product.
"2011 is about becoming relevant," he said.

Patch Tuesday updates released

Microsoft has released a batch of 17 security updates covering 64 vulnerabilities in this month's Patch Tuesday.
The patches address issues in Windows, Office, IE, Visual Studio, .NET Framework and GDI+.
Nine of the bugs are rated critical, whilst 8 are deemed important.
Three of the top priorities this month are;
Problem resolves for MS11-020, MS11-019 and MS11-018.
30 vulnerabilities address one bug, MS11-034, which all share the same root cause say Microsoft.
Microsoft applauded the industry experts who worked with the company to uncover the bugs. "In total, 21 finders coordinated with Microsoft for the April release. Microsoft actively partners with the security community to assess threats and better protect customers, and April is an example of Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD) at work," Microsoft said in a blog post.

Story Source:,2817,2383483,00.asp

Facebook to install 'Panic Button'

Facebook has caved into Government pressure and finally agreed to install a 'panic button' app.
All facebook users between 13-18 will see a message encouraging them to download the 'ClickCeop' button.
When installed, users can click the CEOP link which allows them access to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, where they can then report abuse or receive advice on staying safe online.

"Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCeop button is well documented -- today however is a good day for child protection," said CEOP chief executive, Jim Gamble.
"By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCeop button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site."
Story Source:

Monday, 11 April 2011

Report shows youngsters are tech 'addicts'

A report released by the University of Maryland shows that today's youngsters are officially 'addicted' to their gadgets.
“If you are under 25, it doesn't matter if you live in the US or Chile or China, Slovakia, Mexico or Lebanon: you not only can't imagine life without your cell phone, laptop and MP3 player, you can't function without them,” the report said.
The report showed that many of the  youngsters expressed feelings of anxiety and depression as a result of going digital cold turkey, with one respondent explaining she had to take the battery out of her mobile phone so she could physically hold it even if it wasn't switched on.
One UK participant reported a raised heart rate and increased anxiety after only five hours of the experiment. “I'm panicking not knowing what is going on in, not just the outside world, but also my world. My friends, my family, my life."

The study was carried out over 24 hours hours on over a 1,000 respondents globally.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

M & S customers targets of latest hack attack

Marks and Spencers customers are the latest victims to have had their details stolen.
M & S customers have been warned to expect an increase of spam emails as part of a wider attack on marketing firm Epsilon.
As reported yesterday, the latest mass hack attack compromised many companies in the US, including the hotel chains Marriott and Hilton and several banks.
M & S stated;
"We have been informed by Epsilon, a company we use to send e-mails to our customers, that some M&S customer e-mail addresses have been accessed without authorisation," the retailer said in an e-mail sent on Tuesday evening.
"We wanted to bring this to your attention as it is possible that you may receive spam e-mail messages as a result.
"No other personal information, such as your account details, has been accessed or is at risk."

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Amazon unveil Cloud Player

Amazon has beaten Apple and Google in the cloud-based music player race with the release of Cloud Player.
Amazon allows you to securely store your entire digital music collection using Amazon Cloud Player and play it on any Mac, PC, or Android Device using Amazon Cloud Player.
Any new Amazon MP3 Store purchases can be saved directly to your Amazon Cloud Drive for free.
You can also upload your existing music library to Amazon Cloud Drive so you have all your music in one place, accessible from anywhere.
All new Amazon Cloud Drive accounts are given 5GB of free storage for uploading content. Additional storage is available for an annual fee.

Online advertsing

Online advertising in the Uk has grown by 12.8% in the last year and now accounts for a quarter of all advertising spending.
That figure amounts to over £4 billion according to a study by the IAB ( Internet Advertising Bureau) and accountants PwC, and internet advertising has now outpaced the rest of the market.
The largest growth area belongs to display advertising on social network sites which grew by over 200%.
A recent study showed that internet users spend a quarter of their online time on social network sites making advertisers keen to target this area.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Reported glitches on Apple iPad 2

Reports on the web are detailing glitches discovered on the iPad2.
Users have reported chat freeze when using the FaceTime feature for the first time and a growing number of iPad 2 owners are reporting the problem to Apple's support forums.
There have also been reports of backlight leakage on the tablet, released for sale only on Friday in the UK.  The backlight leakage results in uneven patches of light showing up around the tablet's display.
Finally, some users have reported camera issues that resulted in wonky colours popping up in a few frames of video.

Wi-Fi access for London underground

Almost half of London's underground stations are to be outfitted with Wi-Fi access in preperation for the hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Bids are being invited by Telecom companies to provide Wi-Fi for 120 stations by June 2012.
A six month test in October 2010 was deemed a success after London Mayor, Boris Johnson, promised that “every lamp post [and] every bus stop will one day very soon, and before the 2012 Olympics, be Wi-Fi enabled” as part of an effort by to position London as a world leader in technological innovation.
Users will only be able to connect to the Wi-Fi on the platforms, not the trains themselves.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

ASUS Eee Keyboard

We've been keeping track of the ASUS Eee Keyboard for a while now. If anyone has waited out the delays and is still chomping at the bit to purchase this unique take on an all-in-one, it's finally shipping out to customers.

For those of you who may not have been following along, the ASUS Eee Keyboard is a pretty novel item. Though the specs aren't quite as exciting as they were when the concept was first seriously bandied about way back when, it's basically an Atom N270 packing netbook crammed into a keyboard. Other specs include 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, a nice UWB adapter, and a 5" 800x480 multi-touchscreen that is built-in. The whole thing runs Windows XP and is selling on Amazon for $599.

As I said, buzz about this started before such fancy inventions as "Windows 7" and "Pine Trail" came out, so while it's a little older now in that regard, the concept is still fresh and unique. This is truly a novelty item and could have a lot of appeal, both for people who can think creatively and for those who just want to use the UWB adapter to power their multimedia centers. Thinking about picking one up? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments.
We've been keeping track of the ASUS Eee Keyboard for a while now. If anyone has waited out the delays and is still chomping at the bit to purchase this unique take on an all-in-one, it's finally shipping out to customers.

For those of you who may not have been following along, the ASUS Eee Keyboard is a pretty novel item. Though the specs aren't quite as exciting as they were when the concept was first seriously bandied about way back when, it's basically an Atom N270 packing netbook crammed into a keyboard. Other specs include 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, a nice UWB adapter, and a 5" 800x480 multi-touchscreen that is built-in. The whole thing runs Windows XP and is selling on Amazon for $599.

As I said, buzz about this started before such fancy inventions as "Windows 7" and "Pine Trail" came out, so while it's a little older now in that regard, the concept is still fresh and unique. This is truly a novelty item and could have a lot of appeal, both for people who can think creatively and for those who just want to use the UWB adapter to power their multimedia centers. Thinking about picking one up? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments.
We've been keeping track of the ASUS Eee Keyboard for a while now. If anyone has waited out the delays and is still chomping at the bit to purchase this unique take on an all-in-one, it's finally shipping out to customers.

For those of you who may not have been following along, the ASUS Eee Keyboard is a pretty novel item. Though the specs aren't quite as exciting as they were when the concept was first seriously bandied about way back when, it's basically an Atom N270 packing netbook crammed into a keyboard. Other specs include 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, a nice UWB adapter, and a 5" 800x480 multi-touchscreen that is built-in. The whole thing runs Windows XP and is selling on Amazon for $599.

As I said, buzz about this started before such fancy inventions as "Windows 7" and "Pine Trail" came out, so while it's a little older now in that regard, the concept is still fresh and unique. This is truly a novelty item and could have a lot of appeal, both for people who can think creatively and for those who just want to use the UWB adapter to power their multimedia centers. Thinking about picking one up? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments.

Friday, 25 March 2011

T-Mobile Brings myTouch HD Handset with Features Similar to G2

T-Mobile G2 is still to begin shipping later this month and we have information about another handset from the carrier. T-Mobile’s myTouch HD has leaked in a couple of shots on the internet. The good news is that it has some of its features similar to , though there are many features that set the two handsets apart.
Apart from photos, a document containing information about the  has also leaked on the web. MyTouch HD runs on Android version 2.2 Froyo and offers HSPA+ connectivity similar to G2. What differentiates the handset from G2 is the presence of a faster 1 GHz processor in the former, whereas G2 is powered by an 800 MHz processor. Another distinction is that of QWERTY keyboard, as G2 has one and myTouch HD doesn’t.
MyTouch HD has screen size of 3.8 inch which is slightly bigger than the screen packed inside G2. An HDMI port is highly probable as the document mentions it as an HD device. A 5 MP camera with auto focus and flash and a video calling VGA camera too are mentioned in the phone’s rumored specifications.
Video calling is supported by Wi-Fi, 3G as well as HSPA+ connectivity. A 4 GB built-in memory and a micro SD card of 8 GB are other features of the handset. Genius Button and Swype too mark their presence inside the handset. We are ready to eagerly wait for the handset’s official specifications and we don’t think they are far away from us.

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