The HTC One X is pure bliss. Its design and look is orgasmic, the specs are mind-blowing and it is an awesome phone to own. It has turned some heads in the world of Android phones, and has been appreciated by everyone. Although it failed to bring HTC out of its misery, or compete with the heavy marketing of the Galaxy S3, HTC has its own fan base and the phone has been received well by HTC Fans and others as well.
All the goodness aside, the HTC One X comes without a fair piece of warning — it is a fragile piece of beauty. There are some videos of people banging their HTC One X on the table, some using it as a hammer while some others doing drop tests showing minimal damage. The banging and hammering videos are all fake, and the reality is that HTC One X has a brittle glass. The corning gorilla glass is scratch proof, but definitely not impact-proof.
How I ended up with a broken HTC One X
It was pretty simple actually. I was on my way to work, the phone was in my hand and I had my earphones on. The earphones were tangled with my ID card tag, one thing led to another and before I knew, the phone fell off my hand, landed on the ground and I could see the glass cracking up and a flash of sunlight reflecting from the fissure. Heartbroken, I picked up the phone to see everything was working just fine.
The state of political affairs in India has become chaotic recently, mostly due to findings on black money and offshore-accumulated wealth, various scams of colossal scales and blatant statements made by people high up in the food chain. Needless to say, the level of discontent among the people is at an all-time high, and in these situations, the Right to Information (RTI) Act provides for more transparency and accountability, and lets us be absolutely sure instead of being driven by whims and opinions.
The Department of Personnel and Training in India understands this fact, and has launched a program to train people to make better use of the RTI. The program has two courses, and is described as:
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India (GoI) has launched an ‘Online Certificate Course on RTI’ for various stakeholders. With a view to make the earlier 15-day course more practical, now the course has been bifurcated into two versions, namely – 7-Day Online Course (English) and 15-Day Online Certificate Course (English).
While the 7-day course is elementary in nature, the 15-day course is more practical and includes a session on applying for an RTI. However, the 15-day course can be taken only on completion of the 7-day course.
The 15-day course is actually an interesting one, since to register for this part of the course, you have to come with proof of an RTI claim made on a public-service authority. The term of 15 days is allotted for a study of the RTI report, as received from the claim. The report will be evaluated based on some predefined criteria, and finally, an online certificate will be generated on course completion. The total estimated time from enrollment to getting a certificate is around 9 weeks, which is just above two month. However, it is worth the experience.
Recently, there have been rumor of Kaspersky Lab building an operating system for industrial machinery. Yesterday, Eugene Kaspersky finally confirmed the rumors, saying that Kaspersky Laps is indeed working on an operating system for Industrial Control Systems (ICS). Eugene Kaspersky writes on the Kaspersky blog, saying,
Today I’d like to talk about the future. About a not-so-glamorous future of mass cyber-attacks on things like nuclear power stations, energy supply and transportation control facilities, financial and telecommunications systems, and all the other installations deemed “critically important”.
The biggest problems with ICS is that these systems are required to maintain a high availability, and in case of attacks and hacks, it becomes extremely difficult to shut down an infected component without bringing down the whole system. These systems are so cohesive, that it is nearly impossible to isolate an infected node, as they were never designed considering such sophisticated attacks. Kaspersky Lab is working on a secure operating system that will be effective against nation-state funded cyber-attacks, like the ones we have seen over the last few months.
The operating system from Kaspersky Lab has security as its top priority, but it will also address issues of availability by providing hot reboot-less patches. Nonetheless, it will also proactively be checked for security exploits to stay one-step ahead of hackers. This is one operating system designed from the ground up keeping one thing in mind — security. Read more about the Kaspersky Operating System here.
We have been hearing about Google TV for quite a long time now. However, it has failed to capture a huge section of the world market because of Google’s lack of focus on this division. However, Google TV is gaining traction recently, as it struck its first launch deal with Korea’s UPlus IPTV. Google TV already has hardware deals with its manufacturing partner Sony.
Sony builds a set-top-box like device that can be plugged into any HDTV and it also doubles up as a gaming device. If you have not seen this device out in the wild, it is only because Google has poor focus on Google TV right now. However, the device used in Korea is yet another device developed by LG UPlus itself.
With Google TV in the u+tv G, you get more content to watch than ever before, and an easier way to find whatever you’re looking for. New and existing LG UPlus subscribers can get the u+tv starting today, bringing live TV and 50,000 on demand titles, now integrated with Google TV apps like Search, YouTube, Google Play and Chrome.
The UPlus service providing Google TV already runs regular TV subscription. Thus, this is not a Google TV exclusive launch, but Google TV will run parallel to the existing TV subscription service on the UPlus devices, that are manufactured by LG UPlus. With this launch, Google TV will be launched in ten countries worldwide.
Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers are having a hard time worldwide, after the US Government’s crackdown on Huawei. Australia has already banned Huawei from its national broadband network project, and recently, Canada banned Huawei from its Government network setup. Huawei is the largest telecom equipment manufacturer in the world, and it has taken a hit from all the bad press. However, another Chinese firm ZTE has also been the subject of investigations along with Huawei.
After Huawei, now ZTE is facing the heat, as it was involved in banned sales of computer equipment from Cisco to Iran’s telecom companies. ZTE is Cisco’s sales partner, and Iran is in the list of Cisco’s embargoed countries. The incident first surfaced back in March and Cisco was quick to launch a probe into the matter. There have been intermittent reports of both Huawei and ZTE facing trouble since around the same time. Cisco found that ZTE was indeed guilty, and this sparked a series of investigations by the US Government, with FBI launching a criminal probe as well. With this, the five-year-old ZTE Cisco partnership comes to an end.
The stories sparked internal probes by the companies involved, as well as investigations by the U.S. Commerce Department, a congressional committee, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. ZTE’s general counsel at its Texas-based subsidiary alleged that the parent company plotted a cover-up, including possibly shredding documents, after the first Reuters story broke.
The Cisco-ZTE partnership was made for the sole purpose of competing with Huawei. However, ZTE and Cisco teams never got together. While ZTE was successful in selling Cisco equipment in China, Cisco was not too keen on selling ZTE equipment in the US.
This is the last day of the “Hack In the Box” (HITB) security conference, being held at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. With this year’s conference, HITB completed ten years, since it started back in 2003. Felix “FX” Lindner, A security researcher at the HITB event this year has identified a simple yet alarming Huawei router vulnerability. It is alarming, because according to the researcher, one does not need a backdoor program to get access to the device in the first place, and it affects all Huawei devices allowing for easy control over entire networks.
The code running on Huawei routers is archaic and is rigged with security holes. Huawei being the largest producer of telecom equipment in the world, it should take care to resolve this problem if it wants to retain its customers. Recently, Huawei is in news often, because of an ongoing investigation on Huawei and ZTE, two prominent network operators. ZDNet writes,
Lindner made headlines after DefCon in July when he presented a talk showing Chinese Huawei routers to be so riddled with security holes that they were fairly trivial – potentially ideal – for attackers to reconfigure, intercept, monitor and alter all traffic that runs through them.
Clearly, Huawei is well aware of the problem, since it was notified about the same back in July, when Lindner covered the same topic at DefCon. Huawei is having a tough time with all the bad press. However, it needs to make up and take care of this mess, before it starts World War III.
Ubuntu has been around for seven years now, and it has seen its ups and downs, but it has been and will always be truly free and open source software. In a recent blog post, Canonical has announced that from now, it will be easier to donate for Ubuntu, as the donations screen is a part of the download process now. Some see this move as a shift in Ubuntu from being free software to becoming donationware.
Donationware is a licensing model that supplies operational unrestricted software to the user and requests an optional donation be paid to the programmer or a third-party beneficiary (usually a non-profit). The amount of the donation may also be stipulated by the author, or it may be left to the discretion of the user, based on individual perceptions of the software’s value.
However, the donations in this case are a lot more purposeful from being simple donations. One can choose the donation amount to be given to each of the Ubuntu features and future plans from Canonical. Currently, donations are accepted for the Ubuntu Desktop project, performance optimizations, hardware support, phone and tablet version of Ubuntu, better co-ordination with upstream, better support for Kubuntu, Lubuntu and other flavors and for Canonical. Currently, the donation page appears only for Ubuntu Desktop edition, but not for the Server or the Cloud Infrastructure downloads.
Is there something wrong with this move or is it our skeptic human mind that is so resistive to change? I personally feel that Canonical has an engaging donation page here, and it will let Ubuntu fans and users choose the features and improvements they want to see next, in the world of Ubuntu.
Over the last few months, Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE have been the subjects of attack in US Congressional Reports. According to the reports, these companies have grown notorious for suspicious behavior of their equipment, as reported by both employees and customers. The Congressional report urges American companies to stop doing business with Huawei and ZTE, and urges network providers to seek other vendors. Although there are no solid proofs being released here, the Congressional Reports probably suggest possibilities of spying on communication and threats to vital equipment.
Following the Huawei ban from the US Government, and the Australian Government, recently, the Canadian Government has taken a stern step to exclude Huawei from a national networking project. The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, explained it as,
Canada has invoked a national security exception to let it discriminate, without violating international trade obligations, against companies deemed as too risky to be involved in putting together the network for carrying government phone calls, emails and data center services.
Huawei is the world’s largest manufacturer of telecom equipment, and ZTE is the fifth largest. Both of them have rejected any affiliation with the Chinese Government and the Chinese Government has also rejected these Congressional Report claims as being “groundless accusations”. A sweet cyber-warfare is brewing here, and China is already notorious for its cyber-warfare policy. This entire incident will leave a bad taste in the mouth Huawei customers worldwide which will eventually be bad for their business.
To all those keeping pace with the rapid release cycle of Firefox, Mozilla just released version 16 of the Firefox web browser, and as always, it has arrived with a slew of attractive changes. Firefox switched to a rapid release cycle more than a year ago, and most people found it disconcerting. Some stuck to Firefox 3.6 or Firefox 4 for a long time. However, Firefox users have become a lot more flexible lately, and Firefox 15 accounts for the highest 58% of all Firefox users. Today, the next version of Firefox — Firefox 16 is here with new features and improvements.
Firefox 16 on Mac now comes with Voice Over support. The feature is in its preliminary stage, but it is definitely a good start. Behind the scene changes, include improved garbage collection, so you will probably see Firefox hogging less memory. HTML 5 support has been improved with better CSS3 implementation. From now, Firefox will drop its vendor prefix of “-moz-” from many CSS3 animations and transitions. However, the new features that pack a punch are the new web-app support and the improved Developer Toolbar.
The developer toolbar has a new command line, which can run common tasks like editing a page, manipulating cookies, taking screenshots and inspecting. It is a heavenly improvement for all command line junkies out there. This video illustrates the new features quite well.
On mobile devices, Firefox 16 gives developers access to the Battery API for reading battery state and the Vibration API. However, the big new feature for end-users is the Reader mode, which offers a distraction-free reading experience.
You can get the complete release notes at this page. Go ahead and grab your copy of Firefox 16 at this page. If you are an Android user, you can also get your copy of Firefox for Android at this page on Google Play Store.
It is very rarely that you will see competing companies like Apple, Adobe, Google, Facebook, Nokia, HP, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft join forces to make the world a better place but it really is happening. All these warring Internet companies have decided to create an ultimate resource for all things related to web-development and as a result, we have webplatform.org.
The focus of “Web Platform” is only on open web technologies, and the aim of this website is to provide a one-stop info spot for all things related to web-technologies like HTML5, CSS3, Canvas, WebGL, IndexedDB etc. The initiative is administered by the W3C, and Tim Berners-Lee describes this initiative as,
People in the web community — including browser makers, authoring tool makers, and leading edge developers and designers — have tremendous experience and practical knowledge about the web. Web Platform Docs is an ambitious project where all of us who are passionate about the web can share knowledge and help one another.
“Web Platform” is an open community of developers, and is open for contributions. There are various sections at “Web Platform” like the blog where the website was announced with a customary first post, a Q&A style forum and a chat section. However, the most attractive part is perhaps Web Platform Docs, where one will find resources on various topics presented as a Wiki.
If it lives up to its promises, Web Platform will drive innovation on the web. However, it needs a proper launch with drum-rolls to attract more web-developers.