All posts by Pallab De

Pallab De is a blogger from India who has a soft spot for anything techie. He loves trying out new software and spends most of his day breaking and fixing his PC. Pallab loves participating in the social web; he has been active in technology forums since he was a teenager and is an active user of both twitter (@indyan) and facebook .

Opera Adds Support for HTML5 Video Element: New 10.5 Pre-Alpha Build

It seems that while we were busy celebrating, everyone at Opera Software were hard at work. Opera released a new Evenes (Opera 10.50) build earlier today. We featured the major changes in Opera 10.5 and benchmarked its JavaScript rendering speed, in earlier articles. Go through them if you want to catch up with what’s new in Opera 10.5.

The big new feature in the latest build is support for HTML5 video element. Opera had demonstrated the <video> element, as far back as 2007. Now, the feature has been integrated in a mainstream build. In the meantime Firefox, Safari and Chrome have also added support for native video playback.

Opera-HTML5-Video-Support-10.5-Pre-Alpha

Opera will be supporting the open source Ogg formats: the Vorbis audio codec and the Theora video codec. Safari remains the only browser which is backing the proprietary H.264 codec. Additionally, Opera will be utilising the GStreamer media framework to ensure smooth playback. Opera will use its own implementation of GStreamer on Windows and Mac. However, it will be using the system-installed version on platforms where GStreamer is natively available. In other words, Opera will be able to playback videos out of the box on Windows and Mac. However on Linux and BSD, you would need to install at least the GStreamer “base” and “good” plugins for the video element to work. The GStreamer plugin for Mac isn’t yet ready; hence support for video element is missing in this Mac build.

As mentioned earlier, the UNIX build has undergone fairly major changes. Opera is dumping the QT framework and hopes to provide a more native interface with Evenes. The KDE integration is still not very usable. Hence, this UNIX build only contains GTK integration.

Opera-Linux-10.5-Pre-Alpha

[ Download Opera 10.5 for Windows, UNIX and Mac ]

Conficker – One year Later

Conficker (also known as Downup or Downadup or Kido) was first spotted in November 2008. During the course of a year, it has gone on to become one of the most notorious Windows worms in the history.

Conficker isn’t the worst malware ever, neither is it the most dangerous. What makes Conficker remarkable is the length is goes to in order to avoid detection and disinfection. Conficker employs all standard measures like creating multiple copies and injecting itself into critical processes (e.g. explorer.exe and svchost.exe). On top of that, it disables Windows Update, blocks websites of security vendors and even disables anti-malware utilities.

Even more ingenious is the technique it uses to check for payloads (additional pieces of code which are downloaded without the user’s permission). Conficker is programmed to generate an apparently random list of URLs and download payloads from them. While the initial three variants connected to only about 250 domains, the newer modifications are capable of generating as many as 50,000 domain names. This makes preventing delivery of payloads in advance almost impossible.

Conficker-Infection-Country-wise
Conficker-Infection-graph

Conficker is also a story of what happened, what could have happened and what may happen. The malware creators have succeeded in building a huge botnet which may be used for tasks like spamming, DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, pay per click fraud, key logging, identity theft and traffic logging. However, Conficker hasn’t yet created the mayhem that many believe it has the potential to.

Conficker spreads using a vulnerability in Windows RPC Server Service, which was patched by Microsoft a long time back. In spite of this, Conficker continues to spread. BitDefender suggests that the worm would continue to be a nuisance even in 2010 and may even become a bigger threat.

[ Download the whitepaper on Conficker or listen to the podcast ]

Israel Researchers Working On a Hard To Crack 3D CAPTCHA

Captchas are challenge-response tests used to ensure that the user is a human (and not a robot). I am quite sure that every net user is familiar with them. Whether you are creating a new email account or registering at a forum or simply downloading a file, you will have to deal with a captcha. But, finding a good and effective captcha is tougher than it seems. Make them too easy and bots will manage to figure them out. Make them too tough and even human beings will have trouble. Rapidshare’s infamous cats and dogs captcha was a perfect example of captcha gone wrong.

Rapidshare-Captcha-Worst-Captcha-Ever

A group of Tel Aviv University scientists are currently developing a next-gen captcha, which they believe will be extremely difficult for bots to crack. The research project led by Prof. Danny Cohen-Or will be utilizing pictures with 3D-objects like a running man or a flying plane.

According to Prof. Cohen-Or, “Humans have a very special skill that computer bots have not yet been able to master. We can see what’s called an ’emergence image’ — an object on a computer screen that becomes recognizable only when it’s moving — and identify this image in a matter of seconds. While a person can’t ‘see’ the image as a stationary object on a mottled background, it becomes part of our gestalt as it moves, allowing us to recognize and process it.”

The proposed captcha is still a work in progress. It will take some time for the concept to move from research papers to real world applications. However, let’s hope that it will make life easier for us.

Load2All Allows You to Simultaneously Upload Files to Multiple Hosts

Load2All- File Uploader and SpreaderFile hosting services like Rapidshare and Megaupload have become quite the rage. In fact Rapidshare.com is among the top 25 sites according to Alexa.

These file hosting services allow users to get past email-attachment size limits and are well suited for sharing files both publicly and privately. In fact, some people also use them as a free backup service for storing vital information.

The downside is that many of these file hosting services have major download restrictions for free users. Some websites offer a limited number of download slots for each country, some tend to delete files after a short period of inactivity and some may be banned at colleges and workplaces. Hence, if you want to ensure that everyone is able to download the file, you would ideally want to upload them to multiple services. However, doing so manually is often not feasible due to time constraints.

Load2All is a free service which allows you to simultaneously upload files to as many as 8 file hosting services. At the moment Load2All supports 17 file hosting services including Rapidshare, Megaupload, HotFile, DepositFiles, Megashares and Sendspace. The best thing about Load2All is that it automatically splits the uploaded file into RAR archives if maximum file size limit for any host is exceeded. You can upload files from your computer as well as from another remote host. Rapidshare accounts (collector or premium) are also supported. This ensures that you won’t miss out on the opportunity to earn points from your uploads.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Load2All is a handy solution for regular file uploaders. Its standout feature is the ability to automatically split large files. If you have a file you wish to share, give Load2All a try. It definitely makes more sense to use Load2All, than uploading the file to a single file host.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

[ Visit Load2All ]

Samsung Corby Pop C3510 Is Coming To India

The Samsung Corby series has managed to become quite popular in India thanks to the smart combination of style and attractive pricing. But, Samsung isn’t resting on its laurels. It seems determined to mount pressure on competitors in the mid-level segment.

Samsung Corby POP C3510 – a scaled-down version of the popular S3650, will be available in India pretty soon. Corby Pop is expected to cost around Rs 7,000. It will have a 2.8 inch QVGA Screen with a resolution of 240×320 pixels, 1.3 MP Camera, MP3 Player, FM Radio, 22 MB internal memory, strong Li-ion battery and almost 8 hours of talk time. C3510 won’t have 3G or Wi-Fi support. However, Samsung will also launch a higher end model with Wi-Fi capabilities.

Samsung-Corby-POP-Indian-Launch

Corby POP will retain most of the features present in S3650. Besides the Touchscreen, features like multi-instant messenger and social networking integration (Twitter, Facebook and MySpace) have proved to be big selling points for the Corby series. Boosted by the lower price point Corby POP should be able to continue the impressive performance of the Corby series.

Guy Escapes From Prison – Taunts Cops through Facebook Status Updates

If you thought Prison Break was over the top, wait till you read this. Craig ‘Lazie’ Lynch was serving a seven year sentence for aggravated burglary in Hollesley Bay Prison, Suffolk. He managed to escape from the open prison on 23rd September and has been on the run since. However, this is where the story gets surreal. Instead of hiding, Craig has been regularly posting status updates and photographs on Facebook.

Craig-Lynch-Facebook-Fan-Page

Craig has close to 1300 friends and more than 11,000 fans on Facebook. Recently, he even celebrated his first Christmas on the run.

Craig-Lynch-Facebook-Christmas-Update

YES YES i f****n made it to Xmas i beat their f***n system and i love it. I love you all my family my friends my lovers and all my supporters and fans i love the whole lot of you x x your the best merry xmas merry xmas merry xmas ho ho ho.

Through his antics Craig has managed to build a fan following, attract media attention and embarrass the establishment. It will be interesting to see how long he manages to stay on the outside. Being the attention freak he is, I get a feeling that he will soon get too adventurous and end up getting caught.

28% of Websites Use Google Analytics, 12% Have Adsense [Interesting Stats]

Data Geeks get ready for a treat. Thanks to CommonCrawl.org – a non-profit web crawler, Factual has managed to analyse approximately 4 million websites. Four million websites may be a small portion of the entire internet, but it is still a fairly large sample. As a result of this endeavour we have a fair amount of interesting (though mostly useless) stats in our hand. Some of them are:

  • 28% of websites use Google Analytics.
  • 12% of the sites have AdSense.
  • 5% of websites have either a Twitter link or a Facebook URL.
  • Only 2% of websites have both a Twitter and a Facebook URL.

Factual-Statistics-about-the-world-wide-web

Factual provides a platform where anyone can share and mash open data on any subject. Factual’s key product, the Factual Table, provides a unique way to view and work with structured data. The Factual Table used for calculating these stats is embedded below. Feel free to play with various filters, in case you really love tables.

My Zoho PC Is a Desktop UI for Zoho Services

No, Zoho is not releasing a desktop version of its applications. But, the folks at ManageEngine – a Zoho Corp division, have developed a pretty desktop-like user interface for Zoho products.

In many ways My Zoho PC (MyZPC) is a natural extension of the Zoho Office Suite. Most of the tasks performed by Zoho apps are tasks which have been traditionally performed by desktop application. MyZPC mimics your desktop and provides an experience similar to that offered by offline Office Suites.

My-Zoho-PC-Desktop-Environment-for-Zoho

Besides the cool factor, the biggest advantage of My Zoho PC is that it makes working with multiple apps more intuitive. Not only are you able to access apps faster, but you can work with different apps within the same browser tab. Until now switching between multiple apps within a single browser tab was possible only with a Zoho Business account.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Zoho is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and complete web-based office suites available. Thanks to the sheer quality of their products, Zoho has managed to stay competitive in a niche which is populated by offerings from both Google and Microsoft. My Zoho PC may be an unofficial product, but it does a pretty good job at extending and improving the Zoho experience. Not everyone will find this useful; MyZPC is especially pointless if you use only one or two Zoho services. But, even then you will probably want try it at least once, simply because it is nifty.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

[ Visit My Zoho PC ]

Notion Ink’s Tablet Gets a Name and a Release Date

Remember the new Android powered Tablet PC we had written about a few days back? Well, Notion Ink – the Indian Startup behind the tablet, has revealed some more information. According to The Hindu, the Tablet is going to be called Adam and it will be hitting the shelves in June 2010. However, we should be able to get our first taste of the device at CES 2010, where Adam will be demoed.

Notion-Ink-Tablet-Adam-Render

Adam is the brain-child of six IIT graduates and an MBA graduate, who partnered to establish Notion Ink, in order to realize their dream of designing a next-generation device at an affordable price.

Notion Ink certainly won’t have it easy. We would have to wait a good 6 months for Adam. By that time, several other manufactures (including possibly Apple) will already be present in the market. But, there is no denying the fact that if done right, Adam can create quite a stir. One of its strongest points is the modest price of Rs.15,000 (about $322).

Notion-Ink-Tablet-Adam-Sideview-Render

Notion Ink Adam Tablet Specifications:

Screen: 10.1″ Touchscreen with Pixel Qi
Weight: 770 grams
Thickness: 0.6 inch
Processor: Nvidia Tegra T20
Battery: Li-ion with 48 hours standby, eight hours of high definition video playback or 16 hours of web browsing.
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, UMTS/HSDPA, 3G (compatible with AT&T)
Sensors: Accelerometer, digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and water sensor
Storage: 6 GB or 32 GB SSD (with SD card support)
OS: Android
Cost: $322 (approx)

Google Professionals Search Allows You to Locate Advertising Professionals

Search Engine Land has spotted a new tool for AdWords publishers – Google Professionals Search. Professionals Search allows you to search for certified AdWords professionals based on location and budget. However, during the initial beta period the results will be limited to US based professionals.

Advertising Professionals are online marketing professionals, agencies, and other individuals such as search engine marketers (SEMs), search engine optimizers (SEOs), and marketing consultants, who have been certified by Google to manage AdWords accounts. They can assist publishers with various aspects of managing and creating an AdWords accounts. Advertisers who do not wish to invest the time and resources required to master AdWords often hire Advertising Professionals.

Google-Professionals-Search

After conducting a basic search you can further prune the list by specifying additional services you require from these agencies. Additional Services encompass areas like traditional advertising, web designing, website analytics and marketing consultancy. Google Professionals Search can be accessed at adwords.google.com/professionals/search.

Rumor: Apple Tablet Will Use 10-inch Touch Panels Supplied by Innolux

Apple-Tablet-10-inch-screen Yet another day, yet another Apple related rumor. Digitimes is reporting that, Apple Tablet will utilize 10 inch touch panels supplied by Innolux – the panel making subsidiary of the Foxconn Group.

This new information contradicts previous reports that Apple Tablet will be available in a 7 inch form factor. It is unlikely that Apple will manufacture two different models, since they have traditionally preferred to introduce new devices with a single model. Additional models are introduced only after the device becomes popular.

According to reports, Apple was forced to delay the launch of Apple Tablet as it wanted to strengthen the glass of the 10-inch panel for the device. Foxconn’s optical glass processing subsidiary G-Tech Optoelectronics will be helping by providing a glass-strengthening solution.

Digitimes expects the Apple Tablet to be announced in January. However, it won’t go on sale till March or April.

Microsoft Releases New Windows 7 Themes

Everyone loves goodies and Microsoft seems to have finally realized this. They have been regularly adding new stuff to the Windows 7 Personalization Gallery. Earlier this month, we had covered the special Christmas Theme – Twinkle Wish. Now, Microsoft has released some more themes to get you in the holiday spirit. Do check them out. Cat and dog lovers will be pleasantly surprised.

New-Windows-7-Themes

The theme that caught my attention was Summit on the Summit. Summit on the Summit (or SOTS) is an expedition to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro organized by the Grammy-nominated musician Kenna.

Summit-on-the-Summit-Windows-7-Theme

Starting January 7th, Kenna and friends will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness about the global clean-water crisis. During their climb, they will be posting notes, pictures and tweets on the website summitonthesummit.com. Microsoft and HP are the technical sponsors for the event and the climbers will be using Windows 7 and Windows Live Messenger for staying connected. A SOTS themed Windows Live add-on pack is also available here.

Microsoft will obviously benefit from the partnership due to the associated attention. Nevertheless, it is nice to see Microsoft doing their bit to raise awareness about the campaign.

Rumor: Apple Tablet to Be Called iSlate?

Apple-TabletApple and rumors: a match made in heaven. On one hand you have a company which is obsessed with secrecy, and on the other hand you have hordes of die-hard fans who would go to any length to uncover what’s brewing inside the Apple labs.

Over the past week, we have done our bit to indulge the rumor mills about Apple Tablet. And here comes another juicy speculation that has been buzzing through the intertubes. Apple Tablet may be named iSlate.

The basis for these rumors? Well if you are looking for something concrete, there isn’t anything. But, MacRumours has managed to unearth that in 2007 Apple had purchased the domain iSlate.com. The domain is currently owned by Markmonitor.com – a brand protection firm. Not only that, TechCrunch also discovered that islate.co.uk is also owned by Markmonitor.com, while islate.fr is owned by a firm called Wilson & Berthelot, which happens to list Markmonitor as the technical contact for the domain name registration. Markmonitor was also responsible for registering islate.info and islate.biz. And, both of these domains were registered on the same date as islate.co.uk – 17th November 2006. It is quite possible, that Markmonitor was hired by Apple to register the domains on their behalf.

iSlate-Apple-Tablet

Within of a week of the domains being registered, a company called Slate Computing filed a US word mark for ‘ISLATE’. What is Slate Computing all about? These are the goods and services provided by Slate Computing according to the filing information:

Computers; computer software, namely, database management software, electronic mail and messaging software, Internet browser software, paging software, database synchronization software, software for accessing, browsing and searching online databases, software for creating spreadsheets, tables, graphs and charts, software for organizing and analyzing data, software for word processing, software for creation and display of presentations including text and graphics, software used for image editing, image processing, image acquisition, image file management, image viewing, image sharing, and the creation of documents incorporating images, software for use in developing websites, software to help users create, edit, organize, search, transfer, publish and subscribe to weblogs, blogs, podcasts, web broadcasts and news and information feeds on global and/or local computer and telecommunications networks, software for use in authoring, downloading, transmitting, receiving, editing, extracting, encoding, decoding, playing, storing and organizing audio, video and still images, software for authoring digital content, software for personal information management, software for DVD authoring, software for the electronic storage and retrieval of electronic calendar files, software with clock and alarm clock functionality, telephony management software, character recognition software, application development tool software for personal and handheld computers, software for the redirection of messages, Internet e-mail, and/or other data to one or more electronic handheld devices from a data store on or associated with a personal computer or a server, and software for the synchronization of data between a remote station or device and a fixed or remote station or device; computer operating system software; computer utility software; computer peripherals. notebook computers; laptop computers; tablet computers; computer servers; handheld computers; mobile computers; hard drives; audio speakers; speakers for computers; radios; cameras; video cameras; telephones; mobile telephones; personal digital assistants; electronic personal organizers; electronic notepads; blank magnetic data carriers; computer gaming machines; microprocessors; memory boards; computer monitors; keyboards; computer input devices, namely, touch screens, styluses, mice, trackballs and shuttle dials; computer cables; modems; printers; computer accessories, namely, computer battery chargers, battery packs, docking stations, adaptors, computer wired and wireless remote controls, audio headphones and earphones, and replacement parts for all the aforesaid goods.

Bear with me for a moment, because at this point things get really interesting. A quick online search provides absolutely no information about ‘Slate Computing’. For a company that doesn’t have any online presence (and no one has heard about), Slate Computing definitely manufactures a hell of a lot of products. What are the odds that Slate Computing is a shell company? Is it just co-incidence that their product line seems match with Apple’s?

TechCrunch also uncovered that, ‘Slate Computing’ had filed a trademark for the term in the European Union too. The trademark was filed on the same day (21st Nov, 2006) and the legal representative for the firm was the UK-based firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. These are the same guys Apple had worked with while trademarking the term ‘MacBook’ in the EU.

The evidence behind the iSlate speculations is by no means concrete. But at least there is some evidence to back up these speculations, which is a lot more than what we can say about most Apple related rumors.

‘3 Idiots’ Movie to Be Available On YouTube: Google Gets Into Pay-Per-Download Business

In a move that will surprise many, the producer of the Bollywood movie ‘3 Idiots’ has announced that, the movie will be legally available on YouTube within 12 weeks of its release.

3-Idiots-Poster

Vidhu Vinod Chopra – the producer of the movie, hopes this will help in countering piracy. “I’m providing this facility for those who can’t see it on big screen and watch pirated movies. I just want them to discourage pirated prints. They just need to wait for 12 weeks and after that they can legally download the movie and watch it,” said Chopra.

Viewers will also be able to download the entire film from YouTube for a certain fee. Although the amount hasn’t been disclosed yet, this is probably the first time where YouTube would be legally allowing video downloads. ‘3 Idiots’ will signal Google’s entry into the pay-per-download business.

Indian film-makers have been trying various avenues in a bid to tackle rampant piracy. Earlier this year, movies like ‘Kaminey’ and What’s Your Raashee’ premiered on DTH (direct to home) services, within a month of their theatrical releases. In a sense, Vidhu Vinod Chopra isn’t doing anything radical. But, with a low broadband penetration it will be interesting to see how profitable this experiment will turn out to be.

Avira Antivirus Is the Lightest Antivirus Software

Will it slow down my system?, is a question antivirus vendors are often asked by worried customers. Indeed, antivirus utilities are infamous for having an adverse impact on system performance. A new report released by Av-comparatives a leading antivirus software testing firm, provides us the answer to this oft-asked question.

Av-comparatives-Antivirus-Performance-Test

Av-comparatives used 16 popular antivirus utilities and measured the impact they had on various activities like file copying and downloading. Fully defragmented hard disks were utilized on each occasion and external factors like network and temperature were neutralized as far as possible.

None of the antivirus utilities had a significant impact on encoding/transcoding and archiving/unarchiving speeds. However, eScan, FSecure, G DATA, Microsoft and Trustport slowed down file copying significantly (more than doubled the time required to copy a file). Thankfully, due to fingerprinting technologies, all of them but eScan performed impressively on subsequent runs.

When it came to slowing down application installations/uninstallations Bitdefender, G DATA and Trustport were the biggest culprits. Trustport also increased application launch times by more than 100%. These three were joined by AVG in the file downloading hall of shame. AVG, Bitdefender, G DATA and Trustport more than doubled file download durations.

Throughout the tests Avira performed admirably and this was reflected even in the WorldBench scores. eScan, Trustport, Bitdefender and G DATA once again found themselves at bottom of the pile.

Thanks to an outstanding all round performance Avira was the overall winner. Kingsoft, F-Secure, Sophos and Kaspersky were the other products which made it to the top five.

Performance Chart

    Antivirus Name – Score (Higher is better)

  1. AVIRA AntiVir Premium 9.0 – 199
  2. Kingsoft Antivirus 9 Plus – 196
  3. F-Secure Anti-Virus 2010 – 195
  4. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010 – 193
  5. Sophos Anti-Virus 9.0.1 – 193
  6. Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 – 190
  7. avast! Free 5.0 – 188
  8. Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2010 – 188
  9. ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4.0 – 183
  10. McAfee VirusScan Plus 2010 – 174
  11. Norman Antivirus & AntiSpyware 7.30 – 169
  12. AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 – 164
  13. BitDefender Antivirus 2010 – 154
  14. G DATA AntiVirus 2010 – 152
  15. eScan AntiVirus 10.0 – 137
  16. Trustport Antivirus 2010 – 125

The full report can be downloaded from Av-comparatives.org.