China Didn’t Block Google, Google Did It Themselves!

Google-Search-ChinaGoogle Search has been inaccessible to most users in mainland China for several hours. Google has now confirmed that Google Search is indeed being censored by the great firewall of China. However, this is not due to any policy change by Chinese authorities. Rather, Google inadvertently blocked itself.

According to BBC, in the past 24 hours Google started adding the string “gs_rfai” to the search URL globally. Unfortunately ‘rfai’ is also an acronym for Radio Free Asia, which has been present in China’s blacklist for a long time. As a result, all Google Search queries were erroneously blocked by China’s firewall.

Google is currently working to resolve this issue and Chinese users should be able to access Google Search soon. However, the million-dollar question is, How long before the Chinese government bans Google, for real?

Did The Great Firewall of China Close Its Gates? Google Search Appears To Be Completely Blocked

Google-Search-Blocked-China Earlier in the day, we reported that certain Google Mobile services were being blocked in China. However, according to latest reports, it now appears that China is blocking Google Search completely.

Google’s official ‘Evil Meter‘ still indicates that there are no issues with Google Search in China. However, that would possibly change in the coming hours. Google is yet to offer any statement, but it is investigating the issue.

It is possible that this is just a technical glitch and the Chinese government hasn’t yet blocked Google Search. However, something like this was always on the cards, ever since Google started offering uncensored search results in China.

The tussle between Google and the Chinese government was triggered by highly sophisticated hacking attempts on Google and several other companies. In an explosive blog post, Google had threatened to quit China and promised to serve uncensored search results. Google followed through on their threats last week.

Apple Starts Shipping iPads – Confirms Retail Launch on April 3rd

Get ready guys, the device that promises to change the future of computing is on its way. Pardon me for the over dramatic introduction, but if anyone can redefine how we surf the web and consume information, Apple can!

Apple-iPad-Starts-Shipping

According to reports, customers who had placed their order on the first day have started receiving shipping notices from the Apple Store. Apple has also confirmed that iPad will hit the shelves on April 3rd. Besides being available in all Apple retail stores across the US, the iPad will also be available in most Best Buy outlets. However, if you are planning to get one from BestBuy, you better be fast, as each outlet has been assigned a maximum of just 15 devices.

iPad costs between $499 and $829, depending upon the storage space and connectivity options. The cheaper Wi-Fi only models will be the ones, which will go on sale on April 3rd. 3G+Wi-Fi models are expected to be available by the end of next month.

In spite of being ridiculed for its lack of features and silly name, the iPad’s (estimated) pre-order figures have lived up to the hype. However, with several notable tablet releases imminent, it will be interesting to see if Apple can hold onto its initial momentum (something tells me that it will).

MSI Launches Its April Fools Day Joke Too Early, Pisses Off Customers

MSI-April-Fools-Day-Joke A good April fool’s Day joke is always appreciated. However, timing is essential. MSI just found this out the hard way. Due to unknown reasons, the MSI team launched its April fool’s day joke a good week ahead of the actual occasion and in the process infuriated several customers.

Anyone who had purchased and registered their MSI card received the following e-mail on March 25:

The MSI-forum and MSI-support team are fed-up with explaining you what can be found in the manual.
I mean, come on, how hard is it to read a manual?

They are printed on paper so you see them.

We have been talking to MSI for a couple of years and came up with a solution.
It has been implemented on a few boards for some time and with big success.
It had various names, like CoreCenter (1st gathering tool) upto DrMOS (fully automatic)

Some of you noticed because Windows wanted you to install a driver, but you couldn’t find the manufacturer.
On AMD systems this was called the Away-driver.

What you didn’t know is this, this driver activates the RTFM-chip. (Re-Turn inFormation to Manufacturer chip)
It means it can detect if you read a manual as well stores the parameters you have set in the BIOS.
As soon as you start Windows we are informed about your settings and manual readings.

As we have been monitoring peoples behavior for some time and combined those with the RMA information from returned boards.
At the same time monitoring questions on the forum and matched the IP’s.
We have made a discovery.

A lot of RMA is unneeded and unwanted, many happens due to user mistakes, numbers show that 90% of the RMA is OC people killing boards and
newbies connecting the wrong connectors or insert parts that should not be inserted.
Or simply forget to remove standoffs or CPU-power.
MSI plans on tackles those numbers, and the RTFM-chip will give a readout of what you have done when it did post or attempted to post!

Checking on you isn’t new, Homeland-security done this ever you installed XP-SP3 or above, but their info in encrypted so useless to MSI.
So MSI decided to ban people from support, RMA and the forum who has done the damage themselves or didn’t read the manual the first of next month.
We know who you are, and we have gathered enough information via our RTFM-chip.

The only question is, should MSI continue to do this? As some information is real bad.
Will this hurt you relation with MSI products?

Please let us know, as we have to talk to MSI management the first of next month and make them decide what to do with the information.

To unsubscribe from these announcements, login to the forum and uncheck Receive forum announcements and important notifications by email.in your profile.

You can view the full announcement by following this link:

http://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=136806.0

Regards,
The MSI HQ User to User Forum Team.

Quite obviously, folks who had shelled out money to purchase MSI products were not pleased. In the end, MSI was forced to retract their original message. And here is how they did it :

Hi there,

We are sorry people took this for prank for serious.

Nobody seem to have wondered what RTFM really means.
If you put the term in Google, you will find it is telling you to read the manual.

Just think, how would a chip check if you read manuals?
We thought of this prank after answering the many posts where people ask the obvious that is already in the manual.

But we learned a valuable lesson, no more April-fools jokes from the forum, a 10 year old thing just died.

Sorry that you took it for real and got mad.

I have to agree that the original message was quite irreverent and without the safety net of April fool’s day it’s bound to anger customers. However, I can’t help but love MSI’s apology mail which is possibly even more tongue in cheek. Way to go MSI!

(via Neowin)

WikiLeaks Promises to Reveal Pentagon Murder Cover-up: US Government Feels Threatened

WikiLeaks Controversy is not something new to WikiLeaks – a website notorious for leaking sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, or religious documents. In the past, they have leaked Guantánamo Bay procedures, documents belonging to the Church of Scientology, contents of Sarah Palin’s e-mail account and internet censorship lists.

Obviously, over the years WikiLeaks has managed to anger quite a few people, organizations and governments around the world. In fact, the US Army even considered attacking WikiLeaks in the past. According to The Register, a 2008 report by the Army Counterintelligence Center, classified Secret, called for a mole hunt and prosecutions to undermine potential sources’ trust in WikiLeaks.

Due to fundraising problems, WikiLeaks had to close shop for several months. However, it bounced back in February ’10 and is once again courting trouble. WikiLeaks has promised to reveal a Pentagon murder cover-up at the US National Press Club on April 5. Although, very little information is available about the nature of the information available to WikiLeaks, it is definitely sensitive enough to prompt the US government into action.

A flurry of recent updates on the official WikiLeaks Twitter account suggests that they are currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation. Here are the recent tweets by WikiLeaks in chronological order:

  • WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation. Following/photographing/filming/detaining.
  • If anything happens to us, you know why: it is our Apr 5 film. And you know who is responsible.
  • Two under State Dep diplomatic cover followed our editor from Iceland to http://skup.no on Thursday.
  • One related person was detained for 22 hours. Computer’s seized.That’s http://www.skup.no
  • We know our possession of the decrypted airstrike video is now being discussed at the highest levels of US command.
  • If you know more about the operations against us, contact https://secure.wikileaks.org/
  • We have been shown secret photos of our production meetings and been asked specific questions during detention related to the airstrike.
  • We have airline records of the State Dep/CIA tails. Don’t think you can get away with it. You cannot. This is WikiLeaks.

In the past, WikiLeaks has played a pivotal role in exposing wrongdoing. It has managed to remain true to its principle of only publishing documents of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest. Over the years, it has managed to gain both respect and reputation for making a positive impact.

At the moment, the big question is, did WikiLeaks byte off more than it can chew? It will be interesting to observe how events unfold over the next few days. Stay tuned for more updates.

Update: A possibly related slightly older tweet reveals a bit more about the current situation:

Finally cracked the encryption to US military video in which journalists, among others, are shot. Thanks to all who donated $/CPUs.

Twitter Starts Enabling Contributors Feature on Multi-User Accounts

Twitter has come a long way since its inception. It began as a way to share your status updates with your friends. Now, it is being used for everything from organizing relief efforts to online marketing. Twitter has grown into a serious revenue mechanism for many organizations. Dell has led the way by raking in millions of dollars’ worth of sales through Twitter. Although Twitter was designed for single-user accounts, today a substantial portion of the popular Twitter accounts are actually multi-user accounts maintained by a dedicated team. Twitter acknowledged this a few months back and promised to introduce a new Contributors feature for businesses.

Twitter-Contributors

The Contributors feature is really simple. It adds the username of the person actually posting the updates to the tweet byline. This gives a face to big organizations and makes conversation more personal. After testing this feature for several months on the @twitter account, Twitter has finally begun rolling it out to multi user accounts. The SalesForce and Starbucks team are already enjoying this feature and others should get it soon.

Opera 10.51 for Windows Released – Now Faster Than Ever Before

Opera-10.51 Opera Software has just released Opera 10.51 for Windows, which is a recommended security and stability update. As suggested by its version number, the changes are mostly under the hood and there are no new features.

This build addresses a couple of highly critical security issues, including the malformed HTTP Content-Length header issue, which we had discussed earlier;. The other security issue is related to XSLT (XSL Transformations). Due to a bug, it was possible to use certain XSLT constructs to retrieve random contents of unrelated documents (including sensitive data from previously visited websites).

Opera-10.51-Peacekeeper-Speed-Benchmark

Opera 10.51 also includes Carakan (Opera’s JavaScript engine) optimizations. As a result, it should be faster than ever before. In fact, PeaceKeeper scores can be 20-30% higher than in Opera 10.50. This is quite a significant achievement, since Carakan was already faster than its competitors.

The official changelog is fairly big and a large number of UI inconsistencies and bugs have been quashed in this release. Opera 10.51 can be downloaded from opera.com/download.

Firefox 3.6.2 Candidate Fixes Critical Security Vulnerability

Mozilla-Firefox-3.6.2-Security-Vulnerability Mozilla is preparing to release Firefox 3.6.2, which will address a critical security vulnerability present in Firefox 3.6. The vulnerability in question, was reported by security researcher Evgeny Legerov last month. However, his initial reluctance to directly communicate with Mozilla prolonged the development time for the patch.

The vulnerability has been rated by Secunia as highly critical and can by exploited by hackers to execute arbitrary code on the user’s system. It is not known if there are any in-the-wild exploits for this vulnerability.

Firefox 3.6.2 is scheduled to be released on March 30. Until then, security conscious users can download a nightly build from Mozilla’s FTP server. Firefox 3.7 Alpha 3 (or newer), as well as older versions of Firefox (pre 3.6 releases) are also not affected.

Macs Cheaper Than Windows PCs For Enterprises

Mac-NewsRemember those “Hi Mac, I’m a PC and I’m Cheaperadvertisements by Microsoft? Those ads were pretty consistent with the general perception that Macs are a lot more expensive than Windows PCs. However, a recent survey of enterprise IT managers suggests that the common perception may not be entirely true – at least not for enterprise users.

The survey conducted by the Enterprise Desktop Alliance polled administrators of organizations, which have 50 or more servers or 100 or more Macs. While the upfront cost of Macs may be more, the total cost of ownership (TOC) is significantly less.

Mac-vs-Pc

A staggering proportion of the respondents believed that the cost of troubleshooting and help desk calls is less in case of Macs. Most system administrators also believed that aspects such as software licensing fees, user training and system configuration cost less in case of Macs.

As always, take the results with a pinch of salt since its very difficult to judge the reliability of surveys like these. EDA president’s statement that , “The members of the Enterprise Desktop Alliance provide products and services that make deployment and management of Macs easier to do”, doesn’t help either.

Google Launches New 3D Graphics Layer Engine For Chrome

WebGL-OpenGL-Google-Angle While, Microsoft is busy playing catch-up, Google is determined to stay on the cutting-edge. It has launched a new open source project dubbed ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine), which will enhance Chrome’s graphics rendering capabilities.

In very simple terms, the goal of ANGLE is to permit execution of WebGL content in Windows systems by utilising DirectX 9.0. WebGL is a cross platform API which can be leveraged by web applications to serve hardware accelerated 3D graphics within the browser.

The trouble with WebGL is that it relies on the OpenGL ES 2.0 API. Once upon a time OpenGL was considered a serious competitor to DirectX. However, in the recent years it has been decimated by Microsoft’s DirectX. So much so, most Windows systems do not even have the requisite OpenGL drivers installed. ANGLE project aims to work around this problem by implementing most of the OpenGL ES 2.0 API.

WebGL is still a young technology with limited support. Microsoft isn’t even a member of the working group and hasn’t showed any inclination to support WebGL in the future. In fact, given its long conflict with OpenGL, it is doubtful if Microsoft will ever warm up to WebGL. Nevertheless, Google obviously believes that technologies like WebGL, which are important for next-gen web applications, deserve a chance. It will be interesting to see if Google really succeeds in making a difference.