Category Archives: Tech News

Google Stops Free Version of Google Apps for Business

You can no more create Google Apps accounts for free as Google has officially announced and stopped offering the service for free in an aim to ‘focus on the quality of the business user’s experience.’

According to Clay Bavor, Director of Product Management for Google Apps, announced and explained in a blog post that the move will allow the Google to focus on the quality of the business user’s experience, with full service support. However, it is made clear that existing Google Apps users can continue using the service for free, with no additional charges to pay. Additionally, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities.

Google Apps for Business

When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn’t quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready.

The free version, which was earlier called as the Google Apps “Standard,” used to be available for businesses with fewer than 50 users. This free service provided email, calendaring, shared documents, spam and virus filtering, and up to seven gigabytes of inbox space for every account created. Now, instead of two versions – the free version and the premium version – there will be only one, which will include 24/7 phone support, 25 gigabytes of inbox space, and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. All of this comes in a bundle that will cost $50 per user per year.

Nokia’s Grand Mapping Plans Include “Living Maps” & More

Nokia has been a player in navigation and mapping for quite a while. Unfortunately neither Nokia nor users at large talked about it till Apple’s disastrous foray into maps. Recently announced cross-platform mapping solution Nokia HERE has brought the focus on one of Nokia’s hidden weapon in today’s smartphone wars. BBC’s Leo Kelion took a closer at Nokia’s offering to understand the technology behind it. Here are some interesting facts from Kelion’s piece: Continue reading Nokia’s Grand Mapping Plans Include “Living Maps” & More

Mugen Wants To Make Your Galaxy Note 2 Last A Lifetime; Releases A 6400mAh Extended Battery!

The Galaxy Note 2 may have a mammoth 5.5-inch Super-AMOLED HD screen, but it is also backed by a beefy 3100mAh battery, which can easily power this hybrid device for more than a day under extremely heavy usage.

However, if you were still not pleased with the battery life of your Note 2 and still craved for more, don’t worry, Mugen Batteries have covered you. Mugen is known for providing some excellent high-capacity batteries for all popular devices out there, in various shapes and capacities.

The company has now released a gigantic 6400mAh extended battery for the Galaxy Note 2, for people who want their phablet to last a lifetime. However, all this comes at a cost of an extremely thick Note 2, which can definitely make the device less pocketable. The 6400mAh battery is accompanied by a new battery door so as to accommodate the extra thickness, and also includes a kickstand to make watching videos on the Note 2 a pleasure.

The battery is currently up for pre-order and will ship on 21st December, and costs just below the $100 mark with free international shipping.

AnonOpsIndia Hack Kapil Sibal’s Website

Update: Looks like the site has been taken offline by the developers.

The infamous hacker group Anonymous has done it again. In protest against Sec 66A of the IT Act, the hacker group — AnonOpsIndia (@opindia_revenge) — have defaced the personal website of Kapil Sibal (kapilsibalmp.com), India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

AnonOpsIndia Hack Kapil Sibal's Website

The following message – Protest against IT Act  was displayed on the site:

Anonymous Calls for protests against the draconian IT Rules dreamed up by a man commonly known as Kapil ShitBall. Here are the current details: http://dpar.mizoram.gov.in /components/index.html Andhra pradesh Venue: Dharna chowk, Indira park, Hyderabad. Date & Time : 2nd Dec. 2012 at 4.00PM the Sunday Karnataka Venue : BBMP Corporation Circle, Opp. Vokkaligara Bhavan, Near Halasauru Gate Police station, Bengaluru, Date &TIme: 2nd Dec. 2012 at 4.30PM the Sunday Tamil nadu Venue: Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai, Date &TIme:4th December 2012, 3.30pm to 6.30pm, Tuesday. PS: Kapil Sibal – there is no such thing as Victims of Freedom of Expression You have Zero online presence you are not fit to pass comments on our Internet. Please before we fuck you completely … get off my Internet

Protest Against IT Act

Earlier this month, two women were arrested by the Mumbai police for protesting a state-wide ‘bandh’ on Facebook. The youngsters protested by posting an update on their Facebook profile against ‘bandh’ due to the death of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray, and later released on bail. The case against the two girls are now being dropped.

This act by the Mumbai police broke up a major controversial debate between the public, people on the Internet, and the politicians as well. With under an immense pressure, the central government has issued a statement that could bring down the misuse of the IT Act, which was used to make the arrests of the two youngsters.

Review: Notability Note Taking & PDF Annotation App

Notability

If you use an iPad and are looking for a great app for taking notes and annotating PDF files, then look no further than Notability. Notability is by far one of the best note taking apps I have seen and is the only one that has taken some of my attention away from Evernote. Unlike Evernote, it is not free however, it is only $1.99 and it is packed full of features.

Organized

In the picture below, you can see how Notability allows you to organize your notes into nice note books called categories and tabs called subjects on the left side of the page. In the top bar you have a simple set of tools. The “Edit” button allows you to rename, delete, and reorganize your notes and notebooks. The right pointing arrow button to the right of “Edit” will allow you to share a particular note. Notability will connect to your email, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, WebDav, printers, iTunes, and even other apps on your iPad. The second arrow button in the top right corner will allow you to import documents, PDFs, pictures, etc… from these connected services such as Dropbox. The final button in the right corner is used to start a new note.

Organize

Stylus and Finger Friendly

One of the few frustrations I have with Evernote has been the lack of an ink note on the iPad. An ink note will allow you to use a stylus, or your finger, to write on the tablet. Notability works great with a stylus. In the image below, notice the different colors of handwriting that was used as well as, the colorful sketches that were done. The ink in Notability is smooth as silk. If you press and hold on the pencil icon at the top of the note, you get several options for pen thicknesses, styles, and colors.

Ink Pen

Media Rich

Notability has the ability to insert a lot of media into a note. Below, you will where I inserted a picture of an apple pie I made. You will also see the little “plus” sign menu dropped down showing the different media available to you in Notability. Notice that I have a purple triangle inserted as a shape. I used the “figure” option to draw this into my note. You can also insert “Stickies” with all sorts of different paper colors and lines available. Another really cool trick is the “Web Clip” option they put into Notability. You can browse out to a web page and clip a picture of it into your note. This would be great if you were working on a website design team or if there is some important information on the web that you don’t want to lose. You will also notice the microphone icon at the top of the note. This allows you to make voice notes. This is excellent for those of us who work in construction and we want to give ourselves reminders as we walk through the initial stages of a project.

Media Rich

The Good:

For a $1.99, this app is fantastic. This app is fantastic for $10. It works very nicely with a stylus and it adds flair to your notes that a lot of other note taking apps just don’t do. For instance, the fact that you can pick lined or grid paper, or have color paper instead of plain white are great examples of the thoughtful additions Notability offers. It connects to most major cross browser cloud storage apps like Dropbox and Google Drive. You can also send you note in a variety of formats such as PDF.

The Bad:

Notability will let you create text boxes that you can type in and move around, but they are a little buggy at times. Sometimes selecting and deselecting the boxes is difficult and they will move around on you as well. It doesn’t integrate with QuickOffice so you can’t import a spreadsheet in as a spreadsheet. It wants to convert it using Google Drive. It is currently not available for Android.

All that being said, those very small flaws are the only reason I can’t give this a perfect score, but it is pretty darn close in my mind. Notability is a must have app for the student, project manager, or someone who likes to keep up with good notes. I am confident that they are working to add better capabilities to this already wonderful app. It’s a 4 star app going on 5 soon.

 

Gmail Adds Google Drive, Now Attach Larger Files

The internet has an intangible presence in everyone’s lives nowadays, and it has grown into a strong content production and consumption platform with a worldwide audience. Some of the world’s most popular businesses are driven through this medium, and overall, the Internet is the one thing that has made life so much better for everyone. However, the Internet has been around for a few decades now, but it is still requires some decision making when it comes to transferring files over the Internet. This XKCD sums it up pretty well.

file_transfer

Email services have limits on the size of files that can be transferred. Recently, Dropbox was able to fill the gap with its file storage and syncing service. Now, Gmail is making it easier to transfer large file to your peers, by integrating its email service with its cloud storage service— Google Drive. Gmail has allowed email attachments up to 25 MB until now, but with Google Drive, we can send files up to 10 GB in size through Gmail. This is 400 times of what was once allowed.

The Gmail Drive integration comes with a new feature, which also checks if the file being shared has the correct permissions. The Gmail blog announces the new feature, saying,

Whenever you send a file from Drive that isn’t shared with everyone, you’ll be prompted with the option to change the file’s sharing settings without leaving your email. It’ll even work with Drive links pasted directly into emails.

The feature is available for those with Gmail’s new compose interface, and will roll out for all users over the next few days.

Government Surveillance Grows by 25% over the Last Year

Google is reporting a serious rise in government surveillance over the last year. This rise can be attributed to the rapidly evolving political, economic and military scenario all over the world. The news has been posted on the Official Google blog, and the graph suggests an accelerate rise over the last year. In its sixth Transparency Report, Google has publicized the number of Government requests made over the last six months, and taking this into account, there has been a total increase of 25% over the last year.

user data

The data shared by Google as part of these requests, includes,

Most of these user-data requests come from The United States, India, Brazil, France, The United Kingdom and Germany. However, while Google complies with over 90% of all these requests from the United States, the compliance for other countries ranges between 40% and 65%.

Two trends are evident from this report. First, the US government has stricter controls over Google and can demand (and eventually get) more amount of data out of it, than other countries. Second, the same set of six countries has always dominated the top user-data requester positions. Not to mention, many of these countries have had either political or economic tensions in the recent past.

If the Government wants user data so badly, there has to be proper accountability. This is exactly the kind of big-brother surveillance that people resent, and guess what! It has never been easier for the Governments, with all these online services curating more data than ever available earlier.

The only solution to this problem is that any online service storing user-data must encrypt the data using a key that is exclusive to the user and is his private property. Proper information for using this private key should be include in the privacy policy, and all users whose data is being requested be intimated well in advance, so that the choice is theirs whether to give up the data, and not of the company holding the data.

Google Nexus 4 Sold Out In The U.K And Europe; Goes On Sale In The U.S.A At 9AM PST

The Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 went on sale today via the Play Store and sold out within 20 minutes of the ordering page going live. The handset and the tablet first went on sale in Australia and sold out in exactly 20 minutes. In other regions of the world, including the United Kingdom and Europe, the ordering page of the handset was hardly live for 5 minutes.

Interested buyers who tried to purchase the Nexus 4 or the Nexus 10 usually ended up getting “an error occurred while processing your order” when they tried to purchase the devices using Play Store. However, later on, most of them got a confirmation mail from Google saying their order has been successfully approved and their credit card charged.

It is not yet known whether there was actually so much demand for the Nexus 4 or Google grossly under-estimated the demand for the handset. Even then, most buyers were not at all pleased with how the Play Store behaved when they were purchasing the new Nexii devices from Google.

The Nexus 4 is, however, yet to go on sale in the United States. The handset, along with the Nexus 10, will be available for purchase from the Play Store at 9AM PST/12PM EST as confirmed by Google.

 

French Sculptor, Auguste Rodin, Honored with Google Doodle

Today, Google pays homage to Auguste Rodin, a French sculptor who defied the conventional art of his time. He is best known for his contemplative sculpture called “The Thinker”.

The Thinker

Rodin would be 172 years old today. He was born to a working class family in France in 1840. He received his early training at Petit École, a school that taught decorative artists. He received a strong background in French 18th century art. After several attempts to gain entrance into the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, Rodin settled into a career of making architectural embellishments and ornamental sculptures. This was definitely a set back as gaining acceptance into the École des Beaux-Arts wasn’t particularly difficult to do. It is thought that he was snubbed due to the fact that he didn’t fall into the Neoclassical style of sculpture.

The path that Rodin took was not an easy one. He served as an apprentice for many years to French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. He would follow Carrier-Belluese to Belgium after an economic downturn due to the Franco-Prussian war. From there he traveled to Brussels and then on to Italy. In Italy, he was inspired by Michelangelo. The Bronze Age, pictured below, is one example of his Michelangelo inspired work.

The Bronze Age
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Rodin received a commission in 1880 from the French government to design a portal for a Museum of Decorative Arts. Unfortunately, the museum never came to fruition. However, this inspired a lifelong work in Rodin called The Gates of Hell. For 37 years Rodin worked on this monumental sculpture. He would add pieces and remove pieces striving for perfection. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Rodin designed pieces that showed both the agony and ecstasy of man. Many of his famous individual pieces like The Thinker, actually began as part of this portal which he took off and used for individual commissions. Sadly, The Gates of Hell was never cast into bronze during Rodin’s lifetime. The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, PA has the first ever bronze cast made from the original Rodin cast.

For a better look at some of Rodin’s sculptures visit the Rodin Museum’s website at http://www.rodinmuseum.org/. You can also learn more about his life at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auguste_Rodin.

Another Day, Another Patent Troll — This Time over SSL

Meet Erich Spangenberg. This Texan is the owner of TQP, a company that like any other patent troll has not produced anything worthwhile, but has a popular patent under its belt. The company has only two employees, Spangenberg himself, and Michael Jones who filed a patent back in 1989. This was a crucial patent for the web as its title reads,

Encrypted Data Transmission System Employing Means for Altering the Encryption Keys

Although the patent was filed back in 1989, TQP acquired the patent only in 2006 and has been sitting atop the patent ever since, suing most of the big brands from the IT and internet industry. The patent covers the use of SSL over the web.

patent-troll

TQP is a perfect example of a patent troll, but a lot has to be wrong with the current patent system as well. A network-related patent filed back in 1989 is being granted 17 years later. To put this into perspective, the World Wide Web was invented back in 1989, and so was the patent.

TQP has made a living out of suing companies from various verticals over the last five years. So far, it has sued 500 companies, including Google, Apple, HP, Intel, Amazon, Dell, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, HSBC, Walt Disney, United Airlines and even Exxon Mobil. As we can see here, the patent is so broad that TQP can sue every other company out there that has a website and encrypts its pages. What does Spangenberg have to say about this?

When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it.  I don’t understand why just because SSL is prevalent, it should be free.

Spangenberg has over 247 companies, that do nothing other than owning certain patents and filing lawsuits, but this SSL patent has to be the golden goose. The patent has already faced re-examination once but has not been revoked. What surprises me is that companies like Apple and Google that believe in the web are falling easy prey to this SSL patent troll! If anyone, these companies should have defended the right to use SSL.

(Image via)

Get Real-time Search Results on Google with HashPlug Chrome Extension

An agreement between Google and Twitter that enabled Google to include live Twitter updates in their search results through a special feed was discontinued last year in July as Twitter chose not to renew the agreement. With that real-time updates from Twitter were no more showing up on Google’s search results.

However, a really cool Google Chrome extension called HashPlug allows Chrome users to get real-time results on the latest topics that they search on Google. The extension adds a search results widget on the right hand side of Google’s search results page, displaying the latest tweets of that particular search term.

The results are updated automatically along with which you can retweet, favorite or even reply right from the widget box itself.

HashPlug - Real-time Twitter Updates on Google Search

HashPlug integrates Twitter search results into Google in an unobtrusive manner – so that you get real-time results on latest topics like Election, Storms, etc. It also allows you to favorite, reply or retweet any result.

The Chrome extension is developed by a Indian start-up called Fenopix, which is based out of Bangalore, who claims to love building apps on HTML5, JavaScript and Windows 8. According to the developers, “while you are searching on Google it picks up the search term and displays real time results in an unobtrusive manner. It also allows you to favorite a tweet, reply to a tweet, or retweet any result. ”

The team have also stated that they have plans to extend the tool and integrate Facebook results as well – “As of now it only supports twitter results. But we have plans to integrate Facebook results too in future.”

This tool can also be helpful if you’re finding reviews about movies, books, or any products. Check it out and tell us what you think – HashPlug Chrome extension

New Horizontal Menus in Google Search Results

Earlier in June, Keith had first reported that Google is testing out a new layout for it’s search results page by moving the vertical menu on the left over to the top. It looks like Google has permanently implemented the change as several numbers of users have started to see the new look for Google’s search results pages.

However, I find the new Google search horizontal menu completely unnecessary, or the old menu which was on the left hand side served better. There is also the dark horizontal navigation menu on top, which is pretty much same as the new one, just that the options (services) are shuffled. This makes the new menu redundant.

New Google Search Layout

Google should have at least the made the position of one of the navigation bars fixed, so that the bar sticks to the top when the user scrolls down, and does not have to scroll back to the top when they want to change page.

Jon Wiley, Lead Designer, Google Search says that,

“You’ll notice a new simpler, cleaner design on the search results page – we’ve been working on ways to create a consistent search experience across the wide variety of devices and screen sizes people use today. We started with tablets last year, got it to mobile phones a few weeks ago, and are now rolling out to the desktop.

With the new design, there’s a bit more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you’re looking for, whether from web results or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph”

There’s a whole lot of space on the left hand side and we’re not clear whether how Google will make use of it. Google also enhanced the search results page by adding several new features including Knowledge Graph and a dedicated application search for Mobile, PC & Browser Apps.

Google Celebrates Bram Stoker’s 165th Birthday

Bram Stoker

Today, Google celebrates Bram Stoker with a doodle on his 165th birthday. Bram Stoker’s claim to fame is what many consider to be the first horror novel, Dracula. This imaginative and captivating novel introduced the world to the vampire, Count Dracula. Though vampire stories were nothing new, Dracula pretty much set the standard for the modern day vampire character. The story basically tells the story of Count Dracula’s intent to move from Transylvania to England. There is no telling how many sleepless nights and frightening nightmares have occurred as a result of reading Stoker’s great novel.

Oddly enough, Stoker wasn’t known as much as a writer in his day as was known for being an assistant to the Actor, Henry Irving, and for running the affairs of the Lyceum Theater which Irving owned. Through this association with Irving, Stoker quickly attained status as a member of London’s high society. He forged many friendships and ran the most successful theater of his day. He also traveled abroad, even visiting the United States. Another odd fact however, is that he never visited Eastern Europe during these travels which is the setting for his famous novel Dracula.

Stoker’s life is pretty interesting and inspirational. He was born in a small town near Dublin, Ireland called Clontarf. According to Wikipedia, he spent most of his early childhood bedridden. It wasn’t until he was seven years old that he made a complete recovery. No one is quite sure what illness he suffered from so long. It didn’t keep him down very long, however. He eventually became an athlete and did very well. Though he was most noted for the humanities, he actually graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics from Trinity College in Dublin. He is the epitome of the well-rounded man. Take a moment today to go and click the Google doodle. Maybe you will learn something about this interesting man and his contributions to our world.

Of Voting Machines and Accurate Miscalibrations

The whole world watches closely as the next president is being elected in the United States. The results of this election will affect many decisions the world over. In the midst of this world-changing event, an interesting and embarrassing matter has come to light. A voting machine in Pennsylvania was found to have an amusing miscalibration. Pennsylvania is the sixth most populous state in the US, and the news has attracted a wide coverage from major media outlets.

The miscalibration seems to be with the on-screen vote button for Barack Obama, which places the vote in favor of Mitt Romney instead! The touch vote for Romney works just fine, and so do the other two buttons for two other candidates. The irregularity has been discovered by a Reddit user who goes by the name of “centrapavote”. He commented on the video showing the glitch around five hours ago, and has become the talk of the town since it was submitted to Reddit by his friend.

There are three manufacturers involved in making voting machines for this election, and one of them has links to Bain Capital, which has links to Romney. However, this is not the first incident of voting machines behaving badly. Voting machines are far from secure and this is a well-established fact. These machines have been ridiculed enough by hackers at DEFCON.

A similar issue was detected with a voting machine in North Carolina too. These voting machines are designed for one single purpose, and they failed to do just that! Somewhere, someone in charge of QA is having a bad day.

Google’s Election Day Doodle

Election Day Google Doodle

Google has gotten into the election day spirit by offering up an U.S. election day doodle. The doodle sports the U.S. colors red, white, and blue and depicts ballots being cast in a patriotic ballot box.

Today’s doodle isn’t animated but it is plenty useful. If you click the “Find your voting location and hours” link at the bottom of the doodle, you will see something similar to what is in the picture below. Notice that the voting location is conveniently listed with a map on the left hand side. Highlighted in red, you will where you can click through the ballot and see what candidates are running. If the candidate has a website, Facebook, or Twitter feed, a link to that is provided as well.

Voter Information

At this point in time, a great deal of Americans are pretty much worn out by all the political rhetoric that is filling the airwaves and Facebook news feeds. Unfortunately, this election has the possibility of being so close that it may take weeks to find out who the winner will be. As tiring as this process is however, voting is one of the most important rights we as U.S. citizens have and exercising that right is an important duty that shouldn’t be taken lightly. No nation is perfect and the U.S. has seen its fair share of wrongs, but there have been many good people who have stood up to the injustices of our country and our world. I think about the citizen soldiers who stood up to an oppressive tyrant and began a great experiment. I think about the many men who died at the hands of their brothers while fighting to set slaves free in this country. I think about men and women who risked their lives to make voting a right for blacks and for women. You see, if you’re a U.S. citizen, your right to vote came at a heavy price no matter what your race, creed, color, or sex. Take a moment today to make your voice known if for no other reason than to honor the many who died giving you the right to do so.