Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Google launches Plus to take on Facebook

Google launches Plus to take on Facebook

The battle for the eyeballs of social media network users is intensifying, with Google launching a demo version of 'Google+' (called Google Plus), the search engine giant's renewed attempt to take on Facebook in the social networking arena.

“This is just the beginning...We're just getting warmed up...launching what we call a field trial period, an invitation-only approach to help smooth out the rough edges,” said an official Google post on the demo site.

While designing the new service, Google has kept in mind social circles, called plus circles, and a Twitter-inspired feature that resembles real-life social interactions. It allows users to selectively share information with specific groups within defined circles, rather than sharing it with all their social connections at once. One can create as many circles as one wishes to, for whatever categories one wants, adding friends and contacts simply by clicking and dragging names onto various circles.

Google is also featuring a web conferencing option, in which up to 10 people can join in simultaneously. A feature called Sparks would provide users with web content on various topics like sports or fashion, allowing the user to subscribe to categories of interest, create custom categories, and share content with friends. Google would also release Google Plus mobile apps for Android smartphones and iPhones. This would include special features like cloud-based photo storage and group messaging. With its instant upload feature, one's photos and videos automatically upload themselves to a private album on Google+. Its 'Huddle' feature turns different conversations into a group chat.

Google, however, has its work cut out. Facebook leads the global social media networking pack, with nearly 750 million users (including 500 million active users), followed by LinkedIn (around 100 million), Twitter (around 75 million), the 100-odd million Orkut (Brazil and India accounting for most users) and MySpace, with 30 million-odd users.

Google's earlier attempts saw feeble success in the social networking space. It could not create a 'Wave', generate a 'Buzz' or make 'Orkut' grab eyeballs in markets outside Brazil and India. Even in India, Orkut has been steadily losing marketshare to Facebook. Compared with against Facebook's 31 million users, Orkut has around 18 million. Various Google social products —Orkut, Lively, Google Friend Connect, Wave and Buzz—just haven't caught on, say social media experts.

Last February, Gmail users impulsively clicked on Google Buzz. Where else could one get such a massive installed base with a single click? By building Buzz directly into Gmail, the service had an instant audience of nearly 180 million users.

Similar to Google+, Buzz was said to be a stream of status updates, pictures, links and videos from friends. One could 'like' these and comment on them. If one used Flickr, Picasa, Google Reader or Twitter, you could automatically import these into one's stream. Buzz also recommended items one might like, based on the activities of one's friends. However, Google was reprimanded for abusing the privacy of individuals by pushing-in Buzz to all its users, after which it had to backtrack. Today, there's hardly any buzz about the product.

With close to 4,000 Twitter mentions every minute (Twirus data), Google +1 was a hot topic of discussion on the microblogging site. Blogger Vikram Pandit wrote, “We'll see how it plays out when the users begin flooding in, but +1 isn't really as fun or as social as Facebook's or Twitter's various web-consuming widgets.” Another Twitter user, Sameer Garde, said, “If this is how Google wants to take on Facebook's social reach, then it's going to be an interesting fight to watch.” Facebook user Meena Raheja expressed her opinion as a status update, “Don't find Google Plus One intuitively appealing, at least just yet. Will stay with FB (Facebook) till the jury's out.”

The jury, however, spoke in a mixed voice, saying it was too early to be sure. Chris George, chief executive, EBS Worldwide, said, “Before marketers start thinking about leveraging Google+ as a new alternative to FB, it would be important to see how it works with the users. At the face of it, Google+ offers an interesting methodology to organise your social media friends and acquaintances (around what they call circles). But Google also has a history of great ideas that haven't really fired up users.”

Navin Chandani, managing director, Experian Marketing Services, says, “Globally, the convergence of search marketing and social marketing is a growing trend and the new feature from Google is a step in that direction. Social media allows consumers to secure 'peer' or 'friend' level recommendations, and search engines allow consumers to find information, products and services.” According to Experian Hitwise Clickstream data, search engines contribute 38 per cent, while social media websites contribute about 10 per cent of the traffic to over 200,000 websites tracked by the company in India. “A social marketing feature on a search engine is definitely not something a marketer can ignore,” says Chandani.

Games2win sees the +1 button as a welcome change. India chief executive Alok Kejriwal says, “Online games are highly 'searched' by lots of consumers on search engines and we are delighted to have the +1 button implemented on our site. It immediately allows content to bubble up and be seen by friends on the Google network.” He insists the Facebook 'Like' button works in collusion with +1 and not in seclusion. “To me, an FB like/comment is a 'viral push', +1 is a 'viral pull',” he says.

Nevertheless, Google, the $29-billion search engine giant, garners negligible revenue from the enterprise space, compared to its phenomenal success with web advertising, which accounts for almost 96 per cent of its total revenue. A successful social networking site would only add to its web advertising prowess.

Google to revamp home page

Google is working on a project to introduce a new and improved Google experience. Over the next few months, the search engine says users would continue to see more updates on its look and feel. Its homepage, too, would get a makeover. Google has also created a ‘What do you love’? ( page. For instance, if you type the word ‘nature’, it throws up a host of neatly-packaged information under different subheads. The synergy with Google+ is evident.

Deathly Hallows

Deathly Hallows

The Deathly Hallows are three highly powerful magical objects supposedly created by Death and given to each of three brothers in the Peverell family. They consisted of the Elder Wand, an immensely powerful wand that was considered undefeatable; the Resurrection Stone, a stone which could summon the spirits of the dead, and the Cloak of Invisibility, which, as its name suggests, renders the user completely invisible. According to the story, both Antioch Peverell (owner of the Wand) and Cadmus Peverell (owner of the Stone) came to bad ends. However, Ignotus Peverell's wisdom in requesting the Cloak was rewarded.

According to legend, he who possesses these three artefacts would become the Master of Death. Dumbledore told Harry that he and another wizard, Gellert Grindelwald took this to mean that the uniter of the Deathly Hallows would be invincible. The story of the Deathly Hallows was originally told by Beedle the Bard and subsequently passed from family to family as a wizard fairytale. Few wizards ever realized that the Deathly Hallows were genuine items.

No one is known to have owned all three Hallows at one time. Harry Potter had possessed all three, but never more than two at a time. Albus Dumbledore had possessed all three, but not all at once. The Cloak was handed down to Harry Potter from his father through Albus Dumbledore, and the Stone was left to him in Dumbledore's will, hidden inside a Golden Snitch. Harry Potter gained the allegiance, but not physical possession, of the Elder Wand upon overpowering Draco Malfoy at Malfoy Manor. Although Draco had mastery of the Elder wand for a time, having gained its allegiance upon disarming Dumbledore before his death, he never knew of it. Potter never made use of more than two Hallows at once; by the time he took physical possession of the Elder Wand, he had already dropped the Stone in the Forbidden Forest, never to be seen again.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final of the Harry Potter novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The book was released on 21 July 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing in the United Kingdom, in the United States by Scholastic, and in Canada by Raincoast Books, ending the series that began in 1997 with the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The novel chronicles the events directly following Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and the final confrontation between the wizards Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort.

Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in January 2007. Before its release, Bloomsbury reportedly spent GB£10 million to keep the book's contents safe before its release date. American publisher Arthur Levine refused any copies of the novel to be released in advance for press review, although two reviews were submitted early. Shortly before release, photos of all 759 pages of the U.S. edition were leaked and transcribed, leading Scholastic to look for the source that had leaked it.

Released globally in 93 countries, Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever. It sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours following its release, including more than 11 million in the U.S. and UK alone. The previous record, 9 million in its first day, had been held by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The novel has also been translated into over 120 languages, including Ukrainian, Swedish, and Hindi.

Major themes in the novel are death and living in a corrupted society, and critics have compared them to Christian allegories. Generally well-received, the book won the 2008 Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award, and the American Library Association named it a "Best Book for Young Adults". A two-part film based on the book began showing in November 2010, when the first part was released; the second part is scheduled for July 2011.

Body Language

Body Language

Non verbal communication includes the following aspects:

Facial expressions
Voice culture
Eye contact
Spatial arrangements
Patterns of touch
Expressive movement
Body language

Of all the non verbal factors mentioned here, one should be aware of body language, as beyond the words this speaks volumes. Thus, one needs to learn how to effectively use their body to communicate better.

Take for instance, eye contact. Eye contact is an important channel of interpersonal communication. This factor helps regulate the flow of communication. It signals interest in others. Furthermore, eye contact with the audience increases the speaker's credibility. It is also an important part of effective team communication skills.

Another instance are the varied facial expressions. Take for example, the importance of the smile... it is regarded as a powerful cue that transmits: happiness, friendliness, motivational, warmth, liking, affection, etc. With a gentle smile on the face one is sending out a friendly signal, which is almost always reciprocated in a positive manner.

Gestures are another important part of non verbal communications. If one fails to use gestures while speaking, they tend to be perceived as boring, stiff and unanimated. A lively and animated teaching and speaking style captures the audience attention, at any given point. For example, nodding the head, communicates positive reinforcement, indicating that the speaker is being heard.

Other aspects of the body that are important in communicating is the posture of the body; as well as the proximity being maintained. For instance, while listening one should lean a little forward to show that they are interested in the conversation.

Importance Of Communication Skills

Importance Of Communication Skills

"Identification is one of the key ingredients of effective communication. In fact, unless your listeners can identify with what you are saying and with the way you are saying it, they are not likely to receive and understand your message."

The quote above is the underlying factor that explains the importance of communication skills.

In fact, there are other such quotes, which are as follows that explains the importance of effective communications skills:

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

the newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.

The colossal misunderstanding of our times is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation; but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choicest words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech. Some proverbs

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

The problem with communication... is the illusion that is has been accomplished.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

Argument is the worst sort of communication.

Types Of Communication Skills

Types Of Communication Skills

Communication is generally classified into a couple of types. The classifications include:

Verbal and non-verbal

Technological and non-technological

Mediated and non-mediated

Participatory and non-participatory

However, the commonly known types of communications are :

Intra-personal communication skills : This implies individual reflection, contemplation and meditation. One example of this is transcendental mediation. According to the experts this type of communication encompasses communicating with the divine and with spirits in the form of prayers and rites and rituals.

Interpersonal communication skills : This is direct, face-to-face communication that occurs between two persons. It is essentially a dialogue or a conversation between two or more people.

It is personal, direct, as well as intimate and permits maximum interaction through words and gestures. Interpersonal communications maybe:

Focused Interactions : This primarily results from an actual encounter between two persons. This implies that the two persons involved are completely aware of the communication happening between them.

Unfocused interactions : This occurs when one simply observes or listens to persons with whom one is not conversing. This usually occurs at stations and bus stops, as well as on the street, at restaurants, etc.

Non verbal communication skills : This includes aspects such as body language, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, etc., which also become a part of the communicating process; as well as the written and typed modes of communications.

Mass communication : This is generally identified with tools of modern mass media including social media marketing, which includes: books, the press, cinema, television, radio, etc. It is a means of conveying messages to an entire populace.

No matter what the different types of communication skills are, communicating is an ever-continuing process that is going on all the time. It is as important to human life as is day-to-day existence.

Definition Of Communication Skills

Definition Of Communication Skills

Every individual needs to be well equipped with the tools to communicate effectively, whether it is on the personal front, or at work. In fact, according to the management gurus, being a good communicator is half the battle won. After all, if one speaks and listens well, then there is little or no scope for misunderstanding. Thus, keeping this fact in mind, the primary reasons for misunderstanding is due to inability to speak well, or listen effectively.

According to the various dictionaries the definition of communication skills is as follows :

Communication skills includes lip reading, finger-spelling, sign language; for interpersonal skills use, interpersonal relations.

Communication skills is the ability to use language (receptive) and express (expressive) information.

Communication skills is the set of skills that enables a person to convey information so that it is received and understood. Communication skills refer to the repertoire of behaviors that serve to convey information for the individual.

Communication skills is the ability an individual displays in consistently demonstrates the ability to effectively communicate with clients, colleagues, subordinates, and supervisors in professional manner and in the personal department.

Communication skills is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral language and written language. To understand the basic of communication skills, one needs to understand that communication is one of those words that is most hyped in contemporary culture. It includes a large number of experiences, actions and events; also a variety of happening and meanings, as well as technologies.

This, means that every platform for communicating is a communication event. This includes formal meeting, seminars, workshops, trade fairs, etc. Then there are the communication media such as radio, TV, newspapers, etc. The communication technologies include pagers, phones, etc. The communication professionals include advertisers, journalists, camera crew, etc.

Communicate: Improve Your Relationships With Effective Communication Skills

Communicate: Improve Your Relationships With Effective Communication Skills

Conflict in a relationship is virtually inevitable. In itself, conflict isn’t a problem; how it’s handled, however, can bring people together or tear them apart. Poor communication skills, disagreements and misunderstandings can be a source of anger and distance, or a springboard to a stronger relationship and happier future. Next time you’re dealing with conflict, keep these tips on effective communication skills in mind and you can create a more positive outcome.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Just a little extra time.

Here's How:

Stay Focused: Sometimes it’s tempting to bring up past seemingly related conflicts when dealing with current ones. Unfortunately, this often clouds the issue and makes finding mutual understanding and a solution to the current issue less likely, and makes the whole discussion more taxing and even confusing. Try not to bring up past hurts or other topics. Stay focused on the present, your feelings, understanding one another and finding a solution.

Listen Carefully: People often think they’re listening, but are really thinking about what they’re going to say next when the other person stops talking. Truly effective communication goes both ways. While it might be difficult, try really listening to what your partner is saying. Don’t interrupt. Don’t get defensive. Just hear them and reflect back what they’re saying so they know you’ve heard. Then you’ll understand them better and they’ll be more willing to listen to you.

Try To See Their Point of View: In a conflict, most of us primarily want to feel heard and understood. We talk a lot about our point of view to get the other person to see things our way. Ironically, if we all do this all the time, there’s little focus on the other person’s point of view, and nobody feels understood. Try to really see the other side, and then you can better explain yours. (If you don't 'get it', ask more questions until you do.) Others will more likely be willing to listen if they feel heard.

Respond to Criticism with Empathy: When someone comes at you with criticism, it’s easy to feel that they’re wrong, and get defensive. While criticism is hard to hear, and often exaggerated or colored by the other person’s emotions, it’s important to listen for the other person’s pain and respond with empathy for their feelings. Also, look for what’s true in what they’re saying; that can be valuable information for you.

Own What’s Yours: Realize that personal responsibility is a strength, not a weakness. Effective communication involves admitting when you’re wrong. If you both share some responsibility in a conflict (which is usually the case), look for and admit to what’s yours. It diffuses the situation, sets a good example, and shows maturity. It also often inspires the other person to respond in kind, leading you both closer to mutual understanding and a solution.

Use “I” Messages: Rather than saying things like, “You really messed up here,” begin statements with “I”, and make them about yourself and your feelings, like, “I feel frustrated when this happens.” It’s less accusatory, sparks less defensiveness, and helps the other person understand your point of view rather than feeling attacked.

Look for Compromise Instead of trying to ‘win’ the argument, look for solutions that meet everybody’s needs. Either through compromise, or a new solution that gives you both what you want most, this focus is much more effective than one person getting what they want at the other’s expense. Healthy communication involves finding a resolution that both sides can be happy with.

Take a Time-Out: Sometimes tempers get heated and it’s just too difficult to continue a discussion without it becoming an argument or a fight. If you feel yourself or your partner starting to get too angry to be constructive, or showing some destructive communication patterns, it’s okay to take a break from the discussion until you both cool off. Sometimes good communication means knowing when to take a break.

Don’t Give Up: While taking a break from the discussion is sometimes a good idea, always come back to it. If you both approach the situation with a constructive attitude, mutual respect, and a willingness to see the other’s point of view or at least find a solution, you can make progress toward the goal of a resolution to the conflict. Unless it’s time to give up on the relationship, don’t give up on communication.

Ask For Help If You Need It: If one or both of you has trouble staying respectful during conflict, or if you’ve tried resolving conflict with your partner on your own and the situation just doesn’t seem to be improving, you might benefit from a few sessions with a therapist. Couples counseling or family therapy can provide help with altercations and teach skills to resolve future conflict. If your partner doesn’t want to go, you can still often benefit from going alone.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

15 Killer Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts That You have to Know

15 Killer Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts That You have to Know

I am really interested in using awesome keyboard shortcuts in Windows 7. I personally use them to save my time, and I recommend you also this keyboard shortcuts .

In this post I have listed 15 killer Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts, few on those you might have not know about. Check them and let me know what you think in below comments.

1. Ctrl+Shift+N – Create a New Folder

Creating a new folder in Windows explorer is something we all need to do on a frequent basis. And until now, there was no default shortcut key available for this task. But Windows 7 changed that.

You could now use Ctrl+Shift+N to quickly create a new folder in Windows or anywhere on your computer where a folder can be created.

2. Ctrl+Shift+Click – Open a Program As Administrator

There are many instances when just clicking on the icon of the application and opening it doesn’t solve your purpose. You need to right click on it and click on “Run as Administrator” so that you can make the required changes to the app.

In Windows 7, this can be done with a keyboard shortcut. You just need to point your mouse cursor on that program and then click on it while pressing Ctrl+Shift keys to open it as administrator.

3. Shift+Right-Click Enhances Send to Menu

The above screenshot shows the default send to menu that I get when I simply right click on a program.

Now, if I press the Shift key, and while having it pressed, I right click on the icon, I get an enhanced send to menu. See the screenshot below to check how it looks.

4. Shift+Right-Click on a Folder to Open Command Prompt

If you do Shift+right-click on a folder, you’ll find an option that says “Open command windows here.” If you love working with the command prompt, this option should come in handy.

5. Win+Space to Quickly Show Desktop

Pressing the Win key and the space bar simultaneously shows you the desktop immediately.

6. Win+Up/Down/Left/Right for Moving the Active Window

If you intend to quickly move the active window to make space for other apps, you could do that by using the Win key and one of the arrow keys. Each arrow key would move the window in the direction it is meant to.

7. For Dual Monitors: Win+Shift+Left Arrow Key to Move Active Window to Left Monitor

If you are on a dual monitor setup using Windows 7 then you could press the Win+Shift+Left arrow key combination to move the active application window to the left monitor.

8. For Dual Monitors: Win+Shift+Right Arrow Key to Move Active Window to Right Monitor

Similarly, if you need to move the current window to the right monitor screen, just press Win+Shift+right arrow key.

9. Win+T – Get to Taskbar Items

You could use the key combination Win+T to toggle through the applications pinned on the taskbar in Windows 7.

10. Shift+Click on a Taskbar App to Open a New Instance of the App

Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of Chrome windows open. And you need to quickly open a new blank window of the browser. Here’s the way – point your cursor to the chrome icon on the taskbar, hit Shift and click on it. There you go!

11. Win+B to Move Focus to the System Tray

If you need to get the system tray without using your mouse cursor, Just press Win+B, That would move the focus on the system tray, and then you could use the arrow keys to cycle through the items.

12. Win+P for Quickly Connecting Your Laptop to a Projector

Windows 7 has a nifty projection menu feature which enables you to quickly connect your laptop to a projector or an extended monitor. Win+P is the keyboard shortcut for that purpose.

13. Win+1, on for Opening Taskbar Programs

Want to quickly open a program that’s pinned to your Windows 7 taskbar? You can press the Win key and the number corresponding to the location of the app on the taskbar.

14. Win+Pause helps you check System Properties

Need to take a quick look at what’s the processor model you are using, or may be check the device manager, or advanced system settings? You could use Win+pause key combination to open the system properties window.

15. Ctrl+Shift+Esc Can Quickly Windows Task Manager

I think this was in Vista too, I am not sure. But it’s a cool shortcut nevertheless. Just press the Ctrl key, Shift key and the ESC key simultaneously and you have the task manager pop up right in front!

So that was about the amazing Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts. I hope you find them useful. In fact, learn them if you are on Windows 7. That’s what I did and it has helped a great deal.

If I’ve missed a cool shortcut, do share that in the comments.

Cisco conducts an Open walk-in for Graduates 2009 & 2010 Batch @ Chennai

Cisco conducts an Open walk-in for Graduates 2009 & 2010 Batch @ Chennai

Location : Chennai, Tamilnadu
Job Location : Pune, Maharashtra
Eligibility Criteria :

-> Should have studied BE / ME / M.Tech / MCA
-> More than 70% aggregate marks or (equivalent scores) throughout in academics.
-> ONLY 2009 & 2010 passed out candidates.

Note: 2011 Batch candidates will NOT be allowed.
Walk-In Date & Time : 2nd July 2011 (Saturday) , 10 AM to 1 PM
Venue :
Tagore Engineering College,
Rathinamangalam, Vandalur (via)
Chennai – 600 048

Written test alone will be conducted on walk-in day and the further levels of interviews will happen on the Following week based on the assessment results.
Please carry a Print Out of this Letter click here to download (For Entry &as ID)

Test Duration : 45 Min
Please carry a copy of your resume
If you have been interviewed in the last 6 months need not apply
Those who Offered will be required to join within 2 – 4 Weeks

Monday, 27 June 2011

10 Amazing Tips to Speed Up Your Computer

10 Amazing Tips to Speed Up Your Computer

If not properly and regularly maintained, the performance of your systems tend to degrade with the passage of time. To arrest this declining performance, You can also increase performance of your computer. You want to know how? Check the below list to Speed Up Your Computer.

1. Boot Faster

The ‘starting Windows XP / 7′ message on startup can delay your booting for a couple of seconds. To get rid of this message go to c:\ and find the file Msdos.sys. Remove the Read-Only option. Next, open it in Notepad or any other text editor. Finally, go to the text ‘Options’ within the file and make the following changes: Add BootDelay=0. To make your booting even faster, set add Logo=0 to remove the Windows logo at startup.

2. Restart only Windows

When restarting your PC, hold down Shift to only restart Windows rather than the whole system which will only take a fraction of the time.

3. Faster Start-Menu Access

Go to the Start menu and select Run. Now type Regedit and hit Enter. The Registry Editor will appear on the screen. Now, open the folder HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. You should see a MenuShowDelay value. If you don’t then do the following: right click on a blank space in the right pane and select New\String. Change the name in the new value to MenuShowDelay. Now that we have the MenuShowDelay value, double click on it and enter 0 in the value data field. This sets the start menu delay to 0 milliseconds.

4. Defragment Often

Defrag tool uses Application Acceleration from Intel which means that when you defragment your drive, data is physically arranged on the drive so that applications will load faster.

5. Update Drivers

Update your hardware drivers as frequently as possible. New drivers tend to increase system speed especially in the case of graphics cards, their drivers are updated by the manufacturer very frequently!

6. Minimize the programs

If you want to use several programs at the same time then minimize those you are not using. This helps reduce the overload on RAM.

7. Start Up Programs

Windows can be slowed down when programs run on start up. To eliminate this, check your Start up folder. You can access it from the start menu: Start, Programs, Start Up. Another way to eliminate programs from loading even before Windows actually starts is by doing the following: Click on Start, then Run. Type msconfig. It will take quite a long time for this program to load, but when you finally see it on your screen, explore the different tabs. They all have to do with how quickly your PC boots, so select what you want, and uncheck what you don’t want!

8. Fonts

When Windows starts, it loads every single font in the Fonts folder. Therefore, the more fonts you have, the slower the booting process. To get rid of unwanted fonts, simply go to the Fonts folder under c:\windows and remove whatever you don’t want. Fonts that have a red letter ‘A’ as their icon are system fonts, so don’t delete them.

9. Turn off Active Desktop

Go to your Display Properties and switch to the Web tab. Uncheck View My Active Desktop As a Web Page. Since the Active Desktop option under Windows XP uses a lot of system resources, this option can have a dramatic effect on the speed of the whole system.

10. Resolutions

If you are willing to do anything for faster performance from your PC, then try lowering your display resolution. The lower it is, the faster your PC.

Google closes Health and PowerMeter services

Google closes Health and PowerMeter services

Two Google services are to be closed after failing to pick up enough users in the healthcare and energy usage markets

Google is to close two services that it had hoped would make a serious impact on healthcare and people’s power usage.

The Google Health and Google PowerMeter services were launched in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The Health project aimed to give users more access to data about themselves that was typically held by doctors, and then to be able to take more control over their own healthcare. The PowerMeter project would, it was hoped, encourage people to lower their levels of energy consumption by showing them how much they were using. The services operated under the slogans “Better health comes from better information” and “Save Energy. Save Money. Make a Difference”.

Writing on the official Google Blog, Aaron Brown and Bill Weihl, said that the services would be available for a limited time so that people could retrieve their data. “Both [services] were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home,” the pair wrote. “While they didn't scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it’s traditionally been difficult.”

An analysis of Google Health’s failure on ReadWriteWeb suggested that the product itself was good, but Google had not supported it in the right way. “Google's decision to pull the plug on Google Health will ultimately be a bad thing for the whole industry”, said Oregon IT specialist Brian Ahier.

'Super WiFi' white space trials begin in Cambridge

'Super WiFi' white space trials begin in Cambridge

A new consortium including BT, Sky and Microsoft is set to use the space between TV channel in the radio spectrum for a new trial of innovative broadband services

A new mobile broadband trial in Cambridge could create a series of localised “super WiFi” networks a consortium including BT, Microsoft, Sky and the BBC has announced.

The tests will use ‘white spaces’ in the radio spectrum. These areas that are not required for TV broadcasts, The Cambridge trial is similar to a white space trial in the remote Isle of Bute, off the west coast of Scotland, but will focus on machine to machine communication as well as rural broadband and traditional consumer applications such as mobile phones.

Beginning on Wednesday, the trial will aim to demonstrate that the new services do not interfere with TV signals and could potentially open up new channels for network providers to meet growing demands for broadband from mobile phones and tablet computers.

The market for mobile bandwidth that serves phones, laptops, tablets and other smart devices is expected to increase 92 per cent between 2011 and 2015.In a joint statement the members of the consortium said that “this trial will attempt to demonstrate that unused TV spectrum is well-placed to increase the UK’s available mobile bandwidth, which is critical to effectively responding to the exponential growth in data-intensive services, while also enabling future innovation.”

They added that “the consortium chose Cambridge for the trial because it offers an environment for testing diverse uses of the TV white spaces network. The city is distinguished by a dense mixture of buildings, including the historic stone buildings of its colleges, which offer a unique opportunity to demonstrate the penetration of TV white spaces signals when compared with other higher frequency networks such as Wi-Fi.”

Alleged hacker Ryan Cleary out on bail

Alleged hacker Ryan Cleary out on bail

Ryan Cleary, the alleged hacker who was arrested last week and subsequently charged in the U.K. on five counts of hacking, has been released from jail.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith granted Cleary bail today, but imposed some limitations on the 19-year-old. According to the U.K.'s Mirror, Cleary has a 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time curfew. He has also been electronically tagged, and will not be allowed to leave his home without the company of at least one of his parents. Cleary is also not allowed to access the Internet or have any products allowing him to go online.

Cleary was arrested last week in the U.K. following an investigation into a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Reports initially claimed that Cleary was a member of LulzSec, a hacking group that recently disbanded after spending 50 days attacking PBS, Sony, and the CIA, among other organizations. However, LulzSec last week denied Cleary's alleged involvement with its group, saying that he only hosted "one of our many legitimate chat rooms on the IRC server."

British authorities have stopped short of linking Cleary to LulzSec, but they did charge the teenager with launching DDoS attacks against the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the British Phonographic Industry.

Over the weekend, Cleary was granted bail by the U.K. court, but remained in custody following a prosecution appeal. This time around, the prosecution once again appealed Cleary's bail, but the judge struck it down.

According to the BBC, Cleary's attorneys have said in court that he has a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome, as well as agoraphobia.

In a statement before the court today, Cleary's mother said that her son is her "life," the Mirror is reporting.

"I'm his best friend as well as his mother, because he's reclusive," she said, according to the Mirror.

No standing offer of support to Congress party: Jayalalithaa

No standing offer of support to Congress party: Jayalalithaa

In an absolutely categorical statement, leaving no room for speculation, AIADMK Chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa ended all speculation of any offer of support from her side to the UPA government. Ms Jayalalithaa had first made an offer of support to the UPA on 11 Nov 2010, prior to the removal of A Raja as Union Telecom Minister. Today, she told TIMES NOW that the November 2010 offer was a onetime offer and that there was no question of working with the Congress at present. By describing her offer as a onetime offer, Ms Jayalalithaa has put an end to talk about a political realignment with the Congress.

Excerpts from the interview

TIMES NOW: Ms Jayalalithaa, I've always considered you to be forthright and direct. When you spoke to me last in November 11, 2010, you made a dramatic offer, and I'm quoting you, you said if required, the AIADMK would be willing to support the Centre. May I ask you ma'am, the circumstance and context in which you said it, and how you look back at it now?

Jayalalithaa: In November 2010, the entire political situation was different. At that time, the Centre had not taken any action against those involved in 2G spectrum scam, though the nation was expecting, no action was taken. So at that time there was a feeling that the centre was hesitating due to the compulsions of coalition politics. So that is why I made the offer, so that the Congress could feel assured, so that would not have to suffer, in case the DMK withdrew their support from the Government at the Centre. It was in that context that I made the offer, so that the Congress that was heading the coalition at the centre would be reassured, so that if it did take strong action against corruption, the govt would not suffer and the govt would not fall because of such action. So that they could continue, it was to give them that reassurance and the confidence that I made that offer. But now, the situation has totally changed, the Congress has made it clear that it has an alliance with the DMK, and it did face the elections with the DMK, and even after the results were known and they suffered a massive defeat, the congress continues to say that they have an alliance with DMK, and it continues to be a part of the ruling coalition, and till date it is an important part of the alliance.

TIMES NOW: So Ms Jayalalithaa, why were they so cool to your offer at that point of time? Because it was a very explicit offer, in fact you even put out the numbers, you said to them that the Cong does not want to lose the support of those 18 but now, and I'm quoting you, the DMK's position has become untenable, Raja's position became untenable, and in fact Raja went 3 days after, my question, Ms Jayalalithaa, is why were they cool to you? And do you think you set the ball rolling for Raja's ouster?

Jayalalithaa: That’s what the entire nation felt and said. But as to why Cong didn’t take up my offer, you should put it to the Cong. It is all history to me, it is in the past, it was a totally different scenario, totally different situation in politics now. It doesn't exist anymore.

TIMES NOW: But don't you think political alliances Ms Jayalalithaa, the Congress leaders have said and I'm quoting them, that the relationship with the DMK and the case against Mr Raja are not related. That’s what they say

JAYALALITHAA: But that’s not the way the nation sees it, that’s not the way the people see it

TIMES NOW: But my question again, Ms Jayalalithaa, I'm going to be persistent in this, I can't fathom why they said no to you. The relationship with the DMK did not work electorally, they had a standing offer from and yet they didn't take up the offer, act on Raja, It’s a bit of a piecemeal effort isn't it?

JAYALALITHAA: You used the words standing offer. It wasn't a standing offer made in November. It wasn't a standing offer. And I repeat, as to why the cong didn't take up that offer, they should answer it, they are the best judges and they should answer your question. As far as I'm concerned, I made that offer in a particular context, in a particular situation. And as far as I am concerned, that situation doesn't exist any more

In a very significant comment AIADMK Chief Jayalalithaa said that political realignment can happen before 2014 general election. ‘Anything can happen anytime,’ she said to TIMES NOW when asked about the possibility of an election before 2014. Ms Jayalalithaa said the people of the country want a strong and authoritative government to give them a sense of security and because she was aware of the popular mood, she did not rule out the possibility of national political realignment in the near future. Interestingly she refused to explain why she felt why such a realignment can happen anytime soon. Ms Jayalilthaa’s comments on the possibility of realignment, along with her statement that there is no standing offer to the Congress will increase speculation on her role in national politics.

TIMES NOW: Do you think coalition politics with a greater role for regional players is the order of the day?

JAYALALITHAA: I can't make any predictions, I'm not an astrologer, but in trying to answer your questions, I can only say that it does seem that the days of single party majority rule are over. I think we are destined to live with coalition governments in the future. I don't think any party is capable of getting a single majority on its own

TIMES NOW: By that definition, you as leader of one of the largest parties apart from the Congress and the BJP in the present political situation in India, in 2014, you will be a major player. You can't restrict yourself to Chennai

JAYALALITHAA: Let us wait for the next general election to come around. Its hardly been a month, a month and a half or may be a little over a month since I took over. Lets see how this turns out

TIMES NOW: Can I please interpret your earlier answer, you seem to indicate a midterm election could happen, before 2014.

JAYALALITHAA: Anything can happen at any time. I didn't say something would happen. Anything can happen. We have to be prepared

TIMES NOW: Prior to 2014?

JAYALALITHAA: Possibly, anything can happen

TIMES NOW: Why do you say so?

JAYALALITHAA: No, I don’t want to elaborate

Ms Jayalalithaa also made it clear that she had moved on from 1999 when she withdrew MP’s from the Vajpayee government leading to its downfall. In a candid admission to TIMES NOW, she said that in the present context she might have acted differently given her increased political experience. Her comments on the BJP, in the backdrop of her meeting with Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi, will increase the speculation about the AIADMK can team up with the BJP in the future

Excerpts from the interview

TIMES NOW: Everyone is very keen to know what you have been talking to top BJP leaders & there has been a great deal of attention paid to your meeting with Sushma Swaraj, on the fact that Narendra Modi being present for you swearing in ceremony, a very important gesture. Ideologically, surely you have no differences with the BJP in terms of working with them

JAYALALITHAA: Earlier when Mr Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the 2nd time, I attended his swearing in ceremony in Ahmedabad in 2002. So Modi returned the compliment now when I was sworn in. When you refer to Sushma Swaraj, you are omitting Shiela Dikshit. Both Mrs Sheila Dikshit and Sushma Swaraj are very charming and gracious ladies, both are my friends and paid courtesy calls and especially called on me to congratulate me on my victory in the recent Assembly elections. Mr Ravishankar Prasad is a very good friend of mine and has appeared as a lawyer for me in some cases, so we know each other really well. So, we call on each other when we get the chance

TIMES NOW: People say Narendra Modi could be a Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, Sushma could be Prime Ministerial candidate so there is slight difference between them and Shiela Dikshit and 2 other leaders who you mentioned. Therefore the general feeling is that everyone in the BJP especially those who are aspirants for the top job would believe that they can't get there without your support. Do you feel that is not an important inference for us to draw about your meetings with the BJP

JAYALALITHAA: I have friends in all the parties. My friends have spread all over the political spectrum so I have good friends in BJP, Congress and other political parties too. They call on me as friends. They are friendly visit and if you choose to read more into it, then I am not responsible for it. Its not my problem
TIMES NOW: The Congress party said when the Gujarat CM was here at your swearing in ceremony - They said ' I don’t think there needs to be any elaboration that the Guj CM has orchestrated the worst genocide in Independent India and therefore should not be touched with a Barge pole. This comment was made only because Modi came here for your swearing in ceremony

JAYALALITHAA: Let us not get into a discussion on Narendra Modi. He is a good friend, that’s all.

TIMES NOW: When you look back at 1998-'99 you said that time moves on and political views change. The reasons for which you had differences with the NDA in 1999 and now when you look at it in 2011 - Could there be a fresh start?

JAYALALITHAA: Any person evolves with time and experience. It’s the same with any political leader. If the same situation that occurred in 1999 had arisen today I would have acted differently and responded differently. You gain experience as time goes on. So, what was your question?

TIMES NOW: When you look back at 1999, the circumstances in which you withdrew you support from the NDA and in 2011 when you look back, you say that things move on, you say you could have reacted differently

JAYALALITHAA: I would like to stress on one thing, if you constantly keep looking back and harping on what goes on in the past, you cannot go on, can't do politics, so if you insist on what transpired in the past, and you dwell on issued that happened in the past, you are stagnating. You are preventing yourself from moving forward. As far as I am concerned, I live in the present and look towards the future

Ms Jayalalithaa also did not rule out the possibility of a third front. IN the past the AIADMK has been open to the possibility of a third front that would play a significant role. In 2007 and also before 2009 General Elections, Ms Jayalalithaa had been in touch with important political parties. When asked about whether she would be a part of a third front, she did not rule out the possibility.

TIMES NOW: In today's political environment if Jayalalithaa is ambivalent, not ambivalent perhaps, but equidistant from both the parties then that would throw up a whirlwind of opportunities for political parties in Delhi. What about the possibility of a 3rd front. It did badly in the 2009 elections. Do you think, given the federal structure of our politics and the fact that states need a greater voice at the Centre - that it is realistic or unrealistic of perhaps a 3rd front in the future.

JAYALALITHAA: Anything can happen in politics and particularly in India anything can happen in Indian politics so let us wait and see what he future throws up.

TIMES NOW: Would it be unrealistic to think about it ?

JAYALALITHAA: I said lets wait and see what the future throws up. The future may not be so long away either.

TIMES NOW: Why do you say that. The future is quite far away as of now

JAYALALITHAA: Well thats what you think but there could be changes earlier. As I said you never know what will happen because one can generally sense what is the mood of the people. the people of this country want a change. They want a strong Government in the Centre. They want a strong authoritative Govt at the Centre. They want a Govt that will have a no nonsense attitude towards corruption & they want a Govt that will provide security against our unfriendly, hostile neighbours. So anything can happen in the future.

At the time when the BJP is not taking a position on the Prime Minister coming under the purview of the Lokpal bill, Ms Jayalalithaa was extremely categorical in opposing the idea. She laid out clearly her reasons. Saying that it could have an impact on the security and it could lead to a situation where foreign powers may try to use the office of Lokpal to destabilize the government.

TIMES NOW: I would request you to give me your observations on the national mood.. you’ve seen the Lokpal debate..Where do you stand on the issue of ,say the inclusion of the Prime Minsiter on the Lokpal bill an issue which the govt clearly is not keen to discuss

JAYALALITHAA: I will enunciate my views very clearly, the proposed Lokpal bill should exclude the PM for the following reasons: the PM is already covered under the PCA, any misconduct by the PM can be investigated by the CBI. Sometimes the Lokpal could be used by foreign powers to destabilize the govt. But when a frivolous and politically motivated complaint against the PM is referred before the Lokpal and if the same is telecast by the TV channels which will run it around the clock, it would dent the PM's credibility and authority, even if nothing comes, it will seriously dent the authority of PM.

The Lokpal can investigate all allegations and therefore when the allegations are leveled against the PM, when a complaint is put before the Lokpal, he will be put on the defensive and will be occupied in defending himself. In such an event, how can the govt which is reliant on the PM work? The functioning of the Lokpal, inclusive of the PM will pave the way for a parallel govt which will undermine the authority of the PM. The state govt of Tamil Nadu hasn’t given its view, since no final draft has been arrived at. The Lokpal is much more than what is envisaged in the PCA . The state's view is that the Lokpal is much more than envisaged, the state's view can be formulated only after the final draft is given in the parliament. That is my view I have enunciated.

Ms Jayalalithaa was cautious in her response when asked her about her own role in national politics. TIMES NOW asked her directly if she would play a role at the national level, in response to that question, Ms Jayalalithaa did not rule out the possibility of her national role, saying that she had a vision for the country, but chose to underplay her ambition saying that her ambition was more for the country than for her personal self.

TIMES NOW: There are 2 ways in which politicians can be at the national level. Its inevitable that you will play a role at the national level...

JAYALALITHAA:That is your assessment

TIMES NOW: It has been the experience in the past

JAYALALITHAA: I take it as a compliment thank you very much

TIMES NOW: What about a national role? Is it impossible to conjecture that you will look for a larger role for your party and yourself at the national level? Please don't dodge the question.

JAYALALITHAA: I'm not trying to dodge your question, I will answer it in my own way. I take life as it comes, I never planned a career in politics for myself, I never had any prep for a career in politics I never thought I could be CM and I didn’t want to either, somehow I did, and I became CM not once, but 3 rimes. I have no national ambition for myself, I have ambition for India, I want India to be THE superpower in the world, it has the potential to be so for that it needs a string a patriotic leader at the helm of affairs, I have no personal ambitions, I go where my destiny takes me.

Hackers Expose Tony Blair’s National Insurance Number

Hackers Expose Tony Blair’s National Insurance Number

Hacker splinter group Team Poison has released former Prime Minister Blair’s adress book online

The address book of former prime minister Tony Blair, including his National Insurance n umber, has been published online by Team Poison, a hacker group that argued with Lulzsec.

The inforrmation, posted at Pastebin, includes contact details for Number 10 Downing Street, contacts like Lord Derry Irvine and a garage. Team Poison has claimed it was accessed from a webmail account in December 2010, and Downing Street has said it appears to have come from the email of a former Blair colleague.

Attention seeking

The hack has been dismissed as attention seeking, coming from a group which had fallen out with Lulzsec, the hacker group responsible for the most high profile attacks of recent weeks. At the weekend, Lulzsec announced it was disbanding for now.

Much of the information – apart from the National Insurance number – is publicly available; the number for Downing Street turns out to be that of the press office, which is available online.

As such, it made a poor choice for publicity by a group which had accused Lulzsec of being “script kiddies” (unskilled hackers using working with simple tools). “I would suspect the average script kiddie could have hacked this one,” said eWEEK Europe columnist Eric Doyle.

LulzSec Says It’s Ending Cyber Attacks

LulzSec Says It’s Ending Cyber Attacks

Lulz Security, the hacker activist group claiming credit for breaking into websites at Sony Corp. (SNE), the U.S. Senate and the Central Intelligence Agency, said it’s ending a wave of cyber attacks that began almost two months ago.

“Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance,” the group said in a June 25 posting through its Twitter Inc. account. “This is our final release.”

Hacker activist groups gained attention after Anonymous, made up of hundreds of members in several countries, in December targeted EBay Inc.’s PayPal unit, Visa Inc. (V) and other companies deemed hostile to WikiLeaks, an organization that posts secret documents on the Web. Intruders into Sony’s PlayStation Network stole data on more than 100 million accounts in April, forcing the company to shutter the service for more than five weeks.

The CIA’s public website was taken down on June 15. LulzSec, as the group is known, claimed credit, saying on its website, “We don’t like the U.S. government very much.” A CIA spokesman said at the time the agency was looking into the matter.

LulzSec also took credit for hacking into Nintendo Co.’s computers, an intrusion the Kyoto, Japan-based company disclosed June 5, describing it as unsuccessful. The group also said it had attacked the Atlanta chapter of InfraGard, an information- sharing organization of companies that is affiliated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to thwart cyber crime.
Spanish Arrests

Spanish police arrested three suspected members of Anonymous on June 10. The group hacked the websites of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), Spain’s second-biggest bank, and Enel SpA, the Italian owner of Spanish power company Endesa SA, Spanish police have said.

In the past month, attacks included an attempted hack originating in China into e-mail accounts of U.S. government officials, military personnel and journalists hosted by Google Inc. Military contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) has also said its network was penetrated by an unknown intruder.

Hackers also broke into the databanks of BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and at least three other major energy companies over a two-year period ending this year. They stole data on global oil reserves, according to McAfee Inc. and documentation in leaked e-mails from the cyber-security firm HB Gary Inc.

Hacker Group Lulz Security Announces to Disband

Hacker Group Lulz Security Announces to Disband

What if its negative publicity, an activist hacker group, Lulz Security, has caught the world off guard, when it reported to have breached the policies of Sony Corp. the U. S. Senate and the Central Intelligence Agency, by attacking their websites.

Moreover, the FBI and the US defence department went through extreme shock after Lulz directed its malicious efforts targeting the government secretes.

Apparently, Chris Wysopal, Chief Technology Officer of US security company Veracode, is of the opinion that Lulz has so far showed “average skill level”, pulling a wide range of net tools to attack any system.

Meanwhile, reports have confirmed the detention of three suspected members of the group on June 10 by the Spanish police, of hacking websites of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain's second-biggest bank, and Enel SpA, the Italian owner of Spanish power company Endesa SA.

Confirming their success in the last two months, the group said in a June 25 posting through its Twitter Inc. account, "Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance”.

With the pressure mounting on the cyber-attacking group, Lulz claimed that the group would soon disintegrate. Even then, the looming threat on the dozens of websites, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Senate, the Arizona state police and Sony cannot be ruled out.

U.S. to Provide Guidelines to Bolster Computer Security

U.S. to Provide Guidelines to Bolster Computer Security

The Homeland Security Department plans to unveil on Monday a new system of guidance intended to help make the software behind many services — be they Web sites or power grids — less susceptible to hacking.

The system includes an updated list of the top 25 programming errors that enable today’s most serious hacks. To help make the list more useful, it adds new tools to help software programmers eliminate the most dangerous types of mistakes and enable organizations to demand and buy more secure products.

The effort to improve software security has been three years in the making, according to Robert A. Martin, principal engineer at Mitre, a technology nonprofit that conducts federal research in systems engineering.

The Homeland Security Department’s hope is that the program, which is voluntary, will make it easier for companies and agencies to better secure their corners of cyberspace and contribute to building safer global networks.

“We’re going after root cause issues,” said a senior department official, who declined to be named because the announcement of the new plans had not yet been made. “You can make your enterprise more resilient from the people who would attack you.”

The top 25 list was created by the nonprofit SANS Institute and Mitre with the help of top software security experts in the United States and Europe, and it includes programming errors that have been used in a number of recent headline-grabbing hacking attacks.

For instance, No. 1 on the list is a programming mistake that allows so-called SQL-injection attacks on Web sites, which were successfully used by the hacker group LulzSec. That group was able to use the flaws to cause databases to spit out user names and passwords from Web sites, including one associated with the F.B.I.’s InfraGard program and NATO’s online bookstore.

The list also warns about the type of error that allowed hackers to steal several hundred thousand credit card numbers from a Citigroup site recently.

The guidance framework will include “vignettes” for industries like e-commerce, banking and manufacturing, and will highlight for them which programming errors are of greatest concern in the types of technologies they use.

Companies that make tools to test software for dangerous programming mistakes are already beginning to incorporate the frameworks into their products, said Alan Paller, head of research at SANS. And eventually there will be services that help businesses evaluate whether the software they’re considering buying has stood up to scrutiny.

Avoiding common programming mistakes is vital to fending off today’s worst attacks, he said. “This is the only way to get around ‘zero days,’ ” he said, referring to attacks that make use of software vulnerabilities that are unknown and, therefore, cannot be fixed quickly with patches. “The only possible defense is to stop the error from being in the software in the first place.”

Dissolution of Hacker Group Might Not End Attacks

Dissolution of Hacker Group Might Not End Attacks

Facing increasing pressure from law enforcement agencies over its brazen computer attacks, the small group of hackers known as Lulz Security announced over the weekend that it would disband.

But security experts said on Sunday that the dissolution of the group might not signal an end to the attacks, which have hit dozens of Web sites, including those of prominent targets like the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Senate, the Arizona state police and Sony.

Indeed, in its farewell message posted on Saturday, the group, also known as LulzSec, urged other hackers to join the “revolution” aimed at governments and corporations that it started recently with Anonymous, a much larger collective of politically minded hackers from which many of the LulzSec members sprung.

“It looks like these sort of ‘hacktivist’ ideas are spreading and gaining popularity,” said Dino A. Dai Zovi, a prominent independent security consultant. He said that LulzSec appeared to be trying to inspire others to join a sprawling, if fragmented, array of local groups, which could feed more attacks.

In recent weeks, LulzSec has become a target itself, as global law enforcement authorities and rival hackers have gone after the group. One man associated with LulzSec, Ryan Cleary, was arrested last week in Britain. Meanwhile, a growing assemblage of rival hackers has been working to unmask the core half-dozen LulzSec members and feed information on them to the authorities.

American officials on Sunday characterized the attacks carried out by LulzSec as “nuisances” rather than real security threats. One government official said that LulzSec had never penetrated government servers or stolen any classified information.

“What we are really worried about is people getting access to our systems, or putting malware on it,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said that even though it was possible that LulzSec had disbanded, hackers tended to operate in a world of shifting alliances and it would be easy for a new group copying LulzSec’s techniques to appear in the future.

“All it takes is one guy in his basement to do this, not an organized group,” the official said.

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security plans to introduce a system to help institutions eliminate common programming errors that allow hackers to easily infiltrate databases and steal user names and passwords. The agency’s hope is that the program, which is voluntary, will make it easier for companies and agencies to better secure their corners of the Internet, thus contributing to a safer global network.

Some security experts and hackers were skeptical of LulzSec’s sudden about-face and said they believed the group intended to continue its activities. The latest announcement could be just another ploy for attention, rival hackers said on Twitter and on private online message boards.

Over the last several weeks, LulzSec had said repeatedly on its Twitter feed that it planned to continue attacking governments and financial institutions indefinitely.

Members of LulzSec did not respond to phone calls and e-mails on Sunday.

Whatever happens to LulzSec, the brash and public brand of hacking that it embraced and defined may be here to stay, some experts say. The group’s attacks on prominent targets, accompanied by raucous bragging on social networks and chat rooms, helped it amass more than 280,000 followers on Twitter. It has used that megaphone, as well as chat rooms, to try to recruit more hackers to its ranks.

Some of LulzSec’s activities had a political tinge. For example, it said its theft and public disclosure of Arizona law enforcement records was in response to the state’s tough laws aimed at illegal immigrants. But the group claimed that its hacking was primarily a celebration of the “lulz,” or laughs, and the members seemed to lap up the media attention they generated.

But if LulzSec had continued, it would have faced an increasing risk that its members would be captured, said Chris Wysopal, the chief technology officer of the security firm Veracode.

“By stopping now and regrouping, I think they will live to hack another day,” he said. “If anything, there will be more people hacking in their footsteps.”

Mr. Wysopal added, “Until they’re arrested — if they ever do get arrested — I don’t think anything will slow down.”

LulzSec Says It’s Done

LulzSec Says It’s Done

LulzSec, the hacker collective that has forced Sony, PBS, the state of Arizona, and others to acknowledge major security holes, is retiring 50 days after it started. It posted its farewell note on Saturday, and it's as overwrought and nautical as ever:

It's time to say bon voyage. Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance, leaving behind - we hope - inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love. If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere. Anywhere.

But what does "bon voyage" mean when you're an anonymous hacker group? LulzSec was just a collection of free agents who can take their talent elsewhere if they hadn't already. And there are plenty of elsewheres. Anonymous, the hacker group du jour before LulzSec came along, and LulzRaft, a fledgling group with a Canadian focus both await. And of course LulzSec can just as easily reform, which would make this announcement more Brett Favre than Barry Sanders.

What LulzSec seems set on, then, is preserving its legacy. (Assuming it isn't just trying to avoid the cops.) This was not about the individual hacks, it was about a movement. "Together, united, we can stomp down our common oppressors and imbue ourselves with the power and freedom we deserve," it wrote. And that's the thing about anonymous hacker collectives. Even when they disband, they're not actually gone. They re-form as something else. Just for lulz.

Tech Today: Hacker Group Says “Bon Voyage,” Releases Files

Tech Today: Hacker Group Says “Bon Voyage,” Releases Files

Hacker Group Says “Bon Voyage,” Releases Files LulzSec, the hacker group infamous for a string of high-profile security breaches and a liberal use of nautical slang, announced on Saturday that it was going to “sail into the distance.” The group then released a cache of files including 338 files detailing AT&T’s rollout of its new broadband network. In an interview with the Associated Press, one member said, “The press are getting bored of us, and we’re getting bored of us.”

New excitement for some members is on the way. Last week, British authorities charged a 19-year-old believed to have connections to LulzSec with computer related offenses. Meanwhile a number of hacker groups have declared war on LulzSec. On Friday the Guardian posted the contents of an online chat room discussion between LulzSec members leaked by a hacker known as m_nerva. Last weekend a group called “the A-Team” posted what it said were the names and locations of LulzSec’s most senior members.

Security consultant and convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick told the Houston Chronicle that containing LulzSec won’t change anything and that copycat groups are likely set to take their place. “They can sit back and watch the mayhem and not risk being captured,” he said.

Hulu’s Owners Weigh Cons of Possible Sale: Video-streaming site Hulu plans to meet with potential buyers in the coming weeks, but the WSJ is detecting hesitancy among its media parents for the fate of their online stepchild. The relationship has made for one ugly family at times. While Hulu has allowed parents Walt Disney, News Corp. and Comcast the opportunity to test online video offerings, the owners have starved the site of new content for fear of consumers canceling their cable and satellite services. In the meantime, rival Netflix has surged ahead, often benefiting from content sold by Hulu’s media parents. Cue tantrums from Hulu’s management.

Despite this family arrangement of Trotsky-esque drama, Hulu’s owners wonder if selling the company could be more harmful, if the ownership goes to a company with less at stake in the traditional cable model. Of course, as the WSJ notes, one can never escape their parents. In this case Hulu’s current owners will still be able to influence the site based on their content arrangements.

Ad Unit Set for “World’s Largest” Database of Personal Profiles: The ad giant WPP is set to roll out a database of more than 500 unique profiles that involves demographic, financial and purchase information collected from online and brick-and-mortar transactions. The database will be used to personalize ads consumers see on Web and mobile sites and ultimately, the TV set.

The Most Connected Man in Silicon Valley Talks Web 3.0: In WSJ Magazine venture capitalist and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman talks about on the next tech boom and why privacy is something only old people care about.

Live in HD, the Earth: A Canadian company will be sending a pair of cameras to the International Space Station with the goal of capturing footage of the Earth in high-definition video. The video will be downlinked to Earth and broadcast via an online “mashup between Google Earth and YouTube,” says project co-founder Scott Larson. The site launches in early 2012, providing users with the ability to call up specific locations and times, pause, rewind, and zoom.

R.I.P. Google Health, Power Meter: Google said Friday it’s getting rid of two products that “didn’t catch on”: Google Health and Google Power Meter. Both of the tools were supposed to help people access their own data — on their health care and power usage, as the names “Google Health” and “Google Power Meter” might suggest. Who knows what went wrong? Maybe they were just ahead of their time. Over at the Health Blog, Digits colleague Katherine Hobson says personal health records are likely to be a tough sell for many people until more doctors have electronic medical records.

The Sky Looks Kinda #B4BAB8 Right Now: Contrary to popular belief, New York City’s summertime sky is not always a sparkling cerulean blue. To prove it, Mike Bodge has set up a Web site that takes a picture of the NYC sky every five minutes, takes the average color, and posts it online.

Anonymous ready to roll in post-LulzSec world

Anonymous ready to roll in post-LulzSec world

Anonymous has picked up where the recently disbanded LulzSec left off.

The hacking organization released information to the Web last night from the Cyberterrorism Defense Initiative's Security and Network Training Initiative and National Education Laboratory (SENTINEL) program. The SENTINEL program was "administered" by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to "educate technical personnel in cyberterrorism response and prevention."

The SENTINEL training program was designed for personnel in public safety, law enforcement, state and local government, and public utilities. Health care professionals and employees at colleges and universities were also trained in the program.

Anonymous used its Twitter account yesterday to announce its intention to post data from the program on the Web, asking its followers if they were "ever interested in anti-cyberterrorism training." Not long after, Anonymous published information on the program.

According to Australia's ABC, the files, which were apparently published in 2009, include information on publicly available hacking resources and lists of FBI bureau addresses. The data also includes information on "hacking and counter-hacking tools," as well as form letters that could be used to obtain user information from Internet Service Providers, the ABC is reporting.

The latest data release from Anonymous comes just two days after its fellow hacking group LulzSec announced that it had disbanded. The group said in a statement on Saturday that it had planned to operate for just 50 days with the ultimate goal of putting people on notice.

"It's time to say bon voyage," LulzSec wrote in its statement. "Our planned 50 day cruise has expired, and we must now sail into the distance, leaving behind--we hope--inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love. If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere. Anywhere."

Over that 50-day period, LulzSec made headlines by attacking PBS, Sony Pictures, and the Central Intelligence Agency, among other prominent organizations. More recently, the group announced an alliance with Anonymous called Operation Anti-Security, or AntiSec. The goal of their alliance, they said earlier this month, was "to steal and leak any classified government information...Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments."

The groups said that if they were censored in anyway, "we will obliterate the censor with cannonfire anointed with lizard blood."

The SENTINEL release is a continuation of AntiSec. Following LulzSec's disbandment, the group's members joined Anonymous and continued their operation.

"We can confirm that all @LulzSec members have reported aboard," Anonymous wrote on its Twitter account yesterday. "#AntiSec will have full support from #Anonymous and LulzSec. Expect us, soon."

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Today is Michael Jackson’s anniversary day, June 25th...:-(

Today is Michael Jackson’s anniversary day, June 25th...:-(

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, dancer, singer-songwriter, musician, and philanthropist. Referred to as the King of Pop, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance, and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene along with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5, then the Jacksons in 1964, and began his solo career in 1971.

In the early 1980s, Jackson became a dominant figure in popular music. The music videos for his songs, including those of "Beat It", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller", were credited with transforming the medium into an art form and a promotional tool, and the popularity of these videos helped to bring the relatively new television channel MTV to fame. Videos such as "Black or White" and "Scream" made him a staple on MTV in the 1990s. Through stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, to which he gave the name. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style have influenced numerous hip hop, pop, contemporary R&B, and rock artists.

Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. His other records, including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995), also rank among the world's best-selling. Jackson is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He was also inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame as the first (and currently only) dancer from the world of pop and rock 'n' roll.

Some of his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records; 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award); 26 American Music Awards (more than any other artist, including the "Artist of the Century"); 13 number-one singles in the United States in his solo career (more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era); and the estimated sale of over 750 million records worldwide. Jackson won hundreds of awards, which have made him the most-awarded recording artists in the history of music. He was also a notable humanitarian and philanthropist, donating and raising hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes and supporting more than 39 charities. According to David Winters, Jackson also donated tens of millions of dollars to many children’s charities anonymously, and spent a lot of his time visiting seriously ill children tirelessly going from hospital to hospital meeting these children just to brighten up their lives. When Jackson finished the visits he would ask the hospital nurses and the doctors what was needed at the hospital in terms of equipment for the children and would then make anonymous donations to the hospital to purchase expensive equipment or whatever else was needed.

Aspects of Jackson's personal life, including his changing appearance, personal relationships, and behavior, have generated controversy. In 1993, he was accused of child sexual abuse, but the case was settled out of court and no formal charges were brought. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges after the jury ruled him not guilty on all counts. While preparing for his concert series This Is It, Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest. Before his death, Jackson had been administered drugs including propofol and lorazepam. The Los Angeles County Coroner declared his death a homicide, and his personal physician pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter. Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief, and as many as one billion people around the world reportedly watched his public memorial service on live television. In March 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a $250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death.

Early life and The Jackson 5 (1958–1975)

Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, the eighth of ten children in an African American working-class family who lived in a small 3-room house in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson, was a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and five brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Randy. A sixth brother, Brandon, died shortly after birth. Joseph acknowledged in 2003 that he regularly whipped Jackson as a boy. Jackson stated that he was physically and emotionally abused during incessant rehearsals, though he also credited his father's strict discipline with playing a large role in his success.

In fact, Michael Jackson's deep dissatisfaction with his appearance, his nightmares and chronic sleep problems, his tendency to remain hyper-compliant especially with his father, and to remain child-like throughout his adult life are in many ways consistent with the effects of this chronic maltreatment he endured as a young child. Also, U.S.-based research studies on impact of "adverse childhood experiences" or ACEs (e.g. a child being abused, violence in the family, extreme stress of poverty, etc.) have shown that having a number of ACEs exponentially increases the risk of addiction (e.g. a male child with six ACEs has a 4,600%/46-fold increase in risk of addiction), mental illnesses, physical illnesses, and early death.

In an interview with Martin Bashir, later included in the 2003 broadcast of Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson acknowledged that his father hurt him when he was a child, but was nonetheless a "genius", as he admitted his father's strict discipline played a huge role in his success. When Bashir dismissed the positive remark and continued asking about beatings, Jackson put his hand over his face and objected to the questions. He recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed, and that "if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you".

In 1964, Michael and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers—a band formed by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine—as backup musicians playing congas and tambourine. Jackson later began performing backup vocals and dancing. When he was eight, Jackson began sharing the lead vocals with his older brother Jermaine, and the group's name was changed to The Jackson 5. In 1964, Michael and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers—a band formed by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine—as backup musicians playing congas and tambourine. Jackson later began performing backup vocals and dancing. When he was eight, Jackson began sharing the lead vocals with his older brother Jermaine, and the group's name was changed to The Jackson 5.

The Jackson 5 recorded several songs, including "Big Boy", for the local record label Steeltown in 1967, before signing with Motown Records in 1968. Rolling Stone magazine later described the young Michael as "a prodigy" with "overwhelming musical gifts," writing that he "quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer." The group set a chart record when its first four singles ("I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There") peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Between 1972 and 1975, Michael released four solo studio albums with Motown, among them Got to Be There and Ben, released as part of the Jackson 5 franchise, and producing successful singles such as "Got to Be There", "Ben", and a remake of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin". The group's sales began declining in 1973, and the band members chafed under Motown's strict refusal to allow them creative control or input. Although they scored several top 40 hits, including the top 5 disco single "Dancing Machine" and the top 20 hit "I Am Love", the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975.

Death and memorial

On June 25, 2009, Jackson died while in his bed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by Conrad Murray, his personal physician, were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 (PDT, 19:22 UTC), arriving three minutes later at Jackson's location. He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for an hour after arriving there at 1:13 (20:13 UTC). He was pronounced dead at 2:26 local time (21:26 UTC). Jackson's death triggered a global outpouring of grief.

The news spread quickly online, causing websites to slow down and crash from user overload. Both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times suffered outages. Google initially believed that the input from millions of people searching for "Michael Jackson" meant that the search engine was under DDoS attack. Twitter reported a crash, as did Wikipedia at 3:15 p.m. PDT (6:15 p.m. EDT). The Wikimedia Foundation reported nearly a million visitors to Jackson's biography within one hour, probably the most visitors in a one-hour period to any article in Wikipedia's history. AOL Instant Messenger collapsed for 40 minutes. AOL called it a "seminal moment in Internet history", adding, "We've never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth."

Around 15% of Twitter posts—or 5,000 tweets per minute—reportedly mentioned Jackson after the news broke, compared to the 5% recalled as having mentioned the Iranian elections or the flu pandemic that had made headlines earlier in the year. Overall, web traffic ranged from 11% to at least 20% higher than normal. MTV and Black Entertainment Television (BET) aired marathons of Jackson's music videos. Jackson specials aired on multiple television stations around the world.

The British soap opera EastEnders added a last-minute scene, in which one character tells another about the news, to the June 26 episode. Jackson was the topic of every front-page headline in the daily British tabloid The Sun for about two weeks following his death. During the same period, the three major U.S. networks' evening newscasts—ABC World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News—devoted 34% of their broadcast time to him. Magazines including Time published commemorative editions. A scene that had featured Jackson's sister La Toya was cut from the film Brüno out of respect toward Jackson's family.

Jackson's memorial was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, preceded by a private family service at Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Hall of Liberty. Jackson's casket was present during the memorial but no information was released about the final disposition of the body. While some unofficial reports claimed a worldwide audience as high as one billion people, the U.S. audience was estimated by Nielsen to be 31.1 million, an amount comparable to the estimated 35.1 million that watched the 2004 burial of former president Ronald Reagan, and the estimated 33.1 million Americans who watched the 1997 funeral for Princess Diana.

Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi performed at the event. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson gave eulogies, while Queen Latifah read, "We had him," a poem written for the occasion by Maya Angelou. The Reverend Al Sharpton received a standing ovation with cheers when he told Jackson's children, "Wasn't nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. But he dealt with it anyway." Jackson's 11-year-old daughter, Paris Katherine, cried as she told the crowd, "Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine ... I just wanted to say I love him ... so much." Reverend Lucious Smith provided a closing prayer.

On August 24, several news outlets quoted anonymous sources as stating that the Los Angeles coroner had decided to treat Jackson's death as a homicide; this was later confirmed by the coroner on August 28. At the time of death, Jackson had been administered propofol, lorazepam and midazolam. Law enforcement officials conducted a manslaughter investigation of his personal physician, Conrad Murray. On February 8, 2010, Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Jackson was entombed on September 3, 2009, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

On June 25, 2010, the first anniversary of Jackson's death, fans came to Los Angeles to pay their tribute to him. They visited Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and his family’s home, as well as Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Many of the fans were carrying sunflowers and other tribute items to drop off at the sites. Members of the Jackson family and close friends arrived to pay their respects. Katherine returned to Gary, Indiana to unveil a granite monument constructed in the front yard of the family home. The memorial continued with a candlelight vigil and a special performance of "We Are the World." On June 26, there was a protest march in front of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division at the old Parker Center building and a petition with thousands of signatures demanding justice was delivered. The Jackson Family Foundation in conjunction with Voiceplate presented "Forever Michael", an event bringing together Jackson family members, celebrities, fans, supporters and the community to celebrate and honor his legacy. A portion of the proceeds were presented to some of Jackson's favorite charities. Katherine also introduced her new book "Never Can Say Goodbye."