Monthly Archives: March 2010

In the Comment section of Thursday’s Financial Times, Richard Waters looks ahead to this weekend’s launch of the iPad:

“This launch is about much more than just another piece of personal technology hardware, no matter how desirable. For the iPad is an extension of the most significant new development in computing since the birth of the personal computer. If it takes off, it would seal Apple’s rebound to the very top of the heap in the computing world.”

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Access to Google search results from within mainland China was blocked recently for many hours, then restored, even as the US company switched explanations for what was happening.

In the meantime, Yahoo email users in China specialising in politically sensitive material complained that their accounts had been compromised, while malicious software tried to install itself on computers in Vietnam used by critics of a Chinese mining investment in that country. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Setting up a Wi-Fi network in the home appears to be beyond many consumers, with retailers sometimes seeing returns of upwards of 20-25 per cent on wireless routers.

Enter the Cisco Valet – a simplified product that doesn’t even say it’s a router on the box – aimed at the two-thirds of US homes still without wireless. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Servers, whether the tall wardrobe type or those pizza-box slices of hardware that slide into racks in data centre ovens, seem suddenly almost sexy.

We have had lavish beauty-contest launches from AMD and Intel on Monday and Tuesday of new high-performance server chips at San Francisco’s De Young Museum and the old Federal Reserve building respectively. Read more

With less than 100 hours to launch, the rate of stories appearing per hour about the iPad is rising as fast as Apple’s share priceit hit a new all-time high on Tuesday.

Techblog has been tracking some of the main developments – from Greenpeace criticising the iPad’s carbon footprint to forecasts being raised to shipments of up to 10m units this year. Our roundup after the jump: Read more

Richard Waters

When Google’s search service became widely unavailable in China a few hours ago, it looked like the other shoe had dropped: the authorities were finally retaliating after Google’s decision last week to end its long and miserable submission to self-censorship.

But the truth, as this rather embarrassing statement just put out by Google makes clear, is very different:

Lots of users in China have been unable to search on today. This blockage seems to have been triggered by a change on Google’s part. In the last 24 hours “gs_rfai” started appearing in the URLs of Google searches globally as part of a search parameter, a string of characters that sends information about the query to Google so we can return the best result. Because this parameter contained the letters rfa the great firewall was associating these searches with Radio Free Asia, a service that has been inaccessible in China for a long time–hence the blockage. We are currently looking at how to resolve this issue.

Who needs censors when you can walk blindly into a giant firewall like this?

Update: This story just keeps getting weirder – see after the jump. Read more

Paul Taylor

HTC’s Android-powered  Evo 4G – the first Wimax-enabled smartphone which will be offered for sale by Sprint Nextel this summer in the US – was unquestionably the star of the telecoms industry’s CTIA show in Las Vegas this week. (See Chris Nuttall’s earlier post.) But it was not the only smartphone show in town.

Other new smartphones launched at CTIA included HTC’s HD2 which looks very similar to the Evo 4G but runs Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 and is available from T-Mobile immediately for $199  – if you can find one. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Incredible detail, natural movement, photo-realism and 3D are the imagery-grabbing headlines from Nvidia for its new flagship PC graphics processor (GPU), unveiled at the PAX East gamers’ show in Boston on Friday.

The $500 GeForce GTX 480 may be blazingly fast, but Nvidia itself has been exceedingly slow in releasing the product a full six months after its rival AMD launched its equivalent card – the $400 Radeon HD 5870 – catching last October’s Windows 7 upgrade to the Microsoft operating system. Read more

David Gelles

The latest changes to Facebook’s privacy policy are already drawing the ire of privacy advocates concerned about the social networking site’s plans to automatically share user information with certain sites.

Yet included in the proposed changes are hints that Facebook is also preparing to make location-sharing an integral part of its service, something that could further push the boundaries of how much personal information users are, perhaps unwittingly, exposing to the public. Read more

Robin Harding

From Games are Evil, via Kotaku, a brilliantly complicated chart that shows who owns which video game developers and how they all ended up there. Visit the original page for a version you can properly magnify.

Chris Nuttall

The biggest losers in Admob’s latest survey of smartphone usage, released on Thursday, were Symbian operating system phones, with their share falling from 43 per cent to 18 per cent over the past year as iPhone and Android traffic boomed.

But don’t write off Symbian just yet. Lee Williams, executive director of the Symbian Foundation, gave a glimpse of two forthcoming revamps that could revive its fortunes when he visited us en route to the CTIA show in Las Vegas. Read more

Paul Taylor

When femtocells first appeared several years ago, they garnered little interest from mobile network operators which mostly saw them as expensive, difficult to manage and unnecessary.

Then the smartphone wave broke, mobile data consumption soared and some carriers including AT&T suddenly faced a capacity crunch in smartphone-heavy urban markets including New York and San Francisco. Read more

China benefits from open network links to the rest of the world. An FT editorial says any big step now in the direction of restricting access could have longer-term repercussions.

Its repressive stance has set a dubious leadership for regimes elsewhere, with the open internet under attack in many parts of the world. Diplomatic and economic pressure may have more effect elsewhere. If the global drift towards a more restrictive internet is to be halted, now is the time to draw a line in the sand.

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Robin Kwong

Mediatek, the biggest supplier of mobile phone chips to China, just became SAP’s newest client, hiring IBM to install the European software company’s Enterprise Resource Planning system globally.

This is welcome news for technology bulls, who will see it as concrete evidence of the return of corporate IT spending. After strong consumer spending on netbooks and smartphones helped lift the industry last year, there is considerable debate on whether this year and the next will see corporates lead a second wave in the global tech recovery.

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David Gelles

The hacker who hijacked the Twitter accounts of celebrities including Britney Spears and US President Barack Obama was arrested in France on Wednesday, only to be released and ordered to appear in court in June.

“Hacker Croll” gained notoriety last year by taking over some of the most prominent accounts on Twitter, then sending out fake messages to millions of unsuspecting followers. A hacker by the same name also accessed a trove of internal corporate documents from Twitter and leaked them to TechCrunch, though it was not immediately clear if the man arrested on Wednesday was responsible for both attacks.

The AFP reported that the arrest was the culmination of a months-long operation that involved French authorities and the FBI. It was not immediately clear if the man was charged with a crime. Read more

“Google decided that its brand, which depends on its image as a champion of liberalism, was worth more than a slice of China’s still-nascent online advertising market,” writes the FT’s David Pilling. Now, he says, “Google’s decision has presented Chinese authorities with a quandary.”

Some officials have sensibly sought to characterise the pull-out as a purely commercial decision of little broader significance. To escalate the affair risks jeopardising China’s official stance of being welcoming to business and further poisoning already strained relations with the US. More, to paint the withdrawal in ideological hues risks putting Beijing into conflict with a subset of its own netizens who are embarrassed that a great company such as Google cannot operate freely in a great country such as China.

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Chris Nuttall

The day consumers buy long-life energy-saving LED lights to replace household bulbs has come a little closer with the launch of a product on Wednesday from Silicon Valley startup Bridgelux.

Its Helieon LED lighting module brings costs down to around $20 a unit in volume amounts for a light that will last more than 10 years and pay for itself in far less time in lower energy bills. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The first 4G phone in the US, the HTC Evo unveiled by Sprint at the CTIA show on Tuesday, ticks just about all the boxes for my ideal phone.

We await details of pricing and plans and exactly when the handset will be available this summer, but the features are mouth-watering enough to satisfy the thirst of smartphone addicts for the time being. Details after the jump. Read more

Joseph Menn

A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate on Tuesday would require the US to penalise countries that don’t do enough to crack down on cybercrime that attacks US individuals, companies or federal assets.

Backed by Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, the bill would have the president identify countries of concern and establish benchmarks for rectifying the problems. Read more

David Gelles

After taking so much flack for its frequent outages and the regular attacks on its system, it is only fair that Twitter gets to toot its own horn once in a while.

In a bit of very good news for the company, Twitter says it has finally gotten spam on the site under control.

As Twitter was going through its major growth spurt last year, spammers and scammers flocked to the site. From May through October, as much as 9 per cent of all tweets were spam, according to Twitter’s own numbers. Now that number is down to about 1 per cent, said Twitter chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury in a blog post. Read more