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Tech Blog

December 3, 2010

MSN celebrates 15 years - of lost opportunity?

by Brian Turner
It was 15 years ago this week that MSN launched as an internet portal for Microsoft, and developed into one of the first integrated online experiences for many people joining the internet. It could even be said that MSN, not least through its communities and news offering, was the first real ...

November 25, 2010

Christmas present ideas: 2010

by Brian Turner
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat - and finding ideas for Christmas presents for everyone this year could prove just as challenging as any other year. Have no fear, Techwatch is here with some personal recommendations to help you along with your Christmas shopping.   The 80's are back!

Skyphones.org customers not being paid, losing phones

by Brian Turner
Techwatch has been receiving a flood of complaints about Skyphones.org this month, claiming that the company is not paying out for mobile phones sent to it. Skyphones is one of the newer businesses advertising themselves as a mobile phone recycling company. However, not only are consumers reporting ...

November 12, 2010

Brits send paper plane into space

by Janet Harris
Britain has been the birthplace of many inventions throughout history but a paper spaceship must be among the wackiest – and yet it worked! Keeping the tradition of British inventiveness alive, John Oates, Steve Daniels, and Lester Haines launched Vulture 1, a plane made out of paper and straws, into space on a helium balloon. The helium balloon climbed for 90 ...

November 11, 2010

Twitter joker loses bomb claim case

by Brian Turner
In an example of how idiotic Britain's legal system is becoming, someone who joked online about not being able to visit someone unless they attacked an airport has been convicted for "menace". Paul Chambers had posted the following message to a friend, urging them to hurry up before snow closed the airport: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week ...

October 26, 2010

Windows 8: Don’t believe the hype

by Brian Turner
If there's one thing Microsoft appears to have managed over the past decade, it is to have rushed out poor versions of new operating systems in order to satisfy shareholders. After the debacles over Windows ME and Windows Vista, the message is clear - no one should be getting too excited about Windows 8. Okay, so it's not out yet - ...

October 25, 2010

Google Street View took password data

by Brian Turner
Google Street View is under attack again after it was revealed through third-party analysis that Google collected data that included passwords, emails, and surfing data. This will cause further embarrassment to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), who has so far failed to act over the issue in the UK. The alarm was raised in May when Google Street View cars were found ...

October 6, 2010

The migration to IP-based telephone systems and the death of PSTN

by Brian Turner
A few months ago Panasonic quietly announced a move away from TDM telephone systems to focus on IP-based telephony. TDM - Time-division multiplexing - was an established protocol in digital telephone systems, but has now been superceded by IP-based telephony using a packet-based system. Certainly Panasonic and others are focusing on the IP market, and companies such as ...

September 23, 2010

Facebook.com: Service Unavailable - DNS failure

by Brian Turner
Problems using the Facebook website are nothing new - slow servers, messages going missing, and changes to the interface made ad hoc without informing users first can make Facebook a sometimes very frustrating experience. However, since 21:10 GMT I'm now receiving the following error message from Facebook.com: Service Unavailable - DNS failure The server is temporarily unable to service your request. Please try ...

September 16, 2010

Are Vision Express comment spamming blogs?

by Brian Turner
Blog comment spam is a nuisance at best, and at worse an intentional act of vandalism on websites. However, recently we've seen some blog spam come up linking to Vision Express of all places. While it's possible that these are malicious comments unconnected with the company, it is also possible that Vision Express have hired a clueless SEO company to provide a ...

September 14, 2010

Papal Visit to UK: Memorabilia

by Brian Turner
This week's Papal visit - the first for 28 years - has certainly stirred the headlines in various different ways. On the one hand, we've had polls showing that most people don't care or that the Roman Catholic Church should at least cover the million-pound policing bill. Protestants are up in arms, Catholics just don't seem too bothered, ...

April 27, 2010

Google to Facebook: we sell user data, not you!

by Brian Turner
Earlier this week, The Register reported on how Google employees were suddenly shutting down their Facebook profiles. Speculation was rife that this was due to Facebook's promised threat of supplying user data to third-party advertisers being an obvious privacy threat. Well, today Google have announced the next stage of the DoubleClick integration - yes, you guessed it, selling ads to users ...

Gizmodo vs Apple takes new twist

by Brian Turner
The recent conflict between Gizmodo and Apple took a new twist today, after the website's editor, Jason Chen, had his home raided by police officers. The whole issue began after Apple software engineer Gray Powell accidentally left what appears to be a prototype for the new iPhone in a bar. Gizmodo, one of the biggest tech news websites, then paid $5,000 ...

March 26, 2010

Cable operators in Germany stay with analogue

by Rapid TV News
Website: Rapid TV News HDTV, Video-on-Demand and the possibility to make internet content and applications available on TV sets using hybrid technology open up plenty of new revenue sources for the cable industry. However, cable operators see no necessity to terminate analogue TV carriage which is planned for the German DTH market on Apr 30 2012. These are the main results of ...

NDS to float on stock market

by Rapid TV News
Website: Rapid TV News It is no great surprise to hear that NDS will seek a fresh stock market listing, but CEO Abe Peled has confirmed that the company has 2012 in mind for a float, and might have a secondary listing in China. NDS was first publicly quoted on the NASDAQ back in 1999 but when private equity firm Permira ...

January 11, 2010

Are VoIP HD phone systems ready for market?

by Brian Turner
We've seen KT Networks, iNum and other companies offer HD VoIP. HD VoIP is one of the more recent developments in the VoIP market, and in theory, the specs make this a product to watch. Looking at Audiocodes for HD VoIP it can only look attractive - free or low cost voice over internet calls to even better rival ...

September 7, 2009

Google Books faces further scrutiny

by Brian Turner
Google faces further scrutiny over its Google Books project, as the European Commission now grapples the issue of how European copyright will apply. The problem is accentuated by the fact that US and European laws on copyright protections can be markedly different, raising issues of how Google Books would handle books in print on one continent, but not another. Google ...

August 3, 2009

FCC Questions Apple and AT&T on Google Voice Rejection

by Franz Bicar
A few weeks ago, the net was abuzz with the rejection of Google Voice from the iPhone App Store. Because of this, the FCC or The Federal Communications Commission, which is an independent agency of the United States government that regulating essentially all communications in or originating in the United States (including competition ...

July 31, 2009

Lessons learned from the lunar landing

by Edgar Villalpando
First, some full disclosure: I wasn’t around when Neil Armstrong made his “giant leap for mankind.” But I’ve heard my parents’ accounts of the space race; I’ve seen “The Right Stuff” and “Apollo 13” (where would our space program have been without Ed Harris???); and I’ve understood how the public view of space travel has changed since the race to ...

June 24, 2009

Future of Mobile Devices Bright with Intel and Nokia Partnership

by Franz Bicar
On Tuesday, Intel, the world's largest semiconductor chip maker, and Nokia, one of the leading manufacturers of mobile phones and mobile devices, announced their partnership in developing future mobile devices. This announcement could serve as the cornerstone for the future of mobile devices and the mobile market. Both companies are still silent on specific products or targets that they are aiming ...

May 5, 2009

Clavister: Cloud security concerns are unfounded

by David Masters
Cloud computing has the potential to transform the business landscape, with industry analysts predicting that all businesses will be part of the cloud withing five years. However, IT departments frequently express concern about the security of cloud computing. "Many businesses have grave concerns over the privacy and security of their data and the idea of handing over important company information to another ...

April 8, 2009

Education needed to help SMEs combat e-crime

by Dave Cruse
During the past World Economic Forum, cybercrime was identified as the number one rising threat to businesses. Experts called for a new system to tackle well-organised cybercrime because online theft costs $1 trillion a year, the number of attacks is rising sharply and too many people do not know how to protect themselves, they said. With cybercrime reaching such rampant levels, most ...

March 26, 2009

Dell Smartphone - Could it Succeed?

by Franz Bicar
Talks and rumors of a Dell smartphone may actually be more than just rumors. Dell CEO Michael Dell recently confirmed the company's move towards what they refer to as "smaller-screen devices." This statement was issued by Dell last March 24 while traveling in Japan. This is news for a lot of people but not really that surprising. Rival PC makers such ...

March 17, 2009

Apple TV to feature a Wii-like Remote

by Franz Bicar
With the news of Toshiba and Hitachi's gesture-controlled TV's, Apple is developing their very own Wii-like remote for the Apple TV. Two identical patent applications published earlier this week by Apple mentioned something about a wand that would expand Apple TV's capabilities into a full-fledged entertainment system. Apple proposes ...

HTC Maple to be Launched by April

by Franz Bicar
The internet community - those geeks constantly waiting for the next big thing - is abuzz with HTC's announcement of its new HTC Maple. The Maple is supposed to be released in the US by next month to coincide with the International CTIA Wireless 2009 exhibition slated to start on April 1. The HTC Maple appears to have a trackball like ...

March 9, 2009

Samsung marketers hire fake Pink

by David Allen
Samsung has hired pop singer Pink to promote its Tocco and Pixon handsets, or so it says. A Pink tribute artist (i.e. a fake Pink) turned up at a local Carphone Warehouse store to launch the Samsung promotion. We are in the middle of the credit crunch, so perhaps we can forgive them for not being able to afford the real thing. Or ...

February 27, 2009

SS7 – Reports of its death are somewhat premature

by Robin Kent
At the start of the 21st century, many people in the telecommunications industry were predicting the death of SS7 as a mass market signalling protocol. It was seen to be too old, too expensive and not advanced enough to cope with the changes that were predicted to revolutionise telecoms such as convergence; a move to all IP; and increased video consumption ...

Free 8GB IPhone from Softbank

by Franz Bicar
A few days ago, I wrote about a $99 iPhone from Best Buy. Now we have news that Softbank, Apple's partner and the iPhone carrier in Japan, plans to introduce a new program Friday that will give some iPhones away for free with a new two-year ...

February 16, 2009 on mass spam run

by Brian Turner
The blog spam is really out in force at the moment, with a massive wave of blog and forum spam coming out of Russia and China at present. The IP address is currently running wild on the blogp spam, with a comment that quotes the domain name, along with short inanae comment, followed by the word "ad" and a link ...

January 29, 2009

UK School Authority Selects Video Furnace

A major educational authority in South Yorkshire, England, has begun using one of the U.K.'s most technologically advanced IP video distribution systems. The 17 middle schools and two learning centers managed by the Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council are installing an IP video distribution system developed by Video Furnace, a US-based provider of IP video solutions. The authority was seeking a video distribution ...

January 8, 2009

FTA: New Satellite TV Channels

by Brian Turner
The number of new FTA and ecnrypted satellite channels continues to increase, so today was time to organise the Techwatch Satellite Forums to cover this in greater depth. We've now reorganised the New Channels section to feature the most popular satellites covered: 5E - Sirius 4 / Thor2 7E - Eutelsat W3A 9E - Eurobird 9 13E ...

December 22, 2008

Dumb Warner slams YouTube deal

by Brian Turner
In a typically dumb music mega-corp move, Warner are threatening to pull its music videos from YouTube - on the grounds that the advertising revenue received is "staggering low". What Warner don't seem to realise in their mixed-up marketing world view, is that YouTube has become the new way for consumers to find music recommendations they can buy on. When ...

November 14, 2008

Apple iMac

by Brian Turner
UPDATE: The original piece has been withdrawn due to inaccuracies being reported. The main contention of the piece was that while Apple products are stylish, sometimes this seems to be at the expense of usability. Some of these concerns may be valid, but the tone they were presented was one of anger and frustration, which does not suit a ...

November 7, 2008

Xmas Gifts for Kids

by Brian Turner
Christmas is almost upon us (in shopping terms at least) but I've made a point of buying earlier this year, to avoid the mad rush nearer to Christmas Eve. The problem with shopping for Christmas presents for kids is that: 1. Sheer volume of toys available can be overwhelming 2. Too many toys aren't focused on stimulating imagination and creativity 3. Three words: "cheap ...

October 16, 2008

NEC develops 12-inch 3D screen

by Franz Bicar
NEC Display Solutions, a subsidiary of Japan-based NEC Corporation and a manufacturer of computer monitors and large-screen public-information displays, is probably one of the world's leading researchers on display technologies. Now, they have developed a 3D screen that works by displaying two different images, one for the left eye, ...

October 1, 2008

Sharp, Nissan Built-in Electronic Car Key

by Franz Bicar
I'm sure you've seen those videos and blog posts about cell phones able to unlock cars. By now everybody should know that those were hoaxes. Well, pretty soon, that may also become a reality. Sharp, Nissan and NTT DoCoMo, Japan's leading cellular carrier, has developed the world's first built-in electronic car key. It's compatible with Nissan's intelligent key function, which works ...

September 23, 2008

Multimedia PC's for your Living Room HDTV

by Franz Bicar
As technology progresses, more and more companies have released all-in-one desktop PCs, or more popularly known as living room PCs. These devices were clearly influenced by the success of the Apple iMac. Companies such as Dell, ...

September 9, 2008

Universal fights YouTube over toddler Prince dance

by Brian Turner
According to the BBC, a mum is locked in a copyright battle with Universal Music - after she posted a clip to YouTube of her toddler dancing to a Prince song. Universal forced the clip off the site claiming copyright infringement. Stephanie Lenz is now fighting the issue through the California courts, claiming "fair use". And the EFF (Electronic ...

September 5, 2008

IP in massive blog spam run

by Brian Turner
IP has been really hammering out the blog spam over the past week. The reach is quite surprising - it's taking it's toll out on popular blogs but also little used blogs we monitor. According to a WHOIS check, it appears is assigned to Uruguay: OrgName: Latin American and Caribbean IP address Regional Registry OrgID: ...

August 20, 2008

The Top 10 Myths in IPTV

by sharona
BitBand dispels IPTV deterrents on the eve of IBC 2008 IPTV subscriber numbers are growing steadily, but widespread uptake of services is yet to reach its full promise. As telcos, service providers and content and technology vendors prepare to gather in Amsterdam for one of the industry’s larger events, BitBand refutes some of the most prevalent myths that deter potential ...

August 13, 2008

Video Encoding for Online Delivery – keeping an eye on quality.

by Nick Dimes
by Simon Factor, CEO, Moving Media Big changes are afoot in the broadcast business, a fault-line is appearing in the industry as content distribution pushes further online. Major announcements from large media companies backing online video channels and pushing premium ‘TV’ content out without DRM over the internet are shaking up the industry. Where this is leading us is a question on many ...

Passwords are not enough

by prpr
John Stewart of Signify – The Secure Authentication Service – explains why two-factor authentication is better than one Passwords are getting a bit embarrassing. Organisations are increasingly reluctant to admit that they only use weak static password protection to prevent access to their networks and resources. A major problem is that people are forgetful. So when asked to pick a memorable ...

Clustered Storage vs. Storage Virtualisation

by Storage Expo
By Philip Crocker, Director of EMEA Marketing, Isilon Systems. Many organisations are facing a tremendous increase in the amounts of data needed to conduct everyday business. The growth of unstructured data such as video, audio, image, research data, and other large digital files is pushing the bounds of traditional storage systems. Into the breach come Clustered Storage and Storage Virtualisation to potentially offer ...

August 11, 2008

How to choose an encryption solution

by prpr
Frank Schlottke from Applied Security looks at different approaches to data encryption and discusses the pros and cons that must be examined to ensure a best fit solution. With stories of data going missing almost daily, it’s difficult to understand why more of it is not encrypted. After all, the most effective countermeasure against the theft or loss of critical or ...

August 10, 2008

The pitfalls of FTP Servers

by Cyber - Ark
I’ve heard recently that there is a new craze for thrill seekers known as Russian Roulette parachuting – a one in six chance that the parachute might not open – but apparently this is just not close enough to the edge for some IT folks out there. It seems the latest stunt is using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to provide access ...

The problem is information insecurity

by Bruce Schneier
Information insecurity is costing us billions. We pay for it in theft: information theft, financial theft. We pay for it in productivity loss, both when networks stop working and in the dozens of minor security inconveniences we all have to endure. We pay for it when we have to buy security products and services to reduce those other two losses. ...

The Threat Within: Data Breaches from Unauthorized Access and Improper Use

by Tier-3
(Written by Geoff Sweeney, CTO, Tier-3) Identity management systems (IDM) control user access to specific company information based on their identity, duty and responsibilities. Increasingly today’s enterprises are turning also to the next level of security with the use of network access control systems (NAC) to verify the integrity of devices as they access the corporate network. There is little doubt that ...

August 6, 2008

Which is more Important – Compliance, Security or Operability?

by InfosecurityAdvisor
The task of managing risk within a given organisation has changed dramatically. There was a time when compliance was unheard of (so to speak), security meant switching off modems, and ensuring systems remained operable involved via a big lorry in the car park for a week to verify backups worked. This tranquil world has now been shattered, whereby projects and budgets are ...

July 14, 2008

Operators Support Two Opposing Technologies

by Alan Harten
Having to face up to ever increasing and varied competition in the cable market itself, as well as newcomers such as Telco’s all fighting for TV viewers, the traditionally set-in-their-ways and unwilling to change cable operators are becoming increasingly uncomfortable. According to researcher IMS, set-top boxes (STBs) will reach 90.3m unit shipments worldwide in 2009, up from approximately 50.8m units shipped ...

July 1, 2008

Will bonded ADSL see bigger take-up?

by Brian Turner
One thing is clear: the internet needs of business is escalating, not least on bandwidth issues. Triple play offerings mean that business is being offered more choices, but ISP's may be over-subscribing what they can deliver. VoIP has always suffered from Quality of Service (QoS) issues, there's no getting around that. Crackling lines, dropped connections, and incompatible VoIP formats results in ...