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Some interesting Facebook stats on release of Q4 results

31/01 (09:09 IST): Social Network Facebook announced its Q4 results late yesterday. While we shall not 'bore' you with the financials, here are some interesting facts hidden in the statement:
Some 618 million people use Facebook every day, the company told investors.

Facebook stores more than 240 billion photos, with some 350 million new photos uploaded a day.
Only 8% of those 240 billion photos account for over 82% of Facebook's traffic

To house those photos and all the other stuff, the company has built some of the most sophisticated data centers in the world, particularly its showpiece data center in Prineville, Ore.

Facebook will spend US $1.8 billion in 2013 on capital expenditures, mostly on servers, data centers & infrastructure, it said.

Microsoft launches Office 2013

29/01 (07:08 IST): Software global giant Microsoft has launched the Office 2013, the latest version of its software suite.

With the release of Office 2013, Microsoft has now moved away from sales of perpetual licences to an increased emphasis on subscription licensing.

The subscription version includes all the regular functions available within Office 2013, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Onenote, Outlook & Publisher, along with Office Web Apps.

Regular licences for the Home/Student basis include just Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Onenote, those for commercial use also take in Outlook, and the professional version includes Publisher & Microsoft Access.

The new features of Office 2013 include a revamped version of Word including Read mode with text reflow, Object Zoom for viewing tables, charts and pictures, & Present Online for collaboration through a browser.

Excel 2013 has some new functions, such as Flash Fill for formatting and analysis tools to highlight peaks and trends in statistics.

The Office 2013 Professional version is priced at US $399/£390, Home & Student at US $140/£110, Home & Business at US $220/£220, & a Home Premium subscription is £80.

iPhone losing ground rapidly in major Asian cities

28/01 (20:10 IST): A Reuters report has said Apple's iconic iPhone was losing some of its lustre among Asia's well-heeled consumers in Singapore & Hong Kong.

Some of the reasons cited are iPhone fatigue, a desire to be different & competition, primarily from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

In Singapore, Apple's products were so dominant in 2010 that more devices here ran its iOS operating system per capita than anywhere else in the world.

The report quoted StatCounter, an agency which measures traffic collected across a network of 3 million websites, as saying that Apple's share of mobile devices in Singapore - iPad & iPhone - declined sharply last year. From a peak of 72% in January 2012, its share fell to 50% this month, while Android devices now account for 43% of the market, up from 20% in the same month last year.

In Hong Kong, devices running Apple's iOS now account for about 30% of the total, down from about 45% a year ago. Android accounts for nearly two-thirds.

Where Hong Kong & Singapore lead, other key markets across fast-growing Asia usually follow, the report added.

Internet is a basic right, says German court

28/01 (08:55 IST): A German court has ruled that citizens can sue their Internet providers for damages over a lost connection, saying  access to the Internet represents a basic need in modern society.

According to a report in DW, the complaint that brought about the ruling came from a man who lost his Internet connection for 2 months due to an administrative error caused by a takeover of his Internet provider by another company. He will now be entitled to monetary compensation. With it, Germany's Federal Court of Justice has stated that Internet connection is a modern necessity, on par with the right to mobility.

The court compared the situation to a car owner claiming damages after someone else has caused an accident that renders the car unusable for some time.

New service by BitTorrent called Sync is launched

26/01 (17:35 IST): BitTorrent has announced a new service called Sync, that uses peer-to-peer technology to synchronize personal files across multiple computers & devices.

Sync is still in a pre-Alpha stage at the moment, they are allowing a small number of users to test it via an application form on their Labs page.

There are not much details about this new service available at the moment. Online reports like the one in Gigaom say Sync will be able to share files between different devices without any cloud caching. BitTorrent was also cited as saying there would be native apps for OSX, Windows & Linux.

Twitter's value hits US $9 billion

26/01 (10:45 IST): A new investment into micro-blog Twitter by the world’s largest asset manager will value the Social Media company at over US bn, a jump of more than 10% since its last fundraising in 2011.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the fund managed by BlackRock, the giant US investment firm, on Friday launched an US $80m tender offer to a number of Twitter’s early employees. Twitter itself, which facilitated the transaction, will not raise new capital. The increase in Twitter’s valuation comes during a tumultuous period for Silicon Valley.

Twitter, launched in 2006 in San Francisco, USA, after doubling its active users to 200m in December, this week expanded its service to allow users to send videos.

The BlackRock fund will, according to people familiar with the deal, invest the money to buy stock from early Twitter employees, who have not had any opportunity to exercise their share options since Twitter’s US $800m fundraising round in autumn 2011. If fully subscribed, the deal will leave the fund with a stake of just under 1% in Twitter.

Coming soon: A computing device that is of the size of your USB stick

25/01 (20:01 IST): This Website normally does not write on hardware but this report in Computerworld was too good to be passed over. Apparently, there's a new form of computer coming, to be introduced by Dell. The thing is, going by what the report says, no one can quite fit this piece of hardware in any kind of category.
To be released mid-year, this computer is all of 3.5 inches long & 1.5 inches wide, which makes it not bigger than your average USB stick.

This Wi-Fi enabled device is designed to be plugged into something, most likely a monitor or TV. It has 2 USB ports for a keyboard & a mouse.It also has Bluetooth capability. It displays at 1080p & can support touch screens. This `thing' will be powered by an ARM system-on-a-chip manufactured by an undisclosed vendor.

The device doesn't yet have a real name -- Dell is calling it `Project Ophelia', the report adds.

And the best part is yet to come - the device will cost less than US $100.

So, what out for Ophelia.

Google to roll out refurbished Image Search

24/01 (07:42 IST): Google Inc on Wednesday announced a redesign of its image Search on Google.com.
In a Blog post, the company claimed that the re-fitted Search was not only faster, but "more beautiful & more reliable."  The new look will start rolling out in the next few days. There's not too much info for now but certain details for webmasters:
  • We now display detailed information about the image (the metadata) right underneath the image in the search results, instead of redirecting users to a separatelanding page.
  • We’re featuring some key information much more prominently next to the image: the title of the page hosting the image, the domain name it comes from, and the image size.
  • The domain name is now clickable, and we also added a new button to visit the page the image is hosted on. This means that there are now four clickable targets to the source page instead of just two.
  • In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.

Tiny version of Linux called PicUntu launched

23/01 (08:26 IST): PicUntu, a Linux distribution tailored specifically to the minimal specs of smaller PCs, was launched recently.

The PicUntu team wrote on its Blog: We are happy to announce the world's first complete Linux distribution for the RK3066,” This is the chip that powers the Android mini-PC by the same name as well as  other tiny devices.

“Starting with a minimal download of no more than 170 MB, you can use menus and simple selections to configure your system to be a full fledged system,” the project team added.

Based on Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal, PicUntu 0.9 release candidate 2.2 is the latest version of the Operating System available. As of last week, it became freely availableto download with numerous bug fixes over previous versions.

For Linux users, it requires only a 23 KB download.

Chinese Search Engine Baidu Cloud service crosses the 30 mln users mark
22/01 (19:11 IST): Chinese Search Engine Baidu said today that it's Personal Cloud Service (PCS) product, which includes NetDrive, has passed 30 million registered users.
A press note issued by Baidu said it's mobile input method editor (IME) for pinyin has also touched the 100 million users mark, overall. The company also announced that Baidu’s mobile Internet browser was now among the top 3 domestic mobile browsers with around 30 million users overall.
NetDrive, known locally as Wangpan, works in a similar way to many other Cloud-based storage solutions aimed at the average consumer, such as Dropbox  & SugarSync. All users are given 5GB of free storage. Baidu is increasingly focusing on mobile as a response to the growth in phone-based Internet usage in China.

Another Mega tries to cash in on the popularity of its namesake launched by Kim Dotcom

22/01 (08:17 IST): This is a funny story. The Next Web reports that a domain similar to the freshly launched MEGA, called Mega.co says it wantto auction its domain name for as much as US $500,000, ostensibly in support of causes for the free & open Internet.

When you click on mega.co, you are taken to another Site called join.ome.ga. This is promoting the “The Omega Project”, but there's not much information there. TNW report says a related Twitter account describes it as “building the cloud towards a free and open internet using already existing software,” but has no tweets.

A banner at the top of Mega.co points visitors to an auction on the Flippa domain marketplace. The listing starts at $500,000 with a “buy it now” option priced at $1 million. In the description, the poster notes that Mega.co received nearly 30,000 visitors after 48 hours of being redirected to join.ome.ga.

MEGA, the Cloud storage service by millionaire Kim Dotcom launched on Sunday last & can be found at Mega.co.nz. It has already crossed the 1 million users mark.

Kim Dotcom's MEGA is here

20/01 (17:50 IST): It's Online. Internet millionaire Kim Dotcom's much awaited venture, MEGA, a Cloud storage system with extremely strong privacy controls was launched today from New Zealand.
Dotcom was arrested 1 year ago on charges of copyright piracy & racketeering charges, pushing him into cyber limelight. According to some Online reports, he tweeted this morning that MEGA had achieved 250,000 registrations, & the servers were overloaded.

At a launch party tonight, fake police abseiled  from the walls of his Coatesville mansion while a helicopter with ‘‘FBI’’ painted on it flew overhead in a mock re-creation of a dramatic police raid on the estate last year. 
MEGA provides robust cloud storage with convenient & powerful always-on privacy. MEGA believes in a user's right to complete Online privacy & provides a software called User Controlled Encryption, or UCE, to ensure that. 
So how is MEGA different from say a DropBox or the others? All files stored on MEGA are encrypted. All data transfers from and to MEGA are encrypted. MEGA is different – unlike the industry norm where the cloud storage provider holds the decryption key, with MEGA, the users control the encryption, hold the keys, and they decide who to grant or deny access to the files, without requiring any risky software installs.

There goes Microsoft again....

20/01 (08:50 IST): Microsoft will sell its new Operating System (OS) Windows 8 from January 31 for US $119.99. Readers may recall that till Jan 31, under an offer by Microsoft, people could upgrade their previous Windows version after paying up a mere US $39.99. But come February, prepare to shell out more, says a Microsoft Blog post reveals. And that's just the basic edition; if you want Windows 8 Pro, it'll cost you $199.99.
Obviously Microsoft has not seen all those reports that have claimed that Windows 8 based PCs are not selling as much as everyone they thought they would.


2 days before launch, Kim Dotcom offers 50 GB free space

18/01 (19:45 IST): 50 GB of free space, that's what upcomin, controversial Startup Kim Dotcom is offering. According to The Next Web, Kim Dotcom made a series of announcements on micro-blog Twitter related to his upcoming Mega service, which will be hosted at the New Zealand-based domain Mega.co.nz. 2 days before the service is to go live, Doctom says he plans to offer 50GB of free storage to all members and is also working on bringing over users’ Megaupload files & data.

As if Oracle did not have enough probs, no there's a fake Java patch floating around

18/01 (19:45 IST): There's a piece of software that's masquerading as the latest patch for Java, says Online security firm Trend Micro.

Oracle released 2 emergency patches last Sunday for its Java programming language & application platform, which is installed on millions of computers worldwide. The latest version of Java is Update 11. Trend Micro wrote on its Blog that it was alerted to a fake "Java Update 11" present on at least one website. If a user installs the bogus update, a malicious backdoor program is downloaded.

The backdoor connects to a remote server that enables a possible attacker to take control of the infected system, according to Paul Pajares, a fraud analyst with Trend.

A tiny projector will rest on Google Glass

18/01 (08:45 IST): Remember Google Glass, that effort by Google Inc. to embedd a PC into your eye glasses? Well, work on the project goes on. Apparently, Google has now applied for a patent for a micro projector that will rest on the frame of Google Glass.
The tiny laser projector will beam out QWERTY & other buttons, & then the built-in camera and processor would try to interpret finger movements in the region of those buttons. Hey presto! You have a working, virtual PC. 

Disney's 1st Gaming platform is here

17/01 (07:10 IST): Disney Interactive has released the much-awaited new Gaming platform initiative, the Disney Infinity, at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles.

The game will immerse real-life Disney & Pixar character figurines into one giant play space across gaming platforms (Xbox, PS3, WiiU), the iPad, mobile, & online. Kids will be able to play with characters from different films in the same area & allow them to interact with items from each other's respective movies.
The Walt Disney Company is the world's largest media and entertainment conglomerate. It was founded by Roy & Walt Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.
Here's a trailer of Disney Infinity

Here's the New MySpace

16/01 (14:55 IST): The new MySpace is now open to the public after being in private Beta for 6 months.
This Social Network has a mint fresh design with Justin Timberlake, an investor in the new Myspace, on the Home Page. He is promoting his new track & it is the first thing that loads up when you sign up.

The redesign seems focused around following specific artists & their Content like music, film & photographs. There's a Discover section which features other artists, too. It includes trending items &  prominent music-specific section. There's also a streaming radio function with the ability to play artist or genre stations, so also a mixes section.

1st of Google doodle contests

16/01 (14:47 IST):  It's doodle time. Google Inc. has announced the Doodle 4 Google contest for kids across the United States. K-12 students will get the chance to display their own Google doodle on www.google.com through the Doodle 4 Google contest.

A press release said the theme for the 2013 Doodle 4 Google contest is: My Best Day Ever...

In addition to seeing their doodle displayed on Google's Home Page in May, the winner also receives a US $30,000 college scholarship & a US $50,000 technology grant for their school. Last date for entry is March 22, 2013.
You may visit google.com/doodle4google for details.

Social Network Facebook announces vertical Search called Graph Search

16/01 (0732 IST): Social Network Facebook announced a new 'Graph Search' feature on Tuesday that is more like a vertical Search product. The latter, said its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will answer all the questions that the Social Network's Newsfeed & Timeline do not.

"Today we're going to take a little trip to our roots," CEO Mark Z. said, while making the announcement at a media briefing.

He described Facebook as a huge database, adding that just like a database, one should be able to query it. He said while the Newsfeed answered the question "What's going on?" & Timeline answered "Who is this person?", everything else remained unanswered. So the GraphSearch.

In addition to launching Graph Search, Facebook is also incorporating Microsoft's Bing Search results in Facebook searches. (Microsoft owns a 1.6% share of Facebook.) 

Facing flak, Oracle releases out-of-turn security patch

15/01 (07:32 IST): Software solutions major Oracle, which of late has come under flak because of a security flaw in Java, has issued an emergency Java update to patch 2 critical vulnerabilities, including one that had been exploited in ongoing & accelerating attacks.

The decision to release an emergency security update outside Oracle's normal schedule was because last week, several notorious cybercrime kits were said to be exploiting a "zero-day," or unpatched vulnerability in Java.

Some Browser makers like Mozilla did not even wait but took matters into their own hands. On Friday, Mozilla added Java 7 to its "Click to Play" blacklist, meaning that users had to explicitly agree to run the Java plug-in inside Firefox. Mozilla debuted Click to Play in Firefox 17, which launched in last November.

Oracle was clear to customers that they needed to update Java 7 immediately. In a press release, Oracle clarified that the vulnerabilities were not applicable to Java running on servers, standalone Java desktop Applications or embedded Java applications. They also do not affect Oracle server-based software, it said.

Mobile, vertical Search killing organic Search?

12/01 (0940 IST): What's happening to organic Search? Is it losing its charm? There's a report in the Business Insider  that says core organic desktop search was down on a year over year basis for the 4th straight month in December.

The latest comScore stats in a research report says mobile & vertical search — retail, travel, social — are "killing the traditional desktop search business."

The report, quoting an expert said, "We estimate that as much as 25-30% of all Internet search traffic could be coming from mobile devices as of year-end. Moreover, in certain categories, such as restaurants, we believe that well more than 30% of queries are already coming from mobile devices (other key categories such as Consumer Electronics, Beauty & Personal, Finance/Insurance, and Autos also have a meaningful share of mobile queries)."

Sina Weibo launches English version

09/01 (1840 IST): China's largest Social Networking Site Sina Weibo has started rolling out it's English version.
According to a report in Memeburn.com, the network with over 400-million registered usershas just rolled out a partial English language interface. Quoting a Sina representative in Beijing, the report said “countries in Southeast Asia [can] pick English or Chinese — this isn’t opened globally yet.”

The Weibo.com front page has started sporting an English option in the dropdown menu, said the report.

March 15: Goodbye Messenger, hello Skype

09/01 (1824 IST): The countdown has begun. If folks remember, in November last year, software maker Microsoft has announced that it would be merging Messenger service with VOIP Skype. The countdown has begun today because Microsoft has sent out mass emails to all Messenger users saying that date is March 15.
Skype logo.svgOn that date, all users will be migrated to Skype, which Microsoft had acquired back in May 2011 for US $8.5 billion.

So, in a mere 66 days, the good ole Messenger will be shut down everywhere except in mainland China, mainly because Skype is operated there by a local provider called TOM.
Between now & March 15, Messenger will continue to work. Users who have signed in with Messenger on their desktops will see a banner notification to upgrade. A click will take them to an installer window with the request to upgrade. This will help install Skype & automatically uninstall Messenger. The same for those who have installed Messenger on their Smartphones.

After March 15, Messenger users on desktops will not be able to sign in & will only be able to upgrade to Skype.

Learn when to post on Facebook

08/01 (0909 IST): All of us post on Social Networks but few of us get a positive response. One of the factors that segragates the successful guys from the no-so-successful ones is the day when you post.
Now, there's an infographic made by Linchpin SEO that tells us the 'good days' to post on Facebook, that too, industry-wise. Check it out:

Yahoo! testing new Home Page

07/01 (0834 IST): Portal Yahoo! has started rolling out its new Home Page, if Online reports are any indication. The Page called Home Run is being rolled out across Browsers including Google Chrome, Apple Safari & Mozilla Firefox.
A report in All Things D, for example, says the design is cleaner, with a more touchscreen Tablet approach, new icons, & a scrolling news feature. With a more mobile feel, it’s slightly different than previous new versions that Yahoo! has been testing over the last few months. 

Ex-Windows man launches Blog

04/01 (1705 IST): Some of you may know Steven Sinofsky, the man who was behind a major body of work on Windows 7 & 8, along with the Surface Tablet. 
Steven said goodbye to Microsoft recently after some reportedly acrimonious tussle. Anyway, that's history.

Today, Steven announced his new Blog called Learning by Shipping, that will provide a platform to continue his writing on product development. He writes: This blog is a continuation of writing on these topics through several different blogs, some internet and some intranet.  For me, blogging started in the summer of 2005 with Techtalk, a blog focused on the college hiring process at Microsoft.  When I changed jobs and moved to Windows, there were many questions inside Microsoft about how we would do things (in what was often referred to as a post-Vista recovery), but not just with Windows but with Windows Services (called Windows Live back then), Internet Explorer, and even Search (not yet Bing) which was part of our team for a while.  The size of the team and the pace we needed to change required a different approach to communication.  The Office Hours intranet blog was started in an effort modernize the communication channels......
.....The focus on this blog won’t be about specifics or the past regarding Microsoft, of course.  Some topics might come from current events as the basis of more general posts. In previous blogs, most all of the topics came about through interactions across the team.  In this new blog, I am hopeful that there can be a rich dialog about the “how” and “why” of building products in our industry and that serves as springboard for posts.
What intrigues us is the religious symbol of Aum that Steven has put up on his new Blog.

Security updates by Microsoft for Windows 8, RT by next week

04/01 (0840 IST): Software major Microsoft has said in an advance notification bulletin that it will release 7 security updates on January 8 including one rated critical for Windows 8 & Windows RT. The updates will patch 12 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, SharePoint Server & the company's Website design software.

Microsoft has also used the bulletin to warn customers that hackers were using digital certificates obtained from a Turkish certificate authority (CA). The company said it had removed the purloined certificates from the Windows' list of trusted certificates. It has aked customers to verify that they have applied a June 2012 update that automates the de-certification process.

New XBox Gaming system by June?

03/01 (1129 IST): Software major Microsoft is said to be actively testing a new Xbox Gaming system, which may be released at the E3 video game conference in June.
According to a story in the Business Insider, Microsoft's Larry Hryb (AKA "Major Nelson" ), Xbox's Director of Programming, has posted a countdown clock to the event on his Blog hinting at a major announcement once E3 begins. The BI report says this could probably be that Hryb was referring to a new gaming console.

That's not all you can expect from Microsoft at the E3 though. In addition to a new Xbox, Microsoft was also said to be working on a Gaming-centric 7-inch model of its Surface Tablet, among other things.

The RebelMouse Top-12 Websites of 2012 list

02/01 (1129 IST): New Web Service RebelMouse has released its Top 12 list of best Websites of 2012.
Here's the list:

  •     TechCrunch: Built CrunchScroll.com to showcase their social content with RebelMouse.
  •     TIME: Used RebelMouse to track social reactions to their Person of the Year announcement.
  •     EcoWatch: Embedded RebelMouse on their homepage to make it more dynamic and social.
  •     NowThis News: Set RebelMouse as their homepage to showcase their mobile-friendly videos.
  •     Gary Vaynerchuck: Integrated RebelMouse with his Tumblr page.
  •     Sacramento Kings: Using RebelMouse to showcase the latest Kings news and announcements.
  •     City of Sin: Customized their page's CSS to promote their upcoming film series.
  •     Anand Giridharadas: Embedded RebelMouse on his blog.
  •     USA Network: Created CharacterCollage.com to promote their shows with RebelMouse.
  •     Salon: Tracked the 2012 elections with RebelMouse.
  •     Paul Carr: The first user to have RebelMouse power their domain!
  •     ProPublica: Created a RebelMouse-powered section of watchdog reporting on their site.