Category Archives: Software

Follow-up: Opera Mini 4 Beta Testing

Recently I told you that Opera had released a Beta of it’s mobile phone browser and that I would try it out for a week and not touch the IE browser at all, then report back here. I installed the browser on my Cingular 2125 (made by HTC) using Tao Intent Java Midlet Manager.


The good news:

This browser is sexy and has the potential to stand heads and shoulders above the default browser on my phone (IE).


Basic Browsing Experience – Browsing web sites is fun compared to the stodgy old browser I’ve been using for the past 2+ years on various smartphones. For instance, Yahoo mail menu animations make the experience of navigating through the menu system intuitive and interesting, while viewing the same menus on IE rendered as static lists with bullets.

Quickzoom – The quickzoom is a must-have for me now, I’m in love this feature. You can view this demo here to see for yourself how the browser receives the full web page reduced to fit the mobile’s screen, but you can quickly navigate that page and zoom in on text or graphics of interest in order to read and click links. This ability to crunch the entire page into the viewable real estate and zoom in on the sections of interest is just very very cool.

Install – The installation across the web via my mobile was a no-brainer and had no issues. I will need to figure out how to create a shortcut to the browser so I can launch it from the main menu because right now it’s a pain in the ass to have to click 7 times through the menu system to get to the Midlet Manager and start the browser. (Not knowing how to do the shortcuts is probably just me being lazy until now since IE was always readily available in 2 clicks).

Cursor Navigation – Unlike IE, you actually have a cursor to navigate around the screen and click on things to interact with the page in a fashion almost identical to what you do on your PC’s browser. Big plus here in my opinion as the IE method of having to cycle through all the links to get to the one of interest is a pain at times.

The bad news:

Fonts – Fonts render ok, but Opera really needs to do something about the small font. It’s too big! 🙂 And then there’s the inability to render italic fonts altogether.

Crashes – Oy vey! On my Cingular 2125 Smartphone with factory install of Tao Intent Midlet Manager I was lucky to get 10 minutes without the browser crashing, returning me back to the homescreen. A lot of times it would happen in a minute or two. From reading the forums at the Opera site, it appears it’s not just me and it’s not just Tao’s Midlet Manager.


Opera has done well so far, I’m looking forward to trying out a more stable version, that alone is enough to make me switch browsers in a heartbeat. The new features they’ve added are great, the ability to navigate whole pages may not be to the same level as the iPhone’s capabilities, but its absolutely a step in the right direction given the screen real estate we have to deal with on small smartphones.

I’m really looking forward to the next release and I highly recommend you take some time to install this version even if it’s just to familiarize yourself with some of the features because if the final version is stable, you will want to move to this browser.

Talking Trojan Taunts Its Victims

yellow shield

Panda Software is reporting a medium level thread of infection from a Trojan called BotVoice.A (alias Win32\Hira.A). It’s fairly benign in the sense that it’s not deleting any files, but the interesting thing about this little bugger is its visible symptoms.

BotVoice.A is easy to recognize, as once it is run, the following message is heard repeatedly:

You have been infected I repeat You have been infected and your system files has been deleted. Sorry. Have a Nice Day and bye bye

If you want to listen to the message that BotVoice.A is continuously repeating, click here.

So. Hella. Funny! 😆

CallWave Gadget Offers Free International Text Messaging

mail sms

CallWave is offering Gadgets & Widgets that make it possible for users to view a list of mobile phone contacts and send SMS messages to those mobiles directly from the gadget. Replies from your contacts are directed to your mobile however.

SMS’ sent to your friends in the US and Canada are free, you can send up to 10 free international messages using the beta service and additional messages require you to buy credits from CallWave.

For the latest and greatest details on the services and future upgrades you’ll want to visit their blog. To obtain the gadgets themselves, visit this page; they support Mac, Vista, Yahoo! and Google.

Other services from CallWave include:

  • Forwarding mobile voicemail to a service you can listen to over the Internet using a Dashboard gadget.
  • Visual Voicemail‘ keeps track of your inbound calls to your mobile, displays of the Caller-ID numbers and playback of messages are via the gadget
  • Coming Soon is a new feature called ‘Vtxt’, it’s a voice to text transcription service using speech recognition that programmatically converts your voicemail to text.

Symantec Looking For Beta Testers of NextGen Products


Symantec is inviting the public to join its beta programs for 5 of their newest Norton software and help them drive some quality into the products. These appear to be open betas which means you won’t be screened in order to install the product, all you have to do is download, install it and report bugs via the support forums. But for god’s sake do not install this on production machines!

The most interesting beta appears to be their AntiBot product to protect against malware and their related components.

The current betas can be viewed from the Public Beta page or by going directly to these product beta pages to download the product:

Current Norton betas:


{Found via BetaNews]

Indian firms hire Americans to drive growth

Call it reverse outsourcing or local talent hunting, but high-tech Indian firms say they have been hiring Americans as part of their long-term growth strategy.

Officials at companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest outsourcing firm, and Wipro Technologies, another major Indian technology provider, say this has nothing to do with periodic outcries that Indians are taking away jobs from Americans.

Upwards of 10% of the workforce for Tata is non-Indian and play a variety of roles at the companies such as sales, consulting, IT services, marketing and communications.

I’m inclined to agree with their sentiment that it’s unrelated to the recent wave of negativity such as the Senate inquiry into the H1-B issues of late. I’ve worked with a handful of offshore development sites and it truly behooves these IT providers to have ‘local talent’ in this country. As one executive from Wipro recently put it, they “are better culturally assimilated to the local environment with a stronger market knowledge and local domain competence?.”

[via: Indo-Asian News Service & BOP Watch India]

Vista Codec Package v4.4.6


Codecs have been a problem for most users at one time or another. This is because there has never been an ‘out of the box’ working solution that the average user could install and just have everything work properly from the start.

With Vista Codec Package, you won’t be wanting in the codec department with Windows Vista. See the bottom of this article for the list of 30 additional codecs added to your existing in-box codecs. Here’s the homepage for the product, scroll down a little to find the d/l locations for VCP.

Many user suggested default settings are implemented, the developer’s guidance is to “Install these packages, and forget them. By default you won’t need to make any adjustments to enjoy your media content immediately.”

It does not contain a media player and it does not associate filetypes. With this package installed you will be able to use any media player, limited only by the players’ capabilities, to play DVD’s, movies and video clips of almost any filetype. Streaming video is supported in several formats in all popular web browsers. Users of the package have the ability to choose what is installed and where to install it using the public redistributable.

This package supports these 16 localized installations and the default is English:  Chinese Simplified/Traditional, Japanese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Polish, Swedish and Turkish.

– AC3File
– AC3Filter
– AudioSwitcher
– CDDA Reader
– CDXA Reader
– CoreVorbis Audio Decoder
– CyberLink QuickTime Source Filter
– DC-Bass Source
– DirectVobSub (auto-loading version)
– DivX Audio
– DScaler Mpeg2 Video Decoder – installed as required
– DTS/AC3/DD+ Source
– ffdshow Audio/Video Decoder
– ffdshow video encoder
– File Source (MP3)
– Haali Media Splitter (AR)
– Haali Video Renderer
– Microsoft Windows Media Video 9 VCM
– Mpeg Splitter
– MPEG4 Video Splitter
– Nero Digital Parser
– Nero FLV Splitter
– Nero QuickTime audio/Video Decoder
– Ogg Vorbis Audio CODEC
– Real audio/Video Decoder/Splitter
– ShoutcastSource
– Sipro Lab Telecom Audio Codec
– VP7 Decompressor
– XviD MPEG-4 Video Decoder

Eclipse Ships Largest-Ever Release of Leading Open Source Software Development Platform

Eclipse is an open source community, whose projects are focused on building an open IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and they’ve just announced that the latest and largest version, named Europa, has gone Gold.

This release consists of over 17 million lines of code and received contributions from over 310 open source developers in 19 countries.

Some key improvements to this release are:

  • Ease of development and deployment of server apps
  • Java Development Toolkit
  • Web Tools Project

Although it’s a pipsqueak of an IDE when compared to Visual Studio, Europa is a significant effort and has the support of some big players in software development and of course in open source. This includes Adobe, Red Hat, Wind River, QNX, IBM to name a few.

If you’re interested in the project or in getting the bits for yourself, here you go:

Software Pirate Looking At 10 Years In The Brig


Hew Raymond Griffiths is a 44 year old Brit living in Bateau Bay Australia. Or rather was living in Australia; he was extradited to the United States earlier this year to face piracy charges from his time leading the group known as DrinkOrDie which was part of a giant piracy operation. That’s their warez logo up there.

Monday, a US District Court judge sentenced the infamous cracker to 51 months in prison.

Back in the day, his operation covered the UK, Australia, Sweden, Norway and Finland but was founded in Russia in 1993.

DrinkOrDie’s specialty was producing cracks for MS, Adobe, AutoDesk, Novell and Symantec, and of course there were likely many hundreds of other applications or OS’ that were cracked and hosted on their private network to hide it all from law enforcement.

In all it’s estimated DrinkOrDie benefited in over $51 Million dollars of pirated software, one of their claims to fame was releasing a pirated copy of Win95 2 weeks before the product shipped.

To date, the US effort known as “Operation Buccaneer” has resulted in more than 30 felony convictions in the United States and 11 convictions of foreign nationals overseas.

Google Reader Goes Dark


It appears that Google Reader went offline for about 8 hours when it was daytime in Europe, Asia & Middle East, it was back online early morning today in the US Pacific about 6AM.

Google Reader’s news group was all abuzz with activity and reports of the outage and geeks complaining mightily about the need for their feed fix.

Mihai Parparita (from Google Reader team), here and elsewhere, apologized for the outages, saying feeds should be refreshing again. And they are.

But strangely enough the google reader blog is silent on the subject as is the main google blog.

Seems that when these things happen to Microsoft, the MSDN blogs are very active on the problem, even for Beta products, what’s the deal google? Please be more open with your users. 😀

Opera Unleashes Updated Mini Browser for Mobile Phones


I’m installing this tonight, I will use Opera 4 beta on my WM5 smartphone exclusively (instead of the default IE) for the next week and report back the good and bad.

Opera has released the public beta of its new Opera Mini 4 mobile Web browser for download recently. This is likely the best browser available to surfing the web.

A few of the benefits to using this browser:

  • This browser uses a remote server to pre-process web pages before sending them to your phone so web content is compressed, creating fast browsing at low cost.
  • It dynamically changes text size and images to make it convenient to read without a lot of scrolling.
  • It has a virtual mouse to scroll in any direction, also has power scrolling. Mini works on most Java-enabled phones.

dl-1g Quick download of Opera Mini 4 beta

dl-2g Point your phone browser to

dl-3g Click “Download Opera Mini

Follow the simple setup steps on your phone.

Optionally, you may download the Opera Mini 4 beta for Palm or Blackberry devices for a manual installation.

Opera Mini 4 beta installs beside your current Opera Mini version without overwriting any of your existing files or settings.

[Found via phonescoop]

Step By Step: Boot Ubuntu From Your USB Flash Device

ubuntu logo

Pendrivelinux has some great tutorials on booting a wide array of linux distros from UFDs (USB Flash Devices), aka Pen Drives.

For instance, here’s the Ubuntu instructions to make your UFD bootable for Linux and to get the Ubuntu OS onto it. Though it’s 16 steps their fairly straight forward and detailed enough that it appears you don’t need to be a linux aficionado to understand and implement.

Disclaimer – I haven’t run through the steps yet, my UFDs are 32MB and 128MB, yeah I know I’m pathetic. Anyone want to give it a try on their 1GB+UFD and report back on how it went?

Review : Ades Design "Color Picker"

Okay, so your surfing the web, and you come across the perfect shade of a color you haven’t been able to recreate yourself to save your life.  Maybe you’ve found a special metallic turquoise blend only found in the starry eyes of David Hasselhoff, or that perfect hue of dirty orange for your virtual model of the “General Lee” (Dukes of Hazzard).

Color Picker

In steps “Color Picker“, a new offering from Ades Design.  Using Color Picker, you can click anywhere on your screen, and capture any color you desire for future use on web design, templates, charts, or presentations.  This powerful, yet small utility can store a database of colors you’ve captured, where you can change, convert, or even export colors in several different formats in just mere moments.  This is a must have utility for the serious and casual web developer alike!

Check out some of their other cool offerings over at

GOOG Unleashes Public Policy Dog, er Blog


GOOG has launched a public policy blog in its efforts to join the big boys of Apple, Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Intel,

The goal is to focus more attention on US gov’t legislation and regulation, an effort that began in 2005 . Recently it has called on Congress to pass net neutrality rules and have also joined the debate in how the FCC should auction 60MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band being abandoned by TV stations.

They’re also focusing on issues like privacy and copyright protection.


Privacy” in the sense that they want to be able to retain your IP logs longer than is typical or reasonable and not be criticized for it and “copyright protection” in the sense that GOOG wants to parse copyrighted books and make the entire contents searchable for free without the author’s consent or performing due diligence in tracking down that consent.

Of course, GOOG’s director of public policy and gov’t affairs, while trying to sound fluffy and lovable, says in the new blog:

“We’re seeking to do public policy advocacy in a Googley way”

I love how the word ‘googley’ tends to come out in GOOG’s speeches when trying to deflect criticism or soften the blow of the hammer to your head or to your freedoms and especially when trying to show the ‘non-evilness’ of what they’re doing, never mind that they’re following in the footsteps of MSFT, IBM, ATT and every other behemoth before them. They’re not different. They’re a corporation, they have needs, they have wants, why don’t they ‘man up’ and tell us the truth and that is ‘in order to generate more revenue, gain greater market share, this is not being done on behalf of our customers, rather it’s on behalf of the shareholders’.

The truth is that GOOG is really no different than MSFT, no different than Lockheed, no different than IBM. That when you break it down, they’re just another corporation, a corporation causing a braindrain in Silicon Valley and inducing fear, uncertainty and doubt into the software market around them and that they’re no longer the loveable googley little startup they once were.

Admit it Google, you’ve grown up, you’ve flexed your muscle, realized you’re no longer the little pipsqueak that gets sand kicked in it’s face. You’re one of the big men on campus and get to dictate how things should be.

So again, man up and drop the cuddly googley old image and show us what a terror you really can be. Bring it on, effect some real change in public policy like donating algorithms to AIDs research for instance, not this piddly stuff on your policy agenda.




PS – I do appreciate GOOG creating the blog in the first place, it’s a start. Now Fully Hosted on Windows Server 2k8 Beta3

vista pearl icon

From Anna Liu’s blog on MSDN:

“…we?re extremely proud to announce that the site is running 100% on our next generation web platform!!”

For those of you curious about the scale and availability of

  • MSCOM is made up of more than 20,500 URL’s and hosts 16 million pages and is available in more than 30 languages.
  • Nielson rates  as the 4th most visited website in the world, capturing approximately 9% of the total global internet audience.
  • Availability YTD ? 99.83% (Measured by Keynote Systems, Inc.)
    • 0% Impact to Availability during upgrade to Beta 3
    • 99%+ of hosted App?s upgraded without any change required
  • Audience Reach: #4 in U.S (65M UU) & #5 worldwide (287M UU) 
  • Hosting Model: 2 Internet Data Centers &  80 Web Servers
    • 500+ Vroots, 350+ IIS Web Applications & 12 Application Pools
    •  10,000 Requests/Sec & 300,000 Concurrent Connections

This is what’s known as Dogfooding your own builds and confidence in the stability and robustness of the interim public Beta builds. Of course, making announcements like this is sure to invite hackers and crackers alike to take a shot, right? 

Want to obtain Server 2008 Beta 3 for yourself? Here’s the Link.

References to learn more on Server 2k8:

Why Are Some Programs Being Filtered From The Start Menu?

The Start menu for Windows XP and Vista automatically displays the user’s most frequently used programs (called a most frequently used list). Only shortcuts to .exe files are displayed in the list.

Have you ever noticed that not every program you access goes into that list on the Start menu? Well one easy answer is that if the program is already pinned to the top of the start menu, it won’t be duplicated on the Start menu. But wait, there’s more! 😀

If any of the following strings are included in the shortcut name, the program is not displayed in the most frequently used list:

–  Documentation
–  Help
–  Install
–  More Info
–  Readme
–  Read me
–  Read First
–  Setup
–  Support
–  What’s New
–  Remove

The preceding list is located in the AddRemoveNames value at the following registry location:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Explorer\ FileAssociation

The following list of programs are also excluded from the most frequently used list, if you’re familiar with Windows and/or a computer geek then most will appear to be obvious:
–  Setup.exe
–  Install.exe
–  Isuninst.exe
–  Unwise.exe
–  Unwise32.exe
–  St5unst.exe
–  Rundll32.exe
–  Msoobe.exe
–  Lnkstub.exe
–  Msascui.exe

The preceding list is located in the AddRemoveApps value at the following registry location:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Explorer\ FileAssociation

Programs can also be registered to be excluded from the most frequently used list by creating the following NoStartPage string value:

(The REG_SZ string value must be empty or blank) HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ Applications\ <Appname.exe>

The following programs have the preceding setting by default:
–  Explorer.exe
–  Icwconn1.exe
–  Inoculan.exe
–  Mobsync.exe
–  Navwnt.exe
–  Realmon.exe
–  Sndvol32.exe

Font Smoothing, Anti-Aliasing And Sub-Pixel Rendering

The discussions on side by side comparisons of how Microsoft and Apple render fonts continues on ‘Joel on Software‘.

Where they differ is in philosophy:

  • Apple generally believes that the goal of the algorithm should be to preserve the design of the typeface as much as possible, even at the cost of a little bit of blurriness.
  • Microsoft generally believes that the shape of each letter should be hammered into pixel boundaries to prevent blur and improve readability, even at the cost of not being true to the typeface.

Joel’s deeper explanations of the technology and philosophical differences between the company’s engineers is terrific, give it a read.


Xcopy Is Deprecated On Vista


I tried using xcopy in Vista for the first time recently and received this in the command window:

NOTE: Xcopy is now deprecated, please use Robocopy.

It appears xcopy.exe is still available for appcompat so that existing batch files aren’t broken on Vista, but it looks like we’re being encouraged to move to Robocopy (‘Robust File Copy for Windows’).

Robocopy has been around for a while, shipped in at least one or two resource kits like the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.

The biggest benefit appears to be the ability to create full mirror duplicates of two file structures (including all subdirectories and files, if you want) without having to copy unnecessary files. Only files that are new or have been updated in the source location will be copied. Robocopy also enables you to preserve the file information, including date/time stamps, ACLs and more.

And if you’re a GUI person, Technet has a GUI for Robocopy here.