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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Microsoft's Downloadable Office Suite

Microsoft has announced a downloadable, subscription-based version of it's popular Microsoft Office, codenamed "Albany". The suite is currently available to users who signed up for beta testing and will offer Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, with the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. According to this CBC article, "It will also include the Microsoft Office Live Workspace connector on the Microsoft Office toolbar, where users will be able to save documents online and share them with others, as well as security and backup services." Microsoft is not planning on retiring the sale of software on media, stating "At the same time, we are definitely not straying from our traditional software sales model. There will always be a significant number of users for whom purchasing a perpetual license to the latest version of Office is still the best choice." While no one is suggesting that Google's Docs are posing a serious threat at this time, I think Microsoft is seeing software as a service as a reality.

Paypal Will Block "Unsafe Browsers"

Paypal is vowing to block users from it's service who are using "unsafe browsers", customers will first be warned but will be blocked from the service if they continue to use the unsafe technology. Paypal says "an alarming fact that there is a significant set of users who use very old and vulnerable browsers such as Internet Explorer 4". In fact they claim that some users are still employing Internet Explorer 3 which is more than 10 years old! The company also said "In our view letting users view the PayPal site on [an unsafe] browser is equal to a car manufacturer allowing drivers to buy one of their vehicles without seatbelts." BBC story here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

YouTube Surgery Video - File This Under Unbelievable And Disturbing!

A group of doctors, nurses, nursing students and and a clinical instructor each face disciplinary action after a video of a raucous surgery makes its way onto YouTube. The embarrassed patient, a 39-year-old unidentified male, plans to file a complaint seeking the revocation of the licenses of those responsible and a civil suit for damages, according to the Globe and Mail. The surgery preformed at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Philippines, involved the removal an object from the patients rectum. Upon the successful removal someone reportedly shouts, “Baby out!” while the operating room and observation gallery erupts in loud cheers. The patient was apparently too drunk to remember how the object found it's way in there! Let this be a lesson... drinking in excess can have embracing consequences!

Canadian Internet Registration Authority Registers 1 Millionth .CA Domain Name

The University of Prince Edward Island registered, the first .ca domain name in 1988 (the UPEI campus is about 10 minutes from my home). It's taken 20 years but the Canadian Internet Registration Authority is now celebrating it's one millionth domain name registration. UPEI's acting director of Computer Services, Blair Vessey told the CBC in an interview "It was pretty exciting stuff, but again it was so unknown at that time," said Vessey, "None of us could guess what it would eventually turn into. But certainly there was the feeling that OK, this is the beginning of something exciting." The one millionth registration was by Calgary lawyer Brent Krause who registered

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sims Tops 100 Million Units Sold

Electronic Arts, Inc. announced in a press release yesterday that The Sims have sold 100 million units globally since the games inception. "At this milestone, we want to thank players of The Sims everywhere for making The Sims such a worldwide phenomenon," said Rod Humble, Head of Studio for The Sims Label. Since 2000, The Sims has sold in 22 languages and 60 countries around the world and the milestone makes it the best-selling PC game franchise of all time, according to EA. Good on ya EA! but forget The Sims we want to see Spore!

Did A 13 Year Old's Science Fair Project Cause NASA To Alter It's Prediction?

A German tabloid is claiming that the research conducted by a 13 year old school boy for his science fair project forced NASA to change it's predictions regarding a "near earth object" and it's chances of colliding with Earth. For it's part NASA spokesman Duane Brown says "NASA has never corresponded with this individual,". "We've spoken with [Near-Earth Object program manager] Don Yeomans, who came up with our current prediction for the asteroid, and he's sticking to his numbers." The student, Nico Marquardt, reportedly has the chances for the Apophis asteroid hitting the Earth in 2036 at one-in-450, while NASA put the odds at one-in-45,000. The discrepancy lies in NASA's failure to account for the chance of the asteroids trajectory being altered by a collision with a satellite according to the tabloid... I think I'll trust the NASA numbers. The CBC has the story, including a brief description of the Torino Scale for describing the damage that impact from a NEO is rated... think I'll look into that a bit more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chinese Internet Users Show Support For Government With Color Campaign

The Globe and Mail is reporting a trend amongst Chinese web surfers. In an act of support for their government which has come under much criticism over it's handling of the uprisings in Tibet, as displayed by the Olympic Tourch Run protests, many Chinese web surfers are adding hearts and “CHINA” to their names when chatting online. In the article "This is aimed at all those forces which want to bring chaos to China," one user who posted a photo of herself dressed in People's Liberation Army fatigues is quoted as saying. I've not encountered it yet but I'm sure it will spread, perhaps there aren't that many Chinese who tweet yet?

Taken' Divorce Drama Online

Actress, Tricia Walsh Smith has resorted to airing her dirty laundry on YouTube in an attempt to embarrass her husband during a seemingly bitter divorce. Walsh Smith, wife of Philip Smith, president of the Shubert Organization, the largest theater owner on Broadway is taking her marital issues to the masses in what a prominent divorce lawyer says sets a new precedent. "People used to worry about getting on Page Six [the gossip page of the New York Post]. But this? It brings the concept of humiliation to a whole new level." says Bonnie Rabin, a divorce lawyer who has handled high-profile cases. "I don't think it's the kind of thing people should be doing, and it's the kind of thing judges frown upon," said Norman Sheresky, a partner in the matrimonial law firm Sheresky Aronson Mayesfsky & Sloan. The video which ends with the caption "Will poor, vulnerable Patricia be evicted? Or will mean bad husband do the right thing? Stay tuned!" has been viewed over 175,000 times to date. CNN has the story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

British Scientists Predict 500,000 GB mp3 Player

A report published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology suggests that 500,000 gigabytes of memory could be squeezed onto one square inch of flexible plastics. Prof Lee Cronin and Dr Malcolm Kadodwala chemists at Glasgow University "have developed a molecular switch which means that data storage can be dramatically increased without the need to increase the size of microchips" according to this article at No mention is made of the potential for bringing this technology to market, seems as though it is all theoretical at the moment. Cool though if they can make it work!

Google Employees Use Their Innovation Time To Aid Fight Against Child Porn

Google is known amongst IT workers for it's innovative HR policies, one of which allows an employee to devote a percentage of their work to a project of personal interest. Research Scientist, National Center for Missing & Exploited ChildrenThe Google technology will enable NCMEC analysts to more quickly and easily search NCMEC's systems to sort and identify files that contain images of child pornography victims. New video tools from Google will streamline analysts' review of video snippets from files seized in child pornography cases. Comparing these images and videos through an automated process enabled by custom-built Google technology has a real potential to assist law enforcement in child pornography investigations." Hats off to Shumeet and team, and to Google for it's progressive policies that allow for such innovation to happen.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sensitive US Military Items Offered For Sale Online

A report by the US Government Accountability Office says that investigators were able to purchase a dozen prohibited military items on popular online selling sites eBay and Craigslist. Components for the retired F-14 fighter jet, night vision goggles that allow the user to identify U.S. troops at night, army combat uniforms were among the items purchased, and special "enhanced" body armor vests. "Do we have a serious theft problem, or do we not even know if we have the ability to know we have a serious theft problem?" asks Rep. Chris Shays. Craigslist says they rely on users to police the site but eBay representatives say "We created prohibited and restricted items policies and built tools using state-of-the-art technology to enforce those policies" The fact remains that items can be purchased. CNN has the story.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Teen Creates Trading Card Game With Chemistry Theme

Wired's geekdad brings us the story of 14 year old Anshul Samar who, with the help of $500 in seed money from the California Association of the Gifted, created a prototype two-player card combat game. "The goal of the game is to reduce the opponents electrons to zero through strategic use of each card's chemical properties." The deck has 121 cards each representing a chemical element, compound or catalyst. Impressive! Keep your eye out for Anshul, I have a feeling this is not the last we've heard of this young man. The game Elementeo has a website here.

Twitter Account For Sale On eBay?

Andrew Baron, of Rocketboom fame, has posted his twitter account complete with 1400+ followers for sale on eBay! As I write this, the current bid is $465 US and the fall out has begun with a few comments added to the Twitter support forum calling into question whether or not this is a violation of the Terms of Service. According to that page "Twitter is here! 10 employees are listening and participating" so I encourage you to weigh in on the debate if you feel strongly one way or the other. I am not personally following Andrew and would promptly un-follow him if I where. I thought about following him when I read this, only as a means to follow the auction, but out of principle have decided not the encourage his actions by adding more followers to the account. I'll be watching though, if only to see how this affects the followers and primarily to see what Twitter's response will be.