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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quebec Government Being Sued By Open-Source Association

The CBC is reporting that the government of Quebec is being sued by the province's open-source software association - Facil. The association says the government of Quebec refuses to entertain competing bids from software providers, choosing instead to purchase products from proprietary vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle. The CBC says "Government buyers are using an exception in provincial law that allows them to buy directly from a proprietary vendor when there are no options available, but Facil said that loophole is being abused and goes against other legal requirements to buy locally." Facil president Mathieu Lutfy told the CBC that "It goes against the public markets policy of the government, which requires them to stimulate competition and look for local alternatives. It's really an absurdity." Facil estimates that the government is spending over $80 million a year on licences for Windows Vista alone!

Friday, August 29, 2008

British Courts Won't Block Hacker's Extradition

Gary McKinnon, the Scottish born hacker who broke into 97 US military and Nasa computers allegedly seeking proof of the existence of UFO's will be extradited to the U.S. within 2 weeks after losing his appeal to the British courts. McKinnon's lawyer, Karen Todner said "He is absolutely devastated by the decision," and "He and his family are distraught. They are completely beside themselves. He is terrified by the prospect of going to America." I guess he should have considered that before he hacked into all of those sensitive computer systems! BBC Story here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Space Station Laptop Hit By Virus

Nasa has confirmed that laptops carried to the ISS in July were infected with the Gammima.AG trojan designed to steal login names and passwords for a number of popular online games. No critical command or control systems are said to be at risk as the infected laptops are used to run nutritional programs and provide the astronauts with e-mail access. According to the BBC "The ISS has no direct net connection and all data traffic travelling from the ground to the spacecraft is scanned before being transmitted." and the infection is suspected to have gotten on board via a flash or USB drive owned by an astronaut and carried into space. Perhaps its time to review the IT security policy?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Exoskeleton Gets Paralyzed Moving

Israeli high tech firm, Argo Medical Technologies, has developed a robotic exoskeleton called "ReWalk" that straps onto it's wearers legs and allows them to stand, walk, and climb stairs with the aid of the device. The user must have good upper body mobility, good control over their hands and shoulders, and still requires the use of crutches. The suit is controlled through changes in centre of gravity and upper body movements. Former Israeli paratrooper Radi Kaiof says "I never dreamed I would walk again. After I was wounded, I forgot what it's like. Only when standing up can I feel how tall I really am and speak to people eye to eye, not from below." The suit is currently in clinical trials at Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Centre. Check out the BBC for more details and video.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wired Poll Finds Rogers 3G Network Amoung Fastest Globally

Canadians might not like the terms of their iPhone agreement with Rogers but a poll conducted by Wired Magazine suggests that Rogers 3G network is one of the fastest world wide. According to the CBC " found that Rogers and Fido customers in Canada had an average download speed of 1,330 kilobits per second on their device. That ranked just behind the 1,822 kilobits experienced by T-Mobile subscribers in several European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands." iPhone users in the U.S. averaged speeds of 990 kilobits on AT&T's cellphone network, while the worst speeds were reported by Australians on the Optus and Virgin networks, coming in around 390 kilobits. "In our view, this data is a strong indicator that performance of the mobile carrier's network is affecting the iPhone 3G more than the handset itself," wrote Wired's Brian X. Chen. "Altogether, this furthers our thesis that it's highly unlikely that Apple is going to wave a magic wand and say, '3G problems, be gone,' with a software update."

Monday, August 25, 2008

NBC - Yahoo Big Olympic Traffic

According to the, " served up more than 1.2 billion pages and 72 million video streams through Saturday, more than doubling the combined traffic to its site during the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2006 Games in Turin." Perhaps it was the huge time difference or the proliferation of broadband access to the home, but this year more people flocked to their computers to keep up with their favorite events / athletes. “The demand that we’re seeing has far exceeded even our wildest expectations,” said Jimmy Pitaro, the head of sports and entertainment for Yahoo. Alan Wurtzel, the head of research for NBC, concluded that many visitors used the Web site as a video playback device. “People want to catch up on events that they miss,” he told reporters during a conference call on Aug. 13. “About half say that’s the main reason”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Netbook Prices Fall As Competition Heats Up

Acer, the leader in the netbook market announced Friday that it was reducing the price of its Aspire “netbook” to $349 from $399 and its Linpus Linux Lite, to $329 from $379. This on the heels of the Intel Developer’s Conference, which took place in San Francisco this week where it was apparent that the competition was heating up in the netbook category. “Dozens and dozens of netbooks were shown,” said Richard Doherty, research director for Envisioneering. If you are patient however the deals might even get better. “There’s a lot of price sensitivity,” he said. “They could cost the same as a cell phone – or lower.” NYTimes - Bits blog.