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December 31, 2011

RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011

 

Humans are list-making animals. At no time is that impulse more prevalent than December, when we set ourselves the task of churning out year-end retrospectives. In the tech universe, those lists generally call out the best products, the splashiest debuts, and the most promising technologies of the year (see, for instance, PCWorld’s own “100 Best Products of 2011"). But there are tech losers each year, too--products, concepts, and services that kick the proverbial bucket. Some, like the vile Rustock botnet (taken down in March), we were glad to see go.
Other tech demises evoke genuine regret: good products lost in the ferocious market of 2011, tech initiatives that grew too expensive to retain their sponsor’s funding, even well-engineered gear that simply never caught on with the public. Herewith, my respects to 10 tech goners that we at PCWorld are truly going to miss.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011The Flip: Starting in 2007, Pure Digital's ultraportable camcorderkicked off a revolution, putting video in the hands of everyday folks, and probably enabling the creation of more YouTube cat videos than any product in history. But a 2009 sale to networking heavyweight Cisco and the rise of video-capable smartphones combined to bury everyone's favorite pocket camcorder. Cisco pulled the plug in April.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011Verizon’s unlimited data plan: If you're a Verizon customer, you've likely been keeping close tabs on your mobile downloading habits since July. That’s when the carrier scrapped its all-you-can-eat option for a smorgasbord of mobile data-usage plans. With overage charges costing $10 per gig, movie and music streaming can get very expensive. And as the year closes, various pundits are predicting that Sprint may soon discontinue its unlimited data plan. Come back, DVDs: All is forgiven.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011HP WebOS: To borrow the words of The Princess Bride’s Miracle Max, HP’s mobile operating system “is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” Indeed, there may be life after death for this promising multitasking OS, which was installed on commercial flops such as the Palm Pre and the HP TouchPad (see product number 99 in our Best Products of the Year list). For months, rumors circulated that HP would sell off the OS. Then earlier this month, HP announced that WebOS was going open source. Here’s hoping for a spirited revival.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011Zune HD: Two reactions greeted news that Microsoft had finally pulled the plug on its portable media player: 1) gnashing of teeth from the (few) faithful, who deemed the Zune superior to the iPod; and 2) surprise from most music fans, who didn’t know it was still being produced at all. Then again, maybe the Zune isn’t completely gone, since its revolutionary “Metro” interface figures prominently in Windows Phone 7, the Xbox 360, and Windows 8.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011AltaVista: This once-mighty search engine has effectively been dead for years. But its demise became official in May, when corporate parent Yahoo swapped in its own search engine and started returning results on a Yahoo page. Yet in the days before Google, AltaVista was the Web's most sophisticated search engine, providing unprecedented full-text searching capabilities to the sprawl that was the mid-'90s Web. For that I'll be forever grateful, and maybe even a little wistful.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011Google Labs: The development playground that gave rise to services such as Google Maps and Google Groups is no more, due to "streamlining efforts" implemented in July. The good news is that app-specific projects, such as Gmail Labs and Google Maps Labs, are still alive and kicking.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011Google Health: Google will shut down this ambitious service, designed to provide users a secure place to store their personal health information, just as the big ball drops in Times Square, officially making it the first tech demise of 2012. But I’m including it here because I’d rather not wait a year to deliver the eulogy. A promising concept,Google Health was a victim of our suspicious human nature: Apparently we’re not comfortable putting our health information in a third party’s hands. Imagine--we don’t trust Google. What a surprise.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011Google Knol: Entry number three for Google in this year’s Tech Senescence Stakes, Knol had big plans--namely, to challenge Wikipedia. Intended to be a user-written encyclopedia, Knol coulda been a contender if it had launched in, say, 2001 instead of 2007. But with so many of the world’s content experts already doing their charity work for Wikipedia, Knol lacked enough fleshed-out articles to be taken seriously. Google’s blog post on the subject notes that as of May 1, 2012, “knols won’t be viewable.” Fortunately, Knol won’t be forgotten completely. Wikipedia has an article on it.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011Dell Streak: Dell’s entry into the crowded tablet sweepstakes, the Streak never gained any traction against the dominant iPad. The poorly reviewed tablet (which came in 5- and 7-inch versions) somehow felt like a me-too product even though it was one of the first Android tablets out there. The $200 price tag should have been a draw (as it was for the Amazon Kindle Fire), but the two-year AT&T contract required for activation was a turnoff. Dell can do better than this; I say it’s time for a winning streak.
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011
RIP Technology: 10 Products and Services That Died in 2011The white MacBook: From optical drives to FireWire ports, Apple has shown an uncanny ability to phase out technologies right before they become old hat. We’re not really all that broken up about losing thewhite MacBook laptop this year. But if its retirement spells imminent doom for the color white, we’re not going to be pleased.

Amazing Nicholas Church in Kiev

 
Church building was erected in the years 1899-1909 for the Roman Catholic community of Kiev. Design and construction of buildings produced under the guidance of the famous Kyiv architect Vladimir Gorodetsky. Church built in stylized Gothic forms with the long, gothic towers and steeples, differs slender proportions, ease and clarity of compositional structure. Difficult conditions for the construction and architectural solutions prompted the architects to use innovative at the time engineering technology. More after the break...
In 1933 the church was looted and closed, and in 1943 was badly damaged by shelling, was set on fire, and only by 1980 it was restored and partially reconstructed. Since 1980, Nicholas church was to function as a concert hall of the House of Organ and Chamber Music. Body Kiev House of organ music has been specially created by masters of firm «Rieger-Kloss» in city Krnov in Czechoslovakia.









Kim Jong Il Look Alike

 

  • Oh well, looks like I'm out of a job: South Korean 'Dear Leader' double facing grim future after demise of North Korean dictator

    'I feel very empty, as a part of me died'
  • Engraver Kim Young Sik impersonated Kim Jong Il for 10 years
  • 'One day after I got out of the shower and my hair was very curly, people told me I looked like Kim Jong Il'
  • But received abuse from misguided few thinking he was country's leader

He has been the spitting image of Kim Jong Il for more than decade - with his bouffant hairdo, large glasses and olive green suit. 
And while he got plenty of abuse in the street from the misguided few who really thought he was the North Korean dictator, South Korean Kim Young Sik was never short of work as his double.
But now it looks like the good times are over and southern Kim will have to hang up his wide-waisted trousers for good following the death of northern Kim.
'People try to comfort me, saying some figures are more famous when they're dead, but I don't think it will be the case with Kim,' said the engraver.
But he added wistfully: 'I feel very empty, as if a part of me died.'

Look-a-like: South Korean engraver Kim Young Sik has impersonated Kim Jong Il for more than a decade
Look-a-like: South Korean engraver Kim Young Sik has impersonated Kim Jong Il for more than a decade
Kim Young Sik

Kim Jong Il
Spot the difference: Kim Young Sik (left) fears his career as a look-a-like for Kim Jong Il (right) is over
Sik, 61, said he never dreamt of becoming a part-time communist ruler and fell into the role by accident.
 
He said: 'One day after I got out of the shower and my hair was very curly, people told me I looked like Kim Jong Il.'
When then-South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung began the Sunshine Policy of reconciliation with the North in the late 1990s he started to be noticed and was invited to appear on television.
In mourning: The father-of-two, who has moonlighted as his look-a-like for more than a decade, said he felt a part of him had died
In mourning: The father-of-two, who has moonlighted as his look-a-like for more than a decade, said he felt a part of him had died
Look-a-like: South Korean engraver Kim Young Sik has impersonated Kim Jong Il for more than a decade

Kim Jong Il
Who's who: Kim Young Sik (top)is the spitting image of North Korea's departed leader Kim Jong Il 
Since then he has enjoyed an illustrious career appearing on Japanese TV, in a Middle East chocolate commercial, and in 1995 South Korean film The Rose of Sharon Blooms Again.

Kim Young Sik
Kim Young Sik  (Duplicate of Dear Leader) 

Technology in 2012 - What lies ahead

 

Looking back at 2011, one cannot help but notice that the year was full of contrasts, lots of hits and misses ...
Technology in 2012 - What lies ahead
Looking back at 2011, one cannot help but notice that the year was full of contrasts, lots of hits and misses. While some managed to sell like hot cakes, there were some others who failed to live up to the hype. But, all things taken; one thing's for sure, it has left us all hopeful for the new year. We, at Tech2 have listed down the products, or trend that we would like to see happen in 2012. 

Next generation Apple products

This year, we saw the Apple iPad 2 garner an overwhelming response with its slim form factor, camera, faster processor, etc. However, when it came to the iPhone, Apple was supposed to launch a device that had a completely different design. Instead, they unveiled the iPhone 4S, which, virtually had the same looks, although the internal hardware was beefed up to quite an extent. We expect the next-gen iPad to retain its slim form factor, but feature a high resolution display akin to the iPhone’s Retina Display. Apart from this the battery, it is believed that Apple is bumping up the battery to 14,000mAh, which is double the size of the battery found on the present iPad. There are rumours floating around that an iPad mini could also be in the work to battle against the popular Kindle Fire.
Will they go beyond a 3.5-inch screen?
Will they go beyond a 3.5-inch screen? 


With the iPhone 5, we expect it to feature an aluminum unibody design similar to that of the iPod Touch and the iPad. We had seen covers leaked in the past from a reputed manufacturer, which confirms this speculation. Apart from this, Apple may add a larger Home button or may do away with it, altogether. The screen size is also expected to be increased to 4 inches and the handset will come in nano-chromatic colours, the same found on Apple’s iPod Nano PMPs. As with most things Apple launches, the excitement levels are certainly going to be high and who knows, maybe Apple may throw in the iTV as well, next year.

Multi-core mobile computing to be all the rage
Blame it on competition, blame it on technology scaling or simply blame it on poor optimization, quad core technology is going to rule the roost in 2012. Dual core phones were supposed to set a new benchmark in 2011, and they did. But, in 2012, dual core will merely be a standard most manufacturers will have to take for, as a given. 2012 will feature quad core phones and tablets, alike and the Transformer Prime is a living example of that.
When two cores just wont do
When two cores just wont do


What does this mean for consumers? Simply put it, a faster (if it wasn’t quick enough, already!) experience on your phone at speeds which could be comparable to your current desktop PC. Extra horsepower means games can render more graphics, your phone can support heavy apps (Photoshop, anyone?) and more processes will be able to run simultaneously on your smartphone. What this also indicates is that battery life will stutter greatly, unless they get more powerful batteries onto the market. Whatever the scene may be, one thing is for sure, quad core will be the marketed keyword on every manufacturer’s phone and tablet in 2012.

Hooplas on internet censorship and free speech
Towards the end of this year, we had two big events, one global and one local, that would affect the way we consumed content and expressed ourselves on the internet.
Censorship blues
Censorship blues


One was SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, which is still in debtate in the United States. The other is Kapil Sibal's request to the social networks to prescreen content before it is put up on the social network. While bigger companies like Facebook and Twitter will not prescreen content, they most likely could set up a stricter method of punishment for offensive content. Currently, in India, a common form of punishment for posting offensive content is lodging an FIR, but if Facebook develops their own punishment system, the Indian judiciary can focus on bigger problems.

Mobile Commerce
NFC made its way to many phones, but it can be argued that it will become mainstream once it hits the iPhone. However, even though the next iPhone can only be expected late next year, we can expect more development in NFC on a global scale.
Payments made easy
Payments made easy


Currently there are apps for banking using NFC where mobile users can transfer money to and from accounts, as well as make certain deposits into their accounts. NFC, at least, on a global level and not just in India is expected to grow and mobile users will be able to carry out more types of transactions like making bill payments as well as transfering information from one phone to another.

Samsung Galaxy S III
Samsung is all set to dish out the successor to its renowned Samsung Galaxy S II which is expected to make an appearance in February 2012. Smartphone enthusiasts can look forward to the mighty device dubbed Galaxy S III. The all-new Galaxy S III is set to raise the bar of high-end smartphones with an array of next-gen features. It is speculated to run on the Samsung brewed quad core processor. The spec sheet is likely to feature 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED display, support for LTE support and the latest Android flavor - Ice Cream Sandwich. Moreover, this time around, Samsung has apparently roped in a 3D display for the device.

Windows 8
Windows 8 should be the next big thing for PCs and there's a lot banking on it. The Windows operating system has seen decades of development and there's a lot depending on it in 2012. Tablets are the latest craze and smartphones are likely to grow some more this coming year. This is where Microsoft needs to make its presence - by delivering a solid product that caters for both, traditional desktop and tablet users.
The next best thing?
The next best thing?


Windows 7 and previous versions haven't done too well on the tablet and a strong OS for ARM-based devices is required. With a strong presence of the Metro user interface, somewhat similar to the one found on the Windows Phone and the right partners, Microsoft should be catch up with the competition - iOS and Android. Another area where Windows 8 should find success with is with Ultrabooks. Intel has been pushing hard for these low-lower, ultraslim notebooks and many of its partners will be launched Ultrabooks based on Intel's hardware running Microsoft's Windows 8. The next variation of Windows Phone might also be based on it. A new Windows release arrives every couple of years and if Microsoft gets it right, 2012 should be looking great for them.

Ultrabooks
Thin is in, and this wave is going to rise higher than ever in the world of notebooks, next year. With the netbooks fading away into history, Intel has jumpstarted a new trend that’s only going to swell in 2012. Ultrabooks or ultra compact notebooks is changing the way we look at notebooks, and it’s high time as well. How often do you use your DVD drive? do you really need Ethernet with Wi-Fi now almost commonplace? And how many of you have actually used the Express card slot on your notebooks? Chuck away all these things and you’re left with a slimmer, more portable computing device with all the basic components you need, nothing more, nothing less.
As slim as they come
As slim as they come


With the first phase of Ultrabooks already out, we are most eagerly awaiting the send phase which will be based on Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs. This 28nm die shrink of Sandy Bridge should improve performance and power draw but more importantly drive the costs down as it would be cheaper to manufacture. Another feature we would really love in Ultrabooks is provision for a 3G SIM as standard. This is just more convenient rather than having an ugly dongle sticking out of the side and it also brings the functionality of Ultrabooks closer to tablets.

Aakash tablet
The launch of the Aakash tablet was easily among the most spoken about launches, this year in India. Revolutionizing the humble education system of the country, the Aakash tablet made heads turn with its surprisingly low price tag, and the specification list that came along for that price. The tablet's early version earned itself a decently-sized fan following across the country, and some admirers abroad. Early this month, the tablet was put up for sale online, and within a week it was SOLD OUT!.
Getting better in 2012
Getting better in 2012


Now, an upgraded version of the tablet is being prepped in the labs for a February 2012 release. Needless to add, the upcoming version is being rumored to pack a punch. For a price tag of Rs.2,999 the upgraded version will offer Android 2.3 OS, 7-inch display, Cortex A8, 700 Mhz processor with HD Video co-processor, Connectivity with GPRS & Wi-Fi, among others. It wouldn't be an exaggeration here, if one would say that Aakash is only going to grow bigger in the coming times.

That's it form all of us at Tech2 for this year. We hope you'll enjoyed reading about the various technologies as much as we did writing about them. We like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year and here's to a splendid 2012. See ya'll on the other side!

6 Computer Viruses That Changed The World

 


computer virusesYesterday we took a look at some of the most damaging high-profile computer viruses in history, and today we’ll be exploring some of the more obscure ones instead. The term “virus” wasn’t attached to malware until 1983, but viruses as we know them date back to the early 70′s.
These viruses didn’t necessarily make front page news in the same way as Sasser, MyDoom or the Storm Worm did, but many were the first of their kind. It’s also worth noting that many were non-destructive, with the real aim of creating a self-replicating program rather than causing data loss.

1971: Creeper

Creeper was written in 1971 by Bob Thomas who worked for BBN, and is widely considered to be the first example of a computer worm. The program was self-replicating in nature and non-destructive to data as its main purpose was to test the effectiveness of such code.
computer viruses
Creeper was technically not a virus due to its rather passive nature. The author commented in response to this article:
“…the creeper application was not exploiting a deficiency of the operating system. The research effort was intended to develop mechanisms for bringing applications to other machines with intention of moving the application to the most efficient computer for its task.”
Creeper did not take advantage of an exploit on the (pictured) DEC PDP-10 TENEX systems it came into contact with, and was eventually stopped with a program called Reaper, which was specifically designed to halt the spread.

1981: Elk Cloner

In 1981 a 15-year old called Rich Skrenta stumbled upon the world’s first boot sector virus, Elk Cloner for the Apple II. At the time the Apple II used floppy disks to boot into the OS, which made it particularly vulnerable to attacks.
list of computer viruses
If a user booted into the OS from an infected floppy, the virus would be copied to the computer’s memory. Any further floppy disks that were inserted into the computer once Elk Cloner was in the memory would also become infected. Whilst the code was not malicious, the user would see a poem on every 50th boot.
Skrenta’s virus was not only the first to specifically target the boot sector but also one of the first to spread “in the wild” – i.e. outside of the environment it was originally written.

1986: Brain

Considered by many the first computer virus written for MS-DOS (and thus the IBM PC standard), Brain affected floppy disks, more specifically the boot sector of the DOS File Allocation Table (FAT), by moving the real boot sector elsewhere and marking it as “bad”. A copy of the virus replaced the real boot sector, but hard drives were specifically avoided.
list of computer viruses
The virus can be traced back to two brothers from Lahore, Pakistan – Basit and Amjad Iqbal who included the following message:
Welcome to the Dungeon © 1986 Basit * Amjad (pvt) Ltd. BRAIN COMPUTER SERVICES 730 NIZAM BLOCK ALLAMA IQBAL TOWN LAHORE-PAKISTAN PHONE: 430791,443248,280530. Beware of this VIRUS…. Contact us for vaccination…
The virus was originally written as a copyright safeguard for medical software the pair were working on. They received phone calls from all over the world demanding inoculation, and still trade today as Brain NET, an Internet service provider.

1987: SCA

Another first, SCA was the Commodore Amiga’s inaugural computer virus, written by the “Swiss Cracking Association” or “Mega-Mighty SCA”. The group mostly specialised in removing copy protection from floppies, and thus the SCA virus targetted the boot sector of write-enabled disks.
Every 15th reboot the following message was displayed, warning the user that they were infected:
Something wonderful has happened Your AMIGA is alive !!! and, even better…some of your disks are infected by a VIRUS !!! Another masterpiece of The Mega-Mighty SCA !!
The virus only affected write-enabled floppies but would ruin custom bootblocks, such as those used by games. The SCA virus led the same group to release the first ever Amiga virus scanner in order to remove the infection.

1988: Morris Worm

With its source code preserved on a dusty floppy in the Boston Museum of Science, the Morris worm is one of the most famous outbreaks in history – mostly due to a mistake by its author. The Morris worm was in fact one of the first spread via the Internet, and exploited known vulnerabilities within the UNIX operating system.
computer viruses
The worm was originally not written to be malicious, but instead to try and gather information about the size of the Internet according to its author, Robert Tappan Morris. What made the worm such an issue was its method of spreading, which would re-infect every 1 in 7 PCs that claimed to already be infected.
This proved to be overkill and it is thought that of the 60,000 machines connected to the Internet at the time, 10% were affected. Morris was studying at Cornell University at the time, but chose to release the worm from MIT to avoid detection. He was later the first person to be convicted under the USA’s 1986 Computer Fraud and Misuse Act.
He received three years probation, 400 hours community service and a $10,000 fine. The worm is thought to have caused somewhere between $10 million -$100 million in damage and undoubtedly changed Internet security forever.

2006: Leap

Leap, also known as the Oompa-Loompa virus was the first to ever infect Apple’s cherished OS X operating system. Whilst it was not a full-blown outbreak, and didn’t even transfer via the Internet, Leap proved that no matter how tight security was, there were always going to be potential vulnerabilities.
The virus transferred itself via iChat’s Bonjour buddy list, but only over local area networks. In order for a machine to become infected the user had to accept the latestpics.tgz archive, open it and run the executable (claiming to be an image of Apple’s next OS) within.
The virus would infect non-system applications owned by the user, but due to a bug within the virus, any infected programs refused to run after exposure to Leap. Removal of the virus did not require a complete OS re-install, and thus Leap will always be considered a low threat virus, albeit a world-changing one.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some of my “favourite” viruses, their origins and of course the knock-on effects. Whilst infections like Elk-Cloner and Creeper weren’t particularly damaging they were highly innovative and certainly provided a taste of things to come.
Do you know of any other interesting virus outbreaks? Remember that sinking feeling once your machine was infected? Have a rant below!