Archive for June 6th, 2012

Anonymous takes down MTNL website

Anonymous, a hactivists’ conglomeration which is opposing the internet censorship has claimed to have taken down the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) website using the technique of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on Wednesday. A posting by Anonymous on its webpage claimed that it hit the website ‘mtnl.net.in’ with a massive DDoS attack. Attempts to log onto the website returned pages with error messages saying the requested URL could not be retrieved. Anonymous has called for non-violent protests across several cities in India on June 9 to protest against what it alleges as ‘censorship’ of the internet. It accused the department of telecom of instructing the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block file-sharing websites unilaterally, while the courts had ordered blocking of certain websites. The group had earlier targeted websites of the government and also of corporates and political parties which they accused of supporting the ‘illegal’ ban. The Anonymous group has called upon netizens to wear ‘Guy Fawkes’ masks, which have become synonymous with Occupy Wall Street protests, during the June 9 protests.

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Server Networks Make Work More Efficient

If you run a network of computers, then chances are that you’ll need to share resources and access to files without compromising on quality and speed, and this is where considering the benefits of a quality server rack can come in. If you only have a couple of computers in your network, chances are you won’t really benefit from such an investment, but the benefits of a server rack to support a network become more and more obvious the more computers you add to a network. If the computers in your network need access to the same files and databases most of the time, then collaborating on projects becomes much faster and easier. Some people are now opting to build their own servers by ordering the parts individually and constructing them with their own hands.

Plan for the future

When you’re deciding upon your options when it comes to purchasing a server and incorporating it into a server rack, you’ll need to bear in mind how much storage space you’re likely to need. If you’re a growing network, then it may be advantageous to opt for something slightly larger than the capacity you would currently need to accommodate future changes. If there’s only likely to be a few computers accessing the server, and your files are relatively small then it makes sense to also buy accordingly. You’ll also need to select a motherboard for your server and will have to select this with the physical space available to you in mind. As with many purchases of this nature, it’s best to buy a higher specification than you currently need in order to plan for the future.

Rapid transfers

When you’re buying RAM (Random Access Memory) for your system, it is strongly advised to buy as much as you can financially stretch to. The more RAM you have, the faster your files can be accessed, and if you’re retrieving and updating files all the time, this will be of particular value. When you’re choosing an operating system for your server, it’s also best to purchase one like the other computers on the network are using.

Ready for installation

After these steps, you’ll firstly need to have the server case that came with the motherboard to screw the mounting screws into it. The motherboard then needs to be attached using smaller screws. If you follow the instructions that come with the motherboard then you will be able to plug in the relevant cables and plug the power supplies before mounting the processor into the motherboard’s processing slot. The power supply will then be needed to connect into the power supply before you snap the RAM into the RAM slots. After this you can close the case and when you have located the crews on the side of the case you can insert screws into them. You can then connect any other components. The last step is to install the operating system from the appropriate disc. This means that your server will be ready to install into a server rack.

By: Mark Barry

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TechInUs Review: Panasonic’s HC-V 500M

Panasonic’s HC-V 500M full HD camera might fit the bill for someone looking for a small, unobtrusive , easy-to-use and yet highly capable device. It’s lightweight and fits easily in your right hand.

The camera itself has very few buttons – just a zoom lever & snapshot button on top, a slider to switch between playback, photo and video, a record button and a quartet of buttons on the left (which hide under the screen when closed). Most of the advanced controls are via the touchscreen.

As expected, the screen flips out and also powers the camera on/off with this action. You get 16GB of built in memory and a SD/SDXC card slot for expansion. Also present is a mini HDMI out port (no cable supplied), a proprietary A/V out (cable supplied) and mini USB for data transfer. Anyone can get started with video in just a few seconds – it’s as simple as powering on and pressing the record button.

Advanced users will enjoy built in effects like fade in/out, manual shutter, aperture, focus & white balance. The intelligent zoom setting is useful – it combines the 38x optical with some digital zoom to give you 50x zoom which doesn’t degrade quality. The resolving power of the lens is remarkable – which you can clearly see when you zoom into small details from a distance.

Under most adequately lit conditions, the video quality is very pleasing. It struggles under low light and the still photographs are comparable to what a basic cameraphone can capture (which is to say, not very good).

Downsides are the all-plastic construction, weak LED photo/video light and poor quality still photos . Ultimately, this is a good camera for someone looking to record hassle-free HD video. You can also consider the cheaper Canon HF R205.

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Flame virus: Is it going to affect you?

There will be few among us whose computers weren’t infected by a virus. We wouldn’t know if any data was ever stolen by a stranger sitting, say in Estonia. But, what we do recollect is how our laptops wouldn’t start; and we had to get the operating system reinstalled; and in the process, lose photos and videos we hadn’t backed up.

The buzz in cyberspace now is about the biggest, the most powerful, and the most complex computer virus ever discovered – variously called Flame, Flamer or Skywiper. It has sent alarm bells ringing, and has reminded us, for the umpteenth time, how even the best-protected network can be broken into.

The virus hit headlines in March/April this year, when the Iranian oil ministry was affected. And a few weeks back, researchers found Flame similar to Stuxnet virus that had disabled the centrifuges in an Iranian nuclear plant. What has stunned experts is the complexity of Flame, the size of which was 20MB, while Stuxnet was only about half a megabyte.

Calling it the dawn of a new era in cyberwarfare, Kaspersky Labs said the virus was “destined to leave an indelible mark on the cyber weapons’ landscape”. Symantec research shows Flamer has been operating for at least two years with the ability to steal documents, take screenshots of users’ desktops, spread via USB drives, disable security vendor products, and under certain conditions spread to other systems. One mode of operation is Bluetooth.

According to Shantanu Ghosh, VP and MD, India Product operations, Symantec, the Bluetooth functionality of Flame is embedded in a module, which when triggered in accordance with the configuration set by the attacker, can result in two actions: one, scan Bluetooth devices in the range, and once detected, steal details like the ID; and two, the infected computer itself will appear when any Bluetooth device scans the local area.

It is networks in mainly West Asia that have been affected, but Ghosh says infections have been reported from Hungary and Hong Kong. Are we in India under threat?

Kaspersky says that it recorded instance of attacks in India. Says Alex Gostev, chief security expert, Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab, “Only a few detections by Kaspersky Lab anti-virus were registered on the computers with Indian IP address. But that can be any user even a tourist from another country who was in India at that moment. The countries worst hit by Flame are Iran, Israel, Syria, Lebanon.”

Says Ghosh, “This threat is highly targeted and not likely to impact most users. In addition to particular organizations being targeted, many of the compromised computers appear to be personal computers being used from home Internet connections.”

However Naresh Raval, a web developer, sounds a word of caution. “You never know. Security agencies have all said Flame is so complex that they haven’t fully understood how it works. Internet is a vast global network, and it doesn’t take much for malware to spread, and wreak havoc.”

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Chipmakers eye low-end smartphone mkt in China

TAIPEI: Global chipmakers are tapping booming demand for entry-level smartphones costing 1,000 yuan ($160) or less apiece in China, the world’s largest mobile phone market, by introducing chips that pack powerful performance into low-cost processors.

Chip companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Broadcom Corp hope to play the volume game selling low-cost chips on razor-thin margins, executives and analysts said during Computex Taipei, the world’s second largest PC show.

As a sign of growing demand, China’s three mobile phone carriers are aggressively subsidising affordable smartphones, such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s C8650, ZTE Corp’s U880 and Lenovo Group Ltd’s Lephone A65.

“We’re continuing to waterfall our technology down into the mass market tier,” Rob Chandhook, a senior vice president at Qualcomm, told reporters in Taipei.

The US-based chipmaker launched its Qualcomm’s Reference Design (QRD) programme last year to target vendors making low-cost handsets, a category long dominated by chips made by Taiwan’s Mediatek Inc and MStar Semiconductor Inc and China’s Spreadtrum Communications Inc. So far, Lenovo’s A780 and the Coolpad 7260 uses Qualcomm’s S4 Snapdragon chipsets, executives said.

“It’s still a very good outlook for them (sub-1,000 yuan phones) because we think there is still a large pool of feature phone users who haven’t had their first smartphones,” said TZ Chuang, Beijing-based analyst at research firm IDC.

“These phones will be the first route for these people to upgrade.”

The percentage of these sub-1,000 yuan smartphones versus total smartphone shipments in China has grown to 21 per cent in the first quarter from just 12 per cent a year earlier, IDC said.

In late February, US chipmaker Broadcom announced a series of chips and solutions targeted at smartphones priced at below $299 and running on Google’s Android 4.0 operating system.

When asked about the sub-1,000 yuan market, Broadcom executives at Computex said they were committed to the entry-level smartphones space in countries such as China using those chips.

GROWING MARKET Although Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy carry most cachet in China’s wealthy coastal cities, there is growing interest in targeting consumers in second and third-tier cities with cheaper smartphones.

Underlining the trend, China’s Haier Electronics Group and Alibaba Cloud Computing launched a 999-yuan smartphone on Wednesday that will run Alibaba Group’s Aliyun mobile operating system.

Last month Baidu, China’s largest search engine, said it would launch a cheap smartphone, retailing for under 1,000 yuan in conjunction with Foxconn Technology Group, Sichuan Changhong Electric Co and China Unicom.

China now has 1.02 billion mobile phone users, but only a little over 10 per cent are 3G users, with the rest low-end 2G subscribers who use call-and-text feature phones.

Analysts say China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have been offering huge subsidies to entice subscribers to upgrade to 3G and use more data.

Last week, China Unicom said it expected its revenues from 3G services to exceed that of 2G this year, compared with a roughly 7:3 ratio last year, while China Telecom sees data revenues rising to exceed voice revenue this year.

“What’s really selling like hot cakes now is sub-1,000 yuan smartphones. It’s really popular among the younger generation, especially students and people who have just started working,” China Telecom Chairman and CEO Wang Xiaochu told a news conference last week.

As margins are low in the entry level smartphone category, vendors hope that sheer volume will ensure profits.

“The chipset landscape for low cost smartphone ICs (integrated circuits) will also be very competitive and may limit margin expansion,” said Randy Abrams, an analyst at Credit Suisse in Taipei.

Abrams said Asian chipset suppliers were shipping about 800 million units into the feature phone market last year and within a few years most of that volume would convert into smartphones.

“Even Intel is trying to move down market and has introduced handsets with Lenovo and Lava, although these are still at much higher price points so has not yet had a lot of designs in the cost sensitive entry level channel,” Abrams said.

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Nokia unveils cheap touch screen models

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