Archive for June 12th, 2012

Why Android OS for Apps and Game Development?

Android operating system has revolutionized the smartphone/tablet market. Google’s highly flexible OS, Android is heaven for mobile application and game developers. Launched in 2008, it has, in last four years, successfully captured the lion’s share of smartphone industry. Almost all famous smartphone/tablet makers are now using Android OS to offer their customers world-class services.

Google Play Store (previously known as “Android Market”) is one of the largest applications and games marketplaces. There are more than 240,000 apps and games in Android market and most of these applications are free, while some of them are paid. Companies like Rovio, makes thousands of dollars by selling games like “Angry Birds.”

If you are working at a web programming company and want to enter the mobile application development industry, Android is your ticket. Here are some of the factors that make Android a better OS than any other mobile operating system.

1. Low Entry Barrier – Don’t have enough money to pay the license fee? Don’t worry; Android is not going to ask you for license fee or development tools. You can develop an app or a game without spending a single penny.

2. Open Source Platform – You can customize your application in any way your prefer because Android does not levy any strict rules for customization. Google also regularly updates this powerful operating system and informs developers about new features in advance. So, you can upgrade your current applications to match updated OS standards. App developers can also provide feedback to the Google Android development team and suggest new improvements.

3. Great Platform for Java Programmers – Android applications are developed using Java. Therefore, if you know Java, you can start developing an Android application comfortably.

4. Variety of Distribution Platform – Unlike some “high end” operating systems like iOS and Blackberry, you can distribute an Android application in different application stores (Google Play and Blackberry App World). Besides that, you can also develop your own app distribution channels. It’s true that third party app markets have their own app publication rules, but because there is no single and controlled market, you will always find a platform to release your application.

5. Best Inter Application Integration – This is one the biggest benefits of Android OS. If you want to create a suite of applications like MS Office, Android is there to help you. You can develop an inter-process architecture and integrate different applications for better user experience.

Android is the ideal platform for every app developer. If your app gains popularity in the application markets, you can be successful and rich within a very short span of time.

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Why no one came to the Anonymous India protest‎

After the John Doe court order that had ISPs shutting down access to sites like Vimeo and The Pirate Bay in India, local netizens reached out to hacktivist group Anonymous to do something about the basic denial of freedom of speech that the order involved. As a result Anonymous built an Indian chapter and took down websites one by one. However, the organization felt that to truly get the point across, they’d have to hold a protest, which they did this past Saturday and Tech2 was at the Mumbai leg of the protest.

But can a protest really work?

More than 2,000 people said that they would come to the protest in Mumbai. However, it was less than even a tenth of that number that actually showed up. It begs the question, why were so many people who knew about the protest not keen to actually show up? I think it has to do with apathy. Apathy that one protest will not really bring back access to sites like Vimeo and The Pirate Bay. Apathy that the government will not actually listen to the people of the country. And furthermore, apathy that the current set of blocking sites didn’t really affect too many people anyway.

Most people in the country don’t even know what the IT Act of 2008 allows the government to do and how a basic constitutionally protected right, freedom of speech, can so easily be taken away. Most people don’t know what Vimeo and The Pirate Bay are. Most people don’t know that The Pirate Bay, despite what the name suggests, contains a lot of genuine content that is up there because the site is a reliable way to share content. And what’s worse is the fact that citizens who are aware of their rights, feel somewhat helpless in the democracy that this country is supposed to be.

I went to Azad Maidan. And what I saw was sad. I saw that the only place that citizens are allowed to raise their voices is a place that is walled off and no passerby can look in to see what is happening. I saw the grounds being used by people to stay there and while the Anonymous protest was going on, what looked like a prayer meeting was going on in another section of the grounds.

And furthermore, it seemed more journalists showed up to cover the event than people actually protesting. Anywhere else in the world, if you want to protest, you are able to protest in a manner where you are visible. You can protest outside the White House, you can protest in the streets of Paris, and you will have visibility. You will not be restricted to a walled off section of barren land. The entrance to the ground was hard to find too. I had first gone to the main, big ground that’s known as Azad Maidan before I found out that there’s a little section opposite the High Court that is walled off and has police patrol. How are we supposed to exercise our right of democracy when the only place that the police will give us permission to raise our voice, silences us by its very location?

Anonymous is a loose body of obviously faceless people. There is no leadership structure. So much so in fact, that I was even wondering how this protest would be structured, if obviously people who are hacktivists don’t want to give themselves away. Keeping that in mind, you have to wonder; how many people will show up to a protest where the leader is wearing a mask and you’re wearing that same mask. Don’t get me wrong, a few supporters did show up and they all had their reasons to, but they didn’t know what the plan was and once they got there, what the point of protesting was. The fact that the organization is structured the way it is, works for their efforts when it comes to DDoS attacks, but maybe not for on the ground action.

Ultimately, the main purpose in Anonymous holding this protest was the attention they would get for the cause. Unfortunately, due to a cold turnout, what is being reported is not that people care about their freedom of speech but quite the contrary.

The other problem that the organization has is that they do not have a long term plan. Of course, at this point, governments are used to protests, so much so that they designate a walled off area to be a protest ground with the logic that they allow people to “feel like” their voice is being heard. So maybe this is my apathy coming out too, but Anonymous is going to have concentrate more on getting people to know what their rights are before asking them to come out on a Saturday and demand them.


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New app allows sharing of mobile Internet access

TORONTO: Traveling and looking for Internet access? A new smartphone app allows users to share mobile Web access for free with other people nearby who have the same app.

Called Open Garden, the app forms a mesh network that enables each person connected to it to relay it to other users.

“Every smartphone is a computer and a router, so we thought it was the right time to interconnect all of these devices together to make general access more ubiquitous,” said Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company Open Garden.

“As long as the devices are in proximity they recognize themselves seamlessly. If one device in the mesh has access to the Internet, then the other device can benefit from it,” Benoliel added.

If a smartphone user with Open Garden is in a cafe or hotel and does not have access to Wi-Fi, but someone else does, the user can piggyback on the other person’s connection.

Benoliel said the functionality could be especially useful for travelers eager to avoid hefty roaming charges.

“You can be traveling and arrive at an airport and instead of paying expensive roaming charges, you can just connect to someone in the airport who has Open Garden,” he said.

When there is no direct Internet connection in the network, the app accesses the Web through links to other devices such as laptops or mobile phones. If the person whose connection is being shared leaves the network, the app automatically connects to the next best connection.

The app is available for Android devices, Windows and Mac. It works as a mesh network only if it has been installed by other people nearby to form the peer-to-peer connections.

Benoliel said the app can also be used to interconnect different devices, such as an iPhone and tablets, for free using the plan.

The company is working on features to help users limit who shares their Internet and data connections and how much data they want to allocate to the app.

In future versions, the company said users will be able to connect to social networks to specify desired network sharers.

Despite criticism from mobile carriers concerned about losing revenue, Benoliel said the app could benefit them by helping to decongest crowded 3G and 4G networks by offloading them to WiFi, where there is more capacity.

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New sensor-based search engine to be developed

LONDON: A new project to develop a search engine which will draw its results from sensors located in the physical world is being undertaken by computer scientists at the University of Glasgow.

As the internet continues to expand, public access to net-connected sensors such as cameras and microphone arrays is increasing.

The European-funded project, known as SMART, for “Search engine for Multimedia Environment generated content”, aims to develop and implement a system to allow internet users to search and analyse data from these sensors, a university release said.

By matching search queries with information from sensors and cross-referencing data from social networks such as Twitter, users will be able to receive detailed responses to questions such as “What part of the city hosts live music events which my friends have been to recently?” or “How busy is the city centre?”

Currently, standard search engines such as Google are not able to answer search queries of this type, the release added.

Dr Iadh Ounis, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science, said: “The SMART engine will be able to answer high-level queries by automatically identifying cameras, microphones and other sensors that can contribute to the query, then synthesising results stemming from distributed sources in an intelligent way”.

SMART, he said, builds upon the existing concept of “smart cities”, physical spaces which are covered in an array of intelligent sensors which communicate with each other and can be searched for information.

The search results sourced from these smart cities can be reused across multiple applications, making the system more effective.

SMART is likely to be tested in a real city by 2014. The SMART project is a joint research initiative of nine partners including Atos, Athens Information Technology, IBM’s Haifa Research Lab, Imperial College London, City of Santander, PRISA Digital, Telesto and Consorzio S3 Log.

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LulzSec Reborn Leaks 10,000 Twitter Accounts

LulzSec Reborn, the so-called redux of disbanded hacker group LulzSec, leaked around 10,000 Twitter usernames and passwords of members who used TweetGif, an animated Gif-sharing application.

The file contained an unusually detailed trove of information on each member: usernames, passwords, real names, locations, bios, avatars, secret tokens used to authenticate TweetGif to pull Twitter data, and even their last tweet. The hackers’ motivations are unclear at this point; an announcement posted on Pastebin merely linked to a destination for people to download the .SQL file.

TweetGif lets users post and share animated Gif cliparts, but users have to log in through Twitter. It appears to be a relatively small application with less than 75,000 visitors globally, according to its Flag Counter stats, and only 690 followers of its Twitter account @TweetGif.

As we covered recently in “How to Use Twitter Safely,” not all third-party Twitter applications use best practices to secure user data. An Imperva report said around three-quarters of Web applications may be vulnerable to remote file inclusion attacks because they include insecure tools that allow users to upload user-generated content, such as images and videos.

In March, LulzSec Reborn introduced itself to the Interwebs by claiming to be a resurrected version of the infamous LulzSec hacker coalition. The original LulzSec ceased operations almost a year ago after spending almost six weeks attacking companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies. In March, the FBI arrested core members using intelligence gained by interrogating Sabu, the group’s nominal leader.

However many security researchers, such as F-Secure’s Sean Sullivan and Naked Security’s Graham Cluley, have cast doubts that original LulzSec members are part of the “new” LulzSec. LulzSec Reborn has been pretty quiet since it launched, claiming only one major attack so far on, a dating site.

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