Sunday, February 10, 2008

Technological Digest X

Welcome to my Xth digest (I wonder how far can I stretch this Roman numeral thing before I forget how to count smile).
  1. Conspiracy - last week, 4 (some say 5) undersea fiber-optic cables were mysteriously cut in the middle east and the Persian gulf area. About 70% of internet traffic from Egypt, Algeria and (some claim) Iran, was disrupted. The rest of the countries of that area were driven to surf speeds reminiscent of the modem days of yore.

    Many conspiracy theorist jumped to conclusions immediately. How come cables were cut near Egypt, in a no-shipping area? Why was Iran disconnected? Who's behind this? And how come Israel still has internet connectivity?

    The most quoted sentence of the week was James Bond's famous declaration:
    Once is Happenstance. Twice is Coincidence. The third time it's Enemy action.

    Well, the Economist would have none of it. In this article they disprove most of the conspiracy theories: Iran had 80% internet activity throughout, with minor disruptions; one of the cables wasn't cut, but taken out of action deliberately by the provider; there are no (known) tapping technologies that would work on a fiber-optic cable. As for the weird coincidence of 4 cables being cut in a week, they use pure statistics: in a given year, about 50 cables get cut in the Atlantic ocean alone.

    As for Israel, it's the only country in the middle east to connect to the internet through Europe and not rely on any of its neighbors (gee, I wonder why smile) - and was therefore not affected by this cable outage.

    All in all, it's easy to see how conspiracy theories would evolve. In the meantime, all 4 cables were fixed - so crisis solved.

  2. Amazon buys Audible for $300M - is an Internet provider of spoken audio entertainment, mainly audiobooks. So far, they've offered their books on their site and through iTunes. This latest move by Amazon shows that they want to control the book-retail world, not just the printed part of it. Few (unsubstantiated) rumors are making the rounds, that it was done top combat Apple (by taking Audible's 80,000 books catalog off iTunes), or that the next version of the Kindle will support audiobooks.

    I've long been a fan of Audible. I've listened to their books when they were still called "books on tape" (later CD). Their production values are high and they find the best people to read an narrate. I think they're worth a separate recommendation post.

  3. Windows Server 2008 now RTM - as someone noted, not early (VS 2008), nor late (SQL 2008 - see last digest) - but right on time, comes the latest version of Windows Server. 4 versions are available for download from MSDN: Data Center (supports up to 64 CPUs), Enterprise (for clusters and high availability), Standard and Web Server (with IIS7 and web server roles).

    I've been playing with RC versions of it for almost a year - so no surprises there. Some devisions in Microsoft ARE consistent, I guess. BTW, Vista's SP1 is on time as well.

  4. Polaroid - no more? - In a non surprising move, the company that brought us the instant photo, stops manufacturing the Polaroid camera. With all the digital cameras and printers lying around, no one really needs an "instant camera". Polaroid fired 450 employees and announced it will attempt to reinvent its brand and come up with something new. Good luck.

  5. A site called, apparently a consumers' site that warns against mal-/spy-/badware, announced that RealPlayer 11 is "Badware", since it's not easy to uninstall, and leaves behind a ton of stuff.

    While I agree with them, and think that anyone who installs any Real product deserves whatever he gets(try Real Alternative instead), and while I agree that most of the applications and sites they mention should be avoided, I find their list of sponsors interesting.

    The site is sponsored by Google, Lenovo, Paypal, Sun and VeriSign.

    I wonder if we'll ever see the site warning about the Google Desktop Search application, that sends Google the list of applications installed on your machine, along with some other private information (Google never bothered denying that - they just refer you to the installation agreement).

    Or will they say something about all the crappy Lenovo apps that supposedly keep your Lenovo laptop up to date, but are not easy to dispose of, or work with?

    Indeed some of the software mentioned as Badware, such as Yahoo Player - are they really Badware, or just on the list because Google wants it there?

    At least they were forthcoming about their sponsors, so we know what to expect.

  6. Being Steve Jobs - if you've ever watched one of Jobs's keynotes, you probably realized you have ways to go before you'll achieve his presentation and public speaking skills.
    This BusinessWeek article will teach you how to deliver speeches like the master, in 10 easy steps.

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