Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3 Technology Link

3 Technology Link

Archos Arnova 9 G2

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 01:57 PM PST

Archos Arnova 9 G2

Archos Arnova 9 G2

Price Range $254.97

The Archos Arnova 9 G2 ($269.99) is one of the least expensive 10-inch tablets available today. However with its bargain price come some sacrifices in both hardware and software.

The Arnova 9 G2 measures 11.8 by 9.7 by 2 inches (HWD) and weighs in at 1.3 pounds. Its 9.7-inch IPS display features a fairly standard 1024-by-768-pixel resolution, but the 4:3 aspect ratio is a departure from the 16:9 used by most tablets and phones. Archos omitted a rear-facing camera, but did include a front-facing camera for use during video chats. The Arnova 9 G2 is powered by a single-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, and comes with 8GB of internal storage. A micro SD card slot allows for expansion up to 32GB.

One shortcoming with this budget offering from Archos is its outdated OS—Android 2.3 “Gingerbread.” You can still find other tablets using this dated software, but really, with the tablet-specific Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” out and the newest Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” making its way to more devices, the Arnova 9 G2 might become rapidly obsolete.

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Mozilla to go after Android, Apple with cheap phone OS

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 01:41 PM PST

Mozilla to go after Android, Apple with cheap phone OS

Mozilla to go after Android, Apple with cheap phone OS

Attendees check the LG Optimus Vu smartphone during a presentation in Barcelona on Monday, the opening day of the Mobile World Congress. Mozilla, which brought the free web browser Firefox to the masses, now wants to do the same for mobile users, with a new open source operating system that could drastically slash smartphone prices.

Mozilla, which brought the free web browser Firefox to the masses, now wants to do the same for mobile users, with a new open source operating system that could drastically slash smartphone prices.

The non-profit group’s so-called Boot to Gecko project will go after Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS, to create an alternative which could generate smartphones that are “10 times cheaper” than an iPhone while offering similar experiences to those running on other platforms.

“We want to pioneer a category,” Brendan Eich, who is Mozilla’s chief technology officer, told AFP at the world’s biggest mobile fair in Barcelona.

“We see the mobile world recreating the wall of gardens in the 1990s that AOL had,” lamented Eich, referring to restrictions imposed by the Internet provider two decades ago.

Mozilla therefore wants to “disrupt” the closed system, and open it up to competition for greater innovation.

The idea is for a platform that is completely reliant on the web, meaning that all of the phones capabilities, including calls, messaging, and browsing functions, would be web-based.

Being on the web removes the need for much of the intermediary software that requires large memory or speedy processors — both of which are expensive.

As a result, it is able to cut costs dramatically.

The group has partnered with Telefonica on the project, with the Spanish giant aiming to ship phones running on the new OS this year.

For Carlos Domingo, Telefonica Digital director of product development, the development spells massive opportunities in Latin America, where smartphones are not catching on because of their prohibitive prices.

A new phone on the Mozilla platform, could be “more than 10 times cheaper” than an iPhone, Domingo told AFP.

It could even be competitive compared to the cheapest phone on Finnish giant Nokia’s Lumia line, which runs on the Windows platform and will begin shipping this year at 189 euros.

“We can probably do two to three times cheaper than that,” said Domingo, who aims to have the phones commercialised in six to eight months.

Brazil is a typical target market for Telefonica because it has 75 percent mobile penetration rate, but just five percent on smartphones.

Nevertheless, Mozilla will face stiff challenges from Android and Apple, the runaway smartphone leaders.

Microsoft too, will be launching its new Windows 8 at the Mobile WorldCongress on Thursday, as it seeks to claw back some market share in the rapidly growing smartphone industry.

But Eich, who invented the popular programming language JavaScript, believes the new system could hold its own against competitors.

“If you believe that iOS and Android have about 70 or 80 percent of the market and if you believe that the remaining 20 percent will not be fragmented, …we would hope to be 80 percent of that 20 percent,” he said.

“It is possible that some of our partners agree — that by making the right entry points, we can actually achieve high volume growth and be that platform,” he added.

And if the project succeeds, other regions could also benefit, as like all open source projects, it will be open for sharing.

Firefox debuted in 2004 as an innovative, communally crafted open-source browser released as an option to Internet Explorer.

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Interpol swoop nets 25 suspected ‘Anonymous’ hackers

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 01:32 PM PST

Interpol swoop nets 25 suspected ‘Anonymous’ hackers

Interpol swoop nets 25 suspected Anonymous hackers

A masked hacker, part of the Anonymous group, is pictured in Lyon, France, in January 2012. Interpol has arrested 25 suspected members of the 'Anonymous' hackers group in a swoop on over a dozen cities in Europe and Latin America, the global police body said Tuesday.

Interpol has arrested 25 suspected members of the ‘Anonymous’ hackers group in a swoop covering more than a dozen cities in Europe and Latin America, the global police body said Tuesday.

“Operation Unmask was launched in mid-February following a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain,” said Interpol, based in the French city of Lyon.

The statement cited attacks on the websites of the Colombian Ministry of Defence and the presidency, as well as on Chile’s Endesa electricity company and its National Library, among others.

The operation was carried out by police from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain, the statement said, with 250 items of computer equipment and mobile phones seized in raids on 40 premises in 15 cities.

Police also seized credit cards and cash from the suspects, aged 17 to 40.

“This operation shows that crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved, and that the Internet cannot be seen as a safe haven for criminal activity,” said Bernd Rossbach, Interpol’s acting director of police services.

However, it was not clear what evidence there was to prove those arrested were part of Anonymous, an extremely loose-knit international movement of online activists, or “hacktivists.”

Spanish police said earlier they had arrested four suspected hackers accused of sabotaging websites and publishing confidential data on the Internet.

They were accused of hacking the websites of political parties and companies and adding fangs to the faces of leaders in photographs online, and publishing data identifying top officials’ security guards, Spanish police said.

The operation, carried out after trawling through computer logs in order to trace IP addresses, also netted 10 suspects in Argentina, six in Chile and five in Colombia, Spanish police said.

They said one of the suspects went by the nicknames Thunder and Pacotron and was suspected of running the computer network used by Anonymous in Spain and Latin America, via servers in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

He was arrested in the southern Spanish city of Malaga.

Two of the suspects were in detention while one was bailed and the fourth was a minor who was left in the care of his parents.

In Santiago, deputy prefect Jaime Jara said police confiscated computer equipment belonging to five Chileans and a Colombian, aged between 17 and 23.

Jara said the suspects appeared to have hacked web pages in Chile, Colombia and Spain.

The six suspects did not know each other and were released after voluntarily giving statements, police said, though they will likely be ordered to appear in court to face possible charges relating to online crimes.

Anonymous has in recent weeks targeted the websites of a series of police organisations, with subgroup “Antisec” on Friday vandalising the website of a major US prison contractor.

Anonymous took credit Thursday for an online raid on the Los Angeles Police Canine Association and previously attacked websites of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Anonymous has notably defended WikiLeaks when it was facing a funding cutoff and recently collaborated with the anti-secrecy site for the release of a swathe of emails from Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.

In December 2010, Anonymous attacked the websites of Mastercard, PayPal, Visa and others for blocking donations to WikiLeaks after it began releasing thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

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Removing ‘black sheep’ could make Internet run more efficiently

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 01:29 PM PST

Removing ‘black sheep’ could make Internet run more efficiently

Removing black sheep could make Internet run more efficiently

Partial map of the Internet based on data from 2005. Links connect nodes that represent IP addresses.

Whether dealing with Internet traffic or vehicle traffic, congestion can slow everything down. One team of researchers working on improving network transmission efficiency has developed a strategy that identifies certain links or edges that can be removed to decrease the overall congestion. Somewhat counterintuitively, these links – which the researchers call “black sheep” – are those that connect the busiest hubs. In a sense, the strategy is similar to closing some of the busiest roads during rush hour, and finding that vehicles reach their destinations faster than before.

The researchers, Guo-Qing Zhang, Di Wang, and Guo-Jie Li, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, published the strategy in 2007. In their most recent paper, published in Scientia Sinica Informationis, they have continued to build on this idea by determining the necessary conditions for the effect's existence.

"Our main findings reveal the effect of enhancing network capacity of edge-removal in networks and the prerequisite of the effect," Zhang toldPhysOrg.com. "However, the results of capacity expansion depend on specific networks. For the popular BA model network, this method increases network capacity more than 10 times."

The Internet is a combination of many interconnected networks, each of which consists of nodes (e.g., computers and routers) and links (e.g., cables and optical fibers). Structurally, this framework is similar to all networks in areas as diverse as biology, sociology, and statistics. In the case of the Internet, data is stored as bits, and thousands of bits are combined in packets that are directed by routers to their destinations. Routers use certain strategies to get packets to their destinations as quickly as possible, sending them along links from one node to another in a split second.

The many different strategies proposed so far for increasing the Internet'stransmission efficiency fall under two categories: developing better routing strategies and optimizing the network itself. The researchers from theChinese Academy of Sciences show that modifying the network does not necessarily require a complicated redesign; instead, deleting just a few well-chosen links is relatively easy and effective.

The key is choosing which links to remove. To do this, the researchers analyzed a network model that simulates packet traffic. In the model, routers use a shortest path routing strategy to direct packets to their destinations. Then the researchers analyzed each node to see how often it lies along the shortest path between two other nodes. For instance, if the shortest path between nodes A and B passes through node C, then C would be between A and B, increasing C's value of a quantity called "betweenness." Because nodes with large betweenness values are part of a greater number of shortest paths than peripheral nodes, they become congested more easily. To decrease this congestion, the researchers removed a fraction of the links connecting two nodes with some of the highest betweenness values. As a result, packets had to detour around these hub nodes, taking a slightly longer path but easing congestion in the most congestion-prone areas.

As a consequence, removing these black sheep links significantly increased the network's transmission capacity. From a practical perspective, removing these few links is easier than redesigning the entire network or developing a complex routing strategy. However, the researchers noted that there is a limit to removing links, where removing too many will lower the overall efficiency.

In their most recent study, the researchers show that, in order for this method to work effectively, the network structure must be heterogeneous in terms of node betweenness values. In other words, the method works best for networks that have nodes with a greater diversity of betweenness values. In this way, networks with large heterogeneity, which can be measured by the well-known Gini coefficient, have more significant effects.

"Our recent paper doesn’t further improve network capacity of the method, but points out that heterogeneity of network structure is a necessary condition for the effect's existence, highlights the rationality based on betweenness, and discusses the effect's applications in engineering practice," Zhang said. "It also shows that the greater the heterogeneity of a network is, the better the effect is. In essence, our method can reduce the heterogeneity, hence load balance, and then capacity is enhanced."

Because the black sheep links often use the highest bandwidths, removing them provides another advantage: it saves energy and reduces the cost of bandwidth, construction and maintenance. The researchers hope that the combination of increased transmission capacity and reduced cost will motivate the wide application of this method to a variety of communication and transportation networks.

"Edge removal is only an abstract concept, it may have different forms in different contexts," Zhang said. "Let me take urban transportation networks as an example: blocking the entrance ramp can relieve congestion and help traffic move more smoothly during rush hour. Here, blocking the entrance ramp logically means edge removal. For the Internet, building overlay routing is an important way to improve network reliability. This can be achieved by setting up relay nodes to obtain path diversity and enhance forwarding efficiency. A relay node needs to close some key links during heavy load. Closing links can be easily implemented and automatically finished by software. In the second instance, closing links mean edge removal. In a word, edge removal has many variants in practice."

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Cebit 2012: The wireless bicycle brake, a prototype on an exciting mission

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 01:03 PM PST

Cebit 2012: The wireless bicycle brake, a prototype on an exciting mission

Cebit 2012: The wireless bicycle brake, a prototype on an exciting mission

Holger Hermanns, computer science professor at Saarland University, confirmed the reliability of his wireless bicycle brake through mathematical calculations.

A German computer scientist has developed a reliable wireless bicycle brake.

At this time, wireless networks are able to brake just one bike, but in the future, the technical elements will be further developed to regulate entire trains as they travel over the lines. In view of that fact, computer scientists at Saarland University are designing mathematical calculations to check such systems automatically. The scientists will present their results at stand F34 in hall 26 at the computer fair Cebit. The trade show takes place in Hanover, Germany from March 6 to 10.

Professor Holger Hermanns, who holds the chair of Dependable Systems and Software, and who developed the wireless bicycle brake together with his group, explains: “Wireless networks are never a fail-safe method. That’s a fact that’s based on a technological background.” Nonetheless, the trend is to set up wireless systems that, like a simple bicycle brake, have to function all the time. “In the field of the future European Train Service, for example, concrete plans already exist,” Hermanns reports. Furthermore, he says that train and airplane experiments are far too sophisticated, and could even endanger the life of human beings in case of malfunction.

Therefore, the Saarland computer scientist’s mathematical methods should now verify the correct function and interaction of the components automatically. “The wireless bicycle brake gives us the necessary playground to optimize these methods for operation in much more complex systems,” Hermanns adds. Therefore, his research group examines the brake prototype with algorithms that normally are used in control systems for aircraft orchemical factories. As a result, they found out that the brake works with 99.9999999999997 percent reliability. “This implies that out of a trillion braking attempts, we have three failures,” Hermanns explains and concludes: “That is not perfect, but acceptable.”

To brake with the wireless brake, a cyclist needs only clench the rubber grip on the right handle. The more tightly the grip is clenched, the harder the disk brake on the front wheel works. It seems as if a ghost hand is in play, but a combination of several electronic components enables the braking. Integrated in the rubber grip is a pressure sensor, which activates a sender if a specified pressure threshold is crossed. The sender is integrated in a blue plastic box which is the size of a cigarette packet and is attached to the handlebar. Its radio signals are sent to a receiver attached at the end of the bicycle’s fork. The receiver forwards the signal to an actuator, transforming the radio signal into the mechanical power by which the disk brake is activated. The electrical energy is supplied by a battery, which is also attached to the bicycle’s fork. To enhance reliability, there are additional senders attached to the bicycle. These repeatedly send the same signal.

Its current configuration enables the cruiser bike to brake within 250 milliseconds. This means that at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour, the cyclist has to react two meters before reaching the dangerous situation. But the Saarland University computer scientists are not satisfied with just this functionality. “It is not difficult to integrate an anti-lock braking system and traction control. That takes only a few adjustments,” Hermanns explains.

Researching the wireless bicycle brake was funded within the special research field “Automatic Verification and Analysis of Complex Systems(AVACS)” by the German Research Foundation. Besides Holger Hermanns, several researchers from Saarland University are involved. These are Professors Sebastian Hack, Markus Bläser, Reinhard Wilhelm, Jan Reineke, Bernd Finkbeiner and Verena Wolf. Professor Kurt Mehlhorn and Christoph Weidenbach of the Max-Planck-Institute for Informatics in Saarbrücken are involved in the project, too. In 2011, the Research Foundation Group approved about 8.7 million euro, and about 3.5 million inure to the benefit of the Saarland research work. Since 2004, the special research group has been sponsored with approximately 26 million euros, and 9.5 million went to the computer scientists at Saarland University.

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