Facebook Kills! Saudi Girl Shot Dead for Using Facebook!

There are lots of people who think that Facebook and all the other social networks on the web have a bad influence over kids and teenagers, but a Saudi father went beyond this. Because her daughter was using Facebook to socialize and to communicate

with members of the opposite sex on the Internet, the father has beaten the girl and then shot her dead. It may sound extreme, but Saudis have always been harsh when it comes to their Islamic beliefs and since Facebook allows young users to flirt and make new and unknown friends, I wonder why it's not banned already...

However, it may seem like banning Facebook would not be quite the best solution as Saudis would be looking for other social networks as soon as this one becomes unavailable. Speaking for The Daily Mail, a 27-year-old woman living in Saudi Arabia admitted that Facebook has a pretty bad influence over their teenagers as many of them use the website to meet members of the opposite sex, although their beliefs clearly prohibit this kind of activity.

"In Saudi Arabia, we live more of a virtual life than a real life. I know people who are involved in on-line romances with people they have never met in real life. And many of us use Facebook for other things, like talking about human rights and women's rights. We can protest on Facebook about the jailing of a blogger which is something we couldn't do on the streets," the woman told The Daily Man.

In case you didn't know, homosexuality and lesbian relations are prohibited in Saudi Arabia and, according to the same source, they are even punished with death. Moreover, women are not allowed to drive cars and must wear a headscarf every time they go outside the house.

source : news.softpedia.com

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Free Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Internet Security RC1

Kaspersky is making headway with the development of its latest iteration of antivirus products. Both Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Kaspersky Internet Security have reached Release Candidate stage, which means that the RTM is on the horizon.

While KAV and KIS 8.0 are still in testing, the Russian-based security developer is offering both as free downloads. The same was valid for their predecessors, KAV and KIS 7.0 made available in 2007, which after finalization offered users an additional trial period of 30 days. Kaspersky failed to reveal the deadline planned for the delivery of KIS and KAV 8.0, both now at Build RC1.

According to Kaspersky, testers will need codes for activating the beta builds of the new products. The Russian antivirus maker said that NNQGV-SASTS-7SY72-13TZ7 should be used with KAV 8.0, while for KIS 8.0 there is AXFRG-JW6EC-47MP1-HV4EE. Kaspersky has been hammering away at KIS and KAV 8.0 and in this context has introduced a number of enhancements. First off, the users will notice that the graphical user interface has been updated. But at the same time, the changes are not limited on the surface.

The new antivirus products bring to the table new heuristic analyzer technology designed to complement the signature-based detection by confronting zero-day threats. But Kaspersky 8.0 also delivers a new mechanism for registering events, as well as a host intrusion prevention system and proactive defense. The two security solutions will protect users from traditional viruses but also from phishing, network attacks, spam and malicious banners. At this point in time, Kaspersky is still looking for feedback from testers in order to fine tune both KAV and KIS 8.0.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus RC1 is available for download here.
Kaspersky Internet Security RC1 can be grabbed via this link.

source: news.softpedia.com

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Jim Allchin subpoenaed in Vista Capable lawsuit

Jim Allchin, the former co-president of Microsoft’s Platforms and Service division has been subpoenaed in the Vista Capable class action lawsuit.

For those of you that haven’t been following the case, back in 2006 Microsoft came up with the idea that computers would be rated with two-tiers of performance when upgrading to Vista. Those that could only run the most basic features would be “Vista Capable” and those that could handle all the features would be “Premium Ready.”

The suit alleges that the “Vista Capable” campaign lead consumers to believe that a system was actually capable of running any version of Vista when it wasn’t. Vista Capable systems could only run Vista Home Basic and could not be expected to run all the features of the up-market versions of Vista even if they were upgraded.
It is also said that Microsoft lowered the required specs for Vista to help Intel sell its lower-end graphics chips; this helped Microsoft to install Vista on systems that were not really capable of running it.

Several Microsoft executives claim they were mislead by their company’s own advertising campaign. Some even wanted to call Vista Home Basic, “Windows 2006? - leading some to believe that internally, Vista Home Basic wasn’t really Vista in the eyes of Microsoft.

source: vista.blorge.com

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LG Ice Cream Phone Released

After the popular Chocolate series which brought LG high profits, the South Korean company now comes with a new phone that bares a sweet name, and that is "LG Ice Cream". Not a new device in the true meaning of the word, the Ice Cream phone is an upgraded edition of the LH5000 (or LH-5000) model, first released in the summer of 2007 (Korea-only).

The new LH5000 comes in three color versions: vanilla (white), pistachio (blue) and strawberry (pink), just like three kinds of the tastiest ice cream. Due to the fancy colors it comes with, the handset will probably be popular only among girls, but that's not a bad thing at all.

As the original LH5000, the Ice Cream phone comes in a clamshell form factor, measures 100.9 x 50.9 x 13.6 millimeters and weighs 101 grams. The handset packs a 2.2 inch TFT display with 262k colors support and a QVGA (240 x 320) resolution, 3G connectivity, a 2 Megapixel camera, secondary video-call camera, Internet and email capabilities, several dictionaries and so on. The battery included in the Ice Cream phone is not among the most powerful, being capable to provide only about 2.5 hours of talk-time and up to 140 hours of stand-by time.

The Ice Cream phone is currently available only in South Korea, for a suggested retail price between 400,000 and 500,000 KRW, meaning about $400 - $500. No details about a future availability for other markets, but I guess Europe and America will also want to get some mobile ice cream.

Having Chocolate and Ice Cream phones now, I assume LG could also roll out other dessert-orientated handsets. I even have suggestions: a Blueberry Pie phone (to compete with BlackBerry, maybe), a Pudding one and, why not, a Lollipop one. That's it, LG, make me your Marketing Manager.

source : news.softpedia.com

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Balloting Ends for Close OOXML Ratification

Balloting on whether Office Open XML (OOXML) should become an international document standard closed at midnight Saturday in Geneva, in an apparently tight vote. The results have not yet been officially announced.

In order for the measure to pass, two-thirds of participating countries needed to vote in favor of the issue and less than one-quarter of observer countries in opposition to it. A total of 87 nations' standards bodies will cast votes. Neither the ISO nor Microsoft have issued a statement regarding the balloting results.

A few key vote changes ahead of the final tally could push the measure towards approval. In Europe, representatives from Finland, Denmark, and the Czech Republic all indicated they were changing their earlier votes from opposing the standard to supporting it.

Others remain in opposition.

"Standards New Zealand has confirmed its negative vote for the adoption of the OOXML specification as an ISO/IEC international standard," Standards New Zealand Chief Executive Debbie Chin said in a statement Sunday on the group's Web site. A Standards NZ spokesperson said Monday afternoon that it had no further news or statement from Geneva. A Microsoft representative in New Zealand declined comment.

A representative from Standards Malaysia, the national standards body, declined comment.

Microsoft representatives in Singapore could not be reached for comment.

The U.S. delegation intended to vote for the measure after the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) agreed to support the standard after several rounds of balloting.

Kenya, a participating member, abstained from the vote. The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) called on African delegations to abstain due to insufficient African representation in the process.

Several blogs covering OOXML predicted ratification, including the pro-Open Document Format (ODF) ConsortiumInfo.org,, based on publicly-stated support or opposition statements made by the standards bodies.

OOXML failed to gain ratification at an earlier vote in September 2007. But since opposition to a standard must be made on technical grounds, after the September vote a new draft of the OOXML standard's specifications was written. An initial vote on the new draft was conducted in February, and the March 29 deadline was the last possible date that the participating and observing bodies could change their vote if desired.

The ISO already recognizes the ODF as a standard. ODF editor Patrick Durusau expressed support for OOXML's ratification as a standard also, stating that ODF would suffer if Microsoft's format were rejected.

source : pcworld.com

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WSO2 boosts Spring developers with Web services

WSO2 is releasing Monday its open source WSO2 Web Services Framework for Spring 1.0 (WSF/Spring1.0), providing users of the Spring Java framework with an Apache Axis2/Java Web services engine for use in developing applications.

Users get access to the Axis2 library, said Paul Fremantle, WSO2 CTO. "It basically puts the configuration and setup of that library all in a Spring framework," he said.

WSO2's announcement further proves how vital Spring is in the Java world, said RedMonk analyst Michael Cote. "The other side of that is that WSO2's Spring integration here is a good idea. One of the benefits and promises of open source middleware is that it will integrate with more things more often than closed source middleware that's on a longer release cycle," Cote said.

Featured are security and reliable messaging capabilities for SOA plus the capability for developers to use their favorite Spring user interfaces. Currently, the SpringWebServices project within Spring supports a contract-first model in which users start with XML schema and WSDL definitions of their service, WSO2 said. WSF/Spring 1.0 adds code-first support in which users can start with existing Spring beans and offer them as Web services with a Spring configuration.

Other features of WSF Spring 1.0 include support for the WS-* stack for Web services; an inversion of control container, which allows use of POJOs (Plain Old Java Objects) to make programming easier; automated WSDL generation; querying service support; and control over which methods get exposed as Web service operations.

WSF/Spring 1.0 is being used as the basis for building Web services within the Grails Web application framework based on the Groovy language, WSO2 said.

source : news.yahoo.com

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Cuba ends restriction on cellular phones

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba said on Friday it will allow all Cubans to buy and use mobile telephones for the first time in the latest step by new President Raul Castro to improve access to consumer goods.

Cuba has the lowest rate of cellular telephone use in Latin America and the service has been restricted until now to foreigners or government officials and employees.

Cuban telecommunications monopoly ETECSA, a joint venture with Telecom Italia, said it would begin selling the service to the general public within days in hard currency.

"ETECSA is able to offer mobile phone service to the public," it said in a statement published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Many Cubans have for long wanted access to cellular phones and hoped it would be among the first steps taken by Raul Castro, who succeed his ailing brother Fidel Castro as Cuba's first new leader in almost half a century on February 24.

"This shows there is a change in mentality at the top and recognition that Cuba has to move into the 21st century," a young computer technician said, asking not to be named.

Raul Castro has begun lifting some of the many restrictions on the daily life of Cubans as he tries to meet popular demands for better living standards in the socialist state.

Taking office last month, he promised to start lifting "excessive regulations and prohibitions" within weeks.

Some Cubans already have mobile phones registered in the name of foreigners or their work places. They will now be able to put the contracts in their own names, ETECSA said.

Cubans will be able to buy computers and DVD players next month for the first time, if they have the hard currency to pay for them. Just two years ago, banned DVD players were being confiscated by airport customs officials on arrival in Cuba.

Raul Castro, 76, has also launched a restructuring of agriculture to reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks and boost food production.

A major public complaint that his government will have to deal with is that wages paid in Cuban pesos are too low, while consumer goods have to be paid for in convertible pesos, or CUCs, worth 24 times more than pesos.

Cubans will pay for their mobile telephones with prepaid cards bought in CUCs that will allow them to receive and make international calls.

ETECSA, in which Telecom Italia has a 27 percent stake, said the hard currency income would be invested in the expansion of land lines, where Cuba has the sixth lowest density in Latin American.

About 60 percent of Cubans have access to hard currency from cash remittances sent by relatives living abroad, mainly in the United States, or through factory and farm bonuses and tips from foreign tourists.

In the streets of Havana, the freeing of cellular phones services came as welcome news to all.

"It was an obvious measure. There will have to be more like it to get rid of the thousand and one obstacles that make life bitter in Cuba," said university student Jofre Valdes, 23.

"This was an anachronism. They have to end all unnecessary restrictions," said state employee Humberto Vega.

(Additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Kieran Murray)

source : reuters.com

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Access 2007 Runtime SP1 is now available

This version of the Access 2007 Runtime contains files whose versions are slightly higher than the level of the same files that are updated by Office 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

or additional information about Office 2007 Service Pack 1 and the Access 2007 issues fixed by Office 2007 Service Pack 1, click the following article numbers to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 936982 Description of the 2007 Microsoft Office suite Service Pack 1 942378 Issues that are fixed in Access 2007 by the 2007 Microsoft Office suites Service Pack 1 Please check the download link and source for what files are updated to correct some specific Access 2007 runtime issues Download: Access 2007 Download: Access Runtime

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Vista hacked on 3rd day thru Adobe Flash. Linux Undefeated.

After Mac was hacked in 2 minutes at the CanSecWest Conference, it was now the time for Vista to get hacked on the 3rd day.

Vista's security was compromised through the popular 3rd party software, Adobe Flash.

"The contest, which saw a MacBook Air get hacked on Thursday, relaxed the rules even further. On the first day of the contest, only the operating system could be targeted, but on the second day that was expanded to include standard applications. An undisclosed Safari flaw led to the MacBook Air's downfall through the OS X operating system."

The MacBook Air went first; a Fujitsu laptop running Vista was hacked on the last day of the contest; but it was Linux, running on a Sony Vaio, that remained undefeated as conference organizers ended a three-way computer hacking challenge Friday at the CanSecWest conference.

source: neowin.net

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Released: WordPress (Version 2.5)

The latest stable release of WordPress (Version 2.5) is available in two formats from the links to your right. If you have no idea what to do with this download, we recommend signing up with one of our web hosting partners that offers a one click install of WordPress or getting a free account on WordPress.com.

WordPress 2.5, the culmination of six months of work by the WordPress community, people just like you. The improvements in 2.5 are numerous, and almost entirely a result of your feedback: multi-file uploading, one-click plugin upgrades, built-in galleries, customizable dashboard, salted passwords and cookie encryption, media library, a WYSIWYG that doesn’t mess with your code, concurrent post editing protection, full-screen writing, and search that covers posts and pages.

Download here : wordpress 2.5

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Get a Free Multi-Blog Application

Free blogging services generate a high traffic for websites and, as a consequence, an increased popularity. If you want to have your own blogging service (like Blogger.com for example),

LifeType application allows you to manage multiple blogs and users through a single control panel corresponding to a unique MySQL database. The administration panel allows you to manage all aspects of blogs functionality and appearance.

If you have enough administrative rights for a MySQL server, the web based automatic installer will create a MySQL database for you and will guide you through the setup process with a simple wizard. After you provide the administrator user name and password and blog details, you can begin to write the first article with a WYSIWYG editor having an interface similar to Microsoft Word text processor.

When you create a new post, you have the possibility to define a new category form the same window, manage existing comments or new ones, view and manage previous posts, add a video or audio file directly in the post and more. Regarding the LifeType application security, the built-in bayesian spam filter allows a better cleaning of comments and trackbacks. The application security can be enhanced through plugins that are available for free download. This application also has an automatic detection of the trackback URL for the blog you are linking to.

Blog appearance can be customized by changing the default template. As it is created based on Smarty PHP framework, LifeType application has an enhanced performance and is easy to customize. If you want to provide a blogging service for a community of users with LifeType, you can offer every user a blog with a corresponding domain or subdomain name from a single LifeType installation. In order to install this application on your own web server, you can downloaded it from here.

source : news.softpedia.com

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Windows Search 4.0 Preview (KB940157)

WS4 lets you perform an instant search of your computer. WS4 helps you find and preview documents, e-mail messages, music files, photos, and other items on the computer.

Please refer to the Knowledge base article KB940157 for a full description of the technology.

So now that it’s (sort of) clear what Windows Search 4.0 is, here’s what’s new in the publicly downloadable build, according to Microsoft:

* Most of the bugs affecting Windows Vista users that were reported by private testers have been fixed
* Performance improvements have been made. Even in this “preview version,” Windows Search 4.0 query times are 33 percent faster than search queries in Vista, according to the Softies.
* Improvements to Remote Index Discovery is now enabling PC-to-PC search to work on all supported versions of Windows
* Rollback Recovery has been added, allowing the search index to roll back to the last known good state; indexes are not rebuilt from scratch if errors occur.

Note: The WS4 installation process automatically upgrades previous versions of Windows Search technologies.

Windows Search 4.0 Preview for Windows Vista x86 | x64 Edition

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Vista SP1 fails to spark migration

Microsoft's latest efforts to persuade customers to upgrade to its much-maligned Vista operating system have met with a cool response from users.

Historically, Microsoft's first service pack for one of its marquee products – such as Windows – provides the impetus for users to upgrade. As Gartner analyst, Stephen Kleynhans recently noted, customers see SP1 as the sign that the OS has reached maturity and is ready for enteprise deployment.

But even the offer of free support for using installing Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) and tools to lower implementation cost, the user response has been one of stony indifference.

Vista SP1 includes a number of fixes for bugs that have plagued the operating system, as well as improved support for drivers. It initially became available to download from Microsoft's website and will be included as part of the Window's Update feature from mid-April.

But with some users reporting initial problems with installing Vista SP1 – from problems installing the software from Microsoft's website to unexpected spikes in memory usage once SP1 was installed – the company was quick to offer customers help manage the upgrade.

Business users can download the "Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008", a unified set of tools and processes which Microsoft claims can cut the cost of upgrading from $300 per PC implementation to just $35.

Despite these efforts many users remain reluctant to upgrade to Vista. According to a recent survey by open source enterprise content manager provider Alfresco Software based on its 35,000 customers, only two per cent had upgraded to Vista, compared to 63 per cent using XP and 28 per cent remaining on Windows 2003.

And while SP1 may have alleviated some of the driver support headaches, many business users would not be persuaded by SP1.

"The cost is not the major factor holding larger organisations back. It is more the complexity of implementing Vista on a large scale," said Jes Seymour, a consultant at service company IT Insight.

Meanwhile a spokeswoman for blue chip user group The Corporate IT forum suggested that many businesses will already have finalised plans for upgrading to Vista – if SP1 was now to have any impact, it would only be to delay upgrades yet further. "In the corporate world lifecyles are set and planned far in advance," she said. But they may "wait and hear about the impact of SP1 before they upgrade to Vista."

"Even SP1 would not convince us to upgrade," said Alexis Wood, IT production manager for dating company Allegran Ltd. "Upgrading to Vista would effect our productivity levels."

source: vnunet.com

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Windows Vista SP1 RTM Resources - the Whole Shebang

On February 4, 2008, Microsoft released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to manufacturing.

The RTM deadline of the first service pack for Vista coincided with Windows Server 2008 going gold, as Microsoft client and server platforms were joined at the hip, starting at kernel-level, a move designed not to repeat the disjunction between Windows XP and Windows Server 2008. For Vista, the RTM failed to be synonymous with the general availability of the service pack. The first to get their hands on the gold bits were the 15,000 participants in the beta testing process, along with Volume License customers, MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers.

"Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is a vehicle that Microsoft will use to deliver operating system improvements to customers. Windows Vista SP1 is an update to Windows Vista that, along with improvements delivered to users via these other channels, addresses feedback from our customers. In addition to previously released updates, Windows Vista SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards," reads Microsoft's official description of the service pack.

Only on March 18 did Microsoft finally make available Vista RTM for download through Windows Update, as well as on the Microsoft Download Center. The March 18 packages are Wave 0 of the Vista SP1 release, delivering just the English, German, Japanese, Spanish and French. Only the users of Vista RTM editions in these specific five languages are able to grab SP1 either through WU or as standalone downloads. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the operating system is available for download.

"Microsoft strongly recommends using Windows Update to download and install Windows Vista SP1 on single PCs. The download size from Windows Update of Windows Vista SP1 for x86 is 65 MB (compared to 450 MB from the Microsoft Download Center). The download size from Windows Update of Windows Vista SP1 for x64 is 125 MB (compared to 745 MB from the Microsoft Download Center). Windows Update will recognize PCs with known problematic drivers and postpone downloading Windows Vista SP1 until the PC has updated drivers or other applicable updates. Using Windows Update will help ensure you have the most trouble-free update experience possible," the Redmond company stated.

Vista SP1 is not at the end of its journey, although the finish line is on the immediate horizon. The service pack started along in early 2007, with the first leaked screenshot dropped on in mid-May of the last year. By the summer of 2007, Microsoft was well under way with the development process for Vista SP1, and in early August the first screenshots of the service pack build 6001.16549 were leaked by the private testers. Vista SP1 moved through Beta stage then into Release Candidate in December 2007, RC Refresh in January and then RTM with build 6001-18000.

source: news.softpedia.com

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Pink Windows Vista

Microsoft has in Japan, combined Windows Vista Home Premium with Windows Live OneCare in one eye-popping hot pink box.

As a special promotion for the Japanese market, an upgrade version of Windows Vista Home Premium is bundled with a year’s subscription of Windows Live OneCare and a copy of a Vista tips and tricks book.

The pink flowers are called sakura (cherry blossoms) and this is being released for the Sakura or ‘Cherry Blossom’ season, which is a BIG event in Japan

source: istartedsomething.com

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Indonesian ministry Web site hacked over porn ban

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Hackers have defaced the Web site of Indonesia's information ministry in response to a government move to restrict access to pornographic material on the Internet, an official said on Friday.

Indonesia's parliament on Tuesday passed a new information bill that criminalises the transmission of pornographic material on the Web.


The Southeast Asian country has had a vigorous debate over pornography in recent years, exposing deep divisions in the Muslim-majority nation.

Hackers on Thursday posted a message on the information ministry's Web site (http://www.depkominfo.go.id) saying: "Prove that the law has not been made to cover government stupidity."

The message was accompanied by a mocked-up photograph of a local information technology expert, who has been advising the government on the new law, depicted with a bare chest.

Screenshots of the hacked page were posted on the Detik.com news Web site and a cyber chat forum.

The message had been removed and the Web site was now running normally, said Gatot Broto, an official at the ministry.

The ministry said the law was a response to concerns in society about the negative impact of pornographic and violent sites as more Indonesians gain access to the Internet.

Under the law, anyone found guilty of transmitting pornographic material, false news or racial and religious hate messages on the Internet could face up to six years in prison or a fine of 1 billion rupiah ($109,000).

Indonesia's parliament has yet to pass a controversial pornography bill, which aims to shield the young from pornographic material and lewd acts.

Earlier draft versions contained provisions that could jail people for kissing in public and criminalize many forms of art or traditional culture that hinge on sensuality, sparking criticism it could curb freedoms and hurt Indonesia's tolerant tradition.

(Reporting by Ahmad Pathoni; Editing by Ed Davies and Alex Richardson)

source : reuters.com

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Gone in 2 minutes: Mac gets hacked first in contest

It may be the quickest $10,000 Charlie Miller ever earned.

He took the first of three laptop computers -- and a $10,000 cash prize -- Thursday after breaking into a MacBook Air at the CanSecWest security conference's PWN 2 OWN hacking contest.

Show organizers offered a Sony Vaio, Fujitsu U810, and the MacBook as prizes, saying that they could be won by anybody at the show who could find a way to hack into each of them and read the contents of a file on the system using a previously undisclosed "0day" attack.

Nobody was able to hack into the systems on the first day of the contest when contestants were only allowed to attack the computers over the network, but on Thursday, the rules were relaxed so that attackers could direct contest organizers using the computers to do things like visit Web sites or open e-mail messages.

Miller, best known as one of the researchers who first hacked Apple's iPhone last year, didn't take much time. Within 2 minutes, he directed the contest's organizers to visit a Web site that contained his exploit code, which then allowed him to seize control of the computer, as about 20 onlookers cheered him on.

He was the first contestant to attempt an attack on any of the systems.

Miller was quickly given a nondisclosure agreement to sign, and he's not allowed to discuss particulars of his bug until the contest's sponsor, TippingPoint, can notify the vendor.

Contest rules state that Miller could only take advantage of software that was preinstalled on the Mac, so the flaw he exploited must have been accessible by, or possibly inside, Apple's Safari browser.

Last year's contest winner, Dino Dai Zovi, exploited a vulnerability in QuickTime to take home the prize.

Dai Zovi, who congratulated Miller after his hack, didn't participate in this year's contest, saying it was time for someone else to win.

source : news.yahoo.com

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Google paid clicks data generate debate

New data confirming slowing growth in Google Inc.'s paid clicks renewed debate Thursday on Wall Street over whether the Internet search company's revenue can quickly adjust to changes it made in how it generates clicks.

Citing data that comScore Inc. released after the market closed on Wednesday, analysts said growth in Google's click-through rate has nearly ground to a halt.

Google's stock closed down $14.11, or 3.1 percent, to $444.08 in afternoon trading.

The click-through rate grew 3 percent in February compared to a year earlier, and January saw no increase compared to January 2007. Several months earlier, the rate was growing 25 percent to 40 percent compared to a year earlier. The new data is in line with click-through declines Google reported last quarter.

Google, which gets paid when users click on a sponsored ad that comes up as the result of a Google search, has reported steadily rising per-click revenue.

The Mountain View-based company said in January that the drop in click-through rates is a result of its efforts to boost the usefulness of each click to its advertisers' sales performance. For instance, the company decreased the space around a word that would result in a click, so more clicks would be intentional.

Analysts disagree on how long it will take Google's per-click revenue to adjust to any increased value per click it has created.

Rob Sanderson, an analyst with American Technology Research, said per-click revenue will rise immediately if advertisers see more value in each click, because they'll pay more for them at auction.

"It's not clicks that advertisers are really buying, it's what those clicks get them, which is sales conversions," said Sanderson.

Colin Gillis, an Internet analyst at Canaccord Adams, also was optimistic.

"It's very difficult to spin this as positive data point, but it also doesn't mean the world is ending," Gillis said.

The click-through rate is only one piece of the equation for Google, he said.

"The counter point is that Google is out there saying, 'We are trying to make our clicks more worthwhile.' They want to actually deliver relevant hot leads to their customers because that's what their customers want," Gillis said.

Other analysts disagreed.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted Google will fall short of Wall Street expectations in the current quarter because of the click-through rate.

Lehman Brothers analyst Doug Anmuth cut his 2008 profit estimate for Google and reduced his price target to $580 per share from $644, citing the click-through rates.

He also said advertisers may be trimming their budgets — and not responding to the changes Google has made.

Google, which reports first quarter earnings April 17, declined to comment on the comScore data.

Numbers from comScore are closely watched by some industry analysts, even though the firm uses online recruitment techniques dismissed by many traditional pollsters.

Sanderson said comScore's numbers have a wide margin of error and can't be used to predict quarterly results.

"ComScore data has a really wide range of plus or minus in terms of being accurate. They don't know what the real number is, it's just a sample," he said.

source : news.yahoo.com

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YouTube Awards, Rock Band Hits Wii and More

Spring is in the air. Birds. Sunshine. Fresh air. It is the perfect time here in the strange new world of technology to stay inside and catch up on the latest in TV and games.

The big, sloppy, wonderful Web video service YouTube has decided the world is ready for the YouTube Awards: The Tubbies? The Ubyies? The Youbbies? Who knows. Also, life as we know it will change forever this summer when video mega hit Rock Band comes out for the Wii. Mark our words: There will be a pro air guitar, Rock Band circuit by the holidays.


And "South Park" is back from Web oblivion. Not only is every episode available online for free, but media monster Viacom (Comedy Central's parent company) had no choice but to split the gross with creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, putting the two on equal fiscal footing with Sumner Redstone, who owns the whole dang business.

Not bad for two dopes who make stuff with scissors and paper.

Here are our picks for top tech stories of the week.

The YouTube Awards

We thought awards show season was over and had moved on into March Madness. But it turns out there was one more big awards fest to round out the year: the YouTube awards.

YouTube viewers voted on the best clips of the year in a wide variety of categories ranging from "Adorable" and "Creative" to "Sports" and "Series." The winners are not exactly Academy Award material, but some of the work is pretty spiffy.

Our favorite? The winner in the "Eyewitness" category, called "Battle at Kruger." It is an amazing clip captured in a South African national park, where a pride of lions is stalking a herd of buffalo; they then attack and wrestle a baby buffalo down into a nearby watering hole. Then a crocodile jumps out of the water and a tug of war between these predators ensues, but there is a crazy surprise ending. It is kind of like "Nature" meets "300" meets "West Side Story."

Let the Air Guitar Games Begin

June 22 will go down in history as the day that launched a thousand musical journeys and turned ordinary people into rock gods. Rock Band is coming to the Nintendo Wii. And baby, air guitar will never be the same.

source : abcnews.go.com

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Yahoo Messenger Supporting up to 2GB File Transfer?

Following the recent updates of Yahoo Messenger, users around the web are discussing about the new features, most of them being quite pleased of the improvements.

However, one of the articles that really caught my attention is posted on Mashable and sustains that the new Yahoo Messenger for Mac supports file transfer of up to 2GB. At this time, there's no official statement regarding this potential function, so we're still expecting to find out if this is real or not.

However, the Sunnyvale company seems to be more and more focused on its instant messaging software, as it recently debuted several ways to allow people to communicate with their Yahoo contacts.

For example, the new flavor of Yahoo Mail lets its users to connect and chat on Yahoo Messenger straight from its interface without the need for another software. In addition, Yahoo has also rolled out Web Messenger, a web-based version of the application, which lets you talk with your friends straight from the window of your browser.

In addition to all these features, the Sunnyvale giant has developed two new versions of the downloadable program, compatible with other operating systems besides Windows XP. That's why the users of the latest flavor of Windows, Vista, and the Apple consumers who are currently using Mac OS X have the chance to install a special version of Yahoo Messenger compatible with their systems.

And besides all these features, the competition on the instant messaging market may bring some new and revolutionary functions. For instance, the Mountain View rival Google may introduce in the next months a special function supposed to assure the translation of the conversation between two Google Talk contacts, which would mean that two users in different countries could easily communicate using their native languages.

source : news.softpedia.com

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Download Free Vista SP1 Windows NT Backup - Restore Utility

Microsoft has updated and re-released Windows NT Backup on March 27, 2008, making it available as a free download. The move comes as the utility needs to keep up the pace with the evolution of the latest Windows client and server operating systems. Microsoft released both Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 RTM/SP1 to manufacturing on February 4, 2008. Windows Server 2008 was launched officially at the end of the past month, while Vista SP1 was released to the general public on March 18.

Version 1.0 of Windows NT Backup dropped on March 27 is tailored to both Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008. The utility is designed to enable users of Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 to restore backups that were created on the previous versions of the operating systems, namely Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. In the move from XP and Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has evolved the backup infrastructure of the two platforms.

The default Windows NT Backup was built in as a component of XP and Windows Server 2003 and produced backups of a format that doesn't play well with Vista SP1, or the final version of Windows Server 2008. This is why Microsoft has overhauled the free utility in order to permit the restoration of older format backups on its latest platforms. The old .bkf files, produced by NT Backup, are an illustrative example of the incompatibility created via the new backup capabilities of Vista and Windows Server 2008.

But just running Windows NT Backup in either Vista SP1 or Windows Server 2008 is not sufficient. In order for backups to be restored successfully, the Removable Storage Management feature has to be enabled. All editions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 and RTM are supported by the new Windows NT Backup.

You will be able to download Windows NT Backup - Restore Utility from here.

source : news.softpedia.com

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Iceland’s Largest BitTorrent Tracker Wins in Court

The case is a study in classic big business bullying. Like similar cases in the US, SMÁÍS complained to the court about alleged copyright infringement activities on the BitTorrent site, and got a preliminary injunction, blocking the site.

However, justice works swifter in Iceland than it does in the US, and after only 4 months, the case has been to court.

The decision, however, was as surprising as it was swift. Instead of deciding for or against the defendants, the court simply dismissed the case. It is likely, however, that the plaintiffs will appeal the decision to the Icelandic ‘Supreme Court’ (Hæstiréttur).

The verdict, (available in Icelandic here) seems to hinge on the fact that under Icelandic laws, searching for files, or providing accessibility to them, is legal, as long as the files provided by the service are not themselves copyrighted. Torrent files, are not themselves copyrighted, but are instead metadata – data about data- describing copyrighted material, as indeed are reviews.

Svavar Lúthersson, owner of torrents.is, told TorrentFreak in a response to the court ruling “I’m very glad they came to this decision although it came as a surprise for myself and the plaintiffs. I will have to consult with my lawyer as to what this decision means regarding the preliminary injunction but currently it’s still in effect.”

The preliminary injunction seems likely to stay in effect until an appeal is heard, so the site won’t be back up yet. However, the plaintiffs were ordered to pay the court costs of Istorrent ehf (Pltd), the company behind Torrent.is, and its owner Svavar Lúthersson in the amount of 500,000 Icelandic Krona (approx £3320UK / $6700US / €4250 Euro)

SMÁÍS was asked for their comment on the ruling, but their contact email address was automatically bouncing as failed.

source : torrentfreak.com

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Winamp 5.53 Build 1924

Nullsoft Winamp is a fast, flexible, high-fidelity music player for Windows. Winamp supports MP3, CD, Audiosoft, Audio Explosion, MOD, WAV and other audio formats, custom appearances (skins) plus audio visualization and audio effect plug-ins.

What's New:

  • Improved: Different shell descriptions for different associated filetypes
  • Improved: New 'Refine Search' feature in Cover Art Downloader dialog
  • Improved: Unicode support for Language Packs incompatible with system locale
  • Improved: [in_cdda] Now reads & writes CD data to an NDE database
  • Improved: [in_cdda/ml_disc] Reimplementation of simple offline CD Info Editor
  • Improved: [in_flac] Faster FLAC metadata gathering
  • Improved: [in_mp3] More accurate .AAC length calculation
  • Improved: [in_wav/in_mp4] Support for http streaming of files larger than 2GB
  • Improved: [ml_disc] Added support for Data CD reading (w.i.p.)
  • Improved: [ml_local/nde] Background scanning & database optimizations
  • Improved: [ml_local] Unicode compliant filename-based metadata guessing
  • Improved: [ml_transcode] Remove trailing periods from destination filepath
  • Improved: [pmp_usb] Added AlbumArtist support to Naming Convention
  • Fixed: Classic EQ appearing with Modern skins after switch->minimize->restore
  • Fixed: Various miscellaneous Album Art related issues
  • Fixed: [enc_lame] Now rejects multi-channel and above 48KHz source files
  • Fixed: [gen_ff] Translated skin image loading
  • Fixed: [gen_ml] Header sort arrow and Rating column display under Windows 2000
  • Fixed: [gen_ml] Various drawing glitches when changing views
  • Fixed: [in_cdda] CDDB crash under limited connectivity conditions
  • Fixed: [in_cdda] Spectrum vis in analog MCI playback mode
  • Fixed: [in_flac] Small memory leak when writing FLAC metadata
  • Fixed: [in_flv] Last two seconds of flv videos being cut off
  • Fixed: [in_mp3] Crash on encountering a bad ID3v2 version (e.g. ID3v2.F)
  • Fixed: [in_mp4] Crash on file-not-found during background decode
  • Fixed: [in_wave] Infinite loop on attempted repeat playback of dead files
  • Fixed: [in_wm] ASX v2 loading
  • Fixed: [in_wm] Crash on files & streams with a huge discontinuity jump
  • Fixed: [in_wm / out_ds] Copy 'Status' to clipboard Unicode bug
  • Fixed: [ml_autotag] Crash with certain tracks
  • Fixed: [ml_history] Crash on drag+drop all history items to playlist
  • Fixed: [ml_local] Rating of items with Unicode filenames
  • Fixed: [ml_online/orb] Nodes dropping to bottom of ML tree on Lang Pack change
  • Fixed: [ml_playlists] Play playlist from Media Library main menu item
  • Fixed: [pmp_ipod] Filename length incompatibility with iPod Music Quiz v2
  • Fixed: [pmp_ipod] Missing 'Advanced' button in Edit Query dialog
  • Fixed: [pmp_ipod] Physical deletion of playing file
  • Misc: Added Russian installer translation and language pack
  • Misc: In2TV removed from Online Services
  • Misc: Installer now built with NSIS Unicode version [thanks Jim Park]
  • Misc: More miscellaneous general tweaks, improvements and optimizations
  • Misc: Moved shared zlib.dll compression library out of winamp.exe
  • Updated: Bento skin v1.1 #120
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vLite 1.1.5 Beta

vLite is a tool for customizing the Windows Vista installation before actually installing it. Windows Vista from Microsoft takes a lot of resources, we all know that.

vLite provides you with an easy removal of the unwanted components in order to make Vista run faster and to your liking.

This tool doesn't use any kind of hacking, all files and registry entries are protected as they would be if you install the unedited version only with the changes you select. It configures the installation directly before the installation, meaning you'll have to remake the ISO and reinstall it. This method is much cleaner, not to mention easier and more logical than doing it after installation on every reinstall.


* component removal
* driver integration
* unattended setup
* split/merge Vista installation CDs
* tweaks
* bootable CD/DVD

What's New:

* new: 'Character Map'
* new: 'DHCP'
* new: 'Disk Cleanup'
* new: 'Distributed Transaction Coordinator (DTC)'
* new: 'Interactive Services Detection'
* new: 'Notepad'
* new: 'Photo Metadata Handler'
* new: 'Quality Windows Audio Video Experience'
* new: 'TV Tuners'
* new: 'Windows Ultimate Extras'
* new: More Languages removable

Download: vLite 1.1.5 Beta

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Vista SP1 Is Out, XP SP3 Old News, the Pink Edition of Vista Is In

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is now nothing more than water under the bridge, now that the service pack was released to manufacturing on February 4, 2008, shipping to general users on March 18.

At the same time while Windows XP SP3 is not even out the door, with Microsoft having just delivered XP SP3 release Candidate 2 re1fresh Build 5508. But even XP SP3 is old news. And in this context, it is the turn of the pink edition of Windows Vista to step to center stage.

Long Zheng has come across a promotion from Microsoft Japan with the Home Premium SKU of Vista at the center. Japanese customers will be able to get their hands on the pink edition of the latest Windows client, a package that contains the Home Premium Upgrade edition of the operating system, along with a one year's worth subscription to Windows Live OneCare and a basic Vista manual.

"Windows Vista Home Premium upgrade, the gratuitous trial card virus measure software ' Windows Live OneCare ' 1 year, ' the book which can master the basis of Vista ' profit of the quantity limitation which becomes set the package appears! Upgrading from now on, the male be completed is in the one which starts using Windows Vista," reads the rough translation from Japanese of the message posted on the promotion webpage.

Microsoft revealed no additional plans to push the pink version of Windows Vista on additional markets at this point in time. However, the company did announce recently healthy price cuts for Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions set up to coincide with the availability of Service Pack 1. While Vista SP1 is already available through Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center the Redmond company is yet to drop it through Automatic Updates.

source: news.softpedia.com

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AMD releases Phenom processors

Are triple-core Phenom processors just failed quad-core units? I’ve been asked this question several times today and to get a definitive answer I approached Scott Carroll, AMD Public Relations, for an official response.

Me: “Scott, are triple-core Phenom processors just failed quad-core units?”
Scott: “No — AMD Phenom X3 processors are NOT quad-cores with a defective core shut-off! AMD Phenom processors with three cores are an example of AMD’s design leadership and manufacturing strategy. AMD strives to obtain maximum value out of its manufacturing processes in order to provide customers with the best products and value to meet their varying needs. AMD’s Direct Connect Architecture and true native multi-core design allow for direct communication between cores, integrated memory controller, and I/O - reducing unnecessary bottlenecks. This unique approach enables AMD to deliver varying core configurations - including dual, triple and quad - to meet customer needs.“

Today AMD announce the expansion of the CPU lineup by officially releasing quad-core and triple-core Phenom processors.

How best to sum up this new lineup? I guess it’s a case where that old phrase “something for everyone” actually fits the bill pretty well. We have processors aimed at both the high-end enthusiast who wants to squeeze as much power out of their components as well as processors aimed at the budget-conscious. We also see a revolutionary new energy efficient processor aimed at home theater enthusiasts who want quad-core power without having to put up with large PC cases in their living rooms or the noise generated by extravagant fans.

So, finally, some cool stuff to drool over from AMD. Let’s take a closer look starting with the tech specs.

Here are the new processors, seven in all, five quad-core processors and two triple-core units:
AMD Phenom X4 Quad-core - Socket AM2+
* X4 9850 Black Edition (unlocked multiplier)
- 2.5GHz
- 125W TDP
* X4 9750
- 2.4GHz
- 125W / 95W TDP
* X4 9650
- 2.3GHz
- 95W TDP
* X4 9550
- 2.2GHz
- 95W TDP
Some of the highlights of this lineup include:
* Up to 20% faster than previous models
* B3 revision (TLB bug free)
* 2MB L2 cache
* 2MB L3 cache
* DDR2-1066 support
* 65nm process technology
* Integrated Memory Controller
* Fast HyperTransport 3.0 technology
* Cool & Quiet v2.0

source: blogs.zdnet.com

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XP Antivirus Still Available!

A new rogue antispyware application was spotted a few days ago on the web and it may really trick you in case you’re not ready for it. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT download it!

Codenamed XP Antivirus, the program pretends to be a security software that cleans your computer of unwanted infections. However, it isn’t so well-intended as it may seem because it is actually a piece of rogue antispyware application which displays false security alarms in order to convince you to purchase the full version of the program.

Vikram Thakur of security company Symantec has spotted this threat on Spoke.com, a business networking site, and, even if the threat was removed quite quickly, it also exists on a few more websites.

"The user profile pages displayed an advertisement, hosted on Spoke.com, which was redirecting users to a link on a site registered in the Russian Federation. This link, in turn, eventually led to XP Antivirus, an application that exaggerates threats on a computer in order to convince the user to make a purchase," the Symantec official wrote on the company’s blog.

For those of you who don’t know, XP Antivirus affects most versions of Windows, including Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows Vista. So, even if it’s called XP Antivirus, it doesn’t affect only Windows XP, an aspect that makes you vulnerable even if you’re using the last edition of the Windows operating system.

These misleading applications have grown up a lot in popularity in the last few months, becoming more and more dangerous for every unprotected user out there. What’s interesting is that they try to use all kinds of names, especially the ones which can easily trick a user and make him believe he is actually installing a real security software. However, scanning your computer with a powerful security product can always help you in this matter, so in case you have doubts regarding your security system, you know what to do.

source: news.softpedia.com

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Grid-Based Design: Six Creative Column Techniques

Grid systems bring visual structure and balance to site design. As a tool grids are useful for organizing and presenting information. Used properly, they can enhance the user experience by creating predictable patterns for users to follow. From designer’s point of view they allow for an organized methodology for planning systematic layouts.

After creating a well-structured and usable grid, consider allowing it to breath. A page without a grid is a usability nightmare. On the other hand, a grid that has creatively overlapping, escaping, or energizing columns leads to a more enjoyable user experience. Discovering or planning areas of the design that will have some freedom will lead to more interesting and appealing design solutions.

What is Grid-Based Design?

Grids are structure imposed on chaos. They are a harmonious and reliable system for presenting information. Grids offer an effective design approach for site layouts and assist in communicating site’s main messages clearly to the end user. They created ordered hierarchies, proportional relationships, and clear visual paths for the eye to travel.

Its important to know your tools before trying to get creative with them. This means you should study the grid and understand how to successfully use it to create your site layouts. Learn to achieve balance, symmetry, and place emphasis on important content all through the use of the grid. If you need some information on Web grid usage utilize the resources below:

Grids are useful for communicating information clearly and effectively. Khoi Vinh’s redesign of a complex news-site proves it.

  • Designing With Grid-Based Approach
    Massive roundup of grid based design resources here on Smashing Magazine.
  • Five Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems Part I
    Mark Boulton discusses this professional solution to a common Web design problem. Refer to his multi-part series for a review of grid use.
  • Grids Are Good (Right?)
    Is a presentation by Mark Boulton and Khoi Vinh that covers the use of the grid as it applies to Web design. They do this while analyzing a fictitious though useful Yahoo redesign case study. They work through their methodology for using the grid while revealing concepts in this process.
Six Creative Column Techniques

Like skyscrapers in city centers, overwhelmingly, columns dominate Web design grids. Once you’ve mastered the grid as a tool then it’s time to get creative with it. Work on establishing a visual rhythm in your design. Then you can step in and break the visual flow for effect. The techniques discussed in the next section present effective ways of getting creative with your columns in grid-based Web design.

1. Embracing Disharmony

Disharmony is, of course, the opposite of harmony. A grid is a harmonious instrument. Its goal is to achieve balance, symmetry, and order. So why would you want to bring imbalance to this order? Why break up this carefully constructed data structure? The answer is to add interest.

Chaos is more interesting than order. A good murder mystery is infinitely more enjoyable than a story about taking a walk in the park. Jackson Pollock’s splattered paint canvas is more stimulating than a wall without it. A partly broken grid is more interesting than a perfectly ordered grid. Besides who doesn’t want to break the rules? Embrace some randomness, chaos, or discord and create a space for them to thrive within your designs.


2. Joining for Variety

Layouts that have strong horizontal areas are being seen more often, especially on home pages. Horizontal Web design areas feel more creative because vertical designs are so common on the Web. Try using more rows in your designs. Or join areas of a column together to create a display space in your design.

Rows can be used to break up the visual flow of a page. Each row you create gives a new opportunity for establishing new column areas with different sizes, numbers, and variety. Its possible to create pages on your site, or areas of your pages, that are heavily horizontal. Or join columns to form rows that add interesting areas to your layouts. Consider varying the number of columns in the rows you create.

The gray horizontal row below is heavily emphasized. The use of repeating horizontal backgrounds helps to make predominately vertical layouts feel wide. Adding these spaces to your layouts will allow them to stand out. Horizontal areas in sites will slow the user’s progression through the page and create emphasis.

We Eatt

3. Utilizing Angles

It’s possible to set an entire grid on an angle. In the article Rule Four: Spacing Is Your Friend an angled grid design is reviewed. The example used in this article is for print design though. The use of an angled grid is unusual on the Web. That’s because the layout of text on the Web is horizontal, not slanted.

You would likely use images to accomplish an angled piece of text. Flash would be another option. In both cases you’re loosing the semantic goodness and ease of use of Cascading Style Sheets. The use of angles to occasionally break your grid will add visual interest. If you restrict the use of angles to images you won’t lose any semantic or SEO benefits of the default horizontal text used in the Web.

Design b

4. Escaping Boundaries

One of the techniques in line with embracing some disorder is to break out of the boundaries you’ve established in your grid. Once you’ve established your order find ways for elements to move outside of it. Cross over the lines you’ve set up and break out of the visual flow of the page.

In the article Thinking Outside the Grid Molly E. Holzschlag discusses concepts of creating compelling visual design that breaks the mold of the grid. Some of her examples show boundaries being escaped. This is an inspiring conceptual article that also discusses the complexities involved in coding designs that are less rigid.


Pull-quotes are an example of a design element that presents an opportunity to break out of your established visual flow. The older version of Andy Rutledge’s Design View used interesting pull-quotes that broke the visual flow of the column. Doing this places greater emphasis on the pull-quotes than if they were kept within the content of the column.

Design View 1

Compare the old version to the newer site design below. The new design places pull-quotes within the boundaries of the content column. This is a less creative and more conservative solution. Though in either case the pull-quote creates a noticeable change in the visual flow of the column.

An abrupt change in the flow of the page will cause users to pause and notice the change in rhythm. This is true whether the pull-quote is kept within the column or moved outside the boundaries of its borders. Consider this the next time you use pull-quotes or if you’re embedding an image within your column. As an image presents the same design opportunity.

Design View 2

5. Illustrating Areas

Illustrations and the use of design elements allow for overlapping and breaking out of the structure you’ve created in your grid. They can be used to add some areas of creative disorder to counterbalance the rigidity of the grid.

In the example below the illustration at the top of the page breaks the grid by overlapping the gridlines and flowing into different content areas. The movement of the design elements within the illustration creates a different visual rhythm that acts in opposition to the order of the grid. There is balance in the design of these opposing forces. The illustrations in this design add stimulating areas of interest to an otherwise boxy layout.

Mike Poss

6. Energizing Spaces

There are some basic design principles to consider when looking to energize space within your grid. Concepts such as asymmetrical balance, proximity, and repetition are discussed in the article The Principles of Beautiful Web Design by Jason Beaird.

These principles are at work in the portfolio design of Issara Willenskomer, shown below. Jason Beaird has this to say about asymmetrical balance,”Rather than having mirror images on either side of the layout, asymmetrical balance involves objects of differing size, shape, tone, or placement. These objects are arranged so that, despite their differences, they equalize the weight of the page.”

In the image shown below no two paragraphs or images are the same size. Columns are broken and overlap horizontally. Mathematical precision is abandoned and a grid based on an artist’s intuition and eye for design is used to fill this creative space. The balance achieved here is not based on rigid structure alone, but rather is achieved through the equalizing weight of asymmetrical balance.

Design Bum 2

Each portfolio piece repeats a structure of similar size and weight of presentation on the page. The elements within each space through their proximity function as single design units. Though each portfolio piece is presented with a unique rhythm within the confines of this space, thereby adding interest to the design.

There is great variety in each one of these portfolio spaces. This allows for a creative presentation that the designer will enjoy making and a viewer will find stimulating.

Design Bum 1

Case Studies

Three sites that creatively use columns and break out of the rigid confined of well structured grids.

Study #1: Satsu Design

The design of Satsu.co.uk uses sketch style illustrations to overlap the grid lines established for the site. These illustrations effectively communicate the concept of rough draft brainstorming creativity. Conceptually the illustrations don’t belong inside the confines of an ordered grid. They serve to bring interest, asymmetrical balance, and conceptual creativity to the design.

The use of illustrations, the spacing between elements, and the variety in weight of elements within each grid make this a visual stimulating design.

Satsu 1

Satsu 2

Study #2: Lake Crackenback

Lake Crackenback utilizes illustrative design elements to great effect. The interior page, second image below, has a strong three column grid. Though the presentation through the design gives the illusion that it is one column with side elements that overlap that column. The side columns successfully overlap and break the rigid layout of the grid. Order is maintained while visual interest is added.

Also, notice the difference in presentation between the home page and the interior page. Varying your grid on different pages can be a useful technique for adding interest as well.

Lake Crackenback

Lake Crackenback

Study #3: Edgepoint Church

Edgepoint Church has a strong grid and a two column layout. The home page stands out as unique. It has multiple rows that turn the two columns into three, or unite a column to form one space. The home page especially has a grid filled with variety. The grid is escaped with the use of angles and placement of the illustrations and photography that surround the layout. The header has a free flow design that opens up the top as a creative space.


Edgepoint 2


There are multiple techniques to add interest to your grid. Certainly you should first understand how to use the grid effectively. Then work on escaping some of this rigid structure and create some free flowing spaces within your design. Or break the established flow and focus attention on a particular element. Utilize concepts such as disharmony, asymmetrical balance, and ordered chaos to bring areas of your site’s grid designs to life.

Sean Hodge is the creative mind behind AiBURN.com, a Weblog about design, creativity, inspiration and graphics.

source : smashingmagazine.com

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Free Web version of Photoshop launches

SAN FRANCISCO - The maker of the popular photo-editing software Photoshop on Thursday launched a basic version available for free online.

San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems Inc. says it hopes to boost its name recognition among a new generation of consumers who edit, store and share photos online.

While Photoshop is designed for trained professionals, Adobe says Photoshop Express, which it launched in a "beta" test version, is easier to learn. User comments will be taken into account for future upgrades.

Photoshop Express will be completely Web-based so consumers can use it with any type of computer, operating system and browser. And, once they register, users can get to their accounts from different computers.

Web-based software is increasingly popular, and Adobe knows it's got to get on that train, said Kathleen Maher, an analyst at Jon Peddie Research.

Many kinds of software are available for use online in a trend known as "software as a service," or "cloud computing." The earliest were e-mail programs, but they now include services to create and manage content and even whole operating systems. And they don't require time-consuming upgrades because they're maintained by the service provider.

Google Inc. provides a host of such services, as do Microsoft Corp. and others.

"This is the battlefield where Adobe and Microsoft and Google are going to fight some pretty big battles," Maher said.

Photoshop enters the online photo-management arena many years after such services first appeared. Some companies have already made a big name for themselves, like 9-year-old storage solution Shutterfly Inc., photo-editing service Picnik or image-sharing site Photobucket Inc.

Adobe says providing Photoshop Express for free is part marketing and part a strategy to create up-sell opportunities. It hopes some customers will move from it to boxed software like its $99 Photoshop Elements or to a subscription-based version of Express that's in the works.

Ron Glaz, a research analyst at IDC, says the move was necessary for Adobe to keep pace. Users are less likely to switch to a software they aren't familiar with, he said.

"They have a whole market that they are missing out on, and they need to make sure that the market is aware there is a Photoshop solution for them. As that market grows and becomes more sophisticated, hopefully it will generate money," Glaz said.

"It's one of those things, if you can't beat them, join them," Glaz said. "If they don't join them, the long run could be really painful."

On the Web: http://www.photoshop.com/express

source : news.yahoo.com

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Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 for Vista SP1 and XP SP3

Announced at the beginning of this month, Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 went live on Microsoft Connect as of March 21. According to the Redmond company, Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 is designed to bring to the table down-level packages tailored on Windows XP SP2 and SP3, as well as Windows Vista RTM and SP1, and Windows 2003 Server SP1 and above. Microsoft has also managed to address a consistent list of issues that were identified in the previous version of the Windows Installer. It is important to note that Beta 2 is the last step preceding the finalization of Windows Installer 4.5.

"I am pleased to announce that Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 is now available from the Microsoft Connect site. If you have not signed up for the beta yet, please do - we are listed as 'Windows Installer 4.5' under the 'Available Connections' section of the site. If you have already joined the beta, please head back to the Connect site and download the updated bits, tools and documentation. This is our last planned beta release before we ship, so your feedback at this stage is especially important," stated Tyler Robinson, Program Manager - Windows Installer Team.

One aspect that you will need to be on the lookout for is the way Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 integrates with Vista SP1 and XP SP3. In this regard, Microsoft warned that deploying a pre-release version of Vista SP1 and XP SP3 on top of Vista RTM or XP SP2, with Windows Installer 4.5 already installed, can cause the Windows Installer registration to be broken. A workaround to such a scenario involves a simple Windows Installer 4.5 reinstall.

"Windows Installer v4.5 (MSI 4.5) is an update to Windows Installer 4.0 released in November 2006. Windows Installer 4.5 contains new and enhanced functionality and addresses some issues found in the Windows Installer 4.0 release. The goals of the Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 program are (1) to solicit feedback on new and enhanced features, (2) allow developers to evaluate and begin to plan for features available in the final release of MSI 4.5, and (3) augment the regression and application compatibility testing for Windows Installer based applications," reads an excerpt from the Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 documentation.

Microsoft Windows Installer 4.5.6001.22133 Beta is available for download here.

source : news.softpedia.com

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