Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Over at Wired, they've posted a set of eight early-design logos that graphic Designer Ruth Kedar came up with back when the now-established company was first finding its identity. It's a cool look at the design process and it's interesting to see how certain aspects of the design came full-circle. Click the image below to see the designs and an explanation of each over at Wired.


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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 12:27:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Updating from IE6 to IE7 is a considerably good thing to do, but IT pros need to plan for these things in some cases for compatibility and other reasons, so awareness is important.

If you're an IT shop using Windows Software Update Services (WSUS), be aware that today marks the date that Microsoft planned to start automatically delivering Internet Explorer 7 to desktop machines as an automatic update on WSUS systems. Computers on WSUS-managed computers that have IE6 installed will be updated, either automatically or upon administrative approval, depending on your configuration.

So, if you don't want your IE software updated today, it's important to check that your WSUS system is set up to require administrative approval before updates are pushed to the machines on your network (this is the default setting, but I've seen it changed in many cases for "convenience").

From the Microsoft Knowledge Base article (KB946202):

If you have configured WSUS to "auto-approve" Update Rollup packages (this is not the default configuration), Windows Internet Explorer 7 will be automatically approved for installation after February 12, 2008 and consequently, you may want to take the actions below to manage how and when this update is installed. You will need to take action if:

  • You use WSUS to manage updates in your organization.
  • You have Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)-based computers or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1)-based computers that have Internet Explorer 6 installed.
  • You do not want to upgrade Internet Explorer 6 machines to Windows Internet Explorer 7 at this time.
  • You have configured WSUS to auto-approve Update Rollups for installation.

Important notes

  • This does not apply to Windows Vista because Windows Internet Explorer 7 is a component of Windows Vista.
  • The Internet Explorer Blocker Toolkit blocks only installation that occurs by using Windows Update and Automatic Update. The toolkit does not block distribution that occurs by using WSUS. This article concerns distribution that occurs by using WSUS. Internet Explorer 7 is already available in 23 languages by using Windows Update and Automatic Update. On February 12, 2008, Internet Explorer 7 will also be made available in Japanese by using Windows Update and Automatic Update

The KB article also includes instructions describing how to configure the WSUS server, if needed.

(reminded via Mary Jo Foley - All About Microsoft)

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IT Security | Tech
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 07:42:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 11 February 2008

UPDATE: Want to be able to track a BlackBerry when it gets lost or stolen with a more robust online system? Check out GadgetTrak, available for GSM-based devices.

image Got a Blackberry? Ever worried what you'd do if you lost it? Ever actually had to replace a lost one before? Lost or stolen, it's good to be able to find your handheld, especially if it has important data on it.

A couple years ago I was in Minnesota on a trip and went to play FrisbeeTM Golf with a friend. The course went through the woods and across a couple fields. When we got done, I realized my Blackberry phone was missing. Not good.

We used my friend's cell phone and started calling it. I got lucky that day. It was (thankfully) not on vibrate mode, and we eventually found it deep in the woods (where I had been forced to bushwhack in order to get to my flying disc). The battery was near dead.

Now it appears there's a better way. Berry Locator is a software program that will cause your Blackberry device to scream and flash - even when set on silent mode. When you lose your device (or if you can't find it in the house clutter) you just send it a specially-formed email and it wakes up and does its thing, letting you find it. Even better, if your BB has GPS capabilities, you send an email and it will reply via email with a map showing you the coordinate where the device is located. Plus, you can type text in the body of your email that will be displayed on the screen when it's activated, in case someone else finds (or otherwise has possession of) your Blackberry.

Combine that feature with a password, data encryption and the ability to nuke the device in a worst-case scenario (on a corporate BES system), and you're pretty good to go.

Cool capability, but it only works if you install it ahead of time. There's a free trial version, and when you decide to buy it, it's only five bucks.

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IT Security | Mobile | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 18:45:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It was pretty clear from the initial public offer that was made by Microsoft to acquire Yahoo! that Redmond intends to make it happen even if Yahoo! management doesn't want to go along. But just in case anyone doubted, today it became quite apparent that's the case. In a statement issued today, Microsoft says:

"It is unfortunate that Yahoo! has not embraced our full and fair proposal to combine our companies. Based on conversations with stakeholders of both companies, we are confident that moving forward promptly to consummate a transaction is in the best interests of all parties.

"We are offering shareholders superior value and the opportunity to participate in the upside of the combined company. The combination also offers an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market.

"A Microsoft-Yahoo! combination will create a more effective company that would provide greater value and service to our customers. Furthermore, the combination will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising.

"The Yahoo! response does not change our belief in the strategic and financial merits of our proposal. As we have said previously, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!'s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal."

Looks like a lot of people are in for a ride. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out, to be sure.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 16:23:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Well, I love my Xbox360 HD-DVD drive, and watching full 1080p HD-DVD movies on the Elite model. I've bought about 10 or so HD-DVDs and have rented a few from NetFlix recently. But, in what is looking more and more like an inevitably certain format death, Netflix announced today that it will no longer be stocking new HD-DVD releases, and they'll eventually phase out the current titles from their stock.

In fact, as I was writing this post an email from Netflix just arrived that explains the change:

netflix We're Going Blu-ray

Dear Greg,

You're receiving this email because you have asked to receive high-definition movies in the HD DVD format. As you may have heard, most of the major movie studios have recently decided to release their high-definition movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. In order to provide the best selection of high-definition titles for our members, we have decided to go exclusively with Blu-ray as well.

blu-ray While we will continue to make our current selection of HD DVD titles available to you for the next several months, we will not be adding additional HD DVD titles or reordering replacements.

Toward the end of February, HD DVDs in your Saved Queue will automatically be changed to standard definition DVDs. Then toward the end of this year, all HD DVDs in your Queue will be changed to standard definition DVDs. Don't worry, we will contact you before this happens.

You can click here to change your format preferences.

We're sorry for any inconvenience. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please call us at 1 (888) 638-3549.

-The Netflix Team

Well, sometimes you make a bet and you lose.

So, my (our) options at this point appear to be...

    1. Wait around, hope against hope, and pray that HD-DVD miraculously sees a resurgence (umm, yeah...)
    2. Hope someone builds a dual-format drive for the Xbox360 that can replace the one I have now (not likely)
    3. Buy one of the new dual-format/combo drives that you can put in a PC and go that route (possibility, depending on what they end up costing, and I have to think about how and where I want to play movies)
    4. Buy a PS3 (ouch, in so many ways)
    5. Just give in and buy a Blu-ray stand-alone player (but I wonder if I should wait til they drop in price some more, they ain't cheap)

Any other ideas? Let me know!

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Movies | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 12:52:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've been a monthly customer of T-Mobile's hotspot service for a few years. I used the service almost exclusively at Starbucks stores. So, with the new announcement that AT&T and Starbucks will be offering two-hour chunks of use for free if you have a Starbucks card (the refillable type) as well as a $20 per month unlimited use option. It looks like I will no longer need the more-expensive T-Mobile account. The only time I've ever used it outside of Starbucks was at airport locations (Red Carpet Club), and I'm not flying as much as I used to (thank goodness).

You can't really beat free WiFi, and it's everywhere these days (except Starbucks), so this is a smart move in my mind.

From BetaNews:

While final pricing structures could change, some details have come out: the service will cost $3.99 for two hours of Internet access. But those customers who register and use their Starbucks card will receive two hours of free access per day. An unlimited plan is available for $19.99, which includes access to over 70,000 AT&T hotspots worldwide.

Existing T-Mobile HotSpot customers aren't being left out in the cold; thanks to an agreement with AT&T, they can continue to access the Wi-Fi at Starbucks without paying extra.

(full story)

Also, see the ars techncia coverage at this link.

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Mobile | Tech
Monday, 11 February 2008 12:10:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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