Thursday, January 29, 2009

Google unveils tools that can show if your ISP is giving you what you paid for

January 29, 2009 (Computerworld) Want to know if you're actually getting what you're paying your Internet service provider for?

If you are, join the club. The problem is that it it has been far from easy to get a handle on how your service provider deals with various kinds of traffic. That may become an easier job now that Google Inc. is launching what it calls Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open system that researchers and consumers can use to access its new Internet performance measurement tools.

"Researchers are already developing tools that allow users to, among other things, measure the speed of their connections, run diagnostics, and attempt to discern if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular applications," said Vint Cerf, Google's chief Internet evangelist, and Stephen Stuart, Google's principal engineer, in a blog post. "These tools generate and send some data back and forth between the user's computer and a server elsewhere on the Internet. Unfortunately, researchers lack widely-distributed servers with ample connectivity. This poses a barrier to the accuracy and scalability of these tools."

To tackle the problem, Google announced late on Wednesday that it will host the tools on 37 servers in the U.S. and Europe. The tools are designed to help users try to figure out what might be impairing their broadband speed, as well as find out if BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled by their Internet service providers.

"Seems like the intention behind this is to give consumers a way to keep tabs on their provider and make sure that they're getting what they're paying for in terms of speed," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "Also, with these tools, consumers will supposedly be able to tell if particular high-bandwidth applications, like BitTorrent, are being constrained by their ISP. So if an ISP is limiting video downloads, for example, consumers can use the Google tool, figure it out and start a huge outcry, putting pressure on the ISP to stop."

Just last month, an analyst with ties to the telecommunications industry released a report calling Google a bandwidth hog. Scott Cleland, president of Precursor LLC, a research firm bankrolled by telecommunications heavyweights such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., reported that Google uses 21 times more bandwidth than it pays for.

Google was quick to fire back. Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecommunications and media counsel, noted in a blog post that Cleland is "not exactly a neutral party." Whitt also claimed that the analyst had made methodological and factual errors.

Olds noted that the new measurement platform is another salvo in the war between content providers such as Google and network providers.

sources: &articleId=9126997&intsrc=hm_list

Saturday, January 24, 2009

UK Foreign policy

Better World, Better Britain

The pace and scope of globalisation means that, across an ever-increasing range of activity, what happens elsewhere in the world directly affects the well-being ofpeople in the UK.

More and more policy objectives have their source in global issues. They are increasingly administered across international boundaries, and support both national and broader interests.

From climate change and financial instability to health pandemics and weapons proliferation, national security and prosperity depends on our work with other nations.

The core priorities shaping our work around the world are:

* the global network of staff and offices at our diplomatic posts
* the essential services we provide for UK nationals and business overseas
* our 4 goals.

We work with partners inside and outside government, at home and abroad, to advance UK foreign policy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sanyo Cuts Annual Profit Forecast on Weak Demand, Yen (Update1)

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Sanyo Electric Co., which is being acquired by Panasonic Corp., cut its annual profit forecasts, citing falling demand for semiconductors, electronic components and the stronger yen.

The company now expects to break even in the year ending March 31 compared with net income of 35 billion yen ($393 million) forecast on Nov. 5, the Osaka-based company said today.

Sanyo also cut its forecast of operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, by 40 percent to 30 billion yen, and compared with 76.1 billion yen a year earlier.

Sanyo shares fell 3.9 percent to close at 148 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The company announced the changes to its forecasts after share markets in Japan closed.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Israelis strike 60 Gaza targets

Israel says it attacked more than 60 targets overnight in Gaza as its offensive against Hamas entered its 18th day.

The air assault came as Israeli troops advanced in the southern and eastern suburbs of Gaza City.

The Israeli military also announced another three-hour ceasefire, starting at 0900 local time (0700 GMT), to allow aid lorries into Gaza.

The truce coincides with visits by UN and Red Cross officials to Gaza.

On Tuesday, the western areas of Gaza City also came under shellfire from Israeli gunboats.

The Israeli military has denied a Hamas claim that it had destroyed two Israeli tanks.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool, on the Israeli-Gaza border, said Israeli shelling had continued despite the three-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has implored Israel and Palestinian militants to halt the fighting in Gaza immediately.

Ahead of a trip to the region to push for a truce, Ban Ki-moon said too many people had died and there had been too much civilian suffering.

"My message is simple, direct and to the point: the fighting must stop," Mr Ban told a news conference in New York ahead of his departure on Tuesday for the Middle East.

"In Gaza, the very foundation of society is being destroyed: people's homes, civic infrastructure, public health facilities and schools."

His diplomatic tour will see talks with the leaders of Egypt, Israel and Syria as well as the Palestinian president in Ramallah.

However, UN officials say he will not be meeting representatives of Hamas, and it is not clear whether he will go to Gaza itself during his week-long trip.

Also on Tuesday, an Israeli army patrol in the West Bank came under fire from inside Jordan, the army said. No-one was hurt in the incident and the patrol returned fire.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Palestinian militants will keep on feeling Israel's "iron fist" as long as Hamas fires rockets at Israel.

But a senior Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, said the group was "approaching victory".

"After 17 days of this foolish war, Gaza has not been broken and Gaza will not collapse," he said in a televised address from a secret location in Gaza.

Death toll

Both Hamas and Israel rejected last week's UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Palestinian medical sources say 910 people have been killed in Gaza so far, of whom 292 were children and 75 were women. Israeli officials say 13 Israelis, including three civilians, have been killed.

On Monday, casualty reports from Palestinian medics ranged from nine to 26 dead, while Israel said five of its soldiers had been injured, one of them seriously.

Israel is preventing international journalists from entering Gaza, making it impossible to independently confirm casualty figures.

Meanwhile, reports suggest diplomatic efforts between Egypt and Hamas in Cairo are progressing.

After meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair said the elements were in place for a ceasefire agreement.

"I am hopeful we can put an agreement together but it's going to have to be worked on very hard and it's got to be credible," he told journalists.

Israel hopes the scale of its operation will greatly reduce the number of missiles fired from Gaza into southern Israel, while eroding support for Hamas.


Friday, January 09, 2009

'Bride Wars' stars Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway are funny allies

So who takes longer to get dressed? ¶ That's a no-brainer when the choice lies between Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, the young actresses who play best friends turned battling bridezillas in "Bride Wars," which arrives in theaters today. ¶ When the question is posed during an interview with the leading ladies, Hudson instantly turns to Hathaway, who looks guilty as charged. ¶ "Yes, it's true," says Hathaway, best known as the star of "The Devil Wears Prada" and now "Rachel Getting Married," with self-recognition flashing through her large brown eyes. "I find the outfit, then I'm literally one step from the door and I'll look down and something will catch my eye and I will have to go back and start from scratch. It's not even for me that the results are so great. I just have to find the thing that I'm comfortable with or I'm going to be a basket case all day. I need to know that I've covered all my bases to go out, and Kate is . . ." ¶ "I'll walk out half-naked,' interjects Hudson, who first caught the public imagination nearly a decade ago as a trippy groupie in "Almost Famous." "I have this thing: If it takes me longer than 10 minutes to get dressed, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not in the mood," says Hudson. "I'm going to stay in bed and I'm going to watch television and I'm going to walk around the house half-naked because I just don't want clothes on."

Perched side by side on a fancy hotel room couch, the duo are giddy and chatty, so much so that they talk over each other, and to each other, as they discuss their new movie and related tangents -- boys, clothes, what makes a movie star and weddings. Periodically, Hudson bursts into song -- her whole life appears to have some internal soundtrack, and she could definitely give any jukebox a run for its money. Their outfits more than illustrate their perspectives on dressing, and perhaps on life. The 26-year-old Hathaway is crisp in a black structured sheath, her hair pulled back tight in a soignée ponytail to reveal the luminous white skin and the famed doe eyes. Hudson, 29, is loose and sun-kissed and Californian, wearing what appears to be a blue silk shorts jumpsuit, and unconsciously flipping her long, blond tresses. Both wear stilettos but no stockings.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jobs left -- so did DRM

With only one new product revelation, a rather unattractive $2,799 MacBook, this year's Macworld keynote was nothing like we have been used to. It could only have been described as a disappointment until Philip Schiller, who replaced Steve Jobs, revealed DRM-free iTunes. According to Schiller iTunes will be entirely DRM-free with over 10 million songs at the end of the first quarter of 2009.

The iTunes Plus section should already feature 8 million songs DRM-free. The pricing of the songs has also gone through some changes. iTunes has now three price points for songs - 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. 69 cents is for older releases and $1.29 for new hit songs.

Most of the albums will still be priced at $9.99.

iTunes Plus allows users to upgrade their songs to new higher quality DRM-free versions for 30 cents per song or 30 percent of the album price for the whole album. iTunes Plus uses 256kbps AAC audio format.