3/13/2006

Face recognition comes to photo albums

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Facial-recognition technology has been used by the FBI and law enforcement for years–but starting next week, start-up Riya will bring it to the living room.

The company, founded by a group of facial recognition Ph.D.s from Stanford University, has created a Web site that will search through digital photo albums through “contextual recognition” to find matches, co-founder Munjal Shah said during a presentation at PC Forum, a three-day conference taking place here. Give the Web site a couple of pictures of your mother-in-law as a sample, and it will find the other pictures of her on your hard drive.

Contextual recognition is an amplified version of facial recognition, according to Shah. The software looks at a person’s face, but will also look at the shirt they are wearing and other cues to find a match. Additionally, it will search for text in the images, so if people want to find a photo where they posed by a “Welcome to Florida” sign, they can search on the word “Florida” and the Riya search engine will find it.

Source: News.com

Dell sells file server to man with two PCs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Dell’s growth figures have long been envied by others flogging boxes, but a posting on a forum reveals just how they manage to increase sales so fast.

A poster on Digital Spy forum, normally concerned with Big Brother gossip and Freeview hacks, revealed that a friend rang Dell to buy two PCs. Then the naive punter asked Dell to sell him something to link the two machines so they could share files and a printer.

So Dell sold him a PowerEdge server.

According to the poster, his friend didn’t even know what a server was when he phoned Dell. We can only hope he does now.

To make matters worse, Dell will not offer refunds to business customers.

Buyer beware indeed.

Source: The Register

Discovery Channel launches homework help Web site

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A new Discovery Channel homework Web site aims to remind parents whose math and history knowledge has gotten rusty how to help their children with the very things they have forgotten.

Cosmeo, a new online subscription site from Discovery Communications, offers a range of tools from a WebMath equation solver to educational videos and subject-specific Brain Games.

Launched on Monday, the site targets Web-savvy children from kindergarten through 12th grade. It also gives parents and other caretakers a way to be more involved in the learning process while refreshing their own knowledge, said Judith McHale, president and chief executive of Discovery Communications.

Cosmeo costs $9.95 per month or $99 per year. Other features include interactive quizzes, a digital encyclopedia and a digital photo library.

Source: Reuters

French plan would open iTunes to other devices

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

France is pushing through a law that would force Apple Computer Inc to open its iTunes online music store and enable consumers to download songs onto devices other than the computer maker’s popular iPod player.

Under a draft law expected to be voted in parliament on Thursday, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.

It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management — the codes that protect music, films and other content — if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.

“It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up … You have to be able to download content and play it on any device,” Vanneste told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.

Music downloaded from Apple’s iTunes online music store currently can only be played on iPods.

The law, if enacted, could prompt Apple to shut its iTunes store in France, some industry observers say, to keep from making songs vulnerable to conversion outside France, too.

Apple officials in France and Britain did not return calls seeking comment.

The law would also mean that other online French music retailers such as Fnac, part of PPR, would have to make iTunes songs available on their Web sites.

Source: Reuters

Google to broker online book sales

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Still embroiled in controversy over its plans to digitize several of the world’s largest library collections, Google is inviting U.S. and U.K. publishers to sell online access to their copyright texts through its book search site.

Right now, Google Book Search users can view free snippets of copyright books catalogued by its service but cannot read entire books online. They have the option of perusing a full version by clicking on links to outside booksellers or library catalogs.

The new offering would allow people to sign in and purchase immediate, browser-based access to books, Google said on its site. Purchasers would not, however, be allowed to save a copy of the book to their computer or to otherwise copy pages from the book.

Google is marketing the new program as the first of several tools intended to help book publishers boost their revenues, though it was unclear Monday how many had signed up. Pricing would remain entirely at the book publisher’s discretion.

Source: News.com

Microsoft pauses work on Adobe rival

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft has temporarily halted development work on some aspects of its upcoming professional graphics application as it tries to bring companion tools and its next-generation Windows Vista operating system to market.

The application–called Expression Graphic Designer–was first released in test form in June last year, and is based on Expression, the tool Microsoft acquired with its 2003 purchase of Hong Kong company Creature House. But despite being widely seen as a rival for Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator products, Microsoft does not see the product as a standalone offering.

“At the moment, there’s no great reason for us to release it as a standalone product,” the company’s senior product manager for the for the Europe, Middle East and African professional designer markets, Wayne Smith, said last week during a trip down under.

In an interview with ZDNet Australia, Smith explained that Microsoft was taking so long to bring Graphic Designer to market because the company had put “a lot” of the development work for the application “on pause” until sibling products and Vista could be finalized.

Source: News.com

Philips hits production problems on LCD TVs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Philips Electronics cannot meet demand for its top of the range LCD television sets because of production problems with display panels, the consumer electronics to medical systems company said on Monday.

The panels, the key ingredient of any liquid crystal display television set, come from LG.Philips LCD, a joint venture with LG Electronics.

“Yes there are back orders due to low production yields. Yield is the issue. It is related to whether or not the panel is what we consider our standard,” a Philips spokesman told Reuters.

Expensive LCD models have the highest profit margins and generate most of the income of consumer electronics. Philips declined to say if the shortfall would impact first quarter earnings, but said supply would meet demand in April.

“They’re going to be spot on for next month,” the spokesman said.

The shortages apply to Philips’ top LCD models in the 9830 series that come in the sizes 32, 37 and 42 inch. They have retail prices between 2,300 and 5,000 euros ($2,740-$5,970).

Source: Reuters

Class action lawsuit filed against music industry

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

People have complained about the price of recorded music for decades. It’s always seemed a little fishy that there was no price competition between the labels, and that CDs have always remained more expensive than cassettes, even though the discs are now dirt cheap to make. When music went digital, why did we see so few price points for individual tracks? Today, why are all the major labels simultaneously making noise about wanting Apple to offer variable pricing? The whole situation fueled paranoid claims about industry collusion and price-fixing that later turned out to be totally justified.

California attorney William Lerach launched a class action suit against the labels on behalf of consumers who have allegedly been overcharged for music. The lawsuit does contain some interesting tidbits. For instance, the suit claims that the music labels fought tooth and nail against the arrival of online music stores, and that they did so by launching their own poorly-conceived (on purpose) online ventures.

Source: arstechnica

Saudi detains Islamist after Internet article

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Saudi Arabia has detained a prominent Saudi preacher who wrote an Internet article criticising the ruling family’s advisers, colleagues said on Monday.

They said Mohsen al-Awajy has been in police custody since Friday after writing an article which suggested that a liberal clique of ministers and officials were the real power behind the scenes with a direct line to King Abdullah.

News of the arrest was also published on a Saudi Web site popular among Islamists.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said he had no information about the arrest.

“He has been detained because of an article he wrote. My guess is he will be held for several weeks,” said Sheikh Abdelaziz al-Qassem, an associate of Awajy.

The article was published on a Saudi Web site and republished on others.

Source: Reuters

China Encryption System Rejected

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The world industrial-standards association has rejected China’s controversial wireless encryption standard for global use, news reports said Monday, dealing a blow to Beijing’s effort to promote its own standards for computers and telecoms.

China is promoting its WAPI system in a campaign to reduce reliance on foreign technology and give its companies a competitive edge.

Members of the International Organization for Standardization rejected WAPI in favor of an American standard known as 802.11i in balloting that ended March 8, the U.S.-based electronics industry newspaper EE Times and the Chinese government’s Xinhua News Agency said.

But Chinese officials still plan to press ahead with the campaign to promote WAPI and to use it domestically, Xinhua said. The agency didn’t cite a source for its information and it wasn’t clear whether its dispatch was an official announcement.

The Chinese government has promoted WAPI as being more secure than 802.11i, developed by a group led by U.S.-based Intel Corp., the world’s biggest computer chip maker.

But EE Times, citing ISO documents, said those who voted against WAPI expressed concern that its development was closed to outsiders and that China has released too little information about it.

Source: AP

McAfee Anti-Virus Causes Widespread File Damage

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

[Friday] McAfee released an anti-virus update that contained an anomaly in the DAT file that caused many important files to be deleted from affected systems. At my company, tens of thousands of files were deleted from dozens of servers and around 2000 user machines. Affected applications included MS Office, and products from IBM (Rational), GreenHills, MS Office, Ansys, Adobe, Autocad, Hyperion, Win MPM, MS Shared, MapInfo, Macromedia, MySQL, CA, Cold Fusion, ATI, FTP Voyager, Visual Studio, PTC, ADS, FEMAP, STAT, Rational.Apparently the DAT file targeted mostly, if not exclusively, DLLs and EXE files.”

SANS Internet Storm Center received a number of notes from distressed sysadmins reporting thousands of deleted or quarantined files. McAfee in response released advice to restore the files. Users who configured McAfee to delete files are left with using backups

Source: Slashdot

Oracle Introduces Free Oracle SQL Developer

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) today announced the general availability of Oracle SQL Developer (formerly code named Project Raptor), a new, free, database development tool. Designed for Oracle Database developers, Oracle SQL Developer simplifies development cycles and reduces the need to buy third-party tools for developing and debugging SQL and PL/SQL code.

Oracle SQL Developer offers a robust set of features to assist database developers perform tasks such as object browsing and creation, running SQL statements and SQL scripts, editing and debugging PL/SQL code, and viewing and updating data. It provides an extensive set of pre-built reports and also allows developers to build custom reports related to their development projects. Additionally, this intuitive tool includes features such as a code formatter and code snippets, which help database developers reduce the time and effort needed to write code.

The tool is available for all releases of Oracle Database 10g and for Oracle9i Database Release 2. Additionally, Oracle SQL Developer is certified to run against all editions of Oracle Database 10g, including Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition, Standard Edition One, and Express Edition.

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