Friday, February 17, 2006

I've packed my bags....

and moved. Yazan Malakha's Journal is now Tech#

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Windows Defender Beta 2 is Out

Fresh out of the Oven, Windows Defender Beta 2 is out. Review coming soon. Download Now

Google and the End of Privacy

I'm not particularly fond of Google or their business model; but I make it a point to discuss them every once in a while and chronicle their eventual domination of the world and end privacy. A couple of days ago Google released Google Desktop 3.0 with a significant change. It now provides users with the ability to store their hard drive index on the Google Grid. This of course provides the convenience of being able to search your hard drive index from a remote computer; say you want to search your office computer from home. Although that might be very convenient for some; me included. Google is touching on a sensitive privacy subject; perhaps ending privacy completely. Compare their old statement: “These combined results can be seen only from your own computer; your computer’s content is never sent to Google (or anyone else).” With their explanation of "search across computers" feature.

In order to share your indexed files between your computers, we first copy this content to Google Desktop servers located at Google. This is necessary, for example, if one of your computers is turned off or otherwise offline when new or updated items are indexed on another of your machines. We store this data temporarily on Google Desktop servers and automatically delete older flies, and your data is never accessible by anyone doing a Google search.

Not evil enough? How does the idea of a Gmail hosted service sound like? Yes Google is running a limited public beta of this service. Indexing the content of your Gmail was not enough; Google seeks to index your corporate email too! More on the Gmail blog And the rumor mill keeps on going. Google are to launch an AJAX based WYSIWYG web page editor, a new calendar built into Gmail, Wifi in major cities. It seems Google is going at it in everyway. They're even branching out to traditional media. And have recently acquired dMarc, a radio advertising broker for $102 million dollars, and will shell out an extra $1 billion if they sell enough advertising, with TV advertising in the horizon. So what does Google know about you? Your searches, browsing pattern, email contents, Gtalk conversations (speech2text), my social network (Gtalk and Orkut), desktop content, blog contents, appointments, and location. What you listen to on Radio and what you watch on TV. I wouldn't be surprised if they acquire podscope in the near future to index what podcasts I listen to. All of this is used to serve me the best targeted Adsense Ads possible. All of this available to agencies like the FBI, CIA, etc. Ten days ago, an article in Business Week caught my attention, the author described Google as a race car driver with dreams of the checkered flag, but until his debut on the NASCAR circuit, he pays the bills by trolling the back alleys behind the wheel of a cab and I cannot agree more. Now I wonder when will someone rise up and stop them, or are we to wait for the apocalypse and await a new future where Google's monopoly out shadow’s Microsoft's. Digg It Related Links: EPIC 2014 Google Desktop Reloaded Gilmor Daily A New Desktop

Monday, February 13, 2006

Free Robot Sex

None geeks should be able to get a kick out of this 01010111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00111111 [translate]

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Vote for Paradise Now

"Paradise Now" has been nominated in the best foreign language film category in this year's Oscars. Co-written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, "Paradise Now" is a very intense movie that delivers a strong insight into a difficult subject -the Palestinian/Israeli conflict- while keeping a level of drama that makes it impossible not to be stirred. The directing is also brilliant, full of fascinating symbology. It is our duty to encourage such peaceful ways in educating the world about the Plestinian/ Israeli conflict, as well as encourage more voices and views such as that of Abu-Assad's to share their unique outlooks on life and events. If you agree with me, please give "Paradise Now" a vote. Vote for the Palestinian movie “Paradise Now” as best foreign language film in this years Oscars.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

First Looks: Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 Preview

Earlier on Microsoft released a public beta of Internet Explorer 7.0 with web developers as the main target. At a first glance you can see the long wait was worth it. IE7 is better in terms of aesthetics, functionality and performance. It loads much faster than IE 6 and Firefox 1.5. Some might argue that IE loads much faster than Firefox since it's a part of windows; which is a myth disproved by Opera's performance. (to date opera is the fastest graphical browser) Aesthetics First thing that drew my attention (prior to even loading IE 7) is the logo change (new one on the left). I personally find think the new one is better, but I'm not graphics expert. Upon opening the browser you will notice a change to the interface. The simplicity is mind blowing, some might argue this looks like FF, I personally think it looks more like Opera. The menu bar is hidden by default (still accessible via shortcuts / tools > toolbar > classic menu), the location of the bar is peculiar. When enabled the menu will be shown under the address bar, which needs a little bit of getting used to. I won't place much importance on this as I think the average user doesn't actually need the menu bar. Another thing that caught my attention was the use of Mozilla's RSS icon, apparently the guys at Microsoft visited Mozilla offices and agreed that a unified RSS icon is in the user's best interest, as opposed to the originally proposed icons found here. The button placement is well thought of, placing the ones you need most to the left side and the ones you would use less on the right. Tabbed Browsing At Last! We finally have what we've been wanting for years. Although Tabbed Browsing has been available for IE 6 for a while now (through MSN Search Bar or 3rd Party Plugings). Worth noting that were the first to introduce Tabbed Browsing back in 1997, while Opera developed it back in 1995 and introduced it in Opera 4 in 2000, Avant Browser and Maxthon also had this feature long before FireFox arrived in 2004. Quicktabs This is probably my favorite feature. Quicktabs (accessible via ctrl+q, or the third icon from the left) is a preview feature that allows you to see what's on your tabs, very handy, this is similar to Firefox’s foXpose extension. Web Standards Compliance & CSS Fixes Gone are the days IE would render stuff like this. According to the IE blog Microsoft intends to fully comply with web standards, CSS 2 in particular (CSS 2.1 once it's recommended) . DHTML rendering noticabely improved. The only site I visited today which didn't render properly was http://uk.msn.com/ I presume it would work out fine with most hacked and non-hacked CSS code. I didn't thoroughly test this, so this is just a presumption; you can read more on this on the IE Blog I would appreciate your feedback on this. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) For those of you who don't know what RSS is, I suggest you check the wikipedia entry RSS functionality in IE 7 is superb. It allows for OPML import and export meaning that Microsoft won't lock you in and force you to use their platform. It allows for enclosures which can potentially make it a great Podcasts aggregator. And according to this video it seems to be cross application. It allows communications with other applications using the RSS API, basically this means if you add an RSS feed to your IE7 and you have another application that utilizes IE7's RSS API it will be added their too. IE7 automatically formats RSS feeds in a nice readable formats, it even highlights changes since last check, very useful! I did have a problem with Jordan Planet's RSS feed, their ATOM feed worked fine though. You can check Dave Winer's opinion on IE7's RSS ClearType & Zooming IE7 utilizes ClearType which makes webpages more readable especially on LCD Screens. The zooming feature is very useful but quite jittery when used on machines with no graphics acceleration. ClearType Screenshot Magnifying Screenshot Multi Engine Search Bar The title says it all. Search providers can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/searchguide/default_new.mspx notably missing are Google's Logo next to their link ;-) Technorati & Wikipedia (I'm sure it will have Encarta at some point)! I hope these will be added soon. Security Now before we go on with this one I want to emphasise that security is an ongoing job, anyone who claims their product is 100% secure is just being arrogant. Microsoft had it's downs, but so did all other rivals, including Firefox which had 26 security vulnerabilities 6 of which were marked as Highly Critical! Microsoft is doing a great job at securing IE 7 here are a few pointers
  • ActiveX controls are disabled by default in Internet Explorer Version 7. The ActiveX Input TYPE=FILE control no longer submits a fully-qualified path; it now submits only a filename. The ActiveX control for XEnroll certificate enrollment was removed from Windows Vista and replaced with a new control.
  • Antiphishing Filter Built In Cyota Inc, Internet Identity and MarkMonitor will regularly supply information to Microsoft on thousands of confirmed phishiping websites to help ensure the URL reputation service is running with the latest information on known attackers (more at: http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/11/17/494040.aspx )
  • Safer Protocol Defaults: Weaker SSLv2 protocol are disabled, TLSv1 protocol are enabled. Hence IE users will negotiate HTTPS connections using SSLv3 or TLSv1; you will not notice any difference in the user experience, it's a silent improvement in security.
You can find more at http://msdn.microsoft.com/ie/releasenotes/default.aspx Better AJAX Support IE7 support a scriptable native version of XMLHTTP. This can be instantiated using the same syntax across different browsers. The addition of XMLHttpRequest is very nice, but for really advanced AJAX applications to run without ActiveX alerts XMLDocument and XSLDocument are needed as well. International Domain Names with no Add ons So you can finally use those non-latin domains you've registered (example arabic domains) http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/12/19/505564.aspx Oh and I forgot.... PRINTING ;) What's Missing/What's Wrong! Missing:
  • The absence of a download manager and ability to pause downloads. (Note: IE6 & 7 do resume downloads if the server supports it, provided that you do not try downloading until the connection is resumed)
  • XMLHttpRequest is only half of the AJAX toolkit!
  • We still have that awkward find popup screen with no highlighting capability
  • Viewing source code displays the source in an unformatted colorless notepad!
  • Ability to rearrange the tabs in toolbar is missing
  • IE7 Still Lacks the Shift + Enter for sites that end with .net (if anyone knows of a key for that or .org please let me know)
  • Like I said before it doesn't have wikipedia or technorati in search options which is a bit of a disappointment.
  • Themes! I cannot stress this enough, loads of people end up downloading spyware/adware just because they want to customize their IE experience.
Bugs So Far:
  • Inability to open drupal RSS 2.0 feeds
  • One site rendering funny (http://uk.msn.com/)
  • Blogger editor doesn't display what you're typing!
  • Incompatible with MSN Messenger Produced Chat Logs (Same with MSN Messenger Live)
  • I didn't experience this myself but I heard some people had trouble uninstalling
Downside of all this:
  • You need to have a genuine version of windows in order to test drive IE 7.0
  • You still have to reboot after installing IE, but I guess that's because it's part of windows.
  • Available for I32 bit platform on Windows XP only. WinXP 64 and 2003 Server editions coming soon

Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 publicly available

Title says it all Download Here Note: You need a valid copy of windows in order to install.. review coming soon [Via The IE Blog] [Check Channel 9 Interview]