Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Travelling to China? Leave your laptop at home

American Government officials and private business people travelling to China are taking more and more precautions against hacking and digital espionage, according to a report in The New York Times. While many people simply leaving their electronics behind, others have separate devices for travelling or follow elaborate routines for blanking out the hard drives before leaving and sanitizing them once again upon return. Travellers have also learnt to take the batteries out of their phones to protect themselves from spyware that might clandestinely start recording their meetings and conversations.
China isn’t the only offender, but its growing importance in world politics and economics make it a huge danger. Laptops that make it back from China are often infected with malware that spreads across a company’s network as soon as they connect to it upon return. The malware then sneaks into other computers, printers and networked appliances in order to avoid detection and allow remote attackers to gain access to corporate secrets.  Top government officials are said to be fully aware that every single laptop taken into China by officials in various government had returned without some sort of deliberate and persistent malware infection. It is also illegal to carry encrypted storage devices into China without prior government approval.


LG’s updated its Optimus smartphone with a couple of mid – range options and the SOL adds on to the already crowded shelves. Encased in a piano black plastic body, the 3.8 – inch blower sports an ‘Ultra’ AMOLED WVGA display, packs in a 1GHz processor and runs Android Gingerbread. The inclusion of Wi – Fi Direct and DLNA sharing is a pleasant surprise. There’s a gig of internal storage and it comes with a 2GB microSD in the pack… useful since it boasts of DivX/Xvid playback capabilities out – of – the box. An FM tuner is also on board.

As usual, LG decks up Android with its Optimus UI. You can pinch to view thumnails of the seven home screens, jump directly to the desired one with a tap, and even choose the one to display when the home key is tapped. The app drawer classifies apps according to the ones preinstalled and the ones you download. You can create your own app categories… a pinch collapses or expands headings. Preloaded apps include Polaris Office for document editing. Social+ widget for displaying social feeds and also a network data monitor widget.
The 5 – meg snapper can do 720p vids, but its below par – the lack of flash doesn’t help things. The screen is quite vibrant thanks to the AMOLDED goodness and the phone performs without any hiccups. It sure is a capable device, but doesn’t have any standout feature to distinguish it from others. At a similar price point, there are other contenders such as Sony Ericsson’s Xperia ray and even LG’s own dualcore Optimus 2X vying for your dough.


In an age svelte consoles, tablets, handhelds and smartphones that usually inhabit the pages of T3, the Brag Carnelian stands out. It’s an oddity, a heavily priced one at that – so much so that If you were to work out its cost, it could fetch you two Tata Nanos. Yes, in these heavy times rising hardware prices, 99 – cent apps and exponentially cheaper consoles, it seems like an awful extravagance.

Then you switch it on, and fire up. The Elder Scrolls V.Skyrim  in all its high – res glory. All those pricing concerns melt away. As good as the game was on slightly inferior devices, you can’t help but feel that the most intricate of details gave seemingly come alive. Water looks real enough to take a bath in, the fireballs spewed by the game’s iconic dragins seems to singe on each touch. An hour in and we can’t believe we actually settled for playing it on anything less.
In a way it’s unsurprising. Chance upon the specs and you’ll realise that this is a brute of a system. It ploughed through heavy hitters like indie PC – killer Hard Reset, our favourite post – apocalyptic shooter, Metro 2033 and Batman Arkham City without a hitch at a glorious 2560×1440 resolution with all the bells and whistles turned on. Thanks to the liquid cooling it wasn’t too noisy either.
The Carnelian isn’t exactly the most cost – effective solution to complement the fact that PC games are as cheap as they are and yes, you can build a discontinuing their Aurora desktop range in the country, you’re short of options for a branding gaming rig.
Having said that, if you’re an enthusiast with money to burn, you can’t go wrong with Brag’s latest.
Price: 1,85,000 Rs
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 3930K@ 3.2 GHz, Liquid cooled
  • Memory / Storage: 16GB DDR3/120GB SSD, 2TB HDD
  • Optical Drive: Blu – ray writer
  • GPU: AMD Radeon HD7970, 3GB
  • Connectivity: N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, DVI, USB 3.0


Stylish, laser – powered multi – touch keyboard and mouse duo morph into any interface you fancy
There’s a new wave of keyboards in town. Designer – turned – inventor Jason Giddlings ‘ multi – touch keyboard and mouse is the future of peripherals and promises to change the way we interact with computing devices, morphing into different interfaces as per your needs. The multi – touch device also supports gestures, and comprises of two “fourier transforum infrared “ (FTIR – Google it, why don’cha ) glass sheetsm and hence can be tailored to multiple purposes, from traditional QWERTY to video editing or gaming setups. The mouse is similarly adaptable, putting key controls under your palm.

Everything But the Box Terra MK3: FAT BOTTOMED GIRILS

Remember the saucy number by Queen that eulogised women with large posteriors? That’s the song that rang true in our minds when we were introduced to EBTB’s Terra Mk3 bookshelf speakers. While Freddie Mercury stood amongst the crowd of rock singer – performers  for his showmanship. EBTB does it with its eccentric designs that are anything but cuboidal. But are they fat enough to make the rockin’ world go around?
It didn’t take us long before we had the 30mm tweeters and 4 – inch bass – mid driver belting out tracks as best as they could. Just under the midrange driver and in front of the spherical enclosure is the bass reflex port. What’s more, there is a tweakable dial on each of the bottoms… kinky ! Actually, they are meant to tone down the highs, depending on your preferences.
At first, these lacquer – finished, high – gloss speakers were a little stiff when it came to reproducing adequate bass. However, they dealt with the highs and mids quite well.  It was only after extended usage did the mid – bass drivers seems to loosen up a little. Adding much – needed body to the soundtracks.

The Mk3 is bright – sounding, which everyone may not prefer, so the HF dial at the back is a plus. While the lows were not as full – bodied as we would have liked, the speakers never skipped a beat or boomed along lazily. Ideally, these should be paired with EBTB’s monster ball, the Subterranean II ( Model 2 ) subwoofer. While the Mk3s were not as detailed for layered music, they were superb with simpler orchestrations like a jazz routine or an acoustic ballad. If you have the moolah, you should take these girls down beside you that red firelight.

MAC JUICE ON TAP : Mobee Magic Feet

Keeping your achingly stylish Apple wireless kwyboard, Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse fully charged, the complimentary and equally sexy Mobee Magic Feet inductive charging station props up your peripherals with six hours of side-by-side battery boosting keeping you in full working order for up to ten days. It also adds fours USB ports to your PC – hatting armoury while sitting sleekly on your desk 24/7.

10 Things… Tech heads are irrationally scared of

  • Unwanted PC seizure
  • Vintage tapes being found
  • Phone loss
  • Micro face cancer
  • The toilets of others
  • Children who know tech
  • Emailing the CEO
  • Cash machines
  • The Airport
  • Webcams

Unwanted PC seizure
You’ve never done anything other than work, buy Blu – rays online and play QWOP on your office computer. But you also know its previous owner was that sweaty guy with the Red Dwarf t-shirt who smelled of boiled lamb and left in a hurry. Could it be that any second now the “special police” will burst through the window, find a buried folder and send you down for a lengthy and disagreeable stretch in nonce town? Yes, in a word.
Vintage tapes being found
You were a bit of tormented singer-songwriter when you were a teenager, and recorded all your yearning balladry onto cassettes. Then you left them behind when you moved out. So where are said tapes now? They’re still sitting there, waiting for your children to find them. Then they’ll listen to Love is Killing Me ( reprise ), Window Pain, Requiem for my Loneliness and An Eternity of Misery and subsequently never look you in the eye again.
Phone Loss
If there’s one thing that’s more painful to lose than a close friend, it’s your beloved smart phone. The 24 hours before you find it in the fridge are filled with sweaty terror, stomach – churning dread and dark malaise: “How will all the people contact me?” Finally, you see The Precious sitting under that industrial block of cheddar and notice you have 22 missed calls, Job offers? Invites to parties? No. it was you ringing from the house phone.
Microwave face cancer
Cooking food in the old “potty ping” is responsible for your headaches and that lump on your neck, sure as your phone is killing your every sperm. Luckily, the microwave will not have time to kill you. The lasagne sat-fat fests meant for two that you scorch inside it every night will see to that.
The toilets of others

More specifically, those of potential in – laws. You just know it won’t be able to deal with what you’ve just done. Oh yes, it may have a doily on its head and delightful pine seating, but an effective flush ? forget it. Here goes 3-2-1… Nothing. So to refill, then try again. Oh dear. After an hour of this, and long after the dessert course arrived downstairs, you start to weep, before finally slopping off to bed and hoping for the best.
Children who know tech
They’re all over the internet, jumping on anyone who dare mistake their quadcore for a dualcore, or who mentions digital zoom ratings when everyone know only optical zoom is relevant, pausing only to lambast tech publications for their “Apple bias”. If only there was a way to lean through their monitors and clip them round the ear. Get off our virtual lawns, you pesky kids.
Emailing the CEO
A “personal” mailing from the boss to you and the 7,300 other people you work with has made clear there’s to be no pay rises, and counselled. “Feel free to email with any concerns.” So you reply with some detailed queries about his or her “road map”. Fear grabs you as soon as you hit send. Will you now be seen as a troublemaker? Or could it be you’ll get the promotion for your chutzpah? Neither, you’ll just be told a month later that a “company – wide review” is in place and times are tough, to which you should always reply with a thumbs – up smiley.
Cash machines
Up there with toilet rims , hand rails in hospitals and most trains, cash machine keys look like they’re laced with a cocktail of sweat, spit, blood, flu, E-Coli, herpes, bubonic plague and cholera.
The Airport
You know you haven’t got TNT in your blog; you know your passport is in your jacket pocket; you know your briefcase is in your hand. Still, this doesn’t stop you checking all three every 30 seconds or so. You’re also sure this is the time you’ll finally succumb to that childish urge to say, “No, I asked the Taliban to pack it for me,” as your laptop and camera cables poke suspiciously out of your carry bag.
Even wonder if that little camera built into your laptop is beaming your image to some far off land, or to everyone you know while you’re busy “relaxing”? No? Oh good, Just us then…


Ultrabooks are finally a category that isn’t just the purview of Apple-loving hipsters, extending to people who well, actually do something with their laptops rather than just look fashionable at coffee shops. To prove its point, Lenovo has thrown its hat into the ring with the U300s. The first thing that hits you is its slim, borderline anorexic looks. Carved form a block of aluminium, it is quite striking. Decked with grey accents, it has an appearance that’s quite unlike other ultrabooks in its category. Its appearance is quite befitting the discerning business class who yearn for some added style while working on presentations. This notion is further heightening by the 13.3-inch-screen – more than enough room to multi-task between documents, emails and spreadsheets. It’s a welcome change from the usual fare that’s an inch or two shorter on display space.
In terms of specs, the U300s is available ini5 or i7 variants. Battery life is decent, clocking around five hours. That’s just about enough to get you through a long flight, if used judiciously. Its equipped with a 128GB solid state drive, which is by no means generous but should suffice if you don’t plan on storing movies or music. This is strictly a professional affair and it shows, what the ergonomic Chiclet-shaped keys that allows a modicum of comfort to ease you through a harrowing day of computing. While the U300s is a solid piece of kit, we feel a tad short-changed by omissions such as backlit keys and a LAN port. For the price, it should have these features-something the non-hipster ultrabook-seeking folk would definitely clamour for when the inevitable refreshed, revamped model hits.
PROCESSOR- Intel core i5 245M up to 2.3GHz
GRAPHICS- Intel HD3000
DISPLAY-1366*768 13.3-inch
SIZE/WEIGHT -324*216*15mm/1.32kg

Aussie Struggles on the Forex Market

Australian dollar is struggling on the Forex market, especially against the US dollar. Concerns about what’s happening in Europe are affecting risk appetite, and sending Forex traders away from riskier assets like the Aussie and to low beta currencies like the US dollar and the Japanese yen.

Risk appetite is playing a big role in the Australian dollar’s performance today. Concerns that the Greece might actually leave the eurozone are increasing, and there are worries that Spain can’t handle its debt. This risk appetite is leading to losses by high beta currencies like the Australian dollar against low beta currencies like the US dollar and the Japanese yen. Australian dollar is, however, higher against the euro, since the euro is in such a bad state.

The Aussie’s case isn’t being helped by the situation with gold, either. Gold prices are falling right now, and the Australian dollar is a commodity currency that derives a significant amount of support from the precious metal. Aussie also gets help from China, since Australia is one of China’s major trading partners. However, China hasn’t been seeing such stellar growth recently. The result is that Aussie is having trouble finding support against some of its counterparts.

At 13:12 GMT AUD/USD is down to 0.0082 from the open at 1.0019. EUR/AUD is down to 1.2859 from the open at 1.2869. AUD/JPY is down to 79.59 from the open at 80.18.

US Dollar Gains Against Euro in Forex Trading

US dollar is heading higher against the euro in Forex trading right now, gaining as concerns about Spain and Greece come into sharper focus. Greenback is also higher against the Canadian dollar and other commodity currencies as oil prices and gold prices drop. UK pound, though, is gaining against the US dollar, as is the Japanese yen.
US dollar is turning in a mixed performance today, gaining against the euro and many commodity currencies as Forex traders look for safe haven against the volatility brought on by troubles continuing in Greece and Spain. In Greece, difficulties about forming a government, and the future of the austerity measuresagreed to for the bailout, are causing uncertainty. In Spain, the financial sector continues to struggle, and doubts remain about Spain’s ability to repay its debts. All of this is weighing on risk appetite and the euro, as well as keeping commodities down and prompting the greenback to gain against the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar
However, there are other currencies gaining against the dollar. Great Britain pound is showing some strength, and the Japanese yen is higher as risk appetite grows. Concerns are that a higher pound will hurt the British economy, while Japanese leaders fret about the economic impact of a higher yen.
At 12:30 GMT EUR/USD is down to 1.2856 from the open at 1.2901. GBP/USD is up to 1.6077 from the open at 1.6066. USD/JPY is lower at 79.8045, down from the open at 79.9900. USD/CAD is up to 1.0052 from the open at 1.0002. AUD/USD is down to 0.9974 from the open at 1.0014.

Euro at 3-Month Low as Greece May Leave Eurozone

The euro fell today, reaching the lowest level in more than three months against the US dollar, as speculation that Greece may leave the eurozone drove away investors from the shared 17-nation currency.
Greece is still unable to form a coalition government after a week of talks and negotiating. Even if the a government would be formed, the country may still leave the currency union as the Hellenic Republic is reluctant to implement austerity measures that are very unpopular among Greeks. Experts say that in the long term an exit of Greece from the eurozone may benefit both the country and the euro, but in the short term an impact could be very negative.

EUR/USD fell from 1.2901 to 1.2866 as of 8:50 GMT today, while the intraday minimum of 1.2860 was the lowest since January 23. EUR/JPY was down from 103.17 to 103.04.

Pound Gains, Threatens Economy of UK

The Great Britain pound rose today as the safe haven role of the currency helped it to profit from speculation that Greece may leave the eurozone. The strength of the sterling caused worries that it may hurt the UK economy.
The pound gains appeal as the Swiss franc loses it due to the euro-peg. Economists are worried, though, that a strong currency may harm efforts to bring the United Kingdom out of recession. Ian Stannard, the head of European currency strategy at Morgan Stanley, explained:

The U.K. economic backdrop may not be brilliant, but it’s enjoying a haven status because of the political uncertainty in the euro zone. The advantage of sterling over a traditional haven like the Swiss franc is that its asset market is more liquid. The downside is that the strength of the pound may backfire as it hurts exports.

GBP/USD rose from 1.6063 to 1.6072 and GBP/JPY went up from 128.49 to 128.70 as of 8:18 GMT today.

GBP Falls vs. USD & JPY, Gains vs. EUR Over This Week

The Great Britain pound fell against the US dollar and the Japanese yen this week as growing concerns about the health of the UK economy reduced appeal of the currency. The sterling is still perceived as refuge from Europe’s crisis, therefore it gained versus the euro.

Britain’s economy has entered a recession, significantly hurting prospects for the sterling. The Bank of England refrained from expanding stimulus during its last policy meeting, but most economists agree that the country needs quantitative easing. The pound is supported by its status of a safe haven, but such role looks tenuous considering the economic condition of Britain. Anyway, the problems of Europe allowed added to Britain’s strength against commodity currencies of countries that depend on European demand for their exports.

The pound was drifting down against the greenback and the yen since the end of March and it extended this trend for this week. The euro rose on Friday, but that did not help the shared 17-nation currency to erase its losses versus the sterling. The Canadian dollar was more successful, ending the week almost flat after falling for six consecutive trading sessions.

GBP/USD slid from 1.6133 to 1.6070 and GBP/JPY fell from 128.78 to 128.43. EUR/GBP was down from 0.8062 to 0.8033, while during the week it has reached 0.7994 — the lowest since 2008. GBP/CAD climbed from 1.6067 to 1.6201, but retreated to 1.6076 by the weekend.

Australian Dollar Falls as China Signals About Slowing Growth

The Australian dollar slipped, falling to the lowest level this year against its US peer, as negative macroeconomic data hurt prospects for Australia’s exports and general pessimistic sentiment on the Forex market reduced appeal of growth-related currencies.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported that China’s consumer price index fell from 3.6 percent in March to 3.4 percent in April, being in line with forecasts. Industrial production, on the other hand, frustrated forecasters, falling from 11.9 percent to 9.3 percent, while an increase to 12.1 percent was predicted. Other fundamental reports, including retail sales, were also worse than expected. China is the main trading partner of Australia, therefore its fundamentals have a great impact on the Aussie.

The FX market in general also was not supportive for the Australian currency as traders preferred to stick to safer investments. JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a $2 billion loss, sparking fear among investors. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of equities slid 1 percent and posted the second week of losses.
AUD/USD was down from 1.0075 to 1.0019 — the lowest rate since December 20. AUD/JPY dropped from 80.50 to 80.08. EUR/AUD went up from 1.2829 to 1.2887.

Breitbart.com: Document supporting Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry claim doesn’t exist

The exciting conclusion to the Case of the Missing Marriage Application. Remember, after a bit of sleuthing, Michael Patrick Leahy determined that the whole 1/32 claim came down to an 1894 marriage application that had supposedly been unearthed by an amateur genealogist but which no one else had actually seen. Leahy couldn’t reach that genealogist on Friday; today, he did. Mystery solved:

Lynda Smith, the amateur genealogist who unknowingly found herself at the root of the false “Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee” meme introduced to the media by “noted” genealogist Chris Child of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, acknowledged in an email to me this past Saturday, May 12, that her statement in a March 2006 family newsletter upon which Mr. Child based his claim of Ms. Warren’s Cherokee ancestry was made with no supporting documentation. It was, in fact, an honest mistake that Ms. Smith now acknowledges is entirely without foundation…

According to Ms. Smith:

“I am rather embarrassed about this posting of mine [on rootsweb about William J. Crawford], especially since it seems to be of some importance…. I’ve been through all papers in my Crawford file and I didn’t find who sent that Cherokee reference to me…”

Read the whole thing for an explanation of Smith’s mistake. The obvious question: Why did the professional genealogist who confirmed Warren’s ancestry for the Boston Herald rely on an amateur’s research instead of demanding to see the original documents? Investigative reporter and genealogist Thomas Lipscomb was wondering that too and sent this e-mail to Powerline:

No reputable genealogist or genealogical organization would ever use a family newsletter by an amateur genealogist as the basis for an opinion. They require direct documentation from a certified copy of a birth or marriage certificate or some other objective evidence. While family newsletters, or family web postings may provide a useful tip as to where the real documentation may be, they are just as likely to be dead wrong encrustations of family myth that may or may not be true, but can’t be proven.

While family members may find these myths of interest, professionals like the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Christopher Child, or the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, where I have served on the Heraldry Committee, will not accept them as documentation for any kind of genealogical claim. And they certainly won’t take a chance of embarrassing themselves professionally by making a public statement on the basis of flimsy evidence they regard as little more than rumor.

Read all of that too. But wait — you’re not done reading yet. One last piece is William Jacobson’s new post chronicling his e-mail exchange with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the curious appearance in his comments of someone who’s very interested in spinning what the NEHGS originally told the Herald. Did they really confirm that Warren is Native American, or did they merely confirm that she had an ancestor by the name of O.C. Sarah Smith whom others were claiming was Native American? Spintastic.

Via the Daily Caller, here’s Warren standing by her claim even as Scott Brown’s campaign insists that there’s nothing left of her minority status. Alternate headline: “Elizabeth Warren: I’m very proud of my Native American heritage that apparently no one can document.”

Victory: Federal judge strikes down NLRB’s rule approving “ambush” union elections

Big win, but it’ll probably take electing President Romney to make sure they don’t make it stick on the second try.

“According to Woody Allen, eighty percent of life is just showing up,” Boasberg wrote in an opinion issued today. “When it comes to satisfying a quorum requirement, though, showing up is even more important than that.”

The rule change, challenged in court by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, simplified and shortened balloting at a time when the unionized share of the workforce is falling, according to labor relations consultant Phillip Wilson. The compressed schedule could have cut the time permitted for voting in half to as few as 15 days, Wilson said.

Unions win 87 percent of elections held 15 days or less after a request, a rate that falls to 58 percent when the vote takes place after 36 to 40 days, according to a February report by Bloomberg Government.

O’s two Democratic appointees wanted to give unions a shot at quietly gathering the necessary signatures for an election and then dumping the petition on management before the company had a chance to make its case to the employees against unionization. The third member of the NLRB, Republican Brian Hayes, opposed the plan. No problem, though — Dems win 2-1, right? Nope. Not if Hayes doesn’t vote:

When the final rule came up, the NLRB’s lone Republican commissioner, Brian Hayes, did not cast a vote. He was given only a matter of hours on the NLRB’s electronic ballot system before the Democratic majority went ahead and published it that day, without anyone requesting a response.

Mr. Becker claimed that Mr. Hayes had “effectively indicated his opposition” and therefore he was “present” even though he was not, in fact, present. Basically, the NLRB argued that the quorum requirement was satisfied because there were three members in office when the rule was “approved.”

With a final vote of just 2-0 on what’s supposed to be a five-member Board, the court ruled that there was no quorum and therefore the rule was invalid. Think of Hayes’s absence as the anti-union version of those Wisconsin Democrats who fled the Capitol last year in order to deny Scott Walker a quorum to pass his collective bargaining reforms. What happens, though, now that Obama’s gone and dubiously recess-appointed a bunch of new members to the NLRB? Presumably the new members will pass the “ambush” election rule with a quorum and then the next court battle will be over whether those recess appointments were in fact valid. That suit has already been filed, in fact; if the next court throws out the recess appointments then the ambush rule stays blocked. If not, then President Romney’s our only hope.