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Archive for July, 2010

UK broadband target put back to 2015

July 23, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

The timetable for broadband in all UK homes by 2012 has been put back by Tory culture secretary Jeremy Hunt- who says Labour’s plan was impractical.
UK broadband target put back to 2015The battle to close Britain’s broadband divide suffered a blow when the government pushed back the UK’s target for universal access to high-speed networks by three years.

Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, said that it was not practical to meet the previous government’s target of universal broadband coverage by 2012 – a commitment he had previously dismissed as “paltry”. Instead, Hunt said it would take until 2015 before every home in Britain had at least a 2Mbps (megabits per second) connection.

“I have looked at the provision the government had made to achieve this by 2012. And I’m afraid that I am not convinced that there is sufficient funding in place,” Hunt told a gathering of telecoms operators. “So, while we will keep working towards that date, we have set ourselves a more realistic target of achieving universal 2Mbps access within the lifetime of this parliament.”

At present, 99% of homes can get some form of broadband connection but about 11% – or 2 million homes – cannot get speeds as high as 2Mbps. This limits their ability to use bandwidth-intensive services such as video streaming and television-on-demand. About 160,000 rural and remote households still cannot get any form of broadband, more than 10 years after the first services were launched.

Labour had assigned about £250m from the digital switchover fund to pay for its universal service obligation. It had also planned to introduce a 50p-per-line levy on all phone lines to fund the rollout of superfast networks in rural areas, but this tax was shelved before the election and then abolished by George Osborne in June’s budget.

Hunt’s message to the telecoms industry was that it was essential that the next generation of broadband networks, which offers speeds upwards of 40Mbps, were made available to “virtually every household”. He wants Britain to have the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.

However, the government also expects the communications sector to take the lead, even though companies such as BT have warned that it is not economically viable to extend superfast broadband across the whole country.

Hunt, though, said that innovative solutions were the answer. “I don’t want to hear about how to roll out a fibre-optic pipe to every home in Wales,” said Hunt, who suggested the water mains and sewers could be opened up if this would cut the cost of building new networks.

He also conceded that commercial operators could not solve the problem alone. “There is market failure now so I believe there will be market failure in the future, but I would be incredibly pleased to learn that this is not the case.”

BT has committed to spending £2.5bn to extend its new fibre network to two-thirds of homes, but has warned that it cannot go further without government support.

The government also said that it would start three trials of super-fast broadband networks in rural areas this autumn. These pilots should identify ways of bringing broadband to areas where it is not economically viable – through partnerships, funding support, or by relaxing legislation.

Facebook- 500 millionth social network member signs up

July 22, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Facebook has reached 500 million members – the equivalent of connecting with eight per cent of the world’s population or the third largest country.
Facebook- 500 millionth social network members sign upThe milestone figure comes only five months after the social network signed up its 400th million user. The pace of its growth has accelerated rapidly – Facebook had only 150 million registered users in January 2009.

Facebook, the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg while he was still studying at Harvard University, launched in February 2004.

To mark the half a billion milestone, the site has launched a new application called ‘Facebook Stories’, a website within Facebook, that encourages users to share their experiences of the social network.

These stories, which are limited to 420 characters, (the same number as a Facebook status update) will then be sorted by location and theme. The application will also be hosted on several launch partners’ Facebook fan Pages, such as the X Factor and the White House.

The site has approximately 26 million UK users, which is more than a third of the country’s total population.

Last month, Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said it was “almost a guarantee” that the site would hit one billion users, while speaking at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. He explained: “If we succeed in innovating and remaining relevant there is a good chance of bringing Facebook to a billion people.”

He also revealed that Facebook had just four remaining countries left to conquer: Russia, Japan, China and Korea, according to Zuckerberg. “We are down to just four counties where we aren’t the leading social network.”

Zuckerberg also recently visited the David Cameron in Number 10 Downing Street and praised the British Government’s efforts to open up its data to software developers.

The Social Network, a film about Facebook’s rise to prominence is due for UK release in October 2010. It charts the birth of the site and has the tagline: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”

The site recently faced heavy criticism from both European Information Commissioners and users alike, for over-complicated privacy settings, which users said led them unwittingly to make personal information public.

Concerns about privacy on the site were running so high that 60 per cent of the 1,588 Facebook users questioned by Sophos, a computer security organisation, in May, said that they were considering deleting their accounts on the social networking site.

A further 16 per cent said they had already stopped using Facebook because they felt they had inadequate control over their data.

Google profits up sharply but fail to impress

July 21, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Google has reported a sharp rise in profits and revenue in their latest quarterly results that nonetheless failed to impress Wall Street.
Google profits up sharply but fail to impressNet profit for the three months to the end of June came in at £1.2bn, up by a quarter on the £980 m it recorded a year earlier.

Revenue was $6.82bn, also up sharply on the $5.52bn posted a year ago.

However, analysts had expected better and chose to focus instead on operating expenses, which increased sharply.

As a result, shares in Google fell more than 4% in after-hours trading.

Google have added another 1,200 staff in the quarter, which means more expenses are going to increase in September’s results.

Despite the underwhelming response from Wall Street, Google chief executive said the firm had “had a strong second quarter” based on “solid growth in our core business and very strong growth in our emerging businesses”.

Burglars use Twitter and Facebook to spot empty properties

July 20, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Burglars are increasingly using Twitter and Facebook to find out if potential victims have left their homes empty.
Burglars use Twitter and Facebook to spot empty propertiesSocial networking sites provide a “potential gold mine” of information for criminals, with many users unwittingly publishing their addresses, and full details of where they are and their holiday plans.

A survey of 50 former criminals, undertaken by the insurance company More Than, found that many burglars undertook a considerable amount of research before attempting to steal from people’s houses – research that is easier to come by in the age of online social networks.

Richard Taylor, a former burglar who is now a Methodist minister, said: “In the old days you could buy information from a postman or from a milkman, about who was away on holiday. Now people are online giving you updates about going to the airport, about sipping their coffee, about everything.

“I always say that although Facebook says you have 900 friends. You don’t really. You have one friend and 899 nosy people who vaguely know you.”

Pete Markey, a spokesman for More Than, said: “The research suggests that burglars still use tried and tested methods when it comes to breaking in to properties but that they’re keeping up with the times too.

“Using Facebook or Twitter to boast about a big night out or a fortnight in Barbados may impress friends and colleagues, but it’s enough to give the social-media savvy burglar all they need to know.”

The survey found that 68 per cent said they collected information about their target’s home and daily routine in advance of committing a crime.

And 12 per cent of the former criminals said they had used social networking sites to do their research – a figure likely to be far higher with the modern generation of internet savvy criminals.

Mobile firms failing on coverage communications

July 16, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

UK mobile phone buyers are not being given sufficient information about how to cancel contracts if they encounter coverage problems.
Mobile firms failing on coverage communicationsIn secret shopper tests, the Communications Consumer Panel found that over half of shoppers were given inaccurate information.

It also found that some firms allow cancellations due to coverage issues while others do not. The panel called on mobile firms to offer consistent guidelines.

Panel chair Anna Bradley said that consumers must be given simple and accurate information before locking themselves into contracts that they might not be able to leave for up to two years.

The time limit allowed by mobile firms for cancelling contracts currently varies dramatically, the study found.

Most, with the exception of Orange, allowed customers some period of grace.

Virgin Mobile gives customers 28 days to cancel, compared to 14 days for 02 and Tesco Mobile, and 7 days for Vodafone and T-Mobile.

3 came out best in the survey. It has no time limit on cancellations due to coverage issues and only 4% of shoppers were given inaccurate information.

“Whilst we are significantly expanding our network, we accept the fact that no mobile operator can have total blanket coverage, which is why we have this policy in place,” said a 3 spokesman.

Orange, on the other hand, does not allow users to cancel contracts because of poor coverage.

“When a customer purchases a handset and then returns it to us, the handset becomes second hand. As such we are not able to offer a formal money back guarantee.

However we are aware that sometimes issues do arise, which is why a reasonable and flexible approach is applied. If a customer is deeply unhappy with their purchase from a store we will will always consider their issue on a case by case basis,” said a spokesperson for Orange.

The study found that stores themselves seemed unsure of the policies of individual mobile firms.

Carphone Warehouse wrongly told people that T-Mobile had no cancellation policy for coverage issues, while Phones 4U said that Orange did allow cancellations when it does not.

Information creates knowledge

July 15, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Information creates knowledge- the first revolution hit when people who made stuff started to discover that information was often as valuable as the stuff itself.

Knowing where something was or how it performed or how it interacted with you can be worth more than the item itself.

Frito Lay dominates the snack business because of the information infrastructure they built on top of their delivery model. 7 Eleven in Japan dominated for a decade or more because they used information to change their inventory. Zara in Europe is an information business that happens to sell clothes.

Wall Mart and Tesco dominate grocery sales because they discovered from their databases that men buy nappies and beer on Friday afternoons.

You’ve probably already guessed what’s now: information about information. That’s what Facebook and Google and Bloomberg do for a living. They create a meta-layer, a world of information about the information itself.

And why is this so valuable? Because it compounds. A tiny head start in access to this information gives you a huge advantage in the stock market. Or in marketing. Or in fundraising.

Many people and organizations are contributing to this mass of data, but few are taking advantage of the opportunity to collate it and present it to people who desperately need it. Think about how much needs to be sorted, compared, updated and presented to people who want to choose or learn or trade on it.

The race to deliver this essential scalable asset isn’t over, it’s just beginning.

Based on a post by Seth Godin at:

Facebook U turn finally sees sense as it instals child safety panic button

July 14, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Facebook has finally announced it will allow a “panic button” application on its social networking site.
Facebook U turn finally sees sense as it instals child safety panic buttonThe button, aimed at children and teenagers, will report abuse to the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

Once installed, the application appears on their homepage to say that “they are in control online”.

The launch follows months of negotiation between CEOP and Facebook, which initially resisted the idea.

Ceop, the UK government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders, called for a panic button to be installed on all leading social networking sites last November.

Bebo became the first network to add the button with MySpace following suit, but Facebook resisted the change, claiming that it’s own reporting systems were sufficient.

Pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, who she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing Ceop’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

The agreement to launch a child safety application is the culmination of months of negotiation between Ceop and Facebook.

Jim Gamble, Ceop’s chief executive, said in a statement: “Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCeop button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

“By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCeop button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site.”

In addition to the online reporting application, a new Facebook/Ceop page is being set up, with a range of topics that, it is hoped, will be of interest to teenagers, such as celebrities, music and exams. It will link these subjects to questions about online safety.

Over 5 billion mobile phone connections worldwide

July 13, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

There are now more than five billion connections worldwide which means there are more than three times as many phones as personal computers.
Over 5 billion mobile phone connections worldwideMore than a billion mobile phone connections have been added to the global tally in just 18 months, according to Wireless Intelligence.

In many regions, penetration exceeds 100%, where there is more than one connection per person in the country.

The four billion connections mark was surpassed at the end of 2008, and analysts at Wireless Intelligence predict six billion connections worldwide by the middle of 2012.

The Asia-Pacific region including India and China is the main source of growth, accounting for 47% of of global mobile connections at the end of June 2010, according to the firm.

“This device has become part of the fabric of society, whether a teenage girl taking a Blackberry to bed with her, or a farmer in an African village trying to find out the latest crop prices.”

He added that more than 10 billion phones have been sold worldwide since 1994, with market giant Nokia selling 3.4 billion alone.

“This means that there are 5 billion phones sitting in people’s bottom drawers somewhere,” he said.

In western Europe, mobile phone penetration has reached 130%, which Mr Wood attributed in part to mobile phone operators including in their statistics connections that have been dormant for many months.

“But often people have more than one phone, a home phone and a work phone,” he said.

“The growth of connected devices will also drive this phenomenon, a laptop with a USB dongle, the Apple iPad, and so on.

In rapidly developing eastern Europe, overall penetration is not far behind western Europe, at 123%, according to Wireless Intelligence.

How your Apple iPhone spies on you

July 12, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Users and criminals using the Apple iPhone are unwittingly providing police with a wealth of information that could be used against them.
How your Apple iPhone spies on youAs the communications device grows in popularity, technology experts and US law enforcement agencies are devoting increasing efforts to understanding their potential for forensics investigators.

While police have tracked criminals by locating their position via conventional mobile phone towers, iPhones offer far more information, say experts.

“There are a lot of security issues in the design of the iPhone that lend themselves to retaining more personal information than any other device,” said Jonathan Zdziarski, a former computer hacker who now teaches US law enforcers how to retrieve data from mobile phones.

These devices organise people’s lives and, if you’re doing something criminal, something about it is going to go through that phone.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since the product was launched in 2007.

Mr Zdziarski told The Daily Telegraph he suspected that security had been neglected on the iPhone as it had been intended as a consumer product rather than a business one like rivals such as the Blackberry.

An example was the iPhone’s keyboard logging cache, which was designed to correct spelling but meant that an expert could retrieve anything typed on the keyboard over the past three to 12 months, he said.

In addition, every time an iPhone’s internal mapping system is closed down, the device snaps a screenshot of the phone’s last position and stores it.

Investigators could access “several hundred” such images from the iPhone and so establish its user’s whereabouts at certain times, he said.

In a further design feature that can also help detectives, iPhone photos include so-called “geotags” so that, if posted online, they indicate precisely where a picture was taken and the serial number of the phone that took it.

“Very, very few people have any idea how to actually remove data from their phone,” a mobile phone researcher for US Customs and Border Protection told the Detroit Free Press.

“It may look like everything’s gone but for anybody who’s got a clue, retrieving that information is easy.”

Apple bans fraudulent developer who hacked into iTunes

July 09, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Apple has banned a Vietnamese developer from its app store after he was implicated in fraudulently pushing his titles to their best sellers list.
Apple bans fraudulent developer who hacked into iTunesAccording to Apple, Thuat Nguyen hacked around 400 iTunes accounts, in order to use their credit card details to boost sales of his comic book apps.

Apple said it had tightened its security as a result of the hack, but it has put fraudulent activity on iTunes into the spotlight.

At one point Mr Nguyen’s apps occupied 42 of the top 50 book apps sold.

In a statement Apple said that the developer and his apps have been removed from the iTunes store “for violating the developer Program License Agreement including fraudulent purchase patterns”.

“The iTunes servers were not compromised. An extremely small percentage of users, 400 of the 150 million iTunes users, were impacted,” it said.

It recommended that people worried that their credit card had been stolen should contact their financial institution and change their account password.

It will now ask users to enter their credit card security code more frequently when making purchases on iTunes.

It is not the first time that users have complained about their iTunes accounts being hacked but it is one of the first that an app bought using compromised accounts has dominated the charts.

Amichai Shulman, chief technology officer of security firm Imperva, believes this was Mr Nguyen’s biggest mistake.

“It was probably a bogus book and it was just a way to take money from one account and put it in another. If he had kept it out of the top 50 the scam may never have been detected,” he said.

“We are seeing a trend for hackers targetting accounts such as iTunes, online poker accounts. You can monetise this kind of account very quickly,” he said.

It is likely the details of iTunes accounts were acquired via a phishing attack or from other compromised accounts such as web mail, said Mr Shulman.