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Archive for August, 2010

iPhone health apps save lives

August 31, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

More than 3 million doctors have downloaded a 59p application – invented by Prof Peter Bentley, a researcher from University College London – which turns an Apple iPhone into a stethoscope.
iPhone health apps save livesLast week Professor Bentley introduced a free version of the app, which is being downloaded by more than 500 users a day.

Experts say the software, a major advance in medical technology, has saved lives and enabled doctors in remote areas to access specialist expertise.

“Everybody is very excited about the potential of the adoption of mobile phone technology into the medical workplace, and rightly so,” said Bentley, who initially developed the app “as a fun toy”.

“Smartphones are incredibly powerful devices packed full of sensors, cameras, high-quality microphones with amazing displays,” he said. “They are capable of saving lives, saving money and improving healthcare in a dramatic fashion – and we carry these massively powerful computers in our pockets.”

Bentley’s iStethoscope Pro application is not the only mobile phone programme lightening doctors’ bags and transforming their practices: there are nearly 6,000 applications related to health in the Apple App Store.

The uptake has been rapid. In late 2009, two-thirds of doctors and 42% of the public were using smartphones – in effect inexpensive handheld computers – for personal and professional reasons. More than 80% of doctors said they expected to own a smartphone by 2012.

However, experts say they are being prevented from exploiting the technology’s opportunities. Bentley says that he is unable to launch a new range of applications because of out-of-date regulations.

“It’s much easier to develop technology than it is to get permission to use it,” he said. “I could create a mobile ultrasound scanner and an application to measure the oxygen content in blood, but the regulations stop me. We’re not allowed to turn the phone itself into a medical device, and what that precisely means is currently a grey area in terms of regulation. That’s the only reason we’re not seeing a flood of these devices yet.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the government body with responsibility for standards of safety, quality and performance in healthcare – recently set up the Medical Device Technology Forum, a group of industry representatives, regulators, users and scientists, to help establish how to regulate novel technologies.

European regulators are also striving to bring their guidelines up to date. A group of regulators from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Sweden and the UK was set up last December to develop guidance for software under the European Medical Device Regulations. They are expected to report at the end of the year.

Now Spain complains to Google about privacy violations in Street View

August 19, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Just a day after Google ceo Eric Schmidt complained about competitors’ data security issues, Spain has became the latest country to complain to Google over it’s own privacy violations during the mapping for its “Street View” facility.
Now Spain complains to Google about privacy violations in Street ViewA Madrid judge has ordered a Google representative to appear in court in October as part of an investigation into whether the company committed a “computer crime” while taking photographs of city streets in Spain.

The service launched in more than 30 countries provides internet users with street level views of public buildings and private homes.

The Spanish probe comes following Google’s acknowledgement in May that the technology used by its “Street View” cars had also inadvertently recorded fragments of people’s online activities broadcast over wireless networks for the past four years.

The company said it had collected information from non secure Wi-Fi networks across the globe, but it maintains it never used the data and said it hasn’t broken any laws.

Judge Raquel Fernandino has issued the subpoena following a complaint filed in June by private internet watchdog and technology consulting agency Apedanica.

Google also is facing investigations or inquiries over this practice, which it says it has now discontinued, in the United States, Germany and Australia.

Google chief- pot calling kettle black over Facebook data security fears

August 18, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google- a company which itself is the subject of a number data security investigations, has launched an amazing attack against Facebook.Google chief- pot calling kettle black over Facebook data security fearsHe has issued a stark warning over the amount of personal data people leave on the internet and suggested that many of them will be forced one day to change their names in order to escape their cyber past.

In a startling admission from a man whose company has made billions by perfecting the art of hoarding, storing and retrieving information on us, Mr Schmidt suggested that the enormous quantity of detail we leave online may not be such a good thing after all.

The man who – alongside Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page – runs the world’s largest search engine said that young people will need to go as far as changing their identities if they are to truly erase what they have left online.

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “I mean we really have to think about these things as a society.”

For a man whose company is built on the ability to store information and retrieve it again in a faster and more efficient way than its rivals, Mr Schmidt’s admission revealed a surprising concern among Google’s leadership over the importance of data privacy.

But it has also provoked a wider debate on the sheer amount of information we give away about ourselves online and how most of that data is virtually un-erasable.

Google has made billions from storing data on its customers’ browsing habits so that it can use that data to target them with personalised adverts. It also runs the kind of websites that have pioneered the open sharing of information online.

They also own You Tube, the world’s largest video sharing website; it handles billions of our emails through Gmail; and – if you live in a big city – chances are that a Google Street View car has photographed your front door. A series of recent acquisitions also suggests it is hoping to move into the social networking market, the area of the internet that most concerns privacy campaigners.

Thanks to the global popularity of social networking – an estimated 600 million people have personal online profiles – friends, prospective employers and enemies alike are able to access photographs, videos and blogs that we may have long forgotten with a few simple clicks of a mouse.Recently one columnist in The New York Times went so far as to describe our current world as an age defined by “the impossibility of erasing your posted past and moving on”.

Many websites yesterday picked up on the apparent disconnect between Mr Schmidt’s comments and his company’s ethos.

Chris Williams, of the online tech news website The Register, said: “Recording everything and making it knowable by everyone all the time is Google’s stated mission, and it is profiting handsomely from the fact that society doesn’t understand the consequences.”

Other blogs remarked that one previous instance when Mr Schmidt had admitted concerns over the amount of personal information stored online was in 2005 when Google blacklisted the online technology magazine Cnet for an entire year.

In an article discussing privacy concerns generated by Google’s data mining capabilities, Cnet’s reporters published Mr Schmidt’s salary, named the neighbourhood where he lives, some of his hobbies and political donations. All the information had been gleaned from Google searches.

But while bloggers and web forums reacted with tangible scepticism to Mr Schmidt’s comments, others welcomed his frankness.

“His comments are a little ironic but they are also timely,” said Dylan Sharpe from Big Brother Watch, which has campaigned against Google collecting wifi data on web users while taking photographs with its Street View cars.

He added: “Google is a company that specialises in knowing where you are, what you are doing and who you are talking to. That’s a scary prospect even though Google’s users sign up to this sort of data collection willingly.

“But Mr Schmidt is completely right on how much information we are giving away online. Right now there are millions of young kids and teenagers who, when they apply for jobs in 10 years’ time, will find that there is so much embarrassing stuff about them online that they cannot take down.”

Those who wish to delete what they have put up online, meanwhile, may find it next to impossible to entirely erase their cyber past.

Privacy campaigners say more needs to be done to stop young people in particular depositing information online that may come back to haunt them.

How to promote your business on Facebook

August 17, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Online marketing with social media is not just for large companies- any business can prosper.How to promote your business on FacebookAny small business that invests its time wisely can improve it’s customer or client loyalty and word of mouth marketing with an effective social media strategy.

Social media is useful for almost every type of business. Cafes, retail stores, and even B2B professional services can build their online reputation and increase trust.

By taking advantage of social media, businesses can make themselves more accessible, more personable, and maintain long term connections.

Facebook is the most popular social networking website on the internet, and often the first site that comes to mind when people mention social media.

Establishing your business presence on facebook requires an ongoing effort, but can have some great rewards if done well.

Here’s Dr Search’s advice for getting started with Facebook.

1. Create a business page – Creating a page for your business is really quite simple and gives you an instant presence on facebook to share information about your company.

To get you started visit www.facebook.com/advertising/?pages and click Create a Page. Here’s a few suggestions for populating your page with relevant business information:
* Overview of the business
* Website and contact information
* Your logo and pictures of the business
* Videos
* Press releases and blog posts
* Company news and updates
* Your contact details

2. Interact with your fans – Once you’ve setup a page for your business, the most important step is to interact with your fans!

Try and post updates to your page at least weekly which can include new blog posts, competitions and links to new products or special discounts.

It’s also important that you engage with any customers that leave a comment on your wall or wall posts. Remember that facebook is a public forum so take care with your replies and show potential customers that you provide excellent customer service.

3. Promote your facebook page – The tricky thing about facebook pages is that you can’t friend someone the same way you can from your personal profile. People can elect to become fans of your page, but only if they know about it.

Here’s a few ideas on different ways to promote your page:

* Identify contacts from your personal profile that are business contacts and invite them to become fans of your business
* Include links to your facebook pages in the footer of email communications with customers
* Include a facebook icon on your website or blog and give customers some incentive to become a fan (special discounts, coupons etc.)
* Promote your facebook page using other social networks that you participate in like Twitter and your blog posts.

India may shut down Google and Skype services after reviewing BlackBerry messages

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

India may shut down Google and Skype messaging services over security concerns as the government threatened a similar crackdown on BlackBerry services.
India may shut down Google and Skype services after reviewing BlackBerry messagesThe Financial Times quoted from the minutes of a July 12 meeting between telecommunication ministry security officials and operator associations to look at possible solutions to “intercept and monitor” encrypted communications.

“There was consensus that there more than one type of service for which solutions are to be explored. Some of them are BlackBerry, Skype, Google etc,” according to the department’s minutes. “It was decided first to undertake the issue of BlackBerry and then the other services.”

On Thursday, the Indian government became the latest of several nations that have threatened to cut off Research In Motion’s encrypted BlackBerry email and instant messaging services if the Canadian company does not address national security concerns.

India has set an August 31 deadline for RIM. It wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

India’s demands follow a deal with Saudi Arabia, where a source said Research In Motion agreed to give authorities codes for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Algeria also seek access.

Officials say RIM had proposed tracking emails without sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.

The Financial Times report said representatives from two of the telecom operator associations present confirmed the details of the meeting earlier this month.

“At the last security meeting, the agencies were talking about BlackBerry. They were also coming out heavily on Skype and Google,” said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of India.

A shutdown would affect one million users in India out of the smartphone’s 41 million users. India is one of RIM’s fastest growing markets.

RIM, unlike rivals Nokia and Apple, operates its own network through secure servers located in Canada and other countries, such as Britain.

In a matter of a few weeks, the BlackBerry device – long the darling of the world’s CEOs and politicians, including US President Barack Obama – has become a target for its sealed email and messaging services with governments around the world.

Playboy censors it’s own iPad app to pass Apple’s morality rules

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

Playboy, the adult magazine run by Hugh Heffner, has agreed to remove all adult content from its iPad app in order to avoid breaching Apple’s strict content rules.
Playboy censors it's own iPad app to pass Apple's morality rulesAnyone paying £3.20 for the digital version of the magazine will have to do without the explicit photo spreads that titillated generations.

The Playmate of the Month, one of the magazine’s most popular photo features, will only appear on the iPad as a tasteful headshot.

Playboy agreed to censor its content in order to secure a place in the App Store, from which any software which Apple considers “obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory” is banned.

While Playboy has long trumpeted the strength of its journalism – “I only read it for the articles” is the standard response of men caught with a copy of the magazine by their partners – many iPad users have expressed frustration at the self-censorship.

Apple is almost unique in the technology industry for taking an active stance against pornography. In April Steve Jobs, the chief executive, wrote to a customer who complained about Apple’s self-appointed role as moral arbiter to insist that “we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.”

Android Market, the Google run App Store rival, does not ban adult content.

Hi-tech criminals are turning their attention from pcs to smartphones using fraudulent apps

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

While the vast majority of malicious programs are designed to attack Windows PCs, there is evidence that some hi-tech criminals are starting to turn their attention to smartphones.
Hi-tech criminals are turning their attention from pcs to smartphones using fraudulent appsBooby trapped applications for smartphones have been found online and in recent weeks Apple and Google have removed applications from their online stores over fears that they were malicious.

Chris Wysopal, co-founder and technology head at security firm Veracode, which helped the BBC with its project to replicate the apps, said smartphones were now at the point the PC was in 1999.

At that time malicious programs were a nuisance. A decade on and they are big business, he said, with gangs of criminals churning out malware that tries to steal saleable information.

At that time home computers in the form of the BBC Micro, Vic 20 and Sinclair ZX machines were in vogue. The proud owner of a Vic 20 I spent hours laboriously copying line after line of code out of magazines to get games running.

The end result was a program that does not look great but gets the job done. The process has educated me about modern programming and put me on my guard about what goes on my phone.

Mobiles, he said, offered a potentially more tempting target to those criminals.

“Mobile phones are really personal devices,” said Mr Wysopal. “You might have one computer for a family but every family member has a personal device and it is with them all the time.”

Simeon Coney, a spokesman for mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile, said criminals were focused on handsets for one simple reason: money.

“In the PC domain the only way a criminal can generally take money from a user is by having them click on a web link, go to a website, purchase a product and enter their credit card details,” said Mr Coney.

“In a mobile network the device is intrinsically linked to a payment plan, to a user’s credit,” he said. Nothing happens on a mobile network, no call is made or text is sent, without money changing hands.

Criminals have tapped into that revenue stream by getting phone owners to dial or contact premium rate numbers. Now they are turning their attention to applications and the lucrative information they scoop up.

The App Genome project by mobile security firm Lookout was set up to map what applications produced for smartphones do. It tried to find out if they do everything they claim and if they do more than expected.

The project has looked at 300,000 smartphone applications and mapped the internal functions of one-third of them.

It found that about one-third of applications it has studied seek to get at a user’s location and about 10% try to get at contact and address lists. The study also found that a significant proportion of applications included code copied and pasted from other programs.

To get a better understanding of the barriers to creating malicious programs the BBC downloaded a widely used application development kit, learned the basics of programming in Java and gathered some snippets of code already released on the net.

It was possible in a few weeks to put together a crude game that also, out of sight, gathered contacts, copied text messages, logged the phone’s location and sent it to a specially set up e-mail address.

The spyware took up about 250 lines of the 1500 making up the entire program. The code was downloaded to a single handset but was not put on an application store.

All of the information-stealing elements of the spyware program were legitimate functions turned to a nefarious use.

“That’s kind of the scary thing,” said Mr Wysopal from Veracode. “The face of the application, be it a game or a simple application that is for fun, can have behaviour that is not visible at the surface.”

It’s way less effort to hack into someone else’s application, as you do not have to write it yourself”

By contrast, he said, stealing a popular application, packing it with booby-trapped code and offering it for free can reap rewards.

Some application makers have found that 97% of the people using their software are doing so via pirated versions.

Application stores are making efforts to police the programs they offer. So far the number of booby-trapped applications remains low. But many feel the threat is only likely to grow.

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10912376

Skype lines up a $100 US flotation for the autumn

August 11, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Internet phone firm Skype has filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the US as the Luxembourg based company hopes to raise up to $100m (£63m) in a stock market flotation.
Skype lines up a $100 US flotation for the autumnSkype will sell American Depositary Shares (ADS) – which represent shares in foreign companies – and expects to trade on the Nasdaq index.

Skype’s software lets computer and mobile phone users talk to each other for free and make cut price calls to mobiles and landlines.

The company did not specify when its shares would go on sale, or at what price- or what the total comapny valuation might be.

According to the regulatory filing, in the first half of 2010 Skype had 560 million registered users, who logged 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls.

Online auction site eBay bought Skype for $2.6bn in 2005, but sold 70% of the company for $2bn last year.

A group of private investors made up of private equity firm Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Andreessen Horowitz bought a 56% stake.

Joltid, a firm controlled by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, owns a 14% stake.

In its filing, Skype said it made a net profit of $13.1m in the first six months of the year, but warned that it “may not maintain profitability”.

The company reported a loss of $417.5m in 2009, thanks largely to legal costs in settling a dispute about the ownership of the technology it uses.

“We may incur net losses again and cannot assure you that we will be profitable in the future or that, if we are, we will be able to maintain profitability,” the filing said.

You don’t know what you’re doing BT

August 10, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

BT has been forced to compensate viewers after a techical glitch left hundreds of people unable to access its new Sky Sports TV service despite paying over £30 a month to sign up.
You don't know what you're doing BTSky Sports went live on the BT Vision service last Sunday, and immediately customers flooded BT’s internet forums with complaints about the picture freezing after only a few minutes of viewing.

BT admitted there was a technical problem with the viewing card which subscribers need to insert into their BT Vision set-top boxes to access the Sky Sports service, and has now been resolved.

ITV uses the same technology as Freeview to broadcast the Sky Sports channels, but encrypts the signal so that those channels can only be watched by paying subscribers who have the correct viewing card.

Viewers also complained about BT’s customer service.

“Shambolic,” posted one customer on BT’s internet forum , “If I was able to watch Sky Sports 1 (which clearly me and hundreds of others cannot) the crowd would be singing ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’,

“I want my money back, and BT you shouldn’t advertise a service you can’t deliver on. You’re idiots.”

BT said that it would compensate people who had been affected by giving them a month’s free Sky Sports, which would normally cost £6.99 or £11.99 a month. However customers must also sign up for a BT phone line and BT broadband, taking the total cost to over £30 a month.

These problems will be a significant embarrassment to BT, which announced the new service with much fanfare last month as a cheap competitor to Sky’s own digital satellite service. BT’s move followed a decision by Ofcom, the media regulator, which forced Sky to wholesale some of its sports channels to competitors, including BT, at discount rates.

BT is looking increasingly accident-prone, after Sky wrong-footed it by increasing its own retail prices when BT had already fixed the amount it would charge for its new service.

While the Sky increase made the BT package more attractive to potential subscribers, it meant that BT would have to pay a higher wholesale price to Sky, cutting deeply into BT’s potential profits.

Google kills off Google Wave

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

Google has ended support for its Google Wave real-time collaboration and communication because of a lack of users.
Google kills off Google WaveGoogle has confirmed that it will no longer be developing Google Wave following disappointing take-up among users

Google, which unveiled Wave at its annual I/O developer conference last year to whoops and cheers, said that it would no longer be working on the real-time collaboration and communication tool.

The company acknowledged that despite huge internal excitement over the possibilities offered by Wave, users did not display the same enthusiasm.

“Google Wave set a high bar for what was possible in a web browser,” wrote Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of operations at Google in a blog post.

“We showed character-by-character live typing, and the ability to drag and drop files from the desktop – even “playback” the history of changes.

“We were jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though we weren’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication,” he admitted.

“But despite numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a stand-alone product.”

Hölzle said that Google would continue to support the product until at least the end of this year, and would enable the technology that underpinned Wave to be used in other Google projects, and by third-party developers. He also said that Google would develop a tool to help existing Wave users to “liberate” any content they had archived in Wave so it could be saved elsewhere.

“Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science,” said Hölzle. “We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue to create innovations with the potential to advance technology and the wider web.”

Although many in the technology industry had long believed Google Wave was underperforming, the news that Google was ending support for one of its most innovative new products came as a surprise to most.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, played down the significance of the Wave announcement. “Our policy is, we try things,” he told delegates at a technology conference in Lake Tahoe, California.

“We celebrate our failures. This is a company where it is absolutely OK to try something that is very hard, have it not be successful, take the learning and apply it to something new.”