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When I see an article starting with the sentence saying a company offering free software has urged people to start reaping the benefits of free software, I get this sinking feeling. I mean, they would, wouldn't they - it's a bit like Microsoft saying everyone should get the benefit of total compatibility from its various offerings. True though it might be, it's hardly a surprise. Which is why the announcement that [URL="http://www.globalgraphics.com"]Global Graphics[/URL] is pushing people towards the free model left me cold at first. It's a supplier of the systems it wants to push - I therefore didn't look …

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Social networking site [URL="http://www.friendster.com"]Friendster[/URL] is going to get an overhaul under its new owner [URL="http://www.molglobal.net"]MOL Global[/URL]. Commentators including the [URL="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/aug/18/socialnetworking-facebook"]Guardian[/URL] in the UK have reported that the site will become a games portal, putting it on less of a head-to-head footing with its main rival, [URL="http://www.facebook.com"]Facebook[/URL]. You could predict that this will be the first of many such realignments. It is difficult to imagine Friendster (or [URL="http://www.friendfeed.com"]Friendfeed[/URL] before its acquisition by Facebook actually squaring up to the social networking giant in any serious way by now. Not that these people are bad at what they do, far from it; but …

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Sometimes you see a press release that's just company puff. Other times you find something you weren't expecting - like the revelation that 46% of the UK's smallest businesses don't have a website, according to [URL="http://press.1and1.co.uk/xml/article;hsessionid=ac170c23hPUPCtPdReCSi1kPQvlF3gQG?article_id=766"]1&1 Internet.[/URL] The initial reaction is to start making excuses. If they're very small then maybe they can't spare the time to develop one; I thought that for a moment until recalling that I am myself a one-person business, a freelance journalist, and although it's based on a pre-packaged design my own [URL="http://www.clapperton.co.uk"]website[/URL] at least exists. There are of course micro businesses that don't need …

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Until very recently the idea that [URL="http://www.apple.com"]Apple[/URL] might have to recall a product would have seemed ridiculous. It's one of the best manufacturers of stuff in the world, people would have responded; you can't make them do that, people love the products too much. Then the iPhone 4 came out. It was hyped like the rest, it sold out like the rest - and only yesterday the Consumer Report organisation in America, usually in thrall to all things Apple, declined to recommend it to its customers. The reason? Because in spite of Apple's claims, the Consumer Report people believe the …

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It's very interesting to read that the Playstation 3 [URL="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8478764.stm"]might at last have been hacked[/URL] by the same man who 'jailbroke' the iPhone for the first time. Interesting but not all that much use. I mean, who wants a hacked PS3 anyway? The report to which I've linked says there are a number of reasons someone might want to do this. You could persuade it to play home made games. OK, copy that, it might be interesting. You could play pirated games. Not to be encouraged but I understand the appeal (although a second-hand game is usually so cheap it's …

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Sony has confirmed that it will stop manufacturing and supporting floppy disks from next year. That's it, there will be no more. This tells the technology community a number of things. First, if anyone actually cares about this then the end user community, and particulary the home worker, are further behind the times than we might have thought. I can't remember the last time I used a floppy, and I can't say I recall exactly which was my first computer not to have the right sort of drive. Second, it tells us we can expect a lot of support calls …

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Internet marketers using social networks beware - linking to stories on the Internet, much as news bloggers do here on Daniweb and elsewhere, may be about to become a high risk activity. The owner of website [URL="http://www.skyscrapercity.com"]skyscrapercity.com[/URL] is being sued by the Las Vegas Review-Journal for infringement over one of its articles. The arguments are detailed on a [URL="http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=133992"]Mediapost[/URL] site. This isn't the right forum to go through the legal arguments, which are on the link if you want them. The main thrust of the defendant's case is that the paper had offered an implied license to reproduce its material …

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Google is making it much simpler to work out which photos you're allowed to use for what, and which you aren't. The company is allowing people to search for pictures and you can filter by what's available for reuse, what's available for reuse without modification and so on. It's using the Creative Commons scheme among other things. This is a very good thing indeed. I'm on a number of social networks old and new and one of the most frequently asked of the FAQs is about whether you can use a picture or not that you've found on the Internet. …

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A marketing company in America has been rapped by the Federal Trade Commission for publishing reviews of its clients' games on iTunes. The organisation, Reverb Marketing, has issued a statement suggesting it regarded the matter as trivial and didn't want to spend ages fighting this sort of lawsuit. We haven't put a link to its website in this instance because it was down as this story was being written; that could of course be coincidence. The ruling follows a change to FTC guidelines this year in which it has come out against companies or their agencies posing as ordinary members …

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A small story in the context of the rest of the world is the UK Government's call for the banning of forthcoming computer game, [URL="http://www.medalofhonor.com"]Medal of Honor[/URL]. British Defence Secretary [URL="http://http://www.liamfox.co.uk/text.aspx?id=1"]Liam Fox[/URL] has called for the ban because unlike its predecessors the game is set in Afghanistan, where of course both US and UK troops are still dying. Dr. Fox is incensed and outraged that such a thing should be used for entertainment and has said so. His Government Department has made it clear (and he hasn't objected) that this is a personal view. There are complex issues about freedom …

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[URL="http://www.dell.com"]Dell[/URL] is going to launch its latest assault on the hand-held device market with the release of a handset called Aero. It's going to be available in the US only but that's a big enough market; it will cost $99 on contract. It's a move that will surprise many, for two reasons. First, it's based on [URL="http://www.google.com"]Google[/URL]'s Android operating system. This is reasonable and as a platform it's overtaking [URL="http://www.apple.com"]Apple[/URL]'s iOS, leading Apple further into a similar position to the one it occupies in the computer market - a minority system but one in which it has a 100% market …

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[URL="http://www.google.com"]Google[/URL] has upgraded its mobile version of [URL="http://www.youtube.com"]YouTube[/URL] so that it shares more in common with the desktop version on HTML5 enabled phones. This anticipates the idea that more people will watch videos on the move than on the desktop, so you'll get a better browsing experience, the ability to like and dislike and other social elements. Put this in the context of a [URL="http://www.juniperresearch.com/reports/4G_LTE_Hardware_Opportunities"]Jupiter report[/URL] which says there will be 300 million mobile broadband subscribers by 2015 and you can see why Google would want to do something like this. More importantly it's arguably taking the mobile video market …

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[URL="http://www.adobe.com"]Adobe[/URL] has nailed its Android-coloured flag even more firmly to the wall than it had done before. The company hosted its so-called Android Conference yesterday in which it put forward the ways in which its software will be closely tied to the Google-owned operating system. It's not all positive. Adobe Flash 10.1 relies on some heavily functional hardware; not every new Android phone will work with it. Adobe is also refusing to certify certain FroYo devices because the battery power is terrible. The company will be offering a new developers platform, called Flex. All of which ties in with the …

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[URL="http://www.facebook.com"]Facebook[/URL] has got in the way of [URL="http://www.google.com"]Google[/URL] and acquired [URL="http://www.friendfeed.com"]Friendfeed[/URL]. This is not great news for Google. The search giant has one major chink in its armour; you can't search social media in real time. Once entries have been around for a while you can find stuff; I've certainly turned up Tweets from Twitter with obscure searches on Google, but they've been from days before rather than five minutes before. As a journalist I could do with more up to the minute information because that's the way it's being written/created at the moment. Google couldn't have foreseen this when …

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Is this the beginning of a backlash? It looks as though there's some research out there to suggest that the over-55s are starting to [URL="http://www.businessinsider.com/people-over-55-are-quitting-facebook-2009-5"]desert Facebook[/URL]. There could be a number of reasons for this. The best guesses I've seen mostly involve money. This time last year you might recall there was a slew of stories about people being banned from social networking at work because - wait for it - working time is for working, and if you want to do social stuff then the polite thing seems to be to do it on your own time. (Just say …

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It's not in the stores yet but in Europe at least the anticipation is hotting up for the [URL="http://ww.nokia.com"]Nokia[/URL] N8 smartphone. It's causing excited ripples for two reasons: first it's going to be seen as the first time Nokia has come out with something serious to combat the iPhone in its core market, and second because Nokia is so clearly still a [URL="http://www.symbian.co.uk"]Symbian[/URL] company. It's worth repeating the first of those points. Nokia, still the market leader in the mobile market by a long stretch, is only just about to release its competitor to the Apple iPhone. This should tell …

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Nobody should have any reason to wish the fledgeling [URL="http://www.hmvdigital.com"]HMVDigital[/URL] music store, launching today, anything but the best of luck (unless you're an Apple shareholder). A bad business is in nobody's interests and a competitor to an obvious leader is a good thing. On the surface many of the omens are good. HMV has a solid track record as a music company, which Apple certainly lacked. The download market is growing healthily but the continuing dominance of the CD format suggests there's a lot of organic growth to come before competitors have to start poaching each other's market shares. A …

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[URL="http://www.facebook.com"]Facebook[/URL] has decided to kill off its virtual gifts. According to a report from [URL="http://mashable.com/2010/07/08/facebook-gifts-rip/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29"]Mashable[/URL] nobody is saying why, they're just cutting it out. I'll tell you why. Because it was a rubbish idea, poorly executed. OK, rephrase: as a standalone idea, it sucked. As a component of something else it might work. The idea was that you'd find a friend on Facebook and then send them a virtual present. A beer, a cake, whatever. Now you can call me old-fashioned if you want, but if anyone wishes to send me a beer they're welcome to do so - [I]if[/I] …

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It's an odd thing to say about a business that spends so much of its time online and is so skilled at search, video (through YouTube) and all that stuff. But for me, [URL="http://www.google.com"]Google[/URL] has only half an idea of what it's sitting on and a number of sites out-do it. This one, for example. Until yesterday. Which was when the behemoth announced - or conceded - that it was using human editors rather than an algorithm. As an experiment. So you get this colossus, this huge company with all of its resources and the entire web at its disposal, …

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Occasionally something crops up as a classic example of how not to build a social media network, and the BBC's decision to insult its [URL="http://www.facebook.com"]Facebook[/URL] fans is a good example. The idea was to put a dummy site up as a test run for the London Olympics - they're a couple of years away but you might as well find the glitches now. Some online commentators have criticised them for captioning the photos wrongly. This is nonsense; any writer will confirm that when you're checking a layout you don't use proper text, in fact Latin is the most usual because …

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The news - or rather unsubstantiated reports - that Apple is developing an online, cloud version of iTunes can be no surprise to anyone. The surprise, in the light of [URL="http://www.spotify.com"]Spotify[/URL], [URL="http://www.sky.com/songs"]Sky Songs[/URL] and other competitors is that Apple hasn't made a move before. You could actually argue that the company has been slow on the uptake this time. Uncharacteristically, Apple has failed in a big way to update its store more or less since it started. Yes of course it now has videos and movies which it's only had for a couple of years, and by all means the …

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Today the news has come through - some would say it's a good thing, some will be appalled - that the XXX domain has had approval from ICANN, the authority that sets things up. Personally I'm delighted, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think a 45 year old man might have. I'm first delighted because as long as the owners of these domains play ball, and as long as the adult entertainment industry moves itself to the new domain, it's going to be really easy to filter out. Second, although as a 17 years-married man the female body …

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Back this morning from an excellent evening hosted by Toshiba listening to Bruno Beusch, managing director of [URL="http://www.gamehotel.net"]gamehotel[/URL]. He gave a talk about how games were becoming increasingly pervasive and was quite persuasive; the thing that really caught my attention, however, was the idea that game makers would be able to run the world's finances better than the bankers have done. OK, we'll take all the gags about how a trained hamster or three could make a better job of it than the bankers have managed lately as read. And we'll assume, rightly, that the only people coming up with …

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Interesting that the US Department of Defense has banned thumb drives. The problem is that they can carry viruses and infect computers - and if your nation's defense depends on these systems (and by extension in the case of the US so does the defense of the rest of the world) they need to be looked after. So no thumb drives, no CDs. Umm...yes. But if you're going to take this seriously let's have a look at other removable storage. Here's a list, top of my head, of potentially virus-carrying items I could lay my hands on in my office …

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Apple has apparently shipped 3 million iPads. You'll be aware of that because you read the papers, the blogs, the press releases - and Apple is brilliant at telling everyone when it has a hit (I don't remember getting so much information when it was pushing the Newton). No doubt it'll be telling us how many iphone 4s it has shipped before too long, too, although there won't be one in my house until it catches up with itself for the quantities it needs to make. But let's stick with the iPad for the moment. I bought mine on the …

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A few days ago I was reporting that people were [URL="http://www.daniweb.com/news/story291008.html"]unable to buy an iPhone 4[/URL] even if they were an existing customer. It gets more complicated. The story now is that O2 and other UK carriers are accepting orders only from people who are existing customers. (Except me, as you'll gather from the previous story). It now emerges that a number of people in America have had emails saying their iPhone orders will not be fulfilled. They have been asked to go to a retail store instead. No orders being taken yet from some outlets, even for existing customers. …

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Let me get one thing straight: the [URL="http://www.apple.com/iphone/"]iPhone 4[/URL] is undoubtedly a beautiful device. It's due out in the UK next week - stop giggling - and I would very much like one. The problem is that although ordering started on Tuesday, I've been unable to order one. This is because I already have an iPhone. I want to upgrade my existing contract. And I can't. The reason is simple. Apple had all of the pre-order iPhones and the system went into meltdown. That much is well known. What may not be so readily apparent to readers outside the UK …

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The web was awash with rumours yesterday and now there's confirmation - [URL="http://www.aol.com"]AOL[/URL] has sold [URL="http://www.bebo.com"]Bebo[/URL] to [URL="http://www.criterioncapital.co.uk"]Criterion Capital Partners[/URL]. The "why sell" question is too easy to answer to even bother with - it was dying on its backside. The early adopters of social media were fond of Bebo, and some creative types put a drama on it, [URL="http://www.bebo.com/Profile.jsp?MID=367137231&MemberId=4337221200"]Katemodern[/URL], which had a nomination for a Bafta award for innovative use of technology. That was a lifetime ago in the social web. By the time I wrote my book last year it was more of a footnote - the place …

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Steve Jobs of [URL="http://www.apple.com"]Apple[/URL] has declared that [URL="http://www.microsoft.com"]Microsoft[/URL] Windows is in terminal decline. No really, that's what he's said at the [URL="http://allthingsd.com/d/"]All Things Digital[/URL] conference in LA. And he's had backing from people like Dreamworks, who now access the Internet through an iPad. OK, we'll take it as read that we understand there's a lot of vested interest going on here. Jobs would love to see Windows crash and burn, and he's likely to be having a load of fun watching as iPad sells 2m units. But...Windows in decline? Really? To find out whether that's actually going to happen we …

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A number of news sites, today of all days (week after the international launch of the [URL="http://www.apple.com/ipad"]iPad[/URL], expected day of the announcement of a new [URL="http://www.apple.com/iphone"]iPhone[/URL],are asking one thing: has Steve Jobs, or more precisely [URL="http://www.apple.com"]Apple[/URL], finally gotten too big? John Steward famously derided the company on TV, reminding them that they did the anti-Big Brother advertisement in which the little guy wins through, and now they're using the police to track down a missing phone prototype when it gets lost in a bar. Or stolen. Imagine asking the police to help recover stolen property. But I digress. The argument …

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The End.