Deutsche Telekom Secretly Tracked Phone Calls of Executives, Journalists (Update)

. Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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Images of Stasi-era wiretaps and spying fell over German phone company Deutsche Telekom AG (DT) earlier this week, after the company admitted Monday to hiring a consultancy firm to spy on the telephone records of prominent company executives and business journalists.

The admission came just days after a report published by German-language weekly magazine Der Spiegel, sourced from procured copies of a fax sent to Telekom late last April. The fax urgently requested Telekom lawyers to contact the management firm’s leader, who wanted to conduct a “controlled termination” of the companies’ business relationship – allegedly due to Telekom’s nonpayment of their invoices. The unnamed consultancy leader laced the fax with threats, including one warning for Telekom attorneys to “not underestimate my aggressive potential and my staying power.”

Deutsche Telekom said its spying program, which it codenamed “Clipper” and “Rheingold,” was carried out between 2005 and November 2006, with the purpose of identifying the source of the frequent leaks that plagued company decision-making. Telekom CEO Rene Obermann, who was installed after the spying allegedly took place, pledged a full investigation into the program.

“I am completely shocked by the allegations,” said Obermann. “We have involved the state prosecutors and will support them in their efforts to conduct a thorough investigation.”

The company says it did not spy on contents of the calls themselves, but rather mined connection data for interesting links between company executives and journalists. The project’s purpose, according to Der Spiegel’s April fax, was to “analyze several hundred thousand landline and mobile connection data sets of key German journalists reporting on Telekom and their private contacts,” including “several supervisory board members on the employee side.” Other spying programs were in the works, including one against an unnamed New York-based Telekom shareholder, which the Spiegel thinks is likely to be management firm Blackstone Group.

Telekom’s scandal is merely one of the latest privacy scandals to rock Germany, which is still recovering from the pervasive levels of surveillance conducted by East Germany secret police up until its dissolution 1989. In the United States, The New York Times compared the Telekom’s spying program to that of the 2006 pretexting scandal against Hewlett-Packard, which at one point included criminal charges filed against a number of company executives. That investigation officially concluded in May 2007.

Obermann reassured customers and stockholders, telling German-language newspaper Bild that “the data of our millions of mobile and fixed line customers are safe.”

Peter Schaar, who serves as the German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, noted that Telekom now has to notify everyone affected by the spying operation.

“The case must be fully investigated and consequences need to be drawn,” he said.

SOURCE

P.S: Deutsche Telekom is parent company of US Cellular Provider T-Mobile .....
Update:
Prosecutors Don't Have Proof Deutsche Telekom Viewed Bank Data
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601100&sid=aNND9a.NKNpA&refer=germany

Qualcomm Mirasol – A Revolution in Display Technology?

. Tuesday, May 27, 2008
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Is it a miracle of technology or a marketing trick – Time will show but, darn the specs sound so good:
The basic promise is:

  • Near zero power consumption, in line with E-Paper
  • Much Faster response time than LCD (slower than OLED thou)
  • Doesn’t need backlight in most conditions
  • Doesn’t suffer from poor viewability in direct sunlight
  • Unlike E-Paper, Mirasol Displays have full color natively, without use of multilayered filters
  • Doesn’t suffer from short life span and low manufacturing yields (vs OLED)
  • Resolution is on par with LCD and Oled
  • Thickness is on par with thinnest screens.

So, How it Works?

Without going into too much detail, the idea is very similar to DLP, based on MEMS technology, but instead of tiny moving mirrors reflecting strong light from projection Bulb,
Mirasol (or as Qualcomm (QCOM) calls it IMOD - Interferometric MODulator) reflect ambient light thru micro sized thin-film both off the top of the thin-film stack and off the reflective membrane.

“Depending on the height of the optical cavity, light of certain wavelengths reflecting off the membrane will be slightly out of phase with the light reflecting off the thin-film structure.
Based on the phase difference, some wavelengths will constructively interfere, while others will destructively interfere as shown in Figure 1.

As illustrated, the red wavelengths have a phase difference which leads to constructive interference, while the green and blue wavelengths have a phase difference which leads to destructive interference.
As a result, the human eye will perceive a red color, as certain wavelengths will be amplified with respect to others.
Color generation via interference is much more efficient in its use of light compared to traditional color filters and polarizers, which work on the principle of absorption and waste much of the light entering the display.”



Figure 1. IMOD Structure Showing Light Reflecting off the Thin-film Stack and Mirror Interfering to Produce Color.

The image on a mirasol display can switch between color and black by changing the membrane state.
This is accomplished by applying a voltage to the thin-film stack, which is electrically conducting and is protected by an insulating layer.
When a voltage is applied, electrostatic forces cause the membrane to collapse.
The change in the optical cavity now results in constructive interference at ultraviolet wavelengths, which are not visible to the human eye. Hence, the image on the screen appears black.
A full-color display is assembled by spatially ordering IMOD elements reflecting in the red, green and blue wavelengths as shown in Figure 1.

The Core of a mirasol Display by Qualcomm

Figure 2. Basic Structure of an IMOD Pixel

Figure 2 illustrates the basic structure of an IMOD pixel. The pixel consists of a glass substrate which is coated with thin films.
Beneath the glass is a reflective conductive membrane which is separated from the glass by a thin air gap.
When a voltage is applied to the membrane and the thin films on the glass, the membrane experiences electrostatic attraction and is drawn towards the glass.
This state is called the collapsed state and the pixel appears black as the light entering is shifted to the UV spectrum.
The application of a lower voltage level returns the membrane to the original position, called the open state. In this state the pixel appears bright and colored.
This color is generated by interference of light, a process which is much more efficient than using color filters.

SO, WHAT’S THE CATCH??
Qualcomm mentions the screens are ready for production in existing Flat Panel Makers fab, but always limits possible applications to mobile devices and in whole sub 10” displays market.
Why?? It’s so great why not use in laptops or even big screen TVs?? My guess it’s ever too expensive to size scale it or technologically not yet doable.
And second Question – How about view angles – I didn’t noticed any solid numbers in marketing materials which leads to believe it’s a possible issue.
Like I said time will show it’ll shine or be quickly forgotten, but darn it looks so promising!

Materials used:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dlp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MEMS
http://www.qualcomm.com/press/releases/2008/080519_Qualcomm_Pioneers_Industry_First_IMOD_Color_Display.html
http://www.qualcomm.com/technology/imod/index.html
http://www.qualcomm.com/common/documents/white_papers/QMT_Technology_Overview_12-07.pdf
http://www.qualcomm.com/common/documents/white_papers/QMT_Competitive_Display_Technologies_12-07.pdf


ICANN Changed IP address on one of ROOT DNS Servers

. Tuesday, May 20, 2008
0 comments

Just found this, and it's pretty important for all sysadmins to notice and react asap! In 2007 ICANN changed IP address of l.root-server.net from old: 198.32.64.12 to new one: 199.7.83.42

More info

iPhone Enterprise Data Plan on AT&T Business Portal (Update)

. Friday, May 16, 2008
0 comments

According to my sources, AT&T, on it's business self service portal web site recently added preparation for whole new plan options:

Enterprise data plans for iPhone!

Now, you'd ask yourself, why it would be where ? iPhone data plan is only $20 addition to voice plan and why it'll be different options for Enterprise, or for that matter, since iPhone doesn't support enterprise email servers ??!! The answers to both questions quite obvious to me :

1) AT&T (T) with Apple (AAPL) is about to roll out Exchange Support to iPhone based, surprisingly on Microsoft's Technology - ActiveSync 2) AT&T isn't exactly happy with fact people pay only $20 for unlimited data plan on iphone, something Apple pushed them in to and it is about to do something about it - Pricing for corporate users is going to be much closer to regular AT&T data plans from $34.99 for 4mb !! of data to $50.00 for Unlimited, and I won't be surprised if 3G Unlimited Iphone plan going to cost even more...

P.S: Update: Now I know why this info wasn't widely popular - I was 4 months late :( http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/att-announces-iphone-business-plans/ https://www.wireless.att.com/business/iphone/?bref=IB0003j3709n1441

EA Surprises - Q1 2008 financial report posts $454M Loss

. Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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In one of the biggest years ever in gaming, Electronic Arts (ERTS) posted a $454 million net loss in its fiscal 2008. That may come as a bit of a surprise, given that 27 of EA’s titles this year sold more than 1 million units, and 15 that sold more than 2 million.

In fiscal 2007, EA had 24 titles that surpassed the million mark, but managed a net income of $76 million. That’s not to say that EA just finished a bad year – far from it, as the games maker reported a net revenue of $3.665 billion in fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, up 19 percent as compared with $3.091 billion for the prior year.

In fact, the past fourth quarter was a record setting one, with sales up 84 percent to an impressive $1.13 billion. The record period was driven by PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 cross-platform titles Burnout Paradise, Army of Two and Rock Band. Despite that, net loss for the quarter was $94 million as compared with a net loss of $25 million for the prior year.

The cause for the loss can be partly attributed to the acquisition of game development studios BioWare Corp. and Pandemic Studios in a deal worth $860 million. Though not exactly of the same acquisition type, EA managed to lure former top Microsoft executive Peter Moore away from the Xbox business to helm EA Sports.

SOURCE

Microsoft Restrics Specs for Windows XP based ULPC

. Monday, May 12, 2008
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Lately I gave XP quite a bit of attention, and something came up with really annoys the **** out of me.
On one side Microsoft (MSFT) can't let the frivolity of Linux becoming OS of choice of Ultra Low priced PC's [ULPC] which are obviously physically not capable of running vista anyways, but on the other hand they still trying to shove their Vista down our throats by limiting PC specs on which OEM's can install on.

  • HDDs can be no larger than 80GB.
  • The screen size for the ULPCs can be no larger than 10.2".
  • Installed memory can be no greater than 1GB.
  • Processors must use a single core and can be no faster than 1GHz. Processors which are severely handicapped by their mobile oriented design (a la the VIA C7-M and Intel Atom) are excluded from this restriction.
"[Low-cost PC makers] have made some good inroads with open-source, and Microsoft wants to put a stop to it," said a computer OEM official who wished to remain anonymous.

Source

XP SP3 is Finnaly Out .... and Killed HP AMD Based PCs

. Sunday, May 11, 2008
0 comments

The good news: Microsoft finally rolls out long waited Service Pack 3, after delaying it even more due to issue with MS Dynamics.
But Now It's HP's time to "shine" and seems that **** hit the HP branded fan.
Accordig to Jesper Johansson, Program Manager for Security Policy at Microsoft - It looks like in might and power of someone in HP they ghosted both Intel and AMD based machines with same image !
DUH and guess what: SP3 Made AMD based machines go on endless restart loop.

More info and solution to isssue on Jespser's page: http://msinfluentials.com/blogs/jesper/archive/2008/05/08/does-your-amd-based-computer-boot-after-installing-xp-sp3.aspx

Why HTC Diamond Touch will fail. Update(7 - final)

. Tuesday, May 6, 2008
8 comments


Yes, I do know how "hip" nowadays to look for next iPhone killer, but I'm afraid HTC (PINK:HTCCF) is not even close on this one yet (unfortunately)

Lets count fingers:

Pros:

  • 3mps Camera vs 2mps on iPhone
  • 3G (HSDPA and HSUPA) vs. Sluggish EDGE :(
  • VGA resolution screen (640x480 vs. 480x320)
  • GPS & AGPS capability

Ok, so far a slightly better camera, much faster data transfer, GPS and better screen resolution.

Cons:

  • Running OLD Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro ??
  • Opera browser - I used it - huge improvement over WM built in IE, but still a far cry full Safari browser on iPhone
  • Talk time: 4h on HTC vs. 8h !
  • Internal Memory: 4gb vs. 8gb (or 16gb)

BUT MOST IMPORTANT REASON OF ALL, EASILY TO OVERLOOK IS LACK OF 3.5mm Audio port!!

Nokia was the first to realize the simple truth - I (as a consumer) don't give a rat's behind if the phone called Music phone 20 times, if I can't connect my favorite headphones to it or for that matter any of 99.9% of all sold headphones which have ether standard 3.5mm or the 1/4" prosumer/Pro jack.

Nothing brings me down more that seeing by myself LG Chocolate phone on display in official Verizon store connected to regular headphones using TWO different adapters!!!
This seems to be to issue with almost all devices currently sold. Solutions suggested by manufactures is to use proprietary headphones, Bluetooth or to use adapters. I not big fan of ether solution since: a) Proprietary headphones - well, simply suck b) Bluetooth ones are mediocre in sound quality and need frequent charging c) Adapters - give me a break - i don't want to look like freak on streets.

I still remember about 3 years ago I bought Nokia 6682 phone from Cingular and no one could tell me clearly that the phone actually had pretty decent mp3/aac playback capacity and flash memory expansion slot (up to 1gb cards) since Nokia marketing people didn't put emphasis on that in their materials... but it was really bad is - 6682 didn't had 3.5mm jack - original Nokia headphones (Terribly designed) broke after normal wear & tear - adapter , which I got off eBay, broke MUCH faster - so I eventually gave up and started to look for a new phone with integrated normal audio jack eventually i ended up with iPhone, since n95 is just way to expensive and bulky, and n81/82 not even near on horizon to be sold in US (by carriers)

You may believe me or not, In my opinion not even 3G is going to save this device from Epic sales failure. What's good 3G for if your internet browser sucks and you'd probably have to cash out full 40-50$ for data plan vs. $20 on iPhone....

Update1: Imho HTC are a bit overenthusiastic about this. C'mon, selling over 2mil units in 2008 ??

Update2: Or maybe it's going to suck a bit less than I originally expected http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2008/05/22_2/

Update3: And then again someone else sharing my opinion and showing video of interface http://www.akihabaranews.com/en/akiba_tv.php?pgno=1&type=news&id=15955

Update4: Another point vs. HTC is the battery life. Even on official specs looks like Diamond won't shine in that area and there are reports of short battery life on current HTC models like TYTN II aka ATT Tilt - http://www.governmentsecurity.org/forum/?showtopic=28155

Update 5: Full HTC Diamond Touch review

Update 6: It looks like I need to provide a bit of additional proof on fact I stated above: "Bluetooth ones are mediocre in sound quality".
While AD2P is step in right direction, it's still not a wire replacement.

Two links below clearly state two things : Sound quality is nice, but not great and secondly for the 1/5 of the price you can get better sound quality wired headphones.. http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/index.php/taxid;2136212600;pid;1414;pt;1 http://gear.ign.com/articles/743/743782p1.html

Update 7: One of my dear readers pointed me I need to do some updates regarding web browser and battery time. I decided to dedicate a whole new post plus addition of some new material.