Tag Archives: Computer

Anticipative Computing

Robert Vamosi of Webware quotes MIcrosoft’s research czar Craig Mundie as saying computers need to get smarter about what we do and use their CPU to do stuff before we sit down to work. I’m all for it, but shouldn’t we have already got here?

clipped from www.webware.com

Mundie says current software poorly utilizes the full CPU potential of any PC; most of the time our screensaver kicks in and performs no background operations. Mundie predicts new software on the PC will utilize the full potential, being capable of anticipating tasks performed frequently (such as downloading Web mail) and perhaps executing these before we sit down to the computer in the morning

Get Wikipedia Into Print

I really hope this will happen soon. Jimmy’s been talking about it for a while, but while I can see the technical problems, I think it’s just too important not to press ahead with: Publishing-industry.net reports that Wikipedia May Soon Be Available In Print:

Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia written and edited by Internet users, may soon be available in print for readers in the developing world.

According to Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales, content from the web site may also be burned onto CDs and DVDs so computer users in places like Africa, who lack access to high-speed Internet, could consult parts of the reference work offline.

Wales, a 39-year-old former options trader, set up Wikipedia in 2001. The site operates through the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that relies on donations to pursue its goal of spreading knowledge for free.

Here’s the original story from Reuters.

Go for it. My big worry nowadays is that people who are designing and building stuff for the web are all on big screens, fast computers and fast connections. Most of the developing world is still on expensive dial-up and slow computers with bad screens. That’s the digital divide. It’s not the haves and the have-nots, it’s the ‘have fast connections’ folks and the rest of us with connections that are intermittent and slow. For the slow world hard copy or CD-ROM versions are just what is needed.

As for folk who say Wikipedia is not ready, or uneven, I would say don’t worry. Most folk who use Wikipedia print or CD-ROM edition are not going to have had much of a choice. This may be the first encyclopedia they ever have access to, so hand-wringing about the quality of some pieces is a bit like saying you shouldn’t give free copies of Microsoft Windows to the developing world because it still has some bugs. Wikipedia has some bugs but it’s a fabulous resource, and the great thing about a little bit of wisdom is that it makes people smarter. Let the end-user decide what information is good and what isn’t.

Update: The Swen Worm. Yes, It’s Nasty

 The Swen Worm is turning out to be a nasty one. It can execute code automatically, it looks like a genuine Microsoft email and it randomizes itself, making it hard to identify. TechNewsWorld reports the worm, also known as “Gibe” or its more technical name of “w32.swen@mm,” takes advantage of a well-known vulnerability in Internet Explorer that was first announced in March 2001. A software patch and removal tools for affected Windows systems are available, but because of its persistence — the worm infects via e-mail or network sharing automatically — it may be difficult to eliminate. Most of those infected are home users.
Part of the problem seems to have been that the antivirus underestimated its shock and awe. TechNewsWorld again: MessageLabs chief technology officer Mark Sunner described the worm as highly complex and told TechNewsWorld that although it was first discovered September 14th, it was not seen as a priority, and the threat was not added to updated protection from leading antivirus vendors. “Initially, this went right under the nose of normal desktop antivirus,” Sunner said, endorsing MessageLabs’ intercept-and-scan approach over traditional antivirus methods that he claimed do not work. “It’s almost inexcusable it went through those vendors.”
Another unique feature of Swen is its ability to communicate with a Web site  that keeps track of the number of computers it has successfully infected. As of late Friday afternoon, the counter was up to more than 1.5 million infected computers.

News: Don’t Laugh, Your Email’s Coming

 Not sure whether to laugh or cry at this one. Or tiptoe quietly away. Researchers at Australia’s Monash University, the New Scientist reports, are working on software that would that automatically log you onto the nearest computer by listening out for your voice, or laugh, or footsteps. Microphones on each computer, Rachel Nowak writes, would pick up a person’s voice, or listen for familiar footsteps coming or going. The software would then recognise them and calculate where they are, using flocks of ‘intelligent agents’ – pieces of computer code that move from computer to computer. “The agents,” she writes, “close in on those computers where the person’s voice is loudest, until they pinpoint the nearest one.”
The agents — or sneaky little tattletales, depending on your point of view — would, upon realising that you were heading towards the Mars Bar dispenser, deliver your email to the nearest computer, or, upon hearing your rich baritone laugh by the water cooler, administer a pithy reprimand and remind you that your expenses are horribly overdue. I’m not sure I’m ready for this kind of life. We already have an accounts department.