Saturday, September 08, 2007

iTunes 7.4.1 already released -- free ringtone workaround is NOT ok

Vía: Engadget

Just thought we'd let the droves of paranoid upgraders know in on a small bit of good bad news. Yes, Apple did already release a new version of iTunes tonight, 7.4.1, and we tested to see if said update "fixes" the ringtone-renaming hack (if you really want to call it a hack) that lets users supply their own ringtones sans Apple's $0.99 fee. Breathe not so easy: it may be legal (probably), but the hack did not continue to work just fine for us. More below.

Update: So yes, our previous ringtones carried over and we were able to add new renamed ringtones to iTunes -- but our readers are right in that 7.4.1 DOES block the renamed ringtone workaround moving forward. Our initial syncs went unblocked, but only until we tried to add new ringtone files. Once you actually attempt to sync new renamed ringtone files, well, then you're in for a heap o' pain (see above).

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

VirtualBox 1.5: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Vía: Venture Cake

Seamless virtualization in VirtualBox 1.5

The new VirtualBox brings seamless virtualization to Linux. This puts Linux on par with the Mac - users can run their native desktop but still launch the odd Windows-only program when they need to. The VirtualBox manual doesn’t give much detail on the new feature, so here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of VirtualBox 1.5

Previously on VentureCake we’ve discussed using RDesktop’s seamless RDP to launch apps from a VM, but VirtualBox 1.5 makes the process a lot simpler:

  • Install the virtualbox package
  • Click ApplicationsSystem ToolsInnotek VirtualBox
  • Make a VM, pop in a Windows CD and install.
  • Windows, click DevicesInstall Guest Additions, click Allow lots, and let Windows reboot.

That’s all. So how does it work?

The good

  • Seamless virtualization just works (with one caveat - see below). Hit Ctrl L to launch seamless mode. The Windows desktop is replaced by the Windows taskbar sitting above the GNOME panel.
  • Virtualbox has two windows - one with the VM controls (start, stop, edit settings, etc), and one with the VM itself. The control window can be closed with the VM still running, so you just have the Windows taskbar without any config tools shown. It’s simple and works well.
  • Virtualbox provides packages for an insane amount of distros. You can update VirtualBox at the same time as all your other apps via their APT repositories. Something VMware (who still provide Workstation in RPM format only) could learn from.

The bad

  • The VirtualBox manual doesn’t mention this, but seamless virtualization requires desktop effects (GNOME’s desktop effects, Compiz Fusion, etc) to be be disabled. Otherwise minimizing windows apps will leave bits of the Windows desktop around. Since more Linux distribution will be turning this on by default, this needs to be fixed. In Ubuntu 7.04, click System PreferencesDesktop Effects. Compositing is an increasingly important part of the Linux desktop in 2007, and something many distributions are turning on by default - this needs to be fixed.
  • Windows apps show up on the Windows taskbar only, not the Gnome taskbar. More integration would be nice.
  • We’ve had major probs with VirtualBox 1.5 networking. The manual mentions that in the default NAT mode ‘the virtual machine receives its network address and configuration on the private network from a DHCP server integrated into VirtualBox‘. But the VM doesn’t get a response via DHCP, there’s no dhcp process running on the host, and we can’t find any files relating to dhcp installed by the virtualbox package. The problems may be caused by upgrading from a previous Virtualbox release, but really, this shouldn’t be hard. Here it’s VirtualBox that could learn from VMware, who makes NAT networking a snap.
  • There are no packages for the VirtualBox Open Source edition, and, oddly, it’s hard to find info about licensing the regular version for more than personal use. Hey VirtualBox, we’re happy to pay for business use - tell us where to send our money!

The Ugly

VirtualBox looks a little 1995. It’s a bit Gangsta’s Paradise, a bit Batman Forever, a bit, well, naff looking. If they can’t use GTK themes like every other app, they should at least make it prettier.


VMware server is more polished and has easier networking, but once your VM is up and working, seamlessness is an essential feature that makes VirtualBox the better platform for running that odd Windows app.

Now where’s a simple, good looking Xen GUI?

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An Open Letter to ISO


Is it time to standardize ISO?

In light of the recent events relating to the standardization process of EOOXML, it seems appropriate to look into possible standardization of the process itself.

The DIS 29500 (EOOXML) process has revealed several shortcomings, both on the national level and on the level of ISO.

The organisations representing each country have very different procedures for determining the nation’s vote in ISO. Some countries will vote only if their technical committee is unanimous on the issue. Others will reach consensus defined by a 3/4 majority vote or even 2/3 majority. In some countries there is no vote and the technical committee is only advisory to the national standards organisation. Others yet have a two-stage process where the nations vote is determined through two committees. In short there is no standard for accepting a standard.

It seems ISO is not prepared for a politicized process where a big and influential commercial enterprise will use any means possible to push its own standard through to certification.

Committees are flooded by the vendor in support of the standard. Votes are bought and results are hijacked. Several national bodies have flawed and skewed procedures open for corruption.

The list is much longer, but a few examples should suffice:

Norway - originally a process decided by unanimity but altered on the fly
Sweden - voting seats bought and the result thus hijacked
Switzerland - process rigged in favor of the vendor, the chairman excluded the option of voting “reject” or “reject, with comments”
Portugal - process skewed by blaming on lack of available chairs
Malaysia - two committees voted unanimously “rejection with comments” and mysteriously overturned by the government to “abstain”

Even if this is the tip of an ice berg, the examples should warrant a thorough examination of the national processes.

The fact that ISO enforces no standard for national bodies opens the standardization process for manipulation or corruption. I strongly urge ISO to adopt a strict policy for its members detailing the rules for how a national body shall determine its vote in ISO and that it enforces such policy vigorously.

On the level of ISO, criticism has been raised against the fast track process. An investigation should be called to see if EOOXML was unduly put on the ISO Fast Track.

During the Fast Track, many new countries have joined as P-Members (Participating members) in the technical committee, the JTC1. Several of the countries have no credible track on standardization work, have joined very late in the process only to vote an unconditional “Yes” to a standard that has obvious room for improvement. It may be purely coincidental that the countries that came late in the process score much lower on the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International. It is possible to corrupt the process by pressuring countries to join a process and vote without sufficient knowledge. I urge ISO to adopt a policy that P-members may not be accepted later than 3 months before the committee is to vote.

It may be time also to reevaluate the one country one vote principle. In ISO, the Chinese vote carries the same weight as that of Cyprus. In the JTC1/SC34 the late-comers includes Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Côte-d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Lebanon and Malta.

As for approving standards within the field of IT, ISO would greatly benefit from adopting the IETF requirment of two independent reference implementations for passing a standard. This should increase the quality of ISO’s IT standards.

The strength, integrity and scalability of ISO have been tested. The organizations agility and adaptability will now be measured. May ISO move quickly to fix its own PR and more importantly its own standardization process.

The publicity that ISO has been given through the DIS 29500 process is phenomenal. ISO and standardization in general has reached a peak in public awareness. I hope the organization will use this publicity to show strong integrity and potential.

The intent of this letter is to safeguard future standardization and to ensure that the processes scale in the face of increased pressure from large commercial interests.

Monday, September 03, 2007

4 Things that could help reduce risk of Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) came to the conclusion after a study of male mice that were fed a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol. The findings were published Saturday in the online edition of Carcinogenesis. (Source: China)

The nutrients in red wine have shown anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Other sources of resveratrol in the diet include grapes, raspberries, peanuts and blueberries.

In the study resveratrol-fed mice showed an 87 percent reduction in their risk of developing prostate tumors that contained the worst kind of cancer-staging diagnosis. The mice that proved to have the highest cancer-protection effect earned it after seven months of consuming resveratrol in a powdered formula mixed with their food.

Other mice in the study, those fed resveratrol but still developed a less-serious form of prostate cancer, were 48 percent more likely to have their tumor growth halted or slowed when compared to mice who did not consume the compound, according to the study.

This study adds to a growing body of evidence that resveratrol consumption through red wine has powerful chemoprevention properties, in addition to its apparent heart-health benefits, said lead study author Coral Lamartiniere, Ph.D., of UAB’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Reduced Risk Prostate Cancer with Regular Ejaculation

An epidemiological study of 30,000 American men by Michael Leitzman, a cancer researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, has found that men who enjoy an active sex life do not risk prostate cancer in later life.

There has been a suggested link with greater sexual activity and increased incidents of prostate cancer in previous scientific data because of the link with the male hormone testosterone and its effect on promoting cancer cell growth.

Leitzmann’s findings were that men who ejaculate between 13 and 20 times a month had a 14% lower risk of prostate cancer that men who ejaculated on average, between 4 and 7 times a month for most of their adult life.

Men who ejaculated upwards of 21 times a month had a 33% lower lifetime risk of prostate cancer than the baseline group. (Source: About)

Veggies could help reduce risk of prostate cancer

New evidence indicates that the risk of prostate cancer may be reduced by adding certain vegetables to one’s diet. (Source: Go)

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine found that men who ate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and turnips were 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, compared to those whose ate those vegetables less than once a month.

Men who ate cauliflower more than once a week were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and men who ate broccoli more than once a week were 45 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

The study is reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Fatty fish consumption slashes risk of prostate cancer by 43 percent

Men who eat just one serving of salmon per week reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer by 43 percent, compared to men who do not consume fish, according to new research published in the online edition of the International Journal of Cancer.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm examined the dietary habits of nearly 1,500 men with prostate cancer and more than 1,100 men without the disease. They found that men who ate fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, at least once a week reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 43 percent, whereas men who did not eat fish of any kind experienced no risk reduction.

The researchers — led by Maria Hedelin — also believe that a certain gene may play an important role in the development of prostate cancer, as well as how fish oils benefit the body. A specific Cox-2 gene that is present in 60 percent of the population can influence the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acid consumption, the researchers reported.

Men who carry the gene have a 72 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those who do not carry it, but eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can still benefit men who do not carry the gene, according to the researchers. (Source: NewsTarget)