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Using Fedora Red Hat Enterprise? Check the security announcements

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Aug-2008 11:03

From the Fedora announce list comes the information about unauthorised access to Fedora servers and the news that the unknown intruder was able to sign some packages related to Red Har Enterprise Linux 4.

"Last week we discovered that some Fedora servers were illegally accessed. The intrusion into the servers was quickly discovered, and the servers were taken offline.

Security specialists and administrators have been working since then to analyze the intrusion and the extent of the compromise as well as reinstall Fedora systems. We are using the requisite outages as an
opportunity to do other upgrades for the sake of functionality as well as security. Work is ongoing, so please be patient. Anyone with pertinent information relating to this event is asked to contact fedora-legal redhat com

One of the compromised Fedora servers was a system used for signing Fedora packages. However, based on our efforts, we have high confidence that the intruder was not able to capture the passphrase used to secure the Fedora package signing key. Based on our review to date, the passphrase was not used during the time of the intrusion on the system and the passphrase is not stored on any of the Fedora servers.

But then came an errata:

"In connection with the incident, the intruder was able to sign a small number of OpenSSH packages relating only to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (i386 and x86_64 architectures only) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (x86_64 architecture only). As a precautionary measure, we are releasing an updated version of these packages, and have published a list of the tampered packages and how to detect them at

To reiterate, our processes and efforts to date indicate that packages obtained by Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscribers via Red Hat Network are not at risk. "

More information here and a commentary from the other side here.

If you are using Red Hat Enterprise Linux you should be reading through those notices. Now go and update your systems.

Xero going into PR mode - in the UK

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Aug-2008 03:40

I see New Zealand company Xero is engaging traditional PR for its UK launch.
They also try to appeal to the Apple fan base with this press release I found today:

Xero set to make Mac users passionate about online accounting software

Mac users are generally more likely to rave about their computers’ great graphical capability than the business software they can use, but a new online accounting package called Xero ( is out to change all that.

Xero co-founder and UK MD Hamish Edwards says the business has committed Mac users on staff. So when it came to developing the software, making sure Xero worked on Safari was never going to be enough. Xero also had to deliver the intuitive, great looking experience Mac users are used to.

“We are big fans of the Mac experience so we realised there was huge scope to improve the experience small business owners were having inputting and analysing their financial information.”

Katie Lips, Mac-user and social media strategist and Director of Kisky Netmedia (, says Xero has more than delivered.

“We’re always on the lookout for cool new web apps and I find it quite funny that I am so excited about one that does accounting – but I am!

“What I also like about Xero is that it looks good. Not something that you immediately think of as necessary when doing your accounts, but for me it’s so obvious the designers have thought about how people work and what they want to be able to look at. All the ‘headline’ data is there for me to see easily, which is quite often all I want to know.”

As well as presenting key financial data in dashboard format, Edwards says Xero is intuitive in other important ways. It’s as simple to use as a computer game, but also has enough sophistication to prepare a business’ end of year financials.

Says Lips “The best way I can think to describe how happy I am with Xero is I use it all the time. From not even looking at the accounts side of the business I am now using Xero all the time to run invoices, look at the bank statements and all sorts of accounting things I never wanted to know about before. And I am enjoying it.”

As well as running on Safari, Xero also runs on Internet Explorer and Firefox, making collaboration with people using PC-based systems hassle free.

Xero recently expanded its offerings to Apple users with the introduction of Xero for iPhone and iPod Touch. This enables customers to access their accounts information wherever and whenever they need to and it’s available free to all Xero users.

Xero provides small businesses and their advisers with one, up to date, easy to use, instantly accessible set of accounts and business information.

Learn more about how Xero can help you
Test drive Xero
Contact our media and marketing team

While I haven't found this kind of press releases from Xero here in New Zealand, I understand the high profile of their executive team, plus the fact they are a New Zealand-based technology startup, and their proximity to the target user market made things easier - word of mouth spread quickly.

Starting something in another country is a different business though and the traditional PR machine still holds the keys to many doors.

But appealing to the Apple user base in its first reach? Is is a significant number of accountants and small companies using Apple products to run the business - in opposition to doing the business?

In any case, well done going there.

Free broadband for all...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Aug-2008 08:39

I read this on the paper (yes, I do read paper sometimes) and had to find this online to quote and link. But here it is at the USA Today:

High-speed Internet access is so important to the welfare of U.S. consumers that America can't afford not to offer it — free of charge — to anybody who wants it, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin says.

"There's a social obligation in making sure everybody can participate in the next generation of broadband services because, increasingly, that's what people want," he says.

Martin hopes to use a chunk of wireless airwaves due to hit the auction block next year to help turn his vision into reality. Some cellphone operators are objecting.

"Some cellphone operators are objecting". O'RLY?

We are not even close to this yet, here in New Zealand.

Using the mind to control games and computers shown at Intel Developer Forum 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Aug-2008 04:51

Another interesting demo here at the Intel Developer Forum 2008 is a research into using the mind to interact with computers.

Using a special headset the researcher was able to interact with a game - scaring "spirits" away by making an ugly face, or lifting an obstacle on the bridge:

This "headset" will be available sometime soon we are told.

Wireless Power shown at Intel Developer Forum 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Aug-2008 04:39

I am sitting through Day 3 keynotes and now it's the Research and Development keynote session with Justin Rattner. Lots of pictures to load later, but I wanted to post this one because I think it's the big thing out here: wireless power transmission.

Unlike those "wireless power" gimmicks shown at CES, which require special connectors and devices actually touch the power source, this one transmits power over the air - we are talking about 60 watts power over two feet, at 75% power efficiency.

Based on principles proposed by MIT physicists, Intel researchers have been working on a Wireless Resonant Energy Link (WREL).

WREL promises to deliver wireless power safely and efficiently. The technology relies on strongly coupled resonators. Intel says that with this technology enabled in a laptop, for example, batteries could be recharged when the laptop gets within several feet of the transmit resonator. Many engineering challenges remain, but the company's researchers hope to find a way to cut the last cord in mobile devices and someday enable wireless power in Intel-based platforms.

Here are some pictures:

Intel-powered Yahoo! TV Widgets screenshots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Aug-2008 08:56

These are some pictures I took from the show floor just after the Yahoo! TV Widgets announcement during the Intel Developer Forum San Francisco 2008:

And below a zoom in the Yahoo! TV Widgets area:

And more pictures of different TV Widgets:

This box is based on the new Intel Media Processor CE 3100, pairing an Intel Pentium M processor core at 800MHz and 256K L2 Cache, with multi-stream high-definition video decoding and processing hardware, including support for MPEG-2, H.264 and VC-1 with HDMI 1.3a output, and featuring advanced 4-field per pixel motion-adaptive de-interlacing and 9-tap, 128-phase, independent horizontal and vertical scalers.

It also adds a 3-channel 800 MHz DDR2 memory controller supporting tiled memory mapping and channel interleaving, dedicated multi-channel dual audio DSPs with support for 7.1 surround sound implementing advanced audio codecs, including support for Blu-ray requirements.

The media processor also features a 2-D/3-D Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500 supporting multi-threaded dual universal scalable shader architecture for pixel/vertex processing, accelerated BLTs/Alpha BLTs, programmable anti-aliasing and compliance with industry-standard APIs: OpenGL ES 1.1, Open GL ES 2.0 and Open VG 1.0.

Apple iTunes shows how New Zealand ISPs are not providing Internet Service

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Aug-2008 11:01

Apple has released its iTunes Movies service in New Zealand last week, and this has shown us how badly the ISPs are performing.

First we have the problem with "data caps". Most people I know are on 10GB or 20GB plans, which means that they either pay a premium for any excess traffic during the billing period, or have their connection throttled down to dial-up speeds. yes, dial-up speeds!

Take for example this comment from someone with Vodafone:

Going to take me about 3 hrs. Its 2 Gb which will be over my d/l cap for day !! ( Ihug) so Ive stopped for today and continue tomorrow to complete

Two gigabytes a day? Two days to download the movie?

I am using TelstraClear cable-modem service and downloaded a 1 GB movie in 20 minutes. But not even TelstraClear is free of problems as we can see in the same discussion:

... [I] bought groundhog day just to test the waters and the download speed was soooo slow, 3 hours nearly! 

Three hours on a 10 Mbps cable-modem connection?

I hope the launch of Apple iTunes will show ISPs three things:

1. Not every heavy downloaded is a pirate downloading copyright material being illegaly distributed;

2. There's demand for a service with a bigger monthly data allowance, and

3. Their concept of "fast" is off.

MID (Mobile Internet Devices) around the Intel Developer Forum 2008

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Aug-2008 05:48

Even before the official exhibition opens at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco we can see the big them of mobility going around. Below are just a sample of the devices I could see when entering the main event centre hall.

All those devices are based on Intel Atom:

Lenovo Ideapad U8 (above), running Linux, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB SSD

Asus R50A (above), running Microsoft Windows Vista, 1 GB RAM, 32 GB SSD

Clarion MiND (above), running Linux, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB SSD

Aigo P8880 (above), running Linux, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB SSD

USI MID-150 (above), running Linux, 512 MB, 8 GB SSD

Below you see a video with Ultra Mobility Group Uday Keshavdas showing three Intel Atom-powered devices that will be on hand this week at IDF San Francisco, including the special Oylmpic edition Lenovo ideapad.

Intel Developer Forum San Francisco 2008 Day 1

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Aug-2008 05:14

This week I am attending the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The activities started yesterday with a "Day 0" series of keynotes for media and bloggers. This was followed by an exclusive Asia Pacific dinner where our group had the opportunity to meet some Intel execs and talk about their respective areas. In our table (four Australian journalists and myself) we had the pleasure of having Steve Smith (Director intel Digital Enterprise) and John Skinner (Director, Eco Technology and one of the Intel guys at the Climate Savers initiative) in our table.

A valuable talk, mostly about computer power usage at home and enterprise. The main thing we took away is how small changes in computer manufacturing (a more efficient PSU for example) or just using appropriate Power Settings on your PC can make a big difference in your power bill - and the environment.

According to Skinner there is a reason for all those free power configuration applications going around - mostly because users are affraid of going into Control Panel and deal with cryptic configurations to get the best configuration for their needs. Those applications provide easy management and encourage people to act on that.

IDF Day 1 is in progress now. The official vision is "[IDF] brings together top Intel technical experts, Intel Fellows, industry thought leaders and leading technology companies. A strong slate of Intel keynotes is one source for insights and inspiration."

The first keynote was delivered by Craig Barrett, Intel chairman. “Technology is a tool to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges related to health care, education, economic development and the environment,” said Barrett, who also chairs a United Nations initiative on technology in the developing world. “No nations or individuals are untouched by these issues. Get involved. Be part of the solution.”
Barrett announced that Intel will award four $100,000 prizes to the most innovative ideas for applying technology to meet unmet needs related to education, health care, economic development and the environment. Ideas will be evaluated primarily for sustainability and innovativeness of the solution. More details on the INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge are available at

I am really interested on Day 2, which will be all about Mobile Internet devices (pictured below). Day 3 is about "crossing the chasm between Humans and Machines" and we will see Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on stage.

There's also an exhibition with more than 180 companies from around the world where atendees will have hands-on demonstrations of their newest innovations and future technologies - no access for us until the end of Day 1, and other attendees will get to see this on Day 2.

For developers IDF is offering more than 170 hours of technical training. All technical sessions are led by Intel and industry experts. New this year is an Industry Insights Panel themed "Using Information Technology to Meet 21st Century Challenges and Opportunities." Two Technology Insights, both presented by Intel Fellows, will cover "Next Generation Intel Core Microarchitecture Family of Processors: Screaming Performance, Efficient Power" and "Splitting the Atom: A Peek into the Intel Atom Processor."

Google Street View car in Wellington

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Aug-2008 12:44

I was told today the Google Street View car is going around Wellington. here are some pictures, taken on the move, showing the camera on top of the car, and a couple of side shots showing the Google logo:

Thanks to Evan for sending in the pictures!

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Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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