Saturday, 22 December 2007

Linux GUI difficulties

sad tux - sad penguin with tears rolling down cheekSometimes you encounter problems with the Linux user interface that you just don't get on Windows or the Mac. Today I was downloading my photos with digiKam, when the process suddenly came to a halt. The reason? "digiKam could not import the file 'dsc.......'". Not really a very good explanation. I tried restarting digiKam, and re-plugging the camera. All to no avail.

As it turns out, the problem was simply a full disk. On Windows, you would have had countless annoying messages saying "You are running out of free disk space on drive C:" long before the disk was full, but on Linux the program just stops functioning all together. You're not even told that the disk is full, and there are no easy tools to empty your trash and clean up unused files like there are on Windows. It's a pity when your favourite operating system lets you down like this, but I have to admit that most users are not likely to think of typing "df" at the Konsole terminal when their program stops working. Let's hope KDE4 solves this full disk problem.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Google's acquisition of DoubleClick is cleared by the FTC

Google has just got the approval of the FTC for their upcoming acquisition of DoubleClick, a leading online advertising company, for $3.1 billion in cash. Apparently the transaction was cleared with no conditions, leaving Google free to innovate in the advertising field.

"In its clearance opinion released today, the FTC explicitly rejected any current or potential competition concerns. Google and DoubleClick are complementary businesses and do not compete with each other. Google's current business primarily involves the selling of text-based ads, while DoubleClick's core business is delivering and reporting on display ads. DoubleClick does not buy ads, sell ads, or buy or sell advertising space. Rather, it provides technology to enable advertisers and publishers to deliver ads once they have agreed to terms, and to provide advertisers and publishers statistics relating to those ads."

This is good news for Google, as they will now have access to the huge market share and consumer base of their own service combined with DoubleClick. The acquisition will complement their recent offerings of Video and Image based ads, and will offer advertisers and publishers new, integrated ways of managing, showing and creating ads.

Read more: Official Google Blog: Analysis: The FTC clears our acquisition of DoubleClick

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

KDE 4.0 release draws near

kde 4.0 release event logoKDE 4.0 is now nearing completion, with the release event scheduled for 17 January 2008. The desktop interface is being finalized now, and the 2nd Release Candidate has already been released, providing an early look at the new Plasma interface.

Although the background APIs and data structures underlying KDE4 were finalized a while ago, Plasma is only nearing completion now. From the various previews around, it looks as if KDE 4.0 is going to be the introduction to a new era in the evolution of the Linux GUI. Plasma looks really smooth, and the APIs behind it are just as neat.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to build the RC2 properly. I keep getting a segmentation fault. So I can't give you a first hand account of KDE4 (yet!), but for more info check out the official announcement - it's got heaps of screenshots.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Google Highly Open Participation Contest - GHOPC

GHOPC Logo - Google Highly Open Participation Contest LogoRecently Google launched a new program called the "Google Highly Open Participation Contest", or GHOPC. This initiative allows younger developers (13 and above) who could not join in the Google Summer of Code to help work on open source projects such as Apache and GNOME. For every 3 tasks that an individual completes, Google will award USD$100, up to a total of $500 (15 tasks). The tasks vary from simple ones such as "Create a short slideshow of distinctive plone websites", to highly advanced tasks such as " Implement Mapping as a Joomla! v 1.5 Extension". So far there has been a huge amount of work on behalf of the developers, especially in the tasks of well-known projects like Joomla.

At the moment I have temporarily paused my Android development in order to focus on the GHOPC. I believe it is more suited to my abilities at the present time. So far I've completed 2 out of 3 tasks, so I'm looking forward to the completion of the next one! It also means I may not be around much on the blog, as the tasks have fairly strict deadlines.

Here I see yet another example of Google's support of the open source community. Regardless of whether you like Google as a company or not, you have to acclaim them for continuing a good work here. Now, with the Google SoC, and the GHOPC, open source projects have a commercial backing, even if only once a year, which encourages upcoming business leaders to contribute to open source, and reaps huge benefits for the projects involved.


As you've probably noticed, I haven't been very active on this blog lately. A combination of real-life events and my other blog have conspired to rob me of the time I was using to develop The Big Byte. Hopefully I should have a little more time now, but I still won't be able to research and write articles as much. I hope you'll be able to put up with my ramblings about my current projects, at least until my other tasks sort themselves out. :)

In the meantime, any feedback on the site is appreciated (as always!). In particular, does anyone have any ideas about whether I should change the theme again?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Android Apps

android emulator - web browser based on WebkitI've just got hold of Google's Android SDK, which includes an emulator of the Android platform. I must say I'm pretty excited about this, it looks like Android has the potential to create the "ideal" PDA OS - that is, one based on open standards (Linux), and that doesn't lock anything down (quote from the Android website:
Android does not differentiate between the phone's basic and third-party applications -- even the dialer or home screen can be replaced.) This is really going to be great for everyone who loves the iPhone's features but wished it wasn't locked down so much.

So, I started up the android emulator, and was extremely impressed with the sleekness of the interface. It's also very responsive - even with my CPU going 100% and no graphics card. The interface is very smooth and polished, with the capability to create translucent windows and animation effects.

I'm certainly looking forwards to writing apps for the Android. It uses a pseudo-Java VM called "Dalvik" (can anyone hear an "exterminate!" here?) to run third-party apps, and although there are a few new UI concepts (Activities, Views, Intents...), the API is overall very easy to learn. To encourage developers to write "great apps" for the Android, Google is offering USD$10 million worth of prizes for the most promising apps. This should create a huge incentive for developers, and I expect to see plenty of Android apps by the closing date of March 08.

Overall, the Android looks pretty darn good - it's not just the iPhone opensourced, but a whole new concept of open, integrated phones. I'll give you updates as I get used to the API and OS, but for now, rest assured that all the hype about the "gPhone" has been justified - and doubly at that. I just can't wait for the "official" release in late 2008!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Google Translation Widget and Templates

Well, I'm now back! I've finished exams, so you should be seeing a bit more of me now. I've started adding some improvements to my blog template (as you can see, it still needs a lot of work - the logo still needs to be fixed :D), and in the course of renovation I discovered this handy Google translation widget.

Google recently changed over to using their internally developed language translation system, and they will now automatically translate 29 different languages. So far my tests have proved Google Translate to be a reasonable translation system, certainly better than a lot I have tried. If anyone is reading this who speaks another language, I would greatly appreciate it if you could tell me what you think of the automatic translation tools.

Actually I think I'm going to have to change templates again. This template just doesn't allow you to customize it much, and I think I'd prefer a 3-column one anyway. What do you think? If you've got any thoughts please post a comment or email them to me - there's no way of me knowing what you want unless you tell me! :)

Friday, 2 November 2007

MySpace joins Google OpenSocial's sponsors

google opensocialThis Thursday Google announced that social networking giant MySpace will be joining the supporters of their new OpenSocial API. This makes OpenSocial into a very serious threat to Facebook, who just opened their platform to developers recently.

"OpenSocial is going to become the de facto standard (for developers) instantly out of the gates. It is going to have a reach of 200 million users, which is way bigger than anything else out there," Chris DeWolfe, chief executive and co-founder of MySpace, told reporters.

Google lost out to Microsoft last week in a bid to invest in Facebook, but now they look like having something even bigger than MySpace and Facebook combined. When OpenSocial goes live early Friday morning, it's going to be the biggest thing in social networking since Facebook was launched earlier this year. Not only will this new platform give Google a huge boost in the area, but OpenSocial will also allow anyone from small start-ups to big multi-million-dollar companies to use a standard programming interface to interact, store and manage about the user.

Update:As a testimony to the worldwide belief in the success of OpenSocial, Google shares surged to an all-time high of $713.72 on Nasdaq on Thursday, before closing at $703.21, down $3.79. This shows the investors' support of Google's operations, and the future looks bright for Google's latest addition to their online strategy.

Keep posted for more info on OpenSocial when it is released on Friday.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Google OpenSocial Launched - A New Era for Web Integration?

google opensocialAlthough it's still unofficial, many reports show that tomorrow Google will release their new "OpenSocial" developer API. But it's more then just an API. Google plans to "out-open" Facebook with a totally new strategy of integration by opening their entire platform to third party developers. TechCrunch says:

"On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information - the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more - such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs. And Google is also considering allowing third parties to join the party at the other end of the platform - meaning other social networks (think Bebo, Friendster, Twitter, Digg and thousands of others) to give access to their user data to developers through those same APIs."

This looks like it could turn into something big. I'll give you more reports on it over the week (if I can fit it in-between exams!), but for now rest assured that Google has the beginnings of something really big here. And I mean big. It just depends on who adopts it, but this has the potential to revolutionize the whole social and consumer-based development model of the web.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

New Gmail Version is Live

gmail logoGoogle Operating System reports that the new version of Gmail that was the subject of speculation a few days ago is now live on a few accounts. The new features include an updated Contact Manager and faster loading of messages due to the prefetching features built in. However, Google Gears support is still lacking, and makes this seem like a minor update instead of a major overhaul.

Now, the question is: When is my account gonna be upgraded? :)

Sunday, 28 October 2007


Here's an interesting quote I found on my iGoogle homepage:

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
— G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton was a wonderful writer and composed many great arguments. I think this quote fits in to today's world perfectly, despite the fact that he said it many years ago.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Gmail adds IMAP support

Many users have been waiting a long time for Google to add IMAP support to their popular Gmail service. Today Google System announced that this feature has finally been added, and will be rolled out to all existing accounts in the next few days.

IMAP has many benefits over POP, including a continuous connection to the server and more intelligent client/server interaction. This means that users of Outlook or Evolution will be able to
synchronize their read items and folders across computers. When you mark an item as read in Outlook on your desktop, the same item will be marked read on the web interface as well as your laptop and PDA.

This is a long-awaited feature which is certainly going to boost Gmail's appeal, especially to the business users of Google Apps.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Device driver update causes Vista activation to expire

James Bannan has discovered that updating the drivers for major system components such as hard drives and graphics cards can cause your Vista system to deactivate and become unusable. Microsoft has confirmed the problem, and it seems there is no way to fix it other than give Microsoft Help and Support a call to reactivate your system.

Windows Vista's activation scheme hasn't changed much since XP. Basically, if you change a certain number of components in your system's hardware configuration, Windows will deactivate as an anti-piracy measure. The problem is, Vista counts driver updates as hardware changes. This can cause your system to deactivate unexpectedly, and without warning.

This is a very serious problem with Windows, especially for mission-critical configurations. If someone unknowingly updates the graphics card drivers to make the system run faster or use a new feature, the whole system could fail. Then the company or individual relies on Microsoft being available on the phone and ready to reactivate quickly. Although the chance of Microsoft's support center being unavailable is small, this does present a serious problem of being "reliant on Microsoft", not just for your initial installation, but for reactivation at any time you feel like upgrading your software.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

NTFS write support for Linux

Hooray! Linux can finally write to NTFS partitions, thanks to the NTFS-3G project. Check it out, I've found that it is incredibly helpful in writing to my (Windows Formatted) external hard drive.

This just goes to show: no matter how closed Microsoft made the NTFS standard, somebody was bound to break it open.

Friday, 19 October 2007

China Blocks Google, Yahoo, Live Search Engines with Redirect to Baidu

Reports have streamed in that the three major search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live Search are being blocked in China, with all request for the sites being redirected to China's own Baidu Search Engine.

Some people think that the redirect was due to China's strained relations with the USA over the Dalia Lama. However, there have been some reports of functioning correctly from within China, so there doesn't seem to be a nationwide blockage. Of course, these people could just be Chinese Internet Police.... ;) Another possibility is that China is upgrading their whole blocking infrastructure, and this is resulting in irregular false-positives with the search engines. This is supported by the fact that is also reported to have been blocked.

Keep watching this space and I'll get news to you as soon as some more definite reports come in. For now - if you're in China, you might only have 3 search engines to choose from: Baidu, Baidu, or Baidu.

Ubuntu 7.10 released!

It's here! Today Canonical officially announced the release of Ubuntu 7.10, aka "Gutsy Gibbon". This release incorporates new features from the past six months, including the latest release of GNOME and a new Deskbar desktop search feature. Ubuntu 7.10 is easier to use than ever, with automatic printer detection and fast user switching. The fast user switching is absolutely fabulous compared with Windows Vista - on my fast Vista laptop it takes over 1 minute to switch users, even with both already logged in!

Along with the release of Ubuntu, Kubuntu 7.10 has also been announced. Although it does not include KDE4 (as the release schedule has been delayed to December), the latest KDE4 Beta 3 is available in the Kubuntu Universe repositories.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this latest release, but unfortunately my internet has slowed to dialup speed and the CDs will take a few weeks to ship, so I'll have to wait a fair while. But I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

'Vixta' Linux distro mimics Vista's look and feel

Here's an interesting distro - just like China's Red Flag Linux emulates the look of Windows XP, a new Linux distribution called 'Vixta' seeks to imitate Vista's look, right down to the start menu and transparent titlebars.

There has been much controversy over the issue of whether or not Linux should copy Vista's look and feel. I think that although it doesn't need to (as the Linux KDE GUI is in my view better than Vista's), there's nothing wrong with some of Vista's good design ideas turning up in Linux as well. KDE4 is actually deliberately trying not to "copy" Vista, but they are still turning up with some similar features by innovation.

I have yet to get my hands on a copy of Vixta, but it looks like it could be worth trying. Now I can tell my friends "Hey, look, I got Vista!" and maybe even "Well, if you want I could give you a copy too...."!

Leopard to Leap later this month has just posted an article announcing that Apple's latest version of the Macintosh operating system is planned for release on the 26 October. It looks like it will be a strong beast, improving on the strengths of the previous versions while adding in a few new features of it's own.

Apple's Steve Jobs has taken advantage of Windows Vista's confusing multi-version release, saying that this is the 'best upgrade' Apple had ever released, and "everyone gets the ‘Ultimate’ version. The pricing is much better than Vista as well, with the single version costing just $158.

The new version of the Mac will have much the same hardware requirements as Vista, recommending a minimum of 512MB RAM with an 867Mhz or faster processor.

Overall this release is another improvement to the already excellent operating system. It certainly doesn't look like anybody will be deserting the Mac for Windows anytime soon.... :) Here's looking forward to the release.

Google Analytics Updated - now tells you what your visitors want

Today Google announced some upgrades to their popular Google Analytics product. The first and most important update, is site search statistics.

According to the official blog announcement, with the new search tracking you can see "what people search for on your site and where these searches lead." They continue to say that "Site Search reports show you the keywords and search refinement keywords people use, the pages from which people begin and end their searches. You can also see how search on your site affects site usage, conversion rates, and e-commerce activity."

For me personally this feature will be a bonus, as I can now see what my visitors are looking for when they come to my site. It is almost as if Google Analytics is "telling me" what my visitors want. This could even turn out to be something like the Zeitgest (or Google Hot Trends) in the future. What do you think?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Holiday Time!

I'm going on a holiday for two weeks starting from tomorrow, so I'm not sure if I'll have internet connectivity during that time. Hopefully one of the caravan parks offers wireless internet!

Anyway, I probably won't be able to update this blog for about 2 weeks. In the meantime, you might want to check out My Nature Photography Blog or have a look at Lightning-Alley, a similar blog to this one, with tech news, photography and random ideas.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to put up with Windows XP while on holidays, as my laptop has broken down (hard drive connection problem). I'm not looking forwards to using Windows that much after my installation difficulties recently!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

The Windows Blues (again)

This week certainly hasn't been one to improve my impression of Windows. One of my friends requested that I get a system running with Windows 98/ME for them, as they had some old games that wouldn't run on Windows Vista (surprise surprise!). A simple matter, isn't it? Seems not...

Firstly, I had a system already running with Fedora 5/Windows 98 dual boot. "Aha, just give her this system," thought I. But it wouldn't boot. The BIOS loaded, but trying to start LILO failed (all that showed on the screen was "LI"). Okay, so it's a bootloader problem. Why not just install GRUB? That's what I tried to do. And after trying several rescue systems, GRUB installed successfully, detecting both Fedora and Windows. Reboot, choose Windows in the bootloader, and up pops a list of errors - Could not load registry, HIMEM.SYS missing, Unidentified error, etc. Back to the old drawing board.

So I tried to reinstall Windows. But the Windows install system told be that there were operating systems on the computer that setup couldn't upgrade, and that I should start Windows on the computer and then load setup. Only problem is, I can't start Windows.

Well, to cut a long story short, I still haven't got Windows running. After just about every thing possible failed, HDDs, OSs, the lot, I haven't got a single thing to show for it. Funny thing is, every single version of Linux that I installed on that computer worked perfectly! Not a problem at all. Something fishy is going on here for sure.

For now, I'm going to tell my friend to either run the games on WINE, or buy a new version. But this is a matter of pride as well. Let me tell you, Windoze, this battle isn't over yet....

Friday, 21 September 2007

Announcing openSUSE 10.3 RC1 (with screenshots!)

The openSUSE team is happy to announce that RC1 looks brilliant and is now available for download. They consider this release to be feature complete, stable, and suitable for testing from any user. You can discover all the great things (parts of KDE 4, GNOME 2.20, 1-Click Install, Super-fast Boot time, new Package Management) right now! openSUSE 10.3: Here we come!

read more | digg story

Monday, 17 September 2007

New Ipod Hash Cracked, Linux Supported Once Again

Less than two days after the announcement came that the new iPod used a new hashing algorithm that rendered all iPod clients other than iTunes useless, here is a new announcement by wtbw:
From #gtkpod today:
>okay guys
>i think we're done.
>let me code something just to check
>[30 minutes later] can i hear a fuck yeah?
>works for both mine and xamphears :>

In case this is too obscure, here is the general gist of things. The iPod has been cracked.

Did Apple really think that they could lock down the iPod that easily? Come on, remember CSS and more recently the HD-DVD/Blu-ray encryption schemes. As sockdemon says on Digg:

"Oh, when I said that 'iPods will never work with anything but iTunes' I was using the modern definition of 'never', you know, the one that means in a few hours. What I really said was 'Ipods will work on linux in the next few hours, don't panic or sensationalize'.

Now I'm really surprised that Apple tried to lock down their platform. Especially with Linux rapidly gaining momentum in the commercial space, is this a direct hit at Linux (possibly as an alternative to the Mac), or just another instance of monopolistic vendor lock-in? Something seems very familiar here (read: Microsoft).
Please, Apple, don't follow the path of "The Big M" by locking people in to your way of doing things. Look to the future - share.

read more | digg story

Sunday, 16 September 2007

AMD Releases 900+ Pages Of ATI GPU Specifications

I know this is old news for some of you (3 days old Digg front page news), but I think it's very important to notice if you want to follow Linux's commercial progression. Below is an excerpt from the Digg news release:"AMD has started to release their GPU specifications in the open! Right now you can download M56 and RV630 register reference guides for free with no Non-Disclosure Agreement (over 900 pages in total so far). More documents will be delivered shortly."Finally AMD/ATI have opened up their specifications so that open source developers can create truly efficient drivers, without having to rely on proprietary solutions. This is another step along the way for Linux to have true "interoperability" and "plug and play" support, while still remaining free. Now, watch and see whether sales figures begin to slant towards ATI graphics cards as opposed to Nvidea. I would certainly choose an AMD/ATI solution now that I know it will work with my operating system of choice.

read more | digg story

Saturday, 15 September 2007

New Google Earth satellite to launch next week

DigitalGlobe, provider of imagery for Google Inc.'s interactive mapping program Google Earth, said a new high-resolution satellite will boost the accuracy of its satellite images and flesh out its archive. The new spacecraft, dubbed WorldView I, is to be launched on Tuesday. This new satellite will boast 1/2 meter resolution, and will be able to collect over 600,000 square kilometers of imagery each day, up from the current collection of that amount each week.

Tuesday's launch is to be broadcast live on the Internet at

Once its third satellite is launched, DigitalGlobe said it will be collecting more than 1 million square kilometers per day of high-resolution imagery.This digital "refresh" of Google Earth's satellite imagery should help to improve it's currently patchy high-res coverage of the world, and bring some lesser-known areas into focus. However, there is likely to be a large amount of processing (i.e. cloud-analysis, selective "screening" of areas, etc.) that has to be done before the new digital data arrives on Google Earth, so don't hold your breath waiting yet.....

read more | digg story

Friday, 14 September 2007

Google Moon goes live!

Google Moon has just graduated from the Labs! Google Moon is a new website similar to Google Maps, but instead of showing satellite images of the Earth, it has visible and elevation maps of the Moon. Google Moon also charts all of the Apollo spacecraft landings.

So check it out! Now all we need is for Google to release Google Mars, incorporate them both with Google Earth, and we have a complete "Google Universe" product!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Microsoft Throws Daggers At Google Apps

Following a deal with Capgemini to push Google Apps into global companies, Microsoft comes out swinging.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

ISO Rejects OOXML as a Standard!

Microsoft Corp. has failed in its attempt to have its Office Open XML document format fast-tracked straight to the status of an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization.

read more | digg story

Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Swedish OOXML vote has been declared invalid!

The Swedish Standards Institute has tonight issued a press release where they declared this weeks earlier vote regarding OOXML as invalid. This means that Sweden doesn't have any official position regarding OOXML any more.The official reason for invalidating the vote was because one of the participants voted twice, which is against the rules. As it turns out, the voter appears to be a Microsoft supporter, bringing new evidence to the already dirty list of tricks Microsoft has employed to win the Swedish vote.I was shocked when I heard earlier that Microsoft had effectively "bought" the Swiss vote on OOXML, with 20 Certified Microsoft Partners joining just hours before the decision was made. This in itself would seem suspicious, but when you also consider that Microsoft sent an email to some of their Certified Partners offering them more dollars for marketing support if they voted for OOXML, the situation looks overwhelmingly like bribery. I wouldn't have thought that a company like Microsoft would stoop to such dishonest tactics. But regardless of the morality of the issue, Microsoft's approach to this vote has demonstrated an important factor: fear.By using underhanded tactics to swing the votes in their favour, Microsoft has inevitably demonstrated that they believe they would otherwise have lost the vote. This means Microsoft doesn't believe that OOXML could stand up to ODF on an even playing field. Just as they recently showed their fear of Linux as a viable competition to Windows, Microsoft has now admitted that open standards are a very real threat to their monopoly.It will be interesting to see the result of the ISO vote on document formats later this year. If things continue to go as they have been, this looks like it will be the biggest single manipulation of the standards industry for the advantage of one company that has ever been seen. Here's hoping that we don't have to accept the proprietary standards of Microsoft, especially after seeing the anti-competitive behaviour they have exhibited in the Swedish vote.

read more | digg story

Friday, 31 August 2007

HP releases its first mass-market Linux PC - in Australia!

Ending months of rumors, Hewlett-Packard appears to have released its first mass-market PC with pre-installed Linux. Specifically, the company will soon be selling RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) Desktop 5 on its HP dx2250 PC to Australian customers.

read more | digg story

Friday, 24 August 2007

Microsoft Unveils New Linux Hate Site

Microsoft has finally killed off it's old anti-Linux "Get the facts" website that had been spreading lies about Linux for years. However, don't think that anything has changed, the site is being replaced with another, more insidious site called "Windows Server Compare." Take a look.Obviously, Microsoft now perceives Linux as a real threat to their business, as they are spending so much money and resources in telling the public that Windows is better than Linux. A few years ago, Microsoft didn't bother comparing it's services to Linux, but now.....

read more | digg story

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Google Moves into Newspaper Advertising

Google has announced that they are extending their popular AdWords system to include text-based advertising techniques. As yet the system is still in Beta, allowing a limited number of advertisers to sign up for an account with access to personal support from staff members. This move represents another milestone along Google's ever-growing domination of the advertising marketspace. For more information, see Google's official announcement.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Blogger now uses a robots.txt file to exclude /search pages from the Google index

This morning, I checked the Google Webmaster Tools statistics for my blog,, when I noticed an odd message: "URLs restricted by robots.txt - 14". Blogger doesn't allow you to edit the robots.txt file, so I was confused as to how all these urls came to be restricted. I certainly didn't want Google missing out on some of my site's content.

A quick check to the "robots.txt analysis" page revealed the cause of this disturbance. It tuns out that Google (Blogger) has created a default robots.txt file on all blogspot blogs, with the following lines included:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /search

This change has resulted in all of the label search pages in any blogspot blog being excluded from the Google index, as well as from the index of any other search engines that obey the robots.txt exclusion protocol.

I don't know why the blogger developers have decided to do this, but I certainly don't enjoy the consequences. A large portion of my traffic came from search engines to my blog's label search pages - I will now lose all of that traffic. Also, it makes sense that when people search for "flora nature photography gallery" they will want to go to the flora search page on my nature photography blog.

Regardless of my traffic loss, the robots.txt addition is here to stay. What are your thoughts about this recent change to blogs, and most importantly: Do you think that this exclusion will have good long-term effects on the blogosphere?

Related Sites:
David's Nature Photo Gallery

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

It is accomplished...

I've finally installed Linux! For those of you who don't know, I've chosen openSUSE, partly because of the GUI (the "K" button is almost an exact replica of the Vista Start Menu).

The installation process went mostly without hassles, although the DVD I borrowed from a friend was SUSE (the commercial version), so I had to order a $20 DVD from and re-install. Since I had exceeded the measly 500MB web download allowance for the month already, I had to contend with dialup speeds for the update, which took 3 nights of constant downloading. After that, I finally had a functioning Linux installation!

The 2.6Ghz Celeron, 750MB RAM, 80G HDD computer I am running it on seems to work reasonably with just KDE apps, but when I try to run Lincity-ng it falls over, as I have yet to purchase a graphics card!

Anyway, I'm out of time now, but I'll try to provide regular updates about what I'm doing with Linux.


Saturday, 2 June 2007

Google Acquires Feedburner - Cheers all round!

It's official! After much speculation Google has acquired FeedBurner, the Chicago-based online feed syndication company. With it's user base of over 400,000 "burners" and an already developed advertising network, FeedBurner will be a formidable addition to Google's already-strong web services arsenal.

The benefits of this deal will extend to the users as well. Although Google has not yet announced their plans for integrating, Feedburner is sure to benefit from Google's superior financial backing and extensive coverage. According to the official FeedBurner blog, the FeedBurner staff have three main goals they wish to achieve from the acquisition:

a) continue to provide our customers with the best feed analytics,
b) begin to provide a more comprehensive 360-degree view of audience and reach, and
c) enable publishers to most efficiently determine the best ways to distribute and monetize their content.

Basically what this means is that content providers will be able to access greater audience analysis and income-generation tools, while advertisers will be able to reach a greater user base with less effort and expense. Most likely, we will soon see Adsense for Feeds come out of testing and be incorporated with FeedBurner's advertising network to move towards this goal.

Why is everyone so excited about FeedBurner's acquisition? This is the big break for FeedBurner. Just like Blogger, Feedburner will continue to grow, and, with the help of Google, provide increased service, integration, and income for web publishers and advertisers. Just when this level of integration will be achieved is uncertain, but one this is for sure:

Google + Feedburner = ∞!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Google Moves towards "Universal Search"

At the Google "Searchology" Press conference this weekend, Google announced a number of new innovations in it's search interface that will be unrolled this week. One of the major changes will be the new integration between Google's different search types.

Google has announced that they will be merging the results from Google Book, Blog, Image, Local News, and Video Searches into the organic search results. According to the official press release, Google's vision for universal search is to "ultimately search across all its content sources, compare and rank all the information in real time, and deliver a single, integrated set of search results that offers users precisely what they are looking for".

It's going to be interesting to see exactly how Google fulfils that goal in the future. We can already see an aggressive stance taken to update it's services recently, and we can look forward to more integrated and informative searches in the future.

To be continued....

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Google Directions - Are those Google Guys really such good swimmers?

Google Maps - obviously an excellent and accurate service

Try this one.......

Follow the instructions below..

Google will probably find this out and fix it pretty quickly.

Follow these steps [in order of course]

  1. 1. go to
  2. 2. click on maps
  3. 3. click on get directions
  4. 4. go from "new york" to "london, england "
  5. 5. scroll down in the directions to number 24
  6. 6. laugh and then re-post this ASAP so other people can enjoy

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Hitachi announces 1000GB Blu-ray Recorder

WOW! A 1 TB Blu-ray disc. That's bigger than most peoples hard drives! (and some 1TB HDDs do exist). Check this out - it might just be a step towards the end of the Blu-ray/HD-DVD standards battle.

read more | digg story

A Great Blog to Visit

Hi all,

Just telling you that I'm very busy right now, so I might not get to post anything for a while. Meanwhile, why not visit my other blog: David's Nature Photography Gallery

I should be back posting again soon.


Thursday, 10 May 2007

Finally! A total switch to Linux

Previously, I haven't been able to rely totally on Linux because the only computers available to run it on have been old (Pentium II or earlier!), and therefore haven't been able to run KDE (or GNOME) smoothly. But now we have bought a new computer with Windows Vista installed, so that can be the only WIndows machine, and I can now install Linux on the old (Celeron 2.6Ghz, 750MB RAM, 80GB HDD) computer!

I'm going to be using SUSE running KDE as that is the best integrated and supported version (except for Ubuntu, the "beginners OS' in my point of view). I'm waiting in great anticipation for KDE4 to be released October this year (more about that one of these days), and using SUSE should guarantee a smooth upgrade process. So, stay posted, I'll be relating my experiences living in a Linux world as soon as I get it installed (a few days time hopefully).

Long Live Tux!

SUSE Linux
KDE Home
David's Nature Photography Gallery

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Get Opera-like 'Speed Dial' Feature in Firefox

What's Speed Dial? Basically, Opera 9.2 provides you with screenshots for up to 9 websites when you load the browser. It's kind of like having 9 different homepages, which you can quick faster than you can pull up a bookmark toolbar. You can also refresh the screenshots.

read more | digg story

New Version of Google Analytics a huge improvement!

Today Google announced the new look of their popular Google Analytics tool for webmasters. The tour shows many improvements - the whole site design has been re-done to provide maximum usability and flexability. Check out the tour below - when Google activates the new look on your account later this week, I'm sure you'll like it!

Google Analytics Blog: New Version of Google Analytics!
Take the tour!

Dell sending mixed message by backing Microsoft-Novell alliance

Hardware vendor Dell has purchased SUSE Linux Enterprise Server license certificates from Microsoft. The certificates, which are one facet of a controversial deal between Microsoft and Novell, are intended to be used by customers who run mixed software environments with both Windows and Linux.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Firefox CEO speaks out

A fascinating interview with Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker about where Firefox came from and where it’s going. Baker talks about putting Firefox on mobile phones; how it will take on Flash and Silverlight and how Firefox makes $US55million a year!

read more | digg story

Monday, 7 May 2007

Vote for Dell to offer Linux worldwide!

Tell Dell that the rest of the world wants freedom too! At the moment, Dell only plans to release Ubuntu on US computers. This ideastorm post allows you to vote for freedom and equality for all! ;)

read more | digg story

Friday, 4 May 2007

Google's new design

Google is testing a new look for their search results page designed to increase functionality, as well as add some "eye candy". The major change that is immediately visible to users is the new "navigation bar" at the top of the screen. By default, this has links to Google Web, Image, and Video searches, as well as Google News, Mail and a "More" button. The standard account management links are still at the top right, although "Search History" has changed to "Web History" because of Google's recently implemented web tracking.

There are also other minor changes, such as the change from "center" alignment to "left justified" in some sections, and the search results number + speed indicator moving to the bottom of the page.

These new changes, althought they add little loading time to the page, increase the visiblity of the various Google services. They also genuinely help users to find the information they are searching for by presenting more of the available options on the screen. Let's hope Google continues to make changes for the better like this with it's other products.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Dell to ship Linux on computers soon - The dawn of Linux on the desktop?

It's official: Dell is going to be shipping Ubuntu Linux pre-installed on some of their computers soon, possibly even by the end of the month! This is great news for the Linux community - finally one of the major computer manufacturers has decided to support the open-source software in the best way it can - by bundling Linux with their computers.

This could well be the real dawn of Linux on the desktop. Over the past decade, many people have claimed that each successive year would be the "year of Linux on the desktop". However, many commercial and practical limitations have prevented the operating system from gaining sufficient momentum to overcome it's proprietary competitors and begin to exhibit itself as a layman's OS, not just a geek plaything. I believe that some factors are now coming into play that could change this state of affairs, allowing Linux to begin entering the desktop market it has so far been deprived of. In particular, 2 main issues are being visibly addressed right now:

1.) For many, the main limitation of Linux has been it's User-friendliness, or lack thereof. Sure, GNOME and KDE have advanced a lot over the years, but they still lack the polished and integrated feel of Mac OS, and yes, even Windows. Even if some of the basic functions are easy to use, the average user won't have a clue how to respond to an error message saying "init: Id "23" respawning too fast: disabled for 5 minutes." This problem will be largely solved with the release of KDE4, which introduces a new era of Linux GUIs where usability is at a prime. Both the visual and functional status of KDE4 is excellent, and although it is not yet released, when it is finished in October/November this year it will be the best UI Linux has had yet. The problem of usablity also relates to the next one:

2.) Publicity. [Nearly] Everyone who is up-to-date with technology knows about Linux. However, most of the operating system market resides with inexperienced users, who know nothing about Linux, or even Mac OS. This problem is beginning to decrease, with commercial entities such as Red Hat and Novell taking up the development and marketing of Linux. This also has the added advantage of enhanced integration between OS components, as the various companies each try to produce the best distribution. With Dell beginning to distribute Linux with it's PCs, more of the public will be able to experience Linux without having to know how to rebuild the kernel, use yum, xterm, or restart the X server.

Is it the beginning of the "year of Linux"? It's a bit early to tell right now, but with Vista not delivering all that the public wants and Dell moving into Linux, I think that "Tux" the penguin has his best chance yet to put his best foot forward and show the world what Linux can do!

Saturday, 28 April 2007

3D Desktop for Linux: Metisse

Today I experienced Linux's 3D (or more accurately 2.5D) window manager Metisse for the first time. And I was impressed by what I saw! Instead of taking the "eye-candy" approach used by other 3D desktops like XGL and Beryl, Metisse tries to make the desktop more usable, apparantly "increasing productivity", as Mandriva says. Although I'm not sure that you could justify this to your boss, it certainly does offer strong alternative to Vista's Aero Glass interface.

Sure Boss, I really do work better when the text on the screen is all back-to-front...Sure Boss, I really do work better when all the text on the screen is back-to-front...

Metisse offers quite a few features, including X, Y, and Z axis rotations, scaling, transparency, and the much-touted "two-fold desktop" feature. I've got a few photos below of just some of the features that Metisse sports:

Metisse offers many options for the tilting and scaling of windows.Tilted windows

One of the actually useful layouts that Metisse can render.A useful layout in 3D

And here is what you get when you run Metisse with an inbuilt graphics solution:
This is what happens when you run Metisse without a graphics card!Is this the Linux BSOD?

At present, Metisse is only available for the Mandriva version of linux, although it is sure to be ported sooner or later. For more information on Metisse, visit the links below:

Metisse links:
In Situ's Metisse site
Mandriva's Metisse site

General links:
David's "Images of Nature" Gallery - Nature Photography
WOWebbs blogs

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Google > God?

According to Google Trends, the term "Google" is searched for many more times than the word "God"! Does this mean that Google is God? Well, at least the news references them both equally, so our entire religiosity has not been taken over by Google - yet....!

Related blogs:
Nature Photography

Monday, 23 April 2007

HOWTO: Make Linux look like Windows

A lot of people I know are comfortable with Windows, but don't want to spend lot's of money buying it. They also don't want to learn a new interface, like GNOME. Caminoix has an article about how to make Linux look like Windows, which I am sure would help lot's of people to re-create a realistic Windows Experience!

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 - Back to basics?

Check out the latest news: Microsoft has gone way back to basics in this mock-up of the release of IE8! I'm sure some of you Linux fans would find this browser quite familiar, although the Windows users would not be so happy with the so-called "features" that are introduced.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Feature Announcement

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Alternative Bliss Wallpaper 2

Alternative "Bliss" Desktop background #2

Here's another desktop wallpaper you might like. If you would like to see any more "bliss"-like wallpapers, just leave a comment on this post with any features you would like to see on the next image. For more wallpapers, visit David's "Images of Nature" Gallery

Related posts: - A "bliss" wallpaper for those of you who are tired of the MS bliss... - Another "bliss"-like hill.
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Saturday, 24 March 2007

Alternative Bliss

The "Alternative Bliss"
alternative 'bliss' wallpaper

Here is a photo taken near Lismore, NSW, Australia. It offers an "Alternative" bliss wallpaper for the many of you out there who are tired of the picture-perfect MS-bliss wallpaper. For another bliss-full image, visit David's "Images of Nature" Gallery
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Vista. WOW?

Vista. The WOW starts now. Stunning. Entertaining. Dependable. Worth the wait.

These are some of the headlines I saw in my junk-mail catalogues this week. When Windows Vista is 5 years late, has only half of it's planned features and costs more than any version ever sold, all people can say is WOW? This is certainly an example of Microsoft's strong marketing position. They create a new product, and BOOM!: even though the product is at a lower grade than many of the alternatives, it takes off in the market place. Of course, the shops also make a profit out of selling Windows Vista, so they will want to promote it simply for the sake of it's income.

But is Vista really worth the wait? I don't think so. One of the main things Vista is promoted for is better security, but quite a few zero-day exploits have already been found, including a fundamental flaw in the speech-recognition technology. Another much-touted feature is the better graphics: Aero, vector-based icons, etc. But no reasonably priced computer now days can actually run Aero smoothly; you need to pay $2000+ for a good Vista experience!

And then there are games. According to independent testing, Vista actually runs games slower then XP. That means that Vista really isn't a good option for your PC at the moment unless you're willing to fork out thousands of dollars upgrading your system

So Vista isn't that good after all. But I bet that lot's of people will get it anyway. The uninformed buyer will have it recommended to them by the salesman, a new computer will come with Vista pre-installed, and a lot of people will get it just for the graphics.

Overall, I believe Vista will be a success. Even though the competition is better than it in many ways (linux & mac also run on current systems well), Windows is simply the operating system that everyone uses. Vista is certainly better than XP, and this is the reason that I think most people will upgrade for.


Hello, World!

Welcome to all you out there! The Big Byte is going to be a blog where I post the latest news and insights into technology (mainly computer-related) that come my way, and I'll also be adding some of my own thoughts on these matters. I will focus mainly on topics that I am most familiar with, so you'll get a lot of stuff about things like Google, Microsoft, Linux, and such.

I hope you like this blog, and please post a comment or email me if you think something could be improved.

See ya soon!


P.S. You might like to visit my other blog as well - David's "Images of Nature" Gallery