Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Dabr The Mobile Web Interface to Twitter's Api

What is Dabr? http://dabr.co.uk/

Dabr is a mobile web interface to Twitter's API. It has been described as m.twitter.com on steroids, and tries to provide as much mobile functionality as possible.

It's an open source project created and maintained by @davidcarrington, inspired by some suggestions from @whatleydude - who remains a keen user and strategic advisor on many of the features that make dabr what it is today.

The project is built on your feedback, literally! Your ideas aren't just welcome, but are the driving force that makes Dabr improve and hopefully be your mobile twitter client of choice. So please get in touch :)


The dabr.co.uk website is kindly hosted by @Ew4n of Mobile Industry Review - a great source of news for all things mobile. The logo "Juan" was created by Charlotte Schmidt.


When putting your Twitter username and password into an unofficial site or application, there is always a risk that your details will be abused. Twitter is now slowly pushing towards using a new form of login called OAuth where you do not need to give out your password. While Dabr now supports this new method, the easiest and most fully featured way of accessing the site from a mobile is to carry on using your username and password.

Dabr.co.uk has never stored user's passwords on the server. Regardless of your login method, your details will only be stored in an encrypted cookie on your own computer.

Some alternatives

Everyone has their own needs, so check out the following alternatives if you're interested in comparing what else your phone can do with Twitter:

The Most Stunning Visualizations for Twitter

Twitter twitter twitter.. don't you get bored listening to that? haha wait if you are getting bored of the web interface and wanna see tweets in a new style then check out these. Well guys these were the top visualisations I came across ever since I joined twitter. There are a few other visualisations but unfortunately the websites shut down. So without further ado enjoy the list and dont ever make the mistake of trying out them and show off in front of others. Well My friend was just doing that to me atleast. Enjoy the post and let me know if I missed out any.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations

Tori’s eye is a Twitter visualization tool, inspired by papercraft and origami. It’s a visual and technical experiment implemented using only standard XHTML/CSS and Javascript.

Visible Tweets

Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Visible tweets is very very gorgeous! one of the most neat and beautiful Twitter visualization ever Twitter has seen


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Twittospheric is beautiful don't dare disagree with me ;) haha just kidding I know you will love this. Just enter a search query or a twitter username and watch over the twitter bird flying gracefully with tweets related to your search query. Its beautiful. Yes it is! It has real-time twitter updates so don't hit refresh again just enjoy the view.

Social Collider

Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations

The Social Collider reveals cross-connections between conversations on Twitter.

This experiment explores these possibilities by starting with messages on the microblogging-platform Twitter. One can search for usernames or topics, which are tracked through time and visualized much like the way a particle collider draws pictures of subatomic matter. Posts that didn't resonate with anyone just connect to the next item in the stream. The ones that did, however, spin off and horizontally link to users or topics who relate to them, either directly or in terms of their content.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations

Twistori displays all what we love, hate, believe, think, feel and wish. So the next time you feel a little low on twitter switch on to one of these modes and trust me the feeling! its magical.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations

Minsh a start-up by PhD students at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, is a 3D visualisation of what Twitter users are writing about.Users can tweet by clicking on chat bubbles and reply by the same route. It consists of an underwater navigable world where each fish representsa Twitter user.Unfortunately, at this time you cannot sign up for Minsh as it’s not accepting new users before the new (alpha) version is released, but you can see what it’s about in the video.

If you love this ans since you may be unfortunate that you cannot signup try this ;) Press HD and watch fullscreen! http://bit.ly/2m7JlV


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Monitter is a real-time visualization of of Twitter trends. Type in keywords and see tweets as they occur. It’s the ultimate way to keep informed at a conference (i.e. #SXSW) or to see retweets in action. Monitter also provides geographic searches of tweets and the ability to turn the stream into an RSS feed.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Twittearth is a 3D model of tweets from around the world. Plugs in tweets and visualizes them on a globe.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Twittervision is another geographic visualization of tweets from around the world. It has both 2D and 3D visualization, as well as integration with Facebook. It even has its own API so that others can easily publish locations and statuses through Twittervision.

Twitter StreamGraphs

Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations

Twitter StreamGraphs is another data-based visualization of Twitter trends. Instead of loading bar charts or line items, it uses stream graphs to display words and tags associated with a keyword, based on a thousand recent tweets.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Pepsi’s SXSW Twitter Visualizer is a visualization of chatter at the 2009 South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). It pulls recent tweets, graphs how many people are eating, drinking, or registering for the conference, and even has a party tracker. The principles behind this visualization could be useful for not only other conferences, but for any major event.


Most Stunning Twitter Visualizations
Twitterfall is a way of viewing the latest 'tweets' of upcoming trends and custom searches on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Updates fall from the top of the page in near-realtime.You can also view your timeline, as you would normally see it in Twitter. This allows you to follow all of your friends while still using our service. This can be done by logging in and then selecting "Show my Timeline".


Twitt3D - A very interesting visual tool. It lets you follow your tweets in 3D; after entering your Twitter username and password, you can use the arrow keys to navigate and the space bar to quickly change perspectives.


Stweet is a mix of street and twitt, offering a real new way to discover geolocalised twitts from Twitter on a Google Street View panorama.Stweet is an artistic project dealing with the appropriation of geographical, photographic and real-time data from the Web.

Tawidget The best event widget for your blog and websites

Tawidget is a site built on top of Taweet, a twitter apps site that helps you schedule tweets and events on Twitter.

Tawidget is an extension to Taweet and lets you display your events to your blog or website visitors. The widget is completely customizable. If you’re a Wordpress blogger, Tawidget works great with Wordpress. Simply copy and paste your custom widget code into the sidebar or any other place on a HTML webpage where you would like to display your upcoming events.


  • Display events that you create with Taweet on your blog
  • Easily customizable


Obama moves to scrap 'back to moon' programme

The Obama Administration has moved to scrap NASA’s ambitious but over-budgeted back-to-moon programme citing its economic non-viability and indicated it wants the space agency to spend towards longer-range research.

$ 9 billion has already been spent on the Bush-era programme which the administration has proposed to scrap in the budget and has also proposed to invest $ 6 billion over five years in a commercial space taxi to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit.

“Let me be clear about what is happening at NASA. The Constellation programme, which is over budget and behind schedule, was intended to do what we’ve already done, which is return a man or woman to the moon,” said Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, explaining why the Obama Administration decided to scrap this project.

“We believe in the future of human space flight. We believe NASA can inspire Americans and lead to scientific advances. So we do have actually a small budget increase for NASA,” he argued.

He said the administration wants to redirect expenditure towards longer-range R&D, advanced robotics, and find those new technologies that will allow scientists to go further in space and not just repeat an already achieved feat, instead of continuing to develop the Ares 1 and Orion for back to moon mission.

At a news conference NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said the programme was planning to use an approach similar to Apollo to return astronauts to the Moon some 50 years after that programme’s triumphs.

The administration has cited the Augustine Committee report while proposing to scrap the moon mission.

“The Augustine Committee observed that this path was not sustainable, and the President agrees. They found that Constellation key milestones were slipping and that the programme would not get us back to the moon in any reasonable time or within any affordable cost,” he said.

The Augustine Committee found “there are insufficient funds to develop the lunar lander and lunar surface systems until well into the 2030s, if ever“.

”... And as we focused so much of our effort and funding on just getting to the Moon, we were neglecting investments in the key technologies that would be required to go beyond. So this budget cancels the Constellation Program, including the Ares I and V rockets and the Orion crew exploration vehicle,” he said.

The budget would also funnel billions of dollars into developing new space technologies, such as the ability to refuel spacecraft in orbit.

“NASA will accelerate and enhance its support for the commercial spaceflight industry to make travel to low Earth orbit and beyond more accessible and more affordable,” he said.

Source: The hindu

Retrospective on Guru Dutt draws huge response in Israel

A retrospective of Bollywood legend Guru Dutt’s evergreen classics like ‘Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam’ and ‘Pyaasa’, is attracting huge response from film enthusiasts here.

The event, organised by the Indian mission in Israel in collaboration with the cinematheques of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, has become a success, especially with the first generation of Indian Jewish immigrants who have travelled from far off cities in the country to watch the films.

“It is not easy for me to come from Be’ersheva for the screenings but I have been driving back and forth, sometimes late in the night, to watch these movies. We grew up on these films,” the 72-year-old Eliyahu Yosef told PTI.

Yosef’s childhood friend, Haim Ramon, says that they are planning to see ‘Pyaasa’ a second time in Haifa on the 7th of this month.

“Pyaasa, for me, is Guru Dutt’s best film irrespective of its box office performance. Gulabo (Waheda Rehman) is at her refreshing best. Probably Dutt was too ahead of his times and people did not like the traditional values being challenged then,” Ramon said.

At a reception recently thrown by the Indian Ambassador in Israel, Navtej Sarna, to inaugurate the Guru Dutt Retrospective, more than 200 people turned up, in a clear sign of growing popularity of Bollywood in this country.

“Guru Dutt’s movies carried a strong social message and are as relevant today as they were in the 50s. He was a man who lived ahead of his time and a lot of people feel it wa the golden era of Indian cinema”, Sarna told the audience.

The effort was inspired by the huge success of Indian film festival in Israel recently for which Bollywood stars, Amol Palekar and Anupam Kher, also visited the country.

Some of the acclaimed films of the Bollywood legend like ‘Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam’, ‘Chaudavin ka Chand’, ‘Kagaz ke Phool’, ‘Pyaasa’, ‘Mr and Mrs

Al-Qaeda offers to train, arm Nigerians: SITE

Abu Musab Abdul Wadud said that Nigerian Muslims “must embrace and carry out violent jihad as the only means of defence.” –File

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leader has offered to train and supply Nigerian Muslims to carry out “violent jihad,” in an Internet message, US-monitoring agency SITE said on Tuesday.

Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, in a message posted on a Jihadist forum on Monday, told Nigerian Muslims that they “must embrace violent jihad as the only means of defence against Christians in the country,” SITE said.

He was referring to last month's riots between Christians and Muslims in the Nigerian city of Jos that left more than 300 dead, reports AFP.

“We are ready to train your children in weapons and to provide them with what we can of support, men, arms, ammunitions, and equipment to enable you to defend our people in Nigeria and to repulse the hostility of the Crusader minority,” Abdul Wadud added.

A young Nigerian man allegedly trained in Yemen by Al-Qaeda's regional branch is being held in the United States in connection with a thwarted attempt to bomb a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day, last December 25.

SITE said AQIM had in August also addressed Nigerian Muslims, extending sympathy and urging unity after clashes between the Salafist group Boko Haram and security forces in July resulted in several hundred deaths.

Source : Dawn.com

US President Barack Obama has proposed a USD 3.2 billion assistance for Pakistan for fiscal 2011

US President Barack Obama has proposed a USD 3.2 billion assistance for Pakistan for fiscal 2011, a substantial jump in American aid to that country.

Noting that Pakistan is a key country in the war against extremism, the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Jacob Lew, said the budget focuses on improving basic infrastructure which will enable civilian government to provide better services to the people of Pakistan.

"This is key to improving stability and will also provide the military the tools needed to wage an effective counterterrorist campaign. For Fiscal 2011, funding for Pakistan is USD 3.2 billion," he said, adding that in 2010 it has been USD 1.88 billion.

"For Pakistan, the Budget also increases security assistance and funds a new signature energy project," the White House said in a fact sheet adding the budget expands the number of civilian personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort to build government capacity, increase diplomatic engagement, manage expanded assistance programmes, and reduce the potential for fraud and misuse of American funding.

Obama has proposed USD 1.2 billion for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund as against USD 700 million in 2009.

Increase in aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan is to revitalise economic development and confront the resurgence of the Taliban, the White House said.

"The FY 2011 Budget provides USD 5.3 billion for Afghanistan and USD 3.3 billion for Pakistan for State and USAID activities, including increases in economic assistance and funding to continue a "surge" in civilian staff begun in the 2009 Supplemental request," a senior Administration official said.

"The 2011 Budget provides ongoing support, logistics and security for the existing US Missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan and includes funding for 500 additional civilian staff in Afghanistan and 90 additional civilian staff in Pakistan in order to execute the Administration's Strategy," he said.

"These amounts do not include funding from DOD, DEA, and other agencies that will be used to support President Obama's new strategy," the official said.

Obama's 2011 request also includes USD 11.6 billion to train and equip the Afghan security forces, USD 1.5 billion to build the capabilities of Pakistan's security sector, and funding to support the additional troops that the President has approved for Afghanistan, the Administration official said.

Noting that approximately USD 70 billion is already enacted for US military operations in Afghanistan in 2010; the administration official said Obama is seeking an additional USD 32 billion to cover the costs of the additional 30,000 troops and training of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in 2010.

"The President is seeking approximately USD 113 billion for US military operations in Afghanistan in 2011 including funding for training of ANSF," the Administration official said.

Create a Cute Retro-Flavored Teddy Bear with the Gradient Mesh Tool

In this tutorial, you'll learn how you can easily add a retro feeling to your creations. We'll also cover techniques such as using gradient mesh tool to add inner shadows to your objects, which gives them a subtle rounding while keeping your artwork scalable. Let's learn how to make a character head of a retro circus bear, then you can apply these techniques in your own work!

Read More Here

Learn how to make Residual Income Creating Various Resources

Guest Post by Michael John Wolfe

I have dedicated the last two years of my life to finding legitimate ways to make money online and create sources of residual income. As you can imagine, I had to weed through thousands of scams and hundreds of websites that did not live up to their claims.

Rather than focus on one source of residual income – I decided to create many sources. I only had a few hours each week to dedicate to making money online, but I was able to create $900 a month in total income from all of my sources.

My first source was photography and I took some quality photos at home and while traveling. I uploaded these photos to the many microstock photography websites that are available. Within a few months I was making $200 to $300 a month from only 312 photos. Not a bad start!

The next thing that I did was start writing articles for a variety of websites that paid me each month for the advertising earnings that accompanied these articles. I was able to create $250 a month in earnings from a few select websites. The best part about these articles is the fact that I wrote some of them over a year ago and I am still earning money every month in the form of residual income. This is a great feeling!

One of the more recent ways I have found to make money on the internet is by filling out trial offers. I have found one or two websites that require you to submit your information and they actually pay you for filling out these trial offers. Now don’t get me wrong, you won’t get rich from these websites – but I do make some great residual income each month. I only really invest a couple of hours a week to these trial offer websites and I also get paid for referring people to them. One warning, if you do decide to complete trial offers do not use your personal email address! Create a separate email address just for trial offers. These trial offer companies will fill your email address with spam and advertisements.

Author Bio:
You can see some of these and other ways I have found to make money online by visiting my blog at: Make Money Online.

Learn How to make Money Online with ApnaMoney.tk

The Importance of Awards

Posted By Pritish Nandy

Why do we work? For money? For success, fame, honour, self realisation? For the good life? Each of us is driven by an entirely different set of compulsions.

But one thing is certain. Some professions are meant for those who want to make money and some, for those who want to discover themselves. Teachers are clearly not those who enter the profession in search of money though it’s true that some teachers today are indeed very rich. Just as gamblers are clearly in the casino to make money but most of those who enter a casino come out flat broke. The pursuit of mathematics, on the other hand, can go either way. You can become one of the greatest scientists of our time. Or you can, if you are so inclined, build a fortune on Dalal Street using your love for numbers to outwit others.

Even when you succeed in your calling, rewards can differ. Some become, like Mukesh Ambani, owner of the most prized enterprise in the country. Others become, like Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan, unqualified leaders of their own profession. There are others like Rahul Gandhi who are blessed with the opportunity to change the nation’s destiny, should they want to. Or like Sunil Mittal who, while building his huge personal empire, has changed India forever through his telecom moves. Ambition always begins with a dream, a purpose. And even though money may be an important part of it, I frankly doubt if it really matters that much. Most people strive, excel, achieve for reasons other than money. It’s the desire to prove themselves. Even those who we frown upon, a Ramalinga Raju or a Linda Lovelace were actually pursuing the same objective, each in their own, unique way.

But not all those who strive, succeed. That’s where the role of awards and public recognition comes in. Awards do not only acknowledge success; they recognise many other qualities: ability, struggle, effort and, above all, excellence. For every Shah Rukh who succeeds and hits the jackpot, winning wealth, fame and honour, there are hundreds of equally gifted actors who do not make it. Not because they are any less talented but because life has this curious habit of being unfair, even to the best among us. Guru Dutt killed himself out of sheer disappointment. For every Sachin, there are hundreds of brilliant young sports people in India who never get the grooming and the break they need. And, even when they do, they are stymied at every level by a disrespectful system. For every RK Pachauri, there are thousands of environmental activists doing the most amazing work in towns and villages we have not even heard of. We come to know of them when they win an award and are outed before the media. Would you have heard of Mahasweta Devi or Aruna Roy, MC Mehta or Deep Joshi were it not for the Magsaysay? Would you have gone out and bought Kiran Desai or Aravind Adiga were it not for the Man Booker?

That’s where awards play a crucial role. Not everyone’s lucky to get the money and the rah-rah he or she deserves. Those who do not, manage to get by because of the support and recognition awards give them. When the history of cinema is written, Satyajit Ray will be remembered for his great films. He may not have made money from them. Some of his negatives may be irretrievably damaged. But the awards endorse him as one of the century's greatest film makers. Likewise, every year, some truly remarkable Indians win fame and encouragement to pursue their excellent work through different awards but the most notable among them are the three National Awards: the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. I am not even counting the Bharat Ratna here. There are only five Bharat Ratnas living among us: two singers, a musician, a scientist and an economist. Average age: 80.

That’s why we value the National Awards. That’s also why it’s important that they are chosen carefully, transparently, wisely. We cannot allow yet another institution to be subverted. That would not only destroy the awards but also undermine the achievements of all those remarkable men and women who have received them over the years. This is possibly their only claim to posterity in an age when popular media has made it impossible for us to recall anything beyond the immediate and the in-the-face. So when a Sant Singh Chatwal is awarded a Padma Bhushan after facing five CBI cases for cheating banks in India and other frauds in the US, it’s a shame that will take us years to live down. Interestingly, our Embassy in Washington DC was asked to recommend him for a Padma Shri. When they refused, his award was upgraded to a Padma Bhushan as if to score a point. Now the only way the Government can save its face is if Chatwal quietly returns the award and saves everyone the blushes. But will he? And will we ever get to know who recommended him?

Abhay Deol 'ties' himself for andpersand cover

Abhay Deol

He is as 'reclusive' as 'reclusive' can get. He is the 'chashmo-chirag' of the Deol family, who can safely be titled as one of the hottest stars in Bollywood.

We are indeed referring to the suave Abhay Deol, who is on the cover of the February issue of the 'andpersand' magazine. Those in the know are aware of the fact that this dude is quite media shy. To which, Abhay admits, "I am media shy. I didn't depend on the media to promote me. In that sense, I don't owe them or anyone anything. I arrived upon success solely by myself." Talking about films, he says, "I like films where I can relate to the characters- where I find them to be all flesh and flesh and blood, tangible and real." For those who felt that being a Deol had everything carved out for him and that Bollywood was a cakewalk for this man, he answers, "The Deol tag meant that people expected me to be in a certain way, to live up to a certain standard. So, it kind of worked for me and against me, at the same time." And this one is for those who 'question' about him not being 'carved' out for the quintessential Bolly hero, "I know I am not cut out to play a filmi hero. I don't look like a hero." Some confession that, Abhay!

All this and much more, in the latest edition of 'andpersand'.

"Welcome to the shoot of your biggest hit" - Sajid Khan to House Full cast

Sajid Khan Remember the last scene of 3 Idiots? The one where Chatur extends a piece of paper to an unsuspecting Rancho and asks him to sign a 'Declaration of Defeat'? As baffled and amused that he could possibly be in that particular situation, Rancho didn't have a moment of hesitation in doing so because in his heart he truly believed that 'aal was well'.

Now that was in reel life. Let's rewind a bit now and go back to the summer of 2009. This is when a similar drama, though of a completely opposite kind, took place in real life on the first day of the shooting of Sajid Khan directed House Full. Confident about the journey that he was about to embark on and positive about its final outcome, Sajid wrote a personalised letter to each and every actor. What it stated was something plain and simple but carried its weight in gold. It said - 'Welcome to the first day's shoot of your career's biggest hit'!

Now that's quite a statement given the fact that the film boasts of a superstar like Akshay Kumar who has some of the most massive blockbusters behind him. Deepika Padukone began with none less than Om Shanti Om while others like Riteish Deshmukh, Arjun Rampal and Lara Dutta do boast of some good money spinners behind them. Moreover, producer Sajid Nadiadwala too has been around for more than 25 years and over this long period of time has accumulated several successful films in his kitty. And let's not forget that a major part of this team has earlier delivered a solid hit in the form of Sajid Khan's own Heyy Babyy.

In such a scenario, House Full being touted as the biggest hit for everyone involved does give a very good indication of the kind of confidence that Sajid is oozing with. No wonder, the filmmaker doesn't hesitate in admitting that he did write a letter to all. "Whether it was Akshay, Deepika, Lara, Arjun, Riteish or Jiah (Khan), I wrote a personal note to all of them. That was my way of giving us all a good kick start to the beginning of the film's shoot", says Sajid who continues to carry a similar intuition till date even as the film's release is round the corner.

Meanwhile, during his interaction with his cast and crew members of House Full, he also shared a similar vision that he has carried over the years. "I told them all that 'Remember guys, we are making this film for audiences and not for ourselves. So let's go out there and step into the shoes of those very people who are going to pay for the ticket and get into an auditorium to see what we had to offer. Let's make a film that would be loved by the masses all around'", fondly remembers Sajid who did a similar exercise for his debut film Heyy Babyy (2007) as well.

First major release of summer 2010, House Full would be seeing a massive theatrical release on Friday, 30th April, with paid previews a day earlier. The film would arrive at the time when IPL matches would be through. With music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, lyrics by Sameer and screenplay by Milap Zaveri, House Full stars Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Riteish Deshmukh, Arjun Rampal, Lara Dutta, Jiah Khan, Boman Irani, Chunkey Pandey and Randhir Kapoor in principal roles with Malaika Arora in a special appearance.

Mr. Vegas Ft Sonu Niigaam - Gallis (Punjabi Remix)


Stunning Mallika Sherawat at the 62nd Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards

Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on January 30, 2010 in Century City, California.

Exclusive first still of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

They say, in Bollywood, you can't keep a talented man hiding for long. But, Ashutosh Gowarikar is doing just that. After the debacle of his much-hyped film What's Your Raashee, the man on a mission, Ashutosh Gowarikar, is back again with his yet another magnum opus Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. It's one film that has made many in the industry sit up and take notice, for reasons more than one.

Firstly, of course, is because it's a film that comes from the stable of the dream director Ashutosh Gowarikar. Secondly, because of its dream starcast, that compromises of Abhishek Bachchan and the gorgeous Deepika Padukone.

The third reason happens to be the subject matter of the film, which is based on the historic Chittagong uprising. Bollywood Hungama happened to get its hands on the first look of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. From the looks of it, one must admit that Abhishek is looking damn cool in the Indian attire (which is a break away from his casual look on screen). Considering Gowarikar's expertise, when it comes to period films there are no prizes for guessing that this one is going to be one of the most anticipated films of this year.

Till then, enjoy the first look of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.

Golden boy Rahman makes India proud with double Grammys

Indians went 'Jai Ho' once again Monday when music maestro A.R. Rahman scored a double triumph at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, a year after bagging two Oscars for his foot tapping music for 'Slumdog Millionaire'.

The composer bagged the best compilation soundtrack for a motion picture and another one for 'Jai Ho' for the best motion picture song at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.

He won the award with veteran lyricist Gulzar and Tanvi Shah who wrote the Spanish lyrics for it.

'This is insane, god is great again,' a beaming Rahman said after receiving the award at the biggest show in the music world. The other Indian contenders, Zakir Hussain and Amjad Ali Khan, could not manage to win the golden gramophones.

'Insane eh? I never even dreamt about winning all these awards,' Rahman posted on his Twitter page shortly after receiving the award.

Just a year ago, Rahman's music for 'Slumdog Millionaire', a screen adaptation of Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup's novel 'Q & A', had propelled him to the record books as India's first double Oscar winner.

Besides the Oscars and now the Grammys, the Chennai musician's composition for the film has also won him other prestigious international awards like the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Critics Choice Award and the Golden Globe.

'We all are very proud of him. This magical musician has brought more honour to India, his family, fans, friends and his entire team. Such a young man has made his mark on the music map of the world. All of us should put him on our shoulders,' said Gulzar who shares the prestigious award with him.

'I am proud of Rahman as a special friend and composer who made India proud in the world of music. It's his true dedication towards innovative music and his connection with divine energies. Bravo Rahman!' exclaimed filmmaker Subhash Ghai who roped in the composer for his films 'Taal', 'Kisna: The Warrior Poet' and 'Yuvvraaj'.

Director Imtiaz Ali added: 'It fills me with pride. Also makes me think if he is getting this much accolade for 'Jai ho', wonder what the reaction of the West will be when they discover the rest of Rahman? I'm waiting to see the man go from strength to strength.'

The composer's sister Reihana said winning awards was 'a way of life' for her 44-year-old brother.

'It's a good start of the year. It was Rahman's birthday on Jan 6 and now he wins Grammys. It's a way of life now since he has won so many,' Reihana told NDTV after her brother won the award.

'When he was going for the Golden Globes last year, he was doubtful about his win and so were we, but after he got that, it has been awards and awards for him, so we were quite sure that he will get the Grammy as well,' she added.

The song was crooned by Sukhvinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer, Vijay Prakash with support from Rahman and Shah.

Global honours may have come his way only since 'Slumdog Millionaire', but the unassuming composer has been contributing to world music for quite a while. He composed music for the 'The Lord of the Rings' theatre production, for instance, as well as for Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Bombay Dreams'.

His talent first came to the fore with 'Roja' in 1992, and there has been no looking back since for the musician, who has just been awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award.

The accolades have not stopped.

The Symbiosis Institute of Design (SID) fest Fundamental 2010

The Symbiosis Institute of Design (SID) fest Fundamental 2010 came through after much trial and tribulation but thanks to the persevering Kshitiz, the student co-ordinator, we made many exceptions to our rule!

It was an unusually early flight we took to land in Pune which was to our surprise much colder than Bangalore where we left from! And we were promptly welcomed by 2 guys from SID who looked like they really needed sleep and BAD! That was just the beginning!


We were whisked away to our hotel and all was well till lunch when I decided to head to the college to check the status with the stage and the sound set up. Now the sound vendor was a good chap and he had reasonable equipment but sadly, he had gotten it all wrong! The monitors were phasing all over and for the longest time, Nitin Joshi who made the miracle happen, was seen marshalling the troops and rewiring everything to get it to a sound checkable state!

The sound check it self was quite a challenge and after moving everything around including the PA itself we were finally set to do the show.


The crowd was sitting down like they were ready for class early in the morning but it only took the slightest invitation from Raghu to get them all right up front and almost on stage along with us! From there on, there was nothing really that could go wrong. The energy coming back at us that night was something else and it was pushing us to take the songs to a whole new place!


There was an incident in the middle where our violinist Karthick snapped a string while tuning up for a song and we started hearing chants of “Go Karthick” which upon clarification, we realized that they wanted him to go to the girls hostel! It was a landmark moment and we have to congratulate Karthick for getting the tuning right and continuing to play at the right tempo and not speeding up for obvious reasons! What happened post the gig is beyond the purview of our lovely little blog.

But after all the confusion that ensued in the morning, this was one of the best gigs we’ve played in a while. The energy from the lovely people at SID completely overwhelmed us and to say the least, we’d love to get back there very soon!

A huge thank you to all at SID, especially Kshitiz who went completely out of his way to ensure this happened!

Also for doubling up as an excellent photographer apart from his main role as the miracle worker sound engineer, Nitin Joshi who took these lovely photos of us playing at SID!



sonam kapoor at the sets

Lara Dutta signed up as brand ambassador for Colgate

If one has the smile that appeals to the whole 'Universe' and the other has that 'special something' that enhances smiles the world over, then, don't you feel that the coming together of the two is just inevitable?

Well, we are talking about the former 'Miss Universe' Lara Dutta, who, as per the latest buzz, has been signed up by the oral care major Colgate Palmolive as their brand ambassador. According to Bollywood Hungama's confirmed sources, "Lara's name was playing on the minds of the Colgate officials since quite sometime now. And there couldn't have been a better time to sign on Lara as their brand ambassador". True-Blue girl that Lara always is, this association is something that is bound to sparkle its way to (smiling) glory!

Lara Dutta however was unavailable for comment.

Sanjay Dutt moves from Gandhigiri to Freedom

Sanjay Dutt Sanjay Dutt has opened a new chapter in his life. From playing a gangster in a dozen odd films to advocating 'gandhigiri' in Lage Raho Munnabhai, he would now be marching to a different beat with Freedom, a film which would take audience through the journey of India from the 70s to the current times. The film would be directed by Vivek Agnihotri and has already been given a nod of approval by Sanjay Dutt as well as Madhavan. Hunt for the remainder of the principal cast is on.

Confirms Vivek Agnihotri, the man behind Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Bipasha Basu) and Chocolate (Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Tanushree Dutta), "Yes, Freedom is happening for sure. The principal cast is more or less finalised and talks with Sanjay Dutt and Madhavan are progressing quite well as they are in the final stages. Sanjay is out of town and I would be meeting him soon after his return to take a closure on the formalities. I am also keen on signing Mohan Lal for the film and have approached him as well. It would be great if he consents because the film will certainly befit his standing as an actor who only does meaningful cinema."

Looking at the subject of Freedom, it does hint of being meaningful cinema with a commercial appeal to it. Describing the film as a political thriller that gives a blow by blow account of modern day India during last three decades, Vivek gets emotional by calling Freedom as a dream come true, "This is a story that I have been waiting to tell for years now. Though Chocolate and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal happened in the interim, I was always keen to bring Freedom for Indian viewers. The beauty of the subject is that it stays on to be as topical as ever as it starts in the 70s and takes us to the current times. Even if I had to make Freedom in 2020, it will still retain its charm because there would always be newer episodes to tell from the decade gone by."

Apparently, Vivek completely distanced himself from the outside world while writing the film. "I worked with Prasoon Joshi on the script for close to 6 months. After that I went to Himalayas for a couple of months and have just returned after locking the final draft. It has been over two years since Dhan Dhan Dhan Goal and I am raring to go. However, if you ask me whether I am tired then I would say 'No'. Writing Freedom has been such an enriching experience and even if I am required to spend a couple of more years to add more to it, I won't mind."

For Sanjay Dutt, it would be yet another saga other than his under production Lamhaa (directed by Rahul Dholakia) where he would be a part of a topical tale. Though in 2009 he saw success coming his way via a comic route (All The Best), 2010 could well open a new chapter in his life with Freedom following next. In the current decade, most of the films where he has been shown on the right side of the law (Shootout At Lokhandwala, Dus, Kurukshetra, Mission Kashmir) have been successful at the box office. Are we looking at him as a law keeper once again in Freedom?

"It would be too early to divulge his role though I can assure that it pretty much justifies his heavy weight presence", assures Vivek, "He would be present from start to finish of the film and would remain a part of the narrative through all the decades."

Lucy Liu left Mumbai on Friday night after finishing shoot of her film Meena

 Lucy Liu She came, she shot and she sneaked out of Mumbai on Friday night on a flight to New York, traumatized by the experience of making a film on the life of a sex worker.

Lucy Liu came and shot her 30-minute film entitled Meena for ten days in Mumbai and tried to sneak out of Mumbai on Friday night as quietly as possible.

Says a source, "Lucy shot her film right until Friday evening then rushed to the airport to escape all media attention. She had to return to New York for another film. Then she had to edit her Mumbai film entitled Meena and submit it by mid-2010."

According to an actor in the film, "Lucy is painfully shy of the press. Plus this was her first film as a director, and it was on a very sensitive subject."

Lucy's film was on the subject of prostitution. According to a source, "The film inspired by Meena's tale as told in the book 'Half The Sky' is about a real-life sex worker Meena Haseena who at the age of 10, was abducted from her village in Bihar and brought to Mumbai. Meena grew up in a brothel. After escaping from the brothel, Meena made it her life's mission to help as many of her sex-worker colleagues to escape from a life of prostitution as possible."

The irony that moved Lucy Liu was that Meena couldn't manage to rescue her own daughter from a life of prostitution.

Says an actor from the film, "It took Meena 14 years to rescue her own daughter from prostitution. As Lucy shot this sensitive film, she'd often burst into quiet sobs in corner. The real story is so searing and brutal we all were traumatized. There was a 13-year old girl playing Meena's daughter. And the ambience was especially sensitive for her. You can't blame Lucy for wanting to finish shooting and leave quietly."

Tannishtha Chatterjee who plays Meena Haseena met the real Haseena several times.

Says the source, "Meena was a consultant on the project throughout. Tannishtha and Lucy met Meena several times and Meena was on the sets supervising the proceedings."

For the sequences showing Meena daughter Naina's rescue attempts, Tannishtha had to perform several dangerous stunts, climbing up walls jumping down buildings, running and slipping as she was chased by goons."

Says Tannishtha, "All I can say is, I'm battered and bruised both emotionally and physically after doing the film. Working with Lucy Liu and that too on a project of very high realism, just shattered me."

Sonu Nigam sings for campaign against child labour

Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam performed in a live concert here Sunday to raise funds for a campaign against child labour in the country.

The concert titled Pukaar saw the audience, consisting mainly of youngsters, going crazy with excitement and cheering while standing on chairs, while Nigam churned out his chartbuster songs including 'Shukran Allah' ('Kurbaan'), 'Aal Izz Well' ('3 Idiots'), 'Kal Ho Na Ho' ('Kal Ho Na Ho') and 'Soniye' ('Mujhse Shaadi Karogi') among many others.

'This is a very noble cause and we need to continue this campaign till each and every child labourer in this country is given back their normal childhood,' said Nigam.

The event was organised by NGOs Divine and Loksathi as part of their campaign to eradicate child labour and rehabilitate the children forced to work.

The money collected from the show will be spent on the rehabilitation and education of child labourers.

Hilton apes Monroe for tenth perfume

Socialite-heiress Paris Hilton has aped movie icon Marilyn Monroe back to life in adverts for her tenth eponymously-named fragrance.

Hilton who posted her behind-the-scenes pictures from the commercial on micro-blogging website Twitter mimicked the tragic star's trademark hairdo, curvy eyebrows and beauty spot to perfection, reports thesun.co.uk.

Longoria Parker doesn't diet

'Desperate Housewives' star Eva Longoria-Parker who owns her own Mexican restaurants claims she doesn't diet because she enjoys calorific treats too much.

The actress says she watches what she eats but does not stop herself from chomping on her favourite Mexican dishes, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

'I am a big eater, but I do watch what I eat. I love to cook and just love Mexican food. It's my weakness and any red meat, I just love it. So I'd say Mexican food is my secret indulgence. I also love New York pizza and I just love Indian cuisine - the spicier the better,' she said.

The 34-year-old also revealed she doesn't do a lot of exercise to retain her sexy trim physique.

'It's mostly weight training or kick boxing. I have this amazing high for adrenaline. It agrees with me. Your body is a vehicle and you have to take care of that vehicle,' she said.

Wind Chill scary movie

Seorang mahasiswa yang pendiam (diperankan oleh Ashton Holmes ) jatuh cinta pada seorang gadis cantik yang dilihatnya di ruang kuliah ( Emily Blunt ). A quiet student (played by Ashton Holmes) falls in love with a girl beautiful she saw in the lecture hall (Emily Blunt). Ashton terlalu pemalu untuk berani menyapa Emily, jadi dia hanya mengamatinya diam-diam. Ashton was too shy to dare to say hello Emily, so she just watched silently. Waktu itu adalah hari Natal dan perkuliahan akan diliburkan. It was a Christmas and lectures will be closed.

Ashton yang sudah mencari tahu tempat tinggal Emily menempelkan sebuah pengumuman yang mengatakan kalau ia sedang mencari seorang rekan untuk perjalanan pulang dengan menaiki mobilnya. Ashton, who had to find out where to stay Emily put a sign that said if he was looking for a partner to ride home with his car up. Dengan sengaja dia berbohong tentang tempat tinggalnya dan disesuaikan agar searah dengan tempat tinggal Emily. He intentionally lied about where he lived and adjusted to the direction of Emily residence.

Karena liburan, Emily kesulitan untuk mencari transportasi mudik. Because vacation, Emily is difficult to find transportation forth. Jadi, ketika dia melihat pengumuman yang ditempelkan Ashton di papan pengumuman, dia tertarik dan memutuskan untuk pulang dengan naik mobil itu saja, meskipun dia sama sekali belum mengenalnya. So, when he saw the announcement posted on the bulletin board Ashton, he was interested and decided to go home with a car that's all, though he did not know him.

Awal pertemuan mereka bisa dikatakan tidak menyenangkan. Beginning of the meeting said they could not pleasant. Karena ternyata mobil Ashton tidak senyaman yang diperkirakan Emily. Because the car was not as comfortable as Ashton Emily expected. Kaca mobilnya bahkan tidak bisa menutup rapat dan pemanasnya tidak bagus. Glass car can not even closed the meeting and the heater was not good. Sehingga mereka harus tetap mengenakan baju hangat yang tebal meskipun sudah berada di dalam mobil. So they had to keep wearing a thick sweater, although already in the car. Perjalanan yang mereka tempuh cukup panjang. Journey they use long enough. Dan mereka berdua tidak bisa berteman akrab. And they both can not be friends. Emily akhirnya mengetahui kalau Ashton adalah salah seorang penggemar gelapnya dan rumahnya sama sekali berbeda arah dengannya. Emily finally know if Ashton is one of darkness and his home fans a completely different direction with it.

Emily marah, begitu mengetahui kalau pria ini hanya berpura-pura agar bisa mengajaknya naik mobil bersama. Emily is angry, so find out if this man was only pretending to be him in the car together.

Di tengah perjalanan, mereka berhenti di pom bensin terakhir yang akan mereka temui sebelum jalan panjang yang kosong melompong. Along the way, they stopped at a gas station that will last they met before the long road empty. Tanpa sepengetahuan Emily, Ashton menanyakan jalan potong yang lebih pendek kepada si pemilik pom bensin. Unbeknownst to Emily, Ashton asked the way the shorter pieces to the gas station owners. Pria itu memberitahu sebuah jalan potong yang dikenal dengan istilah Route 606, tapi dia tetap menyarankan agar Ashton tetap mengikuti jalur tol saja, yang lebih aman. He was told a piece of road known as Route 606, but he still suggested that Ashton did attend the toll lane only, which is more secure.

Tapi Ashton punya rencana lain. But Ashton had other plans. Dia mendengar kalau Route 606 ini terlihat indah ketika sedang tertutup salju. He heard that Route 606 looks beautiful when you're covered with snow. Dia berniat menunjukkan keindahan itu pada Emily yang sudah terlanjur curiga kepadanya. He intended to show the beauty of Emily's already suspicious of him. Emily yang mengetahui niat Ashton menolak rencana itu dan menyuruh Ashton berputar kembali ke jalan raya. Who know the intentions Emily Ashton rejected the plan and told Ashton to circle back to the highway. Tapi pria itu berkeras, kalau jalan potong yang mereka ambil ini benar-benar nyaman. But he insisted, if the road cut that they take really good.

Dan ternyata Emily benar. And Emily was right. Mobil mereka terbalik di sebuah persimpangan jalan yang ditutupi salju tebal, setelah sebuah mobil dari arah berlawanan menabrak mereka dari depan. Their car overturned at an intersection that was covered with snow, after a car from the opposite direction hit them from the front.

Saat itulah semua kengerian dimulai. That's when all the horror begins. Mobil yang menabrak mereka lenyap tanpa bekas, seperti hantu. The car that hit them disappear without a trace, like a ghost. Sementara itu, mobil tua milik Ashton mogok tak bisa bergerak. Meanwhile, Ashton's old car broke down unable to move. Pemanas mobil sudah hampir tidak berfungsi karena bensin mobil sendiri pun sudah mau habis. The heater was not working nearly as any gasoline car was going to run out.

Satu persatu mereka melihat sosok-sosok hantu berseliweran melewati mobil mereka. One by one they saw figures moving around through the ghost of their cars. Pada awalnya, Emily tidak menyadari kalau sosok itu adalah hantu, sampai ketika sosok itu menoleh dan menampakkan wajah buruknya. Initially, she did not realize that the figure was a ghost, until when the figure turned and revealed the face of bad. Lalu sosok seorang polisi pun muncul. Then the figure of a policeman appeared. Emily yang mengira polisi ini adalah manusia segera turun dari mobil bermaksud untuk meminta tolong padanya. Emily who thinks this is a human police immediately out of the car intending to ask for help to her. Tapi ternyata, polisi ini punya niat jahat. But it turned out, the police has evil intentions. Emily langsung kembali ke mobil. Emily directly back to the car. Ketika polisi itu berniat memaksanya lagi, Ashton muncul dan memukulnya dari belakang. When the police were going to force him again, Ashton came and hit him from behind. Hantu itu menghilang. Ghost disappeared. tapi dia selalu kembali untuk menarik Emily keluar dari mobil. but he always come back to pull Emily out of the car. Mereka harus bersiap-siap. They have to get ready.

Dari koran-koran lama yang mereka temukan di sebuah rumah tua di dekat situ, mereka mengetahui kalau tikungan di Route 606 ini terkenal rawan kecelakaan. Of old newspapers they found in an old house nearby, they know if the bend in Route 606 accident-prone is famous. Mereka juga membaca berita tentang tewasnya seorang wanita setelah diperkosa oleh oknum polisi di tempat itu. They also read news about the death of a woman after being raped by police officers in place. Peristiwa itu disaksikan oleh beberapa orang misionaris yang kebetulan melintas disana. The incident was witnessed by several people who happened to be passing missionaries there. Sejak saat itu, hantu polisi jahat itu selalu menghantui tikungan itu dan menyebabkan kecelakaan yang sama berulang setiap malam Natal. Since then, the bad cop's ghost haunt the curve and cause the same accident over and over every Christmas Eve. Yang pasti, Ashton dan Emily harus berjaga-jaga, dengan tetap berada di dalam mobil. To be sure, Ashton and Emily should be on guard, to stay inside the car. Karena hantu itu tidak bisa masuk. Because ghosts can not enter.

Ashton terluka parah karena kecelakaan itu, sementara badai salju semakin memburuk. Ashton was seriously injured in an accident that, while the snow storm got worse. Emily melihat sebuah tiang telepon diantara pepohonan. Emily saw a telephone pole between trees. Ashton menyimpan sebuah pesawat telepon di dalam mobil. Ashton kept a phone in the car. Emily mengambil pesawat itu dan berlari ke tiang telepon untuk memasangkan salah satu wayar ke pesawat itu. Emily took the plane and ran into a telephone pole for one pair wiring to the aircraft. Berhasil. Successful. Dia berhasil menghubungi 911 dan mereka akan segera mengirim bantuan. He managed to call 911 and they will immediately send help. Emily berlari kembali ke mobil. Emily ran back to the car. Malang, di mobil Ashton ternyata sudah meninggal. Poor, in Ashton's car was already dead. Dengan kalut, Emily menyeret mayat Ashton keluar dari mobil. Frantically, Emily Ashton dragged the body out of the car.

Tak berapa lama kemudian, muncul sebuah mobil mendekati lokasi mereka. Not long later, came a car approaching their location. Ternyata itu adalah orang yang datang untuk memberi bantuan setelah Emily berhasil menghubungi 911. It turned out it was people who came to give assistance after Emily managed to dial 911. ketika mereka sudah berada dalam perjalanan menuju ke jalan utama, hantu polisi jahat itu kembali muncul dan membuat mereka mengalami kecelakaan yang sama. when they were on their way to the main road, bad cop's ghost comes back and makes them the same accident. Mobilnya terbalik. The car overturned. Emily menyadari kalau kecelakaan itu adalah ulah si hantu polisi jahat dan menjadi ketakutan dan berniat melarikan diri. Emily realized that the accident was caused by the ghost of bad cop and became frightened and intend to run away.

Tapi penolongnya yang tidak tahu apa-apa itu berniat menolong pengemudi yang telah menabrak mereka. But the helpers who do not know anything was going to help a driver who had hit them. Dia tidak perduli dengan teriakan Emily yang melarangnya pergi kesana. He does not care about the forbidden Emily shouts go there. Setelah sampai di mobil patroli yang terbalik itu, si hantu polisi menyentuh lengan si penolong dan membuatnya membeku hingga tewas. Having reached the patrol car was overturned, the ghost cop the helper's arm and made him freeze to death. Ia kemudian memburu Emily yang segera lari tunggang langgang. He then hunted Emily who ran helter-skelter.

Tidak dinyana, muncullah arwah Ashton yang kemudian menunjukkan jalan keluar dari hutan itu kepada Emily. No warning, came the spirit Ashton then showed the way out of the woods to Emily. Dia minta maaf karena telah menimbulkan kesulitan ini kepada Emily. He apologized for causing this trouble to Emily. Seandainya saja dia langsung mengajak Emily berkenalan tanpa harus melakukan perjalanan bodoh itu, mungkin saja mereka sudah berteman. If only he immediately took Emily to meet without having to travel that stupid, maybe they were friends. Jalan yang ditunjukkan Ashton ternyata membawa Emily kembali ke tempat pom bensin yang mereka singgahi sebelumnya, disana ia mendapat perawatan yang memadai. Ashton shown the road was brought Emily back to the gas station where they singgahi before, there had received adequate treatment. Polisi juga mengambil jenazah Ashton yang masih tertinggal di tempat kecelakaan.(2007) Police also took the body of Ashton who is still left in place of the accident. (2007)

Dumping my laptop for...a server?

I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but Apple released a new product last week. The i-something-or-other. The meager media coverage, despite it’s generally low-key nature, did give me pause, though. While the iPad (yes, my tongue is now dislodged from my cheek) doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me outside of its potential to change the e-book landscape, it brought me back to an idea I’d first discussed with fellow ZDNet blogger, Jason Perlow: “The Screen.”

Essentially, I’ve been saving for a high-end laptop/desktop replacement that could handle virtualization, lots of storage, video editing, you name it. My MacBook just isn’t cutting it anymore. So what does that have to do with the iPad, or any other tablet for that matter? The idea of “the screen” and everything the iPad represents means that lugging around one of those slick Core i7 laptops I’ve been eying up is probably a recipe for obsolescence.

I already spend plenty of time in the cloud. Regular readers of my blog over at ZDNet Education will know that I’m pretty fond of Google Apps. When I blog, I write in a web-based editor. My personal website runs on a Joomla! server in my basement so that I can add content from anywhere that I have web access. The growing ecosystem of sites I maintain for my day job? Also content management systems (but not running on boxes in my basement).

My family videos and photos? Migrating slowly to Facebook, or that web server in my basement, or Picasa Web Albums, or wherever. The only reason I’d want them on a local machine is for editing (and even that is getting increasingly less necessary as web applications grow more robust). On a server, I can have redundant disks, backups galore, cloud integration (where do you think I back up my website? To my Ubuntu One account, of course.), and, most importantly, accessibility from anywhere.

Why should I bother backing up a laptop hard drive or synchronizing across computers? If everything I need sits on a server that has built-in redundancies and backups that I control, why would I expose myself to the risks and pains of running my life on a laptop? Microsoft has tried to make something like this available to home users in their Windows Home Server product with limited success (check out HP’s implementation here) and, despite a general lack of interest among consumers, provides a remarkably compelling product.

I’m afraid I’m too big a geek to just go buy a Windows Home Server, though. Besides, the Windows vision is more about backing up and synchronizing all of your computing devices. I’d like to take this a step further into an arena clearly suggested by the iPad. I want something that businesses have been kicking around for a while as they discuss “private clouds.” I want a personal cloud. I won’t put that one in quotes because it’s hardly a new phrase. And yet it’s something that just hasn’t gone mainstream yet (although Facebook and Google are well on their way to providing you with something of a personal cloud carved out from their much larger public clouds).

Businesses and schools are finding that they can provide desktop computing experiences by provisioning virtual PCs in the cloud. Devices like the iPad and increasingly smart smartphones will drive us to access PC power and applications that reside “somewhere else.” In my case, I want that somewhere else to be my basement. For a lot of consumers, it’s already enough to just access Facebook and occasionally Flickr, but the idea of a “virtual PC” that is consumer-friendly is hardly a stretch. How many consumers regularly use something like GoToMyPC to access their office desktops? This already isn’t as foreign in the consumer space as it might seem.

As I was writing this post, I came across the Storagezilla blog and a quote from one of the folks at Mozy.com (a cloud-based backup service):

We have information scattered on a increasingly large number of sources. Facebook is now the biggest photo hosting service in the world, but they throw away the originals you upload. Having a Personal Cloud will allow you to keep the originals, but share them out. The most important thing about the Personal Cloud is that it will be personal. Fundamentally the data is your data and you need to be in control of it.

Exactly. So here I go, embarking on creating my own personal cloud. I still have a little bit of saving to do, but I’ve asked for TigerDirect gift cards for my birthday. I’m not getting a new laptop because my needs (like many consumers, small business owners, writers, content creators, and general denizens of the 21st Century) are better met on a server accessed from whatever screen happens to be in front of me.

But what about video editing? Didn’t I say I needed to do that? Why yes, I did, and with a little help from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, I can build a server that can also crank through editing tasks quite handily. With a little more help from FreeNX, I can access my machine remotely and handle said editing, particularly as sound and video support continues to mature around the FreeNX compression technology.

In fact, with cheap quad cores, inexpensive motherboards that support SATA RAID, and other bits of inexpensive kit, I can have my personal cloud running quite well for less than the cost of the laptops I’ve been drooling over. This same cloud can be my own web server, FTP server, media repository, and whatever else I want it to be. I can virtualize operating systems for testing and anywhere access. Thin clients for the kids instead of new laptops? Piece of cake. Because this personal cloud isn’t just my personal cloud, it’s my family’s personal cloud. It’s even highly scalable as improved cclustering technology comes to Linux.

So am I predicting that everyone will have a Linux server in their basement (or better yet, a cluster of them) in a year or two, serving up virtual desktops and SaaS applications left and right? Of course not. The technology is there and getting better and that’s where I want to head, both because it has a lot of potential applicability in my day job as a school IT administrator and to get in touch with my inner nerd. Besides, with 5 kids, keeping them in cheap devices to access their own piece of my personal cloud will be a lot less expensive than keeping them in new laptops.

However, what I’m really suggesting is that as iPad-like devices take off, as netbooks get cheaper, and as mobile phones increasingly take on computing roles in our lives, a lot more consumers will start seeing the cloud differently (I should probably say that consumers will start seeing the cloud in the first place; this is still business/tech jargon as far as most people are concerned, even if they access webmail and Facebook every day). Welcome to 2010, folks, where the iPad is just one more screen on which we can access our personal clouds, which will most likely exist somewhere more robust than my basement, between my furnace and my tool bench.

Author bio

Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson writes ZDNet's Education IT blog. Follow Chris Dawson on Twitter! Christopher Dawson is the technology director for the Athol-Royalston School District in northern Massachusetts and a member of the Internet Press Guild. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations, but always keep in mind that the opinions expressed here are his own and not those of his daytime employer, even if he talks incessantly about his day job.

48% of 22 million scanned computers infected with malware

The recently released APWG Phishing Activity Trends Report for Q3 of 2009, details record highs in multiple phishing vectors, but also offers an interesting observation on desktop crimeware infections.

According to the report, the overall number of infected computers (page 10) used in the sample decreased compared to previous quarters, however, 48.35% of the 22,754,847 scanned computers remain infected with malware.

And despite that the crimeware/banking trojans infections slightly decreased from Q2, over a million and a half computers were infected.

More details:

“Though the scanning system checks for many different kinds of potentially unwanted software, for this report, Panda Labs has segmented out ‘Downloaders’ and ‘Banking Trojans/Password Stealers’ as they are most often associated with financial crimes such as automated phishing schemes.

The proportion of infected computers detected has decreased for the first time in 2009. In the same way, the proportion of banking Trojans has decreased from a 16.94 percent in Q2 to 15.89 percent in Q3. The proportion of Downloaders has dropped to 8.39 percent from 11.44 percent in Q2 ? but it is still higher than in Q1 (4.22%).”

With the sample itself limited to that of a particular vendor, the remaining over million and a half crimeware infected computers, remain a cause for concern.

Due to its mass adoption, and lack of awareness building on its actual applicability in fighting today’s crimeware, two-factor authentication is still perceived as highly effective authentication solution. Otherwise, why would financial institutions keep insisting on its usefulness? Things are thankfully heading in the right direction.

Last month, a Gartner report (now available for free) discussed the problem, and reasonably stated that two-factor authentication as well as out-of-band communication protocols such as phone verification, fail to protect the customer.

How does this happen, and how are cybercriminals bypassing the phone verification process?

  • Malware sits inside a user’s browser and waits for the user to log into a bank. During login, the malware copies the user’s ID, password and OTP, sends them to the attacker and stops the browser from sending the login request to the bank’s website, telling the user that the service is “temporarily unavailable.” The fraudster immediately uses the user ID, password and OTP to log in and drain the user’s accounts.
  • Other malware overwrites transactions sent by a user (URLZone Trojan Network) to the online banking website with the criminal’s own transactions. This overwrite happens behind the scenes so that the user does not see the revised transaction values. Similarly, many online banks will then communicate back to the user’s browser the transaction details that need to be confirmed by the user with an OTP entry, but the malware will change the values seen by the user back to what the user originally entered. This way, neither the user nor the bank realizes that the data sent to the bank has been altered.
  • Authentication that depends on out-of-band authentication using voice telephony is circumvented by a simple technique whereby the fraudster asks the phone carrier to forward the legitimate user’s phone calls to the fraudster’s phone. The fraudster simply tells the carrier the original phone number is having difficulty and needs the calls forwarded, and the carrier does not sufficiently verify the requestor’s identity before executing the fraudster’s request.

Last month, The American Bankers’ Association (ABA) issued a similar warning to small businesses, recommending the use of dedicated PC for their E-banking activities, one which is never used to read email or visit web sites in an attempt to limit the possibility of crimeware infection.

No matter which adaptive approach you’d consider (Time to ditch Windows for online banking and shopping; Live CDs), cybercriminals have clearly adapted to the currently implemented multi-factor authentication processes in place.

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