Amnesty blasts Google, Yahoo, Microsoft over China

Amnesty blasts Google, Yahoo, Microsoft over China

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have undermined the rights of Chinese to freedom of expression through their actions in China, Amnesty International said in a report.

“All three companies have, in one way or another, facilitated or colluded in the practice of censorship in China,” Amnesty said in the report, noting these actions contradict the companies’ stated values. The full report, entitled “Undermining freedom of expression in China,” is available online (as a PDF).

Chinese democracy

This is not the first time that Amnesty has criticised the business practices of these three companies. Yahoo has taken heat for handing over user information that helped Chinese authorities identify and jail dissidents, including Shi Tao, a journalist imprisoned in 2005 for ten years.

Microsoft and Google have also faced criticism from Amnesty and other human rights groups. Microsoft shut down a blog on its MSN Spaces site following a request from the Chinese government and Google introduced a censored version of its search engine specifically designed for China.

Spokesmen for the three companies could not immediately be reached for comment. In the past, all three have defended their business practices in China, saying the must follow local laws.

Honesty pays

Amnesty applauded Google’s admission that its actions in China were at odds with its stated corporate mantra of “don’t be evil,” saying this was a first step. Google can go further by being more transparent about its censorship of search results in China, it said.

Yahoo, which has since handed over its Chinese operations to, was singled out for the harshest criticism. “Yahoo actions have, in particular, assisted the suppression of dissent with severe consequences for those affected,” the report said.

Amnesty called on all three companies to take several measures, aimed at ensuring better freedom of expression in China. Those measures include making public all agreements with the Chinese government that related to the censorship of information. In addition, the group called on them to make public the list of words that are censored by content filters.

Blacklight Retribution Open Beta Date! 

Blacklight Retribution Open Beta Date! 

After three months of closed beta testing, Blacklight Retribution is ready to let the masses in! Players can look forward to starting fresh in open beta on February 27, 2012. Closed Beta will officially conclude on February 17 at 5pm PT.

Open beta will bring about some changes: three new kick ass maps, custom built Hero characters, the Data Node system, as well as jaw-dropping backgrounds and systems for players to take their game to the next level.

CA Technologies launches SaaS mobility management for iOS 8

CA Technologies launches SaaS mobility management for iOS 8

CA Technologies has timed the release its SaaS-based enterprise mobility management suite, with zero-day support for iOS 8, to coincide with the launch of the Apple iPhone 6.

The SaaS-based Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution suite provides zero-day support for iOS 8 across mobile device, application, content and email management.

Learn how smart CIOs are protecting customers from security breaches

It further expands CA’s Management Cloud for Mobility portfolio.

Based on its patent-pending Smart Containerisation technology, the new SaaS solution enterprises deployment flexibility, increased agility, and significant cost savings, according to a company statement.

CA Technologies general manager, new business innovation, Ram Varadarajan, said application economy had made mobility management a cornerstone of employee and business productivity.

“CA’s new SaaS solution unlocks the full potential of enterprise mobility by focusing on what matters to customers: innovation, efficiency and accelerated development of new mobile apps and services to drive productivity and revenue.”

According to recent Gartner research, the current global EMM market is roughly 70 per cent on-premises and 30 per cent SaaS.

But Gartner projects SaaS uptake to increase as more enterprises realise the challenges of managing EMM/MDM solutions on their own.

According to a company statement, enterprises can now leverage iOS 8 features across SaaS and on-premise deployment models.

In addition, the out-of-the-box iOS8 support — available for all of CA’s EMM products – enables app wrapping, security and management for mobile apps developed using the new SWIFT programming language.

CA is offering customers a free CA Mobile Device Management perpetual license with the purchase of any CA EMM solution.

King’s Quest voice cast led by Christopher Lloyd

King’s Quest voice cast led by Christopher Lloyd

The upcoming King’s Quest revival looks to be in good hands, thanks to “The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom” developer The Odd Gentlemen. Today, the developer revealed the game’s voice cast for the first time and the lineup includes a strong field of veteran voice actors. On top of that, the cast is led by long-time actor Christopher Lloyd, who will star as King Graham.

Lloyd has been a veteran actor for several decades, recognized for his roles in Back to the FutureWho Framed Roger Rabbit, and The Addams Family. He’ll be joined by Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man), who will play the younger Sir Graham, while granddaughter Gwendolyn will be voiced by Maggie Elizabeth Jones (Ben and Kate). The cast will be rounded out by Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride), Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants), Zelda Williams (The Legend of Korra), Michael Benyaer, Loretta Devine, Gideon Emery, Jean Gilpin, Michael Gough, Andy Pessoa, Kevin Michael Richardson, Kath Soucie, Fred Tatasciore, Richard White and Michael-Leon Wooley.

For a better look at the voice cast and the visual style of the new King’s Quest, you can check out the full developer’s diary below. The episodic King’s Quest is set to kick off later this year on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

Opinion: School’s out – time to order new Macs, or wait?

Opinion: School’s out – time to order new Macs, or wait?

As teachers and college faculty members pack up their classrooms for the summer, educational IT staffers face the prospect of ordering new equipment and software – and planning how to deploy new computers and redeploy existing workstations. Typically, this time of the US school year is spent reviewing budgets and how to get the most bang for a school’s IT bucks, as well as how best to allocate resources throughout classrooms and labs this fall.

With the arrival this year of Apple’s Intel-based Macs, those calculations involve a new set of questions – the same kinds of questions enterprises face on an ongoing basis.

Typically, Mac-centric IT staffers simply focus on replacing the oldest Macs on hand – either directly or by replacing their high-end Macs and letting those trickle down to replace slightly older models until the very oldest are phased out. With Mac OS X’s highly portable nature, systems administrators need not necessarily develop new deployment disk images for those newer Macs because the old image will usually boot most Mac models (although some updating and tweaking may be needed).

The Intel question

However, Intel-based Macs – which now include everything but Apple’s top-end desktop systems – pose two problems. First, they will require a separate set of disk images for deployment. Apple has yet to release a Universal version of Mac OS X (though the company has stated that this is an eventual goal, most likely to be introduced next year in Leopard – Mac OS X 10.5). As a result, Mac OS X images are no longer portable between older Power PC Macs and and the newest crop of Apple hardware.

Some users and administrators have managed to craft universal Mac OS X configurations and images. However, the potential problems of this unsupported Mac OS X configuration (which doesn’t function properly with Software Update) should keep them out of a live production environment. While maintaining multiple image sets may be a lot of work, it is by far the best approach in terms of stability, security and troubleshooting any operating system or application problems – regardless of whether the problems are a result of the home-grown configuration.

That means extra thought needs to go into any allocation of Intel Macs or any decision to postpone a Mac upgrade until 2007 in the hopes that a universal Mac OS X release will be available. Delaying upgrades presents its own problems as Power PC-based Macs become scarce. It may be difficult by then to locate PowerBook G4s, iBooks, iMac G5s and Mac minis. Older minis have pretty much disappeared from Apple’s order book and even though eMacs are still available to education, they’re reportedly in short supply and could soon be replaced with a similarly designed Intel eMac.

So, what should sys admins keep in mind when allocating new Macs in an educational infrastructure? There are two major approaches.

Strategic advice

First, consider consolidated replacement. While typical purchasing decisions (particularly for K-12 districts) might see new Macs distributed throughout various grade levels, classrooms or departments, this approach will create extra headaches for administrators because it will require two disk images that are more or less identical. Focusing hardware replacement in specific areas, where an entire high school or department gets all new computers, is much more effective because the administrator only needs to have a single image for that batch of hardware. That yields a significant time savings in a hardware rollout – as well as a savings in the resources to maintain that image.

This also gives you the opportunity to look at departments or classrooms that might benefit from additional changes in the process. You may notice that one lab could also do with the introduction of Apple Remote Desktop for monitoring, or that a middle or that a high school art class that works with photography could benefit from iPhoto for class projects.

Another option is identifying which grades or departments get Intel Macs. Typically, new computers are give to those classrooms that will get the most use out of the increased power and features. Media labs and graphics design classrooms in colleges are often first on the list for new Macs. However, if these labs will be working with applications not yet available as Universal binaries, then installing new Intel Macs might not offer much gain in performance and could even wind up slowing things down. While a majority of non-Universal applications may be in use throughout schools, those that require more computing power, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, will be the ones hit hardest by relying on Rosetta emulation.

Application focus

This is also an ideal time to look at the applications in use. Several may not be available as Universal binaries or may still require the “classic” Mac OS to run. This is particularly true of lower elementary grades that tend to stay with older educational games year after year. However, there may be new options that you can offer that are universal. This can give you a chance to work with teachers to not only develop a strategy for integrating new Macs but adding newer tools in the classroom as well.

Boot Camp for kids

Yet another possibility is whether to offer a combined Mac/Windows lab using Apple’s Boot Camp or Parallels’ virtualisation software. There remain unresolved issues about using these tools: Boot camp is still in beta, and Parallels’ final release only emerged recently. However, the ability to make a lab or classroom completely cross platform with a single purchase is likely to be an attractive option.

Given the number of issues involved in deploying Macs that offer both Mac OS X and Windows, you may want to wait for better tools – as well as final releases of the software needed. It’s better to make this option part of a longer term technology plan. In fact, it can mean choosing between buying a limited number of Intel Macs this year to meet basic needs) – or a larger number next year, when dual-platform Macs and a universal Mac OS X release could offer the best of both worlds.

Ryan Faas is a freelance writer and IT consultant specialising in Mac and multiplatform network design and troubleshooting. He is the co-author of Essential Mac OS X Panther Server Administration and the author of Troubleshooting, Maintaining, and Repairing Macs. He is a regular contributor to Inform IT and is the mobile technology correspondent for Suite 101. For more information, visit

Find – or begin – a discussion of this story in Macworld UK’s busy Forums.

CatLand Mobile App Kickstarter – How To Secretly Be A Cat Person Without Looking Weird

CatLand Mobile App Kickstarter – How To Secretly Be A Cat Person Without Looking Weird

Kitty: If you don’t love me, I’ll be sad.

There are a lot of us who like cats. Some of us more than others. Some of us have a house that has so many cats, dogs stay clear from it in a 10 block radius. After all, cats are smart, independent, and moody. Who wouldn’t love them? 

Thanks to society, sadly, not all of us can quite enjoy the wonderful mood swings of cat ownership as we would like. What? You have ten cats? Or, You named him Snuggleboo? For some reason, these don’t get the positive reception that one would think they would.  So what if you refer to your cat as if it was your child sometimes? Why should that warrant strange looks and unpleasant comments? Yet for those of the uninitiated, it does.

Fear not! There is now a Kickstarter project named CatLand, which allows you to create a virtual kitty that will actually react to you in real time, making it a decent substitute for the real thing.  It will also incorporate actual location based check ins in order to make your kitty happy and not wanting to claw your face out. If you know me at all by now, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of this sort of thing. Making a game involve something I can do in the real world too? Purrrfect. According to Lost and Found Games  – its producers – these little balls of fur will have emotions “changing from happy to content to sad depending on how well you take care of her.”

Many sites have compared it to Tamagotchi from back in the day. You know, that little black and white egg shape which contained digital pets that as kids we use to think was the greatest invention since ice cream sundaes?

Their goal is a mere $15,000, and they are already 30% of the way there with 26 days left to go. They are even getting a little bold and offering an incentive for reaching past their main goal setting with additional goals of $17,000 and $20,000.

So if ever you had a closet desire to take care of a small village of cute cuddly cats, but afraid of the social backlash it might insinuate, here is your chance. Back this Kickstarter, and your new friends will be available virtually in no time. 

Microsoft On Xbox One's ESRAM Too Small To Output 1080p Controversy: "Clearly Not The Case, Forza V Runs At 1080p"

Microsoft On Xbox One’s ESRAM Too Small To Output 1080p Controversy: “Clearly Not The Case, Forza V Runs At 1080p”

Recently Rebellion Games in an interview to one of the gaming website stated Xbox One’s ESRAM is not capable or “TOO SMALL” to output games at 1080p. This statement started the debate all over again and raised a big question on the capability of Xbox One against PS4.

Xbox One 1080p Controversy Microsoft’s Phil Harrison via Twitter has quashed this statement from Rebellion Games and also gave “Forza 5 and Kinect Sports Rivals” as example of games running at 1080p resolution on Xbox One.

Harrison was asked: “recent interview with Rebellion Games states esram on xbox one too small for 1080p output any thoughts on this?”

To which he replied: “clearly not the case. Forza V runs at 1080p. Kinect Sports Rivals also 1080p…”

Recently well know industry insider Pete Dodd shared some inside details about Xbox One’s ESRAM. He compared it with PS4’s GDDR5, check it out in detail what PETE Dodd said: Xbox One vs PS4: ESRAM “Not Much Faster Than GDDR5, Can Never Have Sustained Speed, It’s Bottleneck”

What you guys have to say about Xbox One’s ESRAM, is it the main culprit behind Xbox One’s lack of 1080p capability?

Free To Play Weekly – Nintendo, Gunz 2 & More (ep.92) 

Free To Play Weekly – Nintendo, Gunz 2 & More (ep.92) 

Nintendo announces their own F2P Gameplan, City of Steam’s continues to expand with its latest update, Gunz 2 is headed to Europe,Valve details Dota 2 release schedule, Eden Eternal undergoes a major revamp and more on this weeks episode of Free to Play Weekly.

Free-To-Play Weekly with Chris is the exclusive web show from This show presents you with the most important news of the week about free-to-play online games and the latest releases, with a few jokes thrown in for good measure. Have fun and expect a new show next week!

Don´t forget to subscribe to Free to Play Weekly via YoutubeYoutubeYoutube and iTunesiTunesiTunes.


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Samsung announces measures to tackle labor violations by Chinese suppliers

Samsung announces measures to tackle labor violations by Chinese suppliers

Samsung Electronics announced new measures to keep its suppliers in China compliant with labor laws after it completed a round of audits that found problems relating to overtime and the way penalties were carried out.

The South Korean company’s on-site inspections examined 105 of its suppliers in China, in an investigation that covered more than 65,000 employees, it said in a statement on Monday.

The company came under scrutiny in August when a labor watchdog group alleged one of its suppliers in China had hired seven workers under the legal working age of 16.

Samsung said it found no underage workers in its recent audit. But the company did find “instances of inadequate practices at the facilities”. These included overtime hours exceeding Chinese labor regulations and a system being used to impose fines for absences and tardiness by workers.

Samsung spokesman Campbell Graham declined to quantify the scale of the problems, but said the company had found evidence of the violations at “some” company suppliers.

Among the corrective measures Samsung is taking is to demand that its suppliers adopt a new hiring process immediately to screen out underage workers. This involves interviews of all candidates in person before hiring, and the use by suppliers of devices that can detect fake IDs, Samsung said.

By the end of this year, suppliers will also “correct irregularities in labor contracts,” and make sure to distribute a copy to all employees, the company said in its statement. The penalty and fine system the suppliers were using has also been abolished, and Samsung is establishing hotlines so that workers can report labor violations to the company anonymously.

To reduce overtime work, Samsung said it had made the issue a “top priority,” adding, “we are researching and developing measures that will eliminate hours beyond legal limits by the end of 2014.” The company also said it would financially back its suppliers to invest more in equipment and to hire additional workers.

In addition to the on-site inspections, Samsung is also reviewing through documentation the rest of its 144 supplier companies in China. The review will be completed by the end of this year.

Labor protection group China Labor Watch, which reported finding underage workers at a Samsung supplier in August, however questioned the thoroughness of the company’s investigation.

“China Labor Watch’s newest investigation in October and November found that serious problems with excessive overtime continue at Samsung’s suppliers,” said Li Qiang, founder of the group, in an email. “Most of the time, they use student labor, and there are other problems. We will very soon release a new report.”

In September China Labor Watch, accused Samsung of “illegal and inhumane violations” at its factories in China, and said that workers’ overtime at the facilities could reach or exceed 100 hours a month. Chinese law currently prohibits overtime that exceeds 36 hours per month.


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Happy 100th birthday, IBM!

Happy 100th birthday, IBM!

IBM will celebrate its centennial anniversary this week by having up to 400,000 employees worldwide skip the usual office work in order to donate time to charitable causes and schools.

This “Celebration of Service” will take place on June 15, one day before the actual IBM anniversary.

IBMers are being encouraged to pick projects that use their technical skills — and some charitable organizations say they know exactly how they plan to put them to work.

Family Services of Westchester, for instance, expects two dozen IBMers to march into the not-for-profit private agency’s headquarters this week to work on programming a website and database. The goal is to set up a user-friendly way for older adults who can no longer drive a car to schedule a ride organized by the agency, says Lynn Green, vice president at Family Services of Westchester, describing the goal of RideConnect.

MORE HISTORY: First 2,000 years of computer history

Other do-good projects are expected in far-flung spots from Santiago, Chile, where IBM staffers are advising women entrepreneurs on aspects of business, to Byron, Minn., where 40 IBM employees are engaged in a science program at public schools. IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano is expected to volunteer in the Baltimore public school system where he grew up.

IBM’s “Celebration of Service” won’t, of course, result in all of IBM’s 400,000-plus employees going off duty at once. The company is staggering the day-of-service projects throughout this week. Some projects are involved enough that they won’t end after a week.

IBM says it has had a volunteer program in place since 2003 called On Demand Community that links employees and retirees to activities based on their skills, and as of last year, it surpassed 11.5 million hours of service by more than 170,000 participants.