Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Man Arrested for Setting Fire to Burning Man too Early

For those of you not familiar with Burning Man, you can read about the annual event here.

A San Francisco man was arrested for setting fire to the event-centric statue days early. It is not reported what his motive was, but the article correctly labels it as a very selfish act.

A Look at Google's Planned Phone

Apple's iPhone dominated media coverage for months, and all during this time there were some whispers that Google may get into the smartphone business to compete. Well, the rumors seem to be true, and Gizmodo has some pictures of the prototype. Though the official name is not known, most are naturally referring to it as the gPhone.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

About the Digg Box

Though we introduced it in a blog post last week, we have received some emails asking about the "advertisement" on the right side of our blog, as it contained some stories not related to technology.

That box is in fact not an advertisement, but an RSS feed widget which displays all stories that our employees have "dugg" under the username rokland. Digg is a news and social bookmarking web site which allows editorial placement of articles to be determined by users. You go to the site and browse the content, and if you see something you like, you "digg" it, which means you vote for it. You can also submit new articles and web sites you find interesting so that others can digg them. One of my favorite things about Digg is that you get a wider array of articles and stories vs. a traditional news web site. As such, we have decided to place this Digg box on our blog so that you can view the articles we found interesting. While we mostly digg technology stuff, occasionally you may see a funny or different article about something unrelated. While this is our company blog, it is by no means a stuffy corporate controlled atmosphere. We like to have fun and Digg is a fun web site. This widget is our way of sharing that with you.

The widget shows the ten most recent posts we have dugg. To see all posts dugg by us, go to

**note: we do not receive payment or any type of compensation from Digg or anyone else for including this widget or writing about the service here. Though is more than welcome to send us money if they feel so inclined :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

iPhone Unlocking Delayed to Possible Legal Threat

I wrote hear last week about the first person to claim to be able to unlock the iPhone, George Hotz of New Jersey. His method involved both hardware and software modifications. As you can imagine, with so many people having worked since June to unlock the iPhone, his method was bound to not be the only way to do it. In fact, two companies now claim to be able to unlock the iPhone through a software-only fix.

One of the companies, Uniquephones of Northern Ireland, had planned to make the unlocking program available on their web site this past Saturday, but founder John McLaughlin claims to have received what he interpreted to be a legal threat on behalf of AT&T before the planned launch. Though the details about this published by were vague, McLaughlin says the caller was an attorney who said he could be sued for "copyright infringement and for dissemination of Apple's intellectual property" if his company were to proceed with the unlocking software launch. Uniquephones then decided to "delay" the launch, evidently to sort out this new hurdle.

I am no lawyer, and AT&T/Apple may very well have some legal basis for their claims, I don't know. What I do know is that nearly every GSM phone can already be unlocked, so I would guess AT&T in particular would have a difficult time standing on any legal ground due to the fact that the unlocking of phones has never been strongly challenged by providers before. More importantly though, even if they do have strong legal footing for their actions, any action made by AT&T or Apple about this would fly in the face of the direction where interactive technology has been headed for some time.

Open source is becoming dominant, and not just as a software license, but as technological ideology.

Customers have demonstrated time and time again they do not want proprietary solutions that lock them in with one provider. Microsoft is finding this out each day as the market share of Linux distributions continually rises. Open source is becoming dominant, and not just as a software license, but as technological ideology. AT&T may argue that they have a business interest in preventing unlocks in order to keep customers from changing service providers and still being able to use the iPhone. Customers don't care about business decisions like this, they care about a good product. If AT&T is the best provider out there, people will stay with them. If AT&T service declines, customers should be able to go elsewhere. That is the real business decision that both AT&T and Apple should be concerned about.

AT&T may win the first few rounds of any legal battle that takes place. But they will lose in the long run.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Great, Yahoo, but You're Missing the Key

Yahoo has announced some cool new features for email users. Among them is the ability to type text messages on a computer and send them directly to a user's cell phone.

I always applaud innovation, but one of the key critiques I have heard about Yahoo email (and experienced myself) is their overzealous server side spam filters. In the e-commerce world, a larger percentage of customers with Yahoo accounts are left out of the loop on the status of their order compared to users of other email services (with the exception of Hotmail) because often times emails sent from retailers about their purchases get incorrectly filtered out as spam before the customers have a chance to see them.

When people tell me which free email service is the best, I always tell them Gmail, simply because their messages will get to them. Yahoo may be forging ahead with new technology, but until they come up with a better way to make sure their users get the emails they need, I will continue to suggest Google's Gmail service when asked.

The Rokland Taiwan USB Adapter & Linux

We are very excited about a product we recently added to our inventory, the Rokland Taiwan USB Wireless kit which can be seen here:

This devices used the Zydas ZD1211b chipset, which is now known as the Atheros AR5007UG. It is compatible with Windows 98SE and later, including Windows Vista. It is also compatible with Mac (OS 10.3 and 10.4) and Linux releases as well. Drivers for Windows (including Vista), Mac, and Linux are included with the device.

We have had some inquiries about the use of this product in Linux, and decided to post about this here in our blog.

When using in Linux, in most newer releases driver installation will not be required, though you will need to configure the device to connect to an available access point. Rokland does not provide support for use in Linux, however we will help you if we can. What this means is that if you purchase this item for use in Linux and cannot get it to do certain things that you need, you are more than welcome to ask us for help and we will do our best to help, but we cannot promise a resolution to your particular issue. Basic compatibility is assured, but use beyond that may well require some research on the customer's end, which is common when attempting to do various things in a Linux environment.

We can say upfront that in most releases the default driver loaded for this device is not rfmon (monitor mode) compatible. We have read several reports of a release of a community developed driver for this item that supports monitor mode, as well as a patch that does the same.

The driver package can be downloaded here.

The patch file is here.

Please note that we have not attempted to use either of these packages with the device at this time, so seamless installation/operation is of course not guaranteed.

If you want to use this item in monitor mode, so that you can use programs like Kismet, it is highly recommended to do a Google or Yahoo search for the following term sets:

zd1211 monitor mode
zd1211 kismet

By doing these searches and reviewing the results of the articles and forum pages that appear, this will give you a better understanding of what kind of legwork you may expect to have to do to get the device configured in Linux the way you would like. It is also advisable to add your particular linux release as a search term to narrow your results (example zd1211 monitor model kubuntu 7.04).

A note about packet injection: we have not done any packet injection testing with this device but came across the following at this web site

"* Chipset: zd1211
* Notice: After updating aircrack suite to aircrack-ng 1.0 dev. Monitor mode and packet injection supported."

For further information regarding packet injection and this device, it is recommended to do a search as explained above for the terms zd1211 packet injection.

Again, Rokland does not support the use of this item in Linux which means we cannot guarantee anything beyond basic compatibility. However we will be glad to try and help in any given situation so feel free to email us your questions, and our technicians will be doing more testing in the coming months in order to enable us to provide better Linux support of this and other products.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Apple iPhone Finally Unlocked

It took more than a month, but according to the Associated Press, the first reported case of "unlocking the iPhone" has taken place. The AP reports that George Hotz, a 17-year old New Jersey kid has broken the software lock on the phone that prevents it from being used with any other carrier than AT&T (Hotz is reported to be using it with T-Mobile). It won't be long now until eBay is full of unlocked models (at a premium) so that folks who do not have AT&T service (and people living outside of the US) can get a working iPhone.

The unlocking of a locked phone is nothing new- virtually every phone on the market has been unlocked. There really never was a question as to whether or not the iPhone could be unlocked, the only question was how long it would take. As the iPhone launch came in June, I am a little surprised it took until August for the first report to surface. But that's not a knock on the folks who tried- it takes me more than two months to learn how to use most phones, let alone figure out something as advanced and sophisticated as unlocking one!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Anybody Know What Happened to Openserving?

The purpose of this post is just to see if any of our "in the know" tech readers have any information regarding the Openserving platform from Wikia. The service was announced last December to quite a bit of blog fanfare, and in our opinion was a very cool service. We had looked into developing a content site using the platform and had registered for an account, but never heard back from Wikia. Internet searches reveal several others who had experienced the same thing, due to a possible backlog of registrations for the service. If any folks have any information about the Openserving service, post it here if you like.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A New Look and a Digg Widget

We have changed up the look of our blog, for no other reason than we felt like it. After a while, the look of web sites becomes a little stale, so mixing it up every now and then, in our opinion, is a good thing to do. We chose a design somewhat similar to our last one so that the feel of the site remains the same.

The major change is, as you can see, the addition of a widget over on the righthand side. For those of you not familiar with Digg, it is a very cool news and social bookmarking web site where users provide the content and also collectively determine editorial placement. Each user can "digg" an article, and the more diggs an article has, the higher it appears on the web site's category pages. We are not affiliated with in any way, nor are we receiving any payment for the placement of the widget or our writing about the site. We just think it is a really fun and exciting service- some of us have been using Digg since it launched several years ago.

The Digg widget allows us to show you which stories we have dugg. It is basically an RSS feed of the stories dugg by Rokland worker bees, and generally contains stories related to technology that we believe are worthwhile reads. The widget is updated instantaneously with new stories the moment we digg them. So check back every day- even if we don't have a new blog post for the day, there should at least be some cool new stuff for you to check out in the Digg widget.