Looking for an Older Version of your Software ?

Having spent the better part of the evening trying to download an older version of Internet Explorer in order to play an old DVD for my daughter’s homework, I finally landed upon the best solution:

OldVersion so rightly says in its tagline: “because newer isn’t always better…”

But in my case, it was because new just doesn’t work for my DVD…

OldVersion currently has 2862 versions of 190 programs for PC and 601 versions of 35 programs for the Mac.

OldVersion.com has several stated objectives which are quite noble and appropriate, including discouraging the use of spyware by software companies and helping computer users who are unable to continually upgrade their computer. As they write, “[w]e are doing our small part to help bridge the digital divide by allowing everyone to enjoy the same software titles regardless of their hardware.”

Anyway, if you are looking for an older version of the software you used to love or which you found lighter and more useful, then OldVersion is your place.

The Month of New Search Engines?

In the years to come, will this month be declared the month that forever changed the face of Internet search engines? There have been at least two significant launches that I have read about. Based on sophisticated algorhythms, these two new search engines promise more “intelligent” search results.

First, there is Wolfram Alpha, which I wrote about before (here) and has gone live. For fun, try this: “What is the population of California, USA?” The answer is decidedly more easy to read than your usual Google answer, spewing out lines of text. Wolfram Alpha is definitely not perfect, but if it catches on and is able to “learn” over time as well as dig deep into the collective “intelligence” (as it promises), you can clearly see why this type of approach is of interest.

Now, Microsoft has gone badda bling, badda BING — or at least, coming soon. Pre-launced by CEO Balmer last night, apparently, bing will have a similar type of “logical” and easy-to-read outputs as Wolfram Alpha. Per the LA Times, “Rather than introducing a revolutionary approach to presenting information, Bing appears to stitch together its own versions of the Web’s most popular planning and decision tools — think Expedia for travel, Yelp for restaurants, Amazon for shopping.”

Bing Coming Soon Screen Capture
Watch this space, eh!

State of the Spam Business: Spam Pollution

State of the Spam Business

How many legitimate (non junk or spam) emails do you receive in your inbox?

Stop Spam Sign

It may come as a surprise to you that only 3% of the world’s supply of emails are legitimate, at least that’s what a recent Microsoft survey says. On a personal level, I know that I have a spam-to-legit ratio that is more like 1:6, aided by (a) the never ending screening and hunting down of phoney addresses and cyber pirates by the various governing bodies; (b) the individual mail filters (I use hotmail mostly) which appear to direct with about 80% accuracy true junk into the junk folder; and (c) my attempting not to leave my email address in public spaces that are too easy for email bots to trawl and discover. In any event, in a recent BBC article regarding a recent Microsoft security report, “[m]ore than 97% of all e-mails sent over the net are unwanted… The e-mails are dominated by spam adverts for drugs [nearly 50%], and general product pitches and often have malicious attachments.” Other industry reports have the volume of junk mail somewhere between 75% and 90%, so this latest number takes the morass of spam to even higher levels.

A second source for spam information is the monthly Symantec State of Spam report (PDF – April 2009). According to the Symantec report, in March, the spam coming from the US accounted for 28% of the world’s supply (up from 25% in February and 23% in January). Coming in second, Brazil accounts for 9%, while India at 3rd fell back to 4%. South Korea leads the Far Eastern countries at 4%, ahead of Turkey, Russia and China (all 3%). Below is the chart courtesy of Symantec. Latin America is responsible for a quite surprising 15% of the total. As far as I was concerned, it seems that half of my spam relates to winning the jackpot and inheriting some African fortune, so I was surprised not find Nigeria up in there in the top 10.

Top Countries sending Spam

“The [Microsoft] report found that the global ratio of infected machines was 8.6 for every 1,000 uninfected machines.” I would suspect that Mac gets a less than market share representation…fortunately for us Mac users.

The only good news, if you read on in the BBC report, is that malicious software (aka malware) must increasingly be adapted country to country (see world map of malware levels), which diminishes the odds of an Armageddon style worldwide malware. The article states, “[a]s the malware ecosystem becomes more reliant on social engineering, threats worldwide have become more dependent on language and cultural factors,” [the Microsoft study] reported. In China, several malicious web browser modifiers are common, while in Brazil, malware that targets users of online banks is more widespread.”

In terms of where the malicious software is most prevalent, “the [Microsoft] report, which looked at online activity during the second half of 2008, also pinpoints…[that] Russia and Brazil top the global chart of infections, followed by Turkey and Serbia and Montenegro.”

On another level, from a report out in March 2009, I read about how much spam is said to pollute our world… A Carbon Footprint study from McAfee says that spam generates greenhouse gas (GHG — aka Carbon Dioxide or CO2) equivalent to 3.1 million passenger cars. This report says that “the energy [33 billion KWh] consumed in transmitting and deleting spam is equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million U.S. homes.” I love the notion of the life cycle of spam! If you want to download the McAfee PDF report, do so here. Another feature in the McAfee report is the estimated loss in productivity caused by spam: “If you have 1,000 workers earning $30 per hour, your company will suffer $182,500 per year in lost productivity.” It is very crafty to propose an ROI on their anti-spam software.

In any event, as I indicated in a prior post TV5 from Québec, Canada, there are also the unwanted communications from companies where you can no longer unsubscribe to their newsletters, as is the case with TV5. Another one on my can’t-get-rid-of-them list is www.seek-blog.com.  No way to unsubscribe.  I suspect such mail should be considered spam along with the other 97%! On the other end of the scale, kudos to Nick @ NickOnWine for sending out regular subscriber updates.

Like mosquitoes, I can think of absolutely nothing beneficial from spam. After the ERACE ‘EM Campaign (the Eternal Radical and Complete Extermination of Every Mosquito), comes the EAT SPAM Campaign, Eradicate All Toxic Spam. Sign up here!

How to import Hotmail .csv into Apple Mac Mail

If you are looking to import your Hotmail address book into your Apple Mac Mail, here is a nifty application created by Steve Roy: Address Importer Software. It is free for the first use (he asks for a $10 donation thereafter). I have used it just once and it took me less than 10 minutes to get it all done. The association of all the fields takes a bit of sussing out, but it is all rather intuitive and easy. I have not registered just yet, but I will have to assume that on the subsequent downloads, the program will recall the field mapping sequence. In any event, thanks Steve. (It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or higher and is compatible with Leopard OS). And, it is finally a pleasure to have figured out how to transition myself from the cumbersome Hotmail to Mac Mail (without losing my hotmail address).

How to import Hotmail .csv into Apple Mac Mail

Microsoft Opening Stores — A landslide or a landmine?

News is out that Microsoft is going to start opening its own stores. (Seattle Times 12/2/09 or Mercury News, 13/2/09) Having hired David Porter, a 25-year veteran of Walmart, Microsoft wants to go down the Apple path to create a retail outlet to express, educate and sell its wares… (Photo below courtesy of Gizmodo)

Microsoft Store Boutique Concept

Personally, it seems like the right approach considering the big array of products that Microsoft can display and the need to harness its retailing power. However, they will have a long way to go catch up to the beauty of the Apple store experience as well as the 251 outlets that Apple already has up and running. Not that Apple is Microsoft’s sole worry. The challenge is quite large. Can Microsoft craft a store culture that is consistent with its brand culture? What hardware will they have to bring to life the look & feel? One interesting idea for Porter: use open source for creating the design! What about co-creating it with a designer or a sporting goods company? Niketown meets Microsoft. (Portland isn’t too far away from Seattle).

Meanwhile, here is Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, at a conference in Barcelona yesterday… looking awfully like a Jobs job, no?

Steve Ballmer Microsoft CEO

This store idea is a bold initiative — but they should be able to find some good real estate at bargain basement prices these days. It will either be a landslide idea or a landmine depending on if Microsoft is able to create a sexy, well articulated store concept. Is a Walmart executive the best suited for that? Certainly, Porter has some exotic experience after heading up worldwide distribution for Dreamworks Animation. But, he will have to mine his REM cycles to come up with a great store strategy for Microsoft.

UPDATED FEBRUARY 18, 2009: Ballmer’s presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (as pictured above) was to launch the second compliment to Apple in as many days. Microsoft announced its Windows Market Place, a virtual store in which mobile phone using the mobile Windows application (a paltry 20 million) can download applications — to copy if not combat Apple’s AppStore (you have to love the elegance of that name) which, launched in July 2008, has had 500 million applications downloaded for the iPhone and iPod Touch users. The title of Windows Market Place, which is slated for an autumn launch, is somewhat more clumsy. As much as Apple remains elitist and stiff in its approach, Microsoft just does not have the same “hacker” friendly community. And Windows certainly does not inspire the imagination or stir the emotion. The WMP may find its place, but it will likely be a slow grind.

Defense Live Scan Virus Attack & Google’s New Promote/Remove

Out of every bad thing, something good!

I was doing a scan on Google this morning and found a new link to my name. The link opened up in a new tab and immediately said it was searching for viruses, powered by “Microsoft Defense-Live-Scan.”

Microsoft Defense Live Scan

The dangerous site in question (above) shows an URL coming from Hong Kong: h.iaskyeif.com/hk. I write the name of the URL only so that you can identify it underneath the search item. However, that URL is a shell that contains text that is bound to come up in internet searches. Clicking on the link of the Search Item (not the same URL) opens directly into “http://defense-live-scan.com/2009/1…” malevolent location and the popup pictured below.

Clearly, the site is just a jumble “crawler” site, that combines text from various sources and masquerades as a site. I clicked “CANCEL” but that still started the process of scanning the computer. The link immediately starts downloading the “scan” (read scam), and then asks you to download the software to eliminate the trojan horse and a couple of other supposed spyware on your computer.

McAfee Site Advisor has already two people who have noted this malevolent scam. I am hoping to clean up my computer as we speak (using ClamXav). But, my advice to you: the best way to “get out” of it is merely to CLOSE DOWN YOUR BROWSER. You cannot go back into the browser as it is now blocked. Clicking on CANCEL will not help. And certainly don’t click on DOWNLOAD. If you do click on CANCEL, then immediately close the window/tab. I will let you know if I manage to nab the offending parts!  Post Scriptum: It would appear that the virus did not affect my MAC — another case of “thank goodness I’m Mac.”  I assume virus is programmed for the PC Windows environment.

Out of this nightmare experience that took me out of my morning slumber, comes the good news: an excellent opportunity to discover and use for the first time, the new “Promote and Remove” Google searchwiki feature that now appears to the right of each search item on Google:

If you click on the X and you can remove a malevolent item from your google list. On the other hand, if you click on the UP arrow, you “promote” the referenced link. Find out more on this YouTube video.

Would love it if you felt like moving up (promoting) my blog! Anyway, I wish you a wonderful post Thanksgiving Weekend. Please do pass around this post to get people alerted to the new hazard on the web.

Microsoft buys Yahoo

Microsoft buys Yahoo?Microsoft to buy Yahoo for real this time? (BBC report) It was announced late yesterday that Microsoft has put in a bid to buy Yahoo for $44.6B, some 62% above where the Yahoo stock price closed on Thursday. Granted Yahoo stock has dropped 46% over the course of the last 3 months (high of $34 in October). Speculation was rife last May that this deal would go down (see SearchEngineJournal post or this Friday Traffic Report blog). There was talk of such a deal in 2006 as well…(see here at Scobleizer).
Google versus Yahoo?  Coming out of the garbage
The Yahoo stock performance and, more importantly, Google‘s continuing dominance obviously have created an environment where this deal would make sense. At 62% above the last close, the premium would look hard to reject from the Yahoo board’s perspective, especially after CEO Jerry Yang had just announced that 1000 people would have to be laid off.

My immediate analysis would be:
– obviously need the anti-competition authority’s approval on this one
– Yahoo’s corporate culture will take it on the chin
– some intelligent cross-fertilization would likely make the combined entity a viable competitor to Google (which would be a good thing), but they will need to find and communicate a real point of difference. How will they manage to compete better in China?

And in case that deal falls through, I invite you (and/or Microsoft) to peruse this site which considers the Top 100 alternative search engines available. What’s interesting is the churn in and out of that top 100 list… And I have been turned on to the KoolTorch search engine which provides a kind of mind-mapping result to your searches. Quite Kool indeed — and a nifty educational aspect (if you enjoy categorization!).

Your thoughts? If you want an interesting thread on the topic and the potential impact to open source work, go visit LinuxJournal. There’s lots of commentary to read through there…

Global Power Rankings China versus ROW

China Global Power RankingChina is making progress up the Global Power Ranking if you count market caps.

Chinese publicly traded companies are now dominating the top 10 list of biggest market capitalizations worldwide. This Figaro article of 30 October highlighted that 5 out of the top 10 largest market caps are Chinese, including world #2 PetroChina at $446 billion USD, behind the ExxonMobil at $511 billion. China Mobile is fourth at $398B.

There are 3 US companies in the top 10 (ExxonMobil, GE #3 at $413B and Microsoft #6 with 327B). Royal Dutch Shell and Gazprom (Russian with $253B) round out the top 10. In other words, there is only one [true] European country represented.

Of course, this is just a snapshot before a currency revaluation, a downward shift in oil prices [what?] or another Enron were to occur. Nonetheless, it speaks to the prospective valuation of future earnings.

Another interesting slice of the top 10 shows that 5 of the companies are in Petrol & Gas, 3 are financial institutions (including GE which is classified as diversified financials by Fortune, but go figure), and 1 each for computer software & telecom.

On another angle, and not to be forgotten is the size according to sales… The Fortune 500 is still widely dominated by US companies (162) with Japan (67) #2 and France at #3 (with 38), just ahead of Germany (37) and England (33). Six of the top 10 are US and the first Chinese company in the Fortune 500 is Sinopec at #23, albeit with the fifth highest sales growth. But, one can expect the composition of the top 100 to change dramatically over the course of just the next five years.

Of note, tracing back the data from Fortune 500, as limited merely to US companies, there are now 4 financial-related companies in the Fortune 500 top 10, as opposed to just one basically since 1955 (always the same company, GE which, naturally, couldn’t always be considered a financial company). Since 1955, there have been between 3 and 4 oil & gas companies year in and year out, with communications and computer (IBM) rounding out the top 10 historically.

For an interesting blog and further reading about the shifting balance of power, visit Global Power Europe. Plenty of commentary and numbers on the world balance and the need for a stronger, united Europe. I also enjoyed this post from America vs the World, a subjective listing of the International Power Rankings dating to last year ,but still pertinent. Last posting on the topic was August 2006. I loved the fact that the Football World Cup is included in the concept. Note to Gordon: time to update! Meanwhile, thanks to Gordon, I found this link to an IHT article referring to Paris’ perception of the US and the terminology of ‘hyper power.”‘

And for a thread that seems plentiful and dynamic, try the World Affairs Board, Whose Who… Power Ranking. An interesting point: can a super power be a power if a large portion of its population remains illiterate?

Facebook

Facebook growing fastFacebook is growing at a rate of knots, it’s hard to imagine where it will stop. This pick up from Mashable is interesting as it speaks to the aforementioned (prior post “Googlotics”) role of the online presence in political races. Put your two cents into this Daily Poll about whether online presence will have an impact. The growth of the FB users in anglophone countries means that it is a veritable minefield for those candidates and/or companies that get a [right] foothold into the network. See Mashable’s chart about the exponential growth in Canada, UK and Australia (which is perhaps just on the verge of tipping).

I enjoyed the questions recently posed by Fabrice Grinda on his blog…seems like it is all very inflationary, but at the same time, the money that Microsoft put behind Facebook is not funny money. And, inspired from Psychology of Cyberspace (albeit a dead blog), Facebook is a great way, especially for us older folk, to stay in tune with what’s going on among the younger crowds. I foresee in the near-term people doing all their Join the Conversation Jaffecommunications on Facebook and instead of saying “what’s your email?” the terminology will switch to what’s you Facebook name? what’s your FB app? what’s your private Group? The ability to restrict access to your Facebook profile I believe is elemental and, in the relatively slow build of its userbase, there will be a stronger affinity and loyalty if they maintain that sense of restrictiveness (to your friends, networks, etc.). And soon enough Facebook will become a shopping centre (online shopping seems like a gimme doesn’t it?). I can just see it: buy all your family a Christmas present. Send your admirees flowers. Share the launch of your book via Amazon with all your “intellectual” friends (cf Joe Jaffe’s bumrush). See Adrant story.

Great idea is to review what they were saying about Facebook in the past… try the Mashable Facebook “Complete biography”. It was published in August 2006 (feels like years ago, doesn’t it?). The Wikipedia listing for Facebook will have to be one of the most updated items at the moment, considering it is so prevalent in so many people’s minds these days.

Facebook is growing, growing…grown? (aka off to the IPO). Its future growth will depend on three things in my opinion:

1/ the strength of its internationalisation rollout (not to do mistakes like Google with Baidu [thanks Fabrice])
2/ the willingness to leave the freedom with its users (we’ll have to see what restrictions Microsoft might impose)
3/ the ability to convert the Facebook application into a one-stop communication lab.

Facebook and new media communication…the deluge continues

Facebook New MediaFacebook, Blackberry, LinkedIn, Viadeo, Hotmail, Twitter, Plaxo, Jaiku, Bloglight.ning, del.icio.us and so on … the options for getting in touch are spreading rampantly. There is, on the one hand, a convergence and agglomeration of sites and, on the other, a massive divergence in terms of electronic communications. This latter consideration has now hit me frontally and seems to be winning out. Okay, it has been a few weeks already, but the daily Facebook slap in faceonslaught of new friends and notifications on Facebook (FB) has basically slapped me in the Face.

Whereas I thought that a service like Netvibes was going to centralize and rationalize my (first, not second) life, the matinal “you’ve got mail” [for those poor people still paying AOL] has become “you”ve been nailed”. If it were not enough to have the quixotic vampires and zombies on FB, the hotmail emails are now stacking up alerts to open up other incoming messages on other platforms, from walls to superwalls to highballs and phone calls and text messaging. I believe that services like Netvibes are going to have redouble their efforts to become the singular interface. Spaces like MSN may need to be more liberal in allowing new applications and widgets (opening to other services) if they want to retain their primacy.

Here’s what I like in these new forms of communication: the enlargening of the net of friends with whom I am in touch and the rapidity and diversity (if meaninglessness) of the functionalities, such as poke back.

Here’s what is getting messy: where is the centralized database, warehousing of the messages and addresses? It’s getting more complex to keep up with all the threads.

Here is what is ugly: the paroxysm of messaging. Basic overload. It is getting too much even for me.

With this proliferation of “e-mail” (broadly speaking electronic communication) platforms it makes me wonder if standalone email will evolve to only be for spam and “non friendly” communication while the other services hone the idea of opted-in messaging with pre-selected contacts (“friends” in FB, linkedin contacts, Groups, etc.).

Meanwhile, the news announced last night on CNN Money (or Fortune) whereby Microsoft won out over Google and invested in $240 million for 1.6% of Facebook implies that FB is being valued at $15 billion. You have to admire Zuckerberg’s resolve at the age of 23 to delay the IPO for yet another year or two. Is he holding out for the 100 billion award? Borrowing from the tipping point concept, I see three tips: the first was the programmer/hacker rush to create their own applications on FB. The second, is the current tsunami type wave which is based on the socialBlackberry networking/gaming and is spreading like wildfire among groups. Then the last one will be as FB becomes a more accepted messaging service replacing emails (on hotmail, gmail, etc) and becomes accepted unilaterally at work sites. The Blackberry facedeal between Blackberry and Facebook speaks to the early stages of this notion (they’ve already termed it “Faceberry”). Let’s see how Blackberry shares face today. By getting a foot in the door with FB, is Microsoft going to be able to bring what amounts to an open platform feeling (that exists in FB) to its sites? Meanwhile, ‘poor’ old Google will have to make do with spreading its Orkut social networking site which, for now, is only known in Brazil.

What do you think?

For other blogs and articles on the topic (for those of you who didn’t get enough!)
Seattle pi
Guardian Unlimited
Ben Metcalf