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iPhone 3GS announced

The new iPhone 3GS was announced yesterday at WWDC. The main changes are in the hardware. The differences are now:

  • 32GB Option
  • 3 Megapixel camera with autofocus
  • Video Recording capabilities with upload to Youtube function
  • Voice Control
  • Compass

The other new features coming to the iPhone such as:

  • Cut, Copy & Paste (about time!)
  • MMS and contact send/receive via SMS
  • Bluetooth transfer and A2DP support
  • Data tethering to your laptop (USB or Bluetooth)
  • Spotlight Search
  • Landscape keyboard across all apps
  • Voice Memos

will be available on the current iPhone 3G, the iPhone 2G and included oin the new 3GS. A free software upgrade to Version 3.0 of the firmware will be ready for download to the public June the 17th.

For the die-hard Apple fanboys, a Quicktime stream of the keynote speech given by Phil Schiller is now online.

Australian Soldier Dies

RASIGS My petty whinging about iPhone prices and data really means nothing.

My thoughts go out to the family of the recently killed Australian Solder. Since I have a number of family and friends whom are serving members (some overseas) – I have a very small idea how they must feel. I’m an ex-military and ex-Signaller myself: so I know how committed one can be to the job and the corps.

I’m going to keep quiet about tech stuff and remember that Sean McCarthy died for his country; no matter what political and social issues are behind all the hell in the Middle East.

Wikipedia Article creates Circular references

A recent post on SlashDot quotes an IT professor saying:

People are unwittingly trusting the information they find on Wikipedia, yet experience has shown it can be wrong, incomplete, biased, or misleading

After reading this, I thought it was time to write about a something I found that backs this up. An anonymous user added information about Sacha Baron Cohen (known onscreen as Ali G.) to Wikipedia on November the 14th 2006. This entry added information about Baron Cohen working for investment bank Goldman Sachs prior to becoming famous as an actor.

Three days later, on November the 17th 2006 an article appeared in the Independent with the same information. The article included Baron Cohen’s career information almost as a footnote, at the end of the article – possibly using Wikipedia as the source of his “Goldman Sachs” career and other family information.

On November the 21st 2006 a second anonymous user added information to the Wikipedia entry on Baron Cohen that his early career included work at not only Goldman Sachs, but JP Morgan. Doing a lookup on this users IP address shows that it belongs to an address block allocated to JP Morgan Chase & Co! Someone at the company either new it to be true – or didn’t like the fact that he had been listed as working at a rival company; showing this addition as a potential one-upmanship entry.

A number of months later, a wikipedian actually did his homework, and on the 23rd February 2007 removed the bogus career information stating:

remove Goldman Sacks career as it is not mentioned in the Rolling Stone interview or anywhere else I can find

But it was too late. From 2007 onwards the Wikipedia entry detailing his career has been modified in an on again off again fashion. As of April 2008, the Independent and the Guardian are now used where still used (but have since been removed and discussed) as the source of the information – external references that exist outside Wikipedia – albeit written after the initial entry to Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia references used to referenced these articles as the source for this career move from investment banking to acting; it’s deemed permanent information.

The anonymous Wikipedia entries appear to have been “jokes”, or methods of associating famous people with a company – by financial industry insiders. Not only in the case of the initial change on 14 November, but also in the additional change by someone at JP Morgan on the 21st November, and subsequent additions, removals and swapping of big-time rival company names from Wikipedia.

The bottom line is that NO verifiable information existed anywhere on the internet that Baron Cohen worked for any investment banks (Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan) prior to the 14th November 2006. The only person that can tell us the truth now is Sacha Baron Cohen himself.

In February I wrote on the user talk page of the first “prankster” about this issue, but only recently has an another anonymous user commented over at SlashDot on this exact information of the same article – It could even be the same person who started this as they say:

It is now down to the rest of the world to prove that Sacha Baron Cohen DID NOT work for Goldman Sachs.

All of these thing show how easy is this to do. But how many other times has this been done? Is it the corporations, insiders or just people who work in related industries having a laugh. I’ll leave you with this (long) quote from anonymous@slashdot

The real Wiki-vandals are the companies, governments and lobby groups of all sorts that flood Wikipedia with their squeaky clean corporate profiles (yes, corporate governments), whipped straight from their websites … These entities are the true threat to the laudable goal of Wikipedia to provide a freely accessible forum for the production and storage of (hopefully well-referenced) articles for the masses and a forum that does not restrict the privilege of contribution to those that have jumped through the all the right hoops. … The printed word is no more reliable than the plasma. Lies may be propagated on Wikipedia, but not without debate. Politicians spouting their sludge find their propaganda sitting side-by-side with those that mock them… If knowing that anything in a Wikipedia article is as likely to be crap as correct, the average reader becomes more vigilant in clicking through to the supporting sources; then Wikipedia has served the purpose of bringing to the masses the healthy skepticism that is, after all, the cornerstone of all academic pursuits.
Dark eyes look down from ivory towers. Do they cheer or do they fear?

Update 20 April: since I wrote about this, and got slash-dotted, Wikipedian editors (and numerous slash-dotters) have discussed this entire issue; and the general consensus of the editors is that these two external sources are no longer valid. I think my point was understood. This may only be the tip of the iceberg and it is up to people checking their Wikipedia information to verify first, or remove – and be conscious of timelines!

Open Source software Promotion

Some friends and I were discussing the benefits of using Open Source software which is low cost or free (as in beer) versus the equivalent Commercial and close source products. Examples of comparison were

  • Photoshop vs. Gimp
  • Apache HTTPD vs. IIS
  • Windows vs. Open Solaris/OpenBSD/Linux etc.

It seems like we are not the only ones thinking about this topic. Slashdot today posted that CNET has a feature promoting Open Source application alternatives for the average home user, if only to reduce software costs to the end user. It does not include Operating Systems in comparison, so this article appears to be aimed at Windows users.

Read the list of ten Open Source applications CNET believe you need.

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