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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Websites could get film-style ratings

The kind of ratings used for films could be applied to websites in a bid to better police the Internet and protect children from harmful and offensive material, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said. Internet service providers could also be forced to offer services where the only sites accessible are those deemed suitable for children.

Burnham, who has three young children, pointed to the example of a 9 p.m. television "watershed" in Britain before which certain material, like violence, cannot be broadcast, and said better controls were needed for the Internet.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

RIAA Confirms It Will Take Piracy Fight to ISPs

The Recording Industry Association of America confirmed that it will abandon its practice of suing individuals for online piracy in favor of working with Internet service providers to track down offenders.

The RIAA is partnering with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and several undisclosed ISPs in order to alert the ISPs rather than the individual customer when it finds people who are swapping pirated tracks online. Instead of the RIAA sending lawsuits directly to consumers, the RIAA would notify the ISPs, who would then contact their customers.

People who ignore the warnings from their ISPs could be subject to a slowdown in service or loss of service completely. Pending lawsuits, however, will continue, and record companies have the right to sue those individuals who ignore the warnings from their ISPs.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Businesses say they'll add Macs in 2009

The number of businesses planning to add Apple Inc.'s Macintosh desktops and laptops to their corporate mix has doubled since earlier this year -- part of what an analyst calls the "consumerization" of IT.

68% of some 700 companies polled said they will allow their end users to deploy Macs as their work systems in the next 12 months. Approximately 30% of the IT professionals polled said that the Macs in their organizations are running Windows XP or Vista in virtual environments, up two percentage points since the earlier 2008 survey.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Google Chrome Out of Beta

Google has officially announced that its Chrome browser is no longer a beta version and made a full version of the product available for download.

Chrome programmers say they have fixed a multitude of bugs that plagued the browser's early days, including video and audio glitches and other plug-in performance-related issues. Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine is also said to have grown 1.5 times faster since the software's first beta release.

Other improvements in the first full Chrome release include improved bookmarking options that make importing and exporting saved sites simpler, as well as a retooled privacy control panel within the program for more user-friendly access.

Other progress expected for Chrome includes the addition of Mac and Linux support.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Worm spreads on Facebook

Facebook Inc. is resetting some user passwords and scrubbing the service of malicious links in an attempt to eradicate the fast spreading Koobface worm that redirects infected machines to a little known search site.

Facebook users began reporting receiving spam messages such as "You look just awesome in this new movie" or "You look so amazing funny on our new video" that tried to dupe them into clicking on a link. Then they were taken to one of several compromised sites that then displayed a fake error message claiming that Adobe System Inc.'s Flash was out of date, and prompted them to download an update.

The "update" was nothing of the kind, but instead was an executable file that installed the Koobface worm, which in turn installed a background proxy server that redirected all Web traffic.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Google called off Yahoo deal as DOJ closed in

Google called off its proposed search advertising deal with Yahoo just 3 hours before the U.S. Department of Justice was to file an antitrust complaint aimed at blocking it.

Shortly after the deal, which would have had Yahoo running Google advertisements alongside its own search results was announced in June, Google and Yahoo came under fire from large advertiser groups, which charged that the arrangement would diminish competition and raise online advertising prices.

The chairman of the U.S. Senate's antitrust subcommittee in October urged the DOJ to closely examine the proposed partnership, noting that it could lead to higher advertising prices and create unfair market conditions. Microsoft and other companies lobbied the department to block the proposed deal.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Spam on the increase a couple weeks after major spam shutdown

Security researchers who warned the shutdown of McColo Corp. would only lower spam levels for a couple of weeks were correct, as one of the largest botnets on the internet, Srizbi, has been resurrected.

After two ISPs stopped offering service to McColo about two weeks ago, global spam mail dropped 70 percent due to the shutdown. Since last Sunday, spam volume sent rose around 37 percent of the original amount before McColo was pulled offline on November 11.

Srizbi, Asprox, Mega-D, Rustock, and other spam botnets are fully operational again, and in several cases using ISPs located outside of the United States. Any time a botnet is hosted on an ISP not within the United States, it becomes even more difficult to shut down, security experts say.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Facebook Wins $873M Judgment Against Spammer

Social networking web site Facebook has won a legal judgment against Adam Guerbuez, a spammer in Canada who has kept a low profile since the lawsuit was filed several months ago.

Guerbuez is said to have sent more than 4 million spam messages to Facebook users in March and April, after hijacking Facebook accounts and using bots to then log into the stolen accounts and start sending out the spam.

Facebook probably won't receive much of the court imposed $837M fine, but plan on collecting what they can. The site also plans to launch lawsuits against other spammers, but did not say when that will take place.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

One More Ineternet Explorer 8 Update Planned Before Release

"We will release one more public update of IE8 in the first quarter of 2009, and then follow that up with the final release," said Dean Hachamovitch, IE general Manager. Hachamovitch urged users to notify Microsoft about any major issues. "Our plan is to deliver the final product after listening for feedback about critical issues," he said.

The first beta version of IE8 made its debut in March at the annual MIX08 conference in Las Vegas. Microsoft released IE8 beta 2 in late August. The update included a new color-coded tab system, enhanced address bar, and upgraded privacy protections.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

USB 3.0 Specifications Now Complete and Available

The USB 3.0 Promoters Group has announced that the USB 3.0 specification was finally complete. The specification is a sort of roadmap that allows manufacturers to build controllers and products utilizing the USB 3.0 standard. The specification has now been turned over to the USB Implementers Forum, the managing body for USB specifications.

The specification for USB 3.0 debuted at the SuperSpeed USB Developers Conference in San Jose on November 17. Among the new improvements that USB 3.0 will bring are higher data speeds and enhanced power efficiency.

The first USB 3.0 discrete controllers will be available in the second half of 2009 and the first consumer products using USB 3.0 are expected to be available in 2010. The first products to be commercially available for the specification will be flash drives, external hard drives, and digital music players.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Microsoft Launches First U.S. Store

Microsoft has opened its first online store in the U.S., selling all of its products at a one-stop-shop. Customers will be able to buy and download products via Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) and can also get direct shipments. With the launch, U.S. customers can buy first party software and hardware directly from the company via an online catalog.

Buying via ESD gives customers the advantage of having perpetual storage of their product keys. Product keys are stored in a Microsoft Store Account alongside a purchase history so they can be used to re-install software at any time. Microsoft Stores are already available in the U.K., Germany and Korea. Launches in Japan, France, Spain and the Netherlands are expected in the near future.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Seagate introduces 500 GB self encrypting laptop drives

Seagate announced new full disk encryption (FDE) Momentus self encrypted drives with capabilities of up to a half terabyte (500GB).

As of January of 2005, more than 245 million records had been breached on laptops, with 50% of these breaches occurring in Fortune 1000 corporations, 25% in the military, 16% in higher education, and 9% in the medical field.

Seagate is offering two modes for the drives. Many businesses and other organizations will use bundled McAfee software for hard disk drive detection, encryption policy management, authentication, and security auditing. The 320 GB versions of the Momentus encrypted hard drives are shipping already, while the 500 GB editions are slated for availability next year.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Adobe patches 8 bugs in popular PDF apps

Adobe patched its Reader application for the fifth time this year, plugging eight security holes, including one that was reported to the company more than five months ago.

In late May, researchers at Core Security Technologies told Adobe of a critical vulnerability in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat which could be used by hackers to launch attack code against Windows, Mac or Linux computers, was found in older versions of the software. Version 8.1.2 of Acrobat and Reader harbor the vulnerability and newer versions of the programs, Acrobat 9 and Reader 9, which were released in June, are immune.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Look: Microsoft's Windows 7

Microsoft recently took the wraps of the preview version of Windows 7, which will be the successor to Vista.At first glance, Windows 7 maintains the streamlined look of Vista, but appears more muted, even Windows XP like. Mostly, Microsoft seems to be focusing more on functionality, possibly in a bid to put some distance between Windows 7 and Vista.

Windows 7 will be easier to connect to cameras, phones, and printers. That's handled in the OS by Windows 7's new Device Center.Most obviously, a quick tour through Windows 7 reveals its new taskbar, which is sparser than in previous iterations of the OS. From the screen shots, it's clear that Microsoft has listened to criticism and tuned many features, including search and access to security controls. The look and feel of the user interface is also highly customizable.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Vista Service Pack 2 in Beta

Microsoft is preparing a major update to its Vista operating system with Service Pack 2. The new Vista Service Pack 2 will incorporate all fixes released since Service Pack 1, along with a slew of new improvements aimed at increasing support for new hardware and technology standards.

Some of the features include:
The introduction of Windows Search 4.0

The addition of the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack

The added ability to record data to Blu-ray discs

Improved WiFi setup

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Google Open-Sources Android on Eve of G1 Launch

Google and the Open Handset Alliance released the complete Android platform source code, which means you can actually build a phone with the software if you have the chops.

Developers can also contribute code to the platform thanks to a set of APIs that allows Android to host applications written by third-party developers.

In open-sourcing Android, Google said consumers can expect to see more applications, such as location-based travel tools, games and social networking offerings, as well as cheaper and faster smart phones. Such efforts are already under way: Note Motorola's social networking smart phone based on Android.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

New study suggests link between Internet activity and mental acuity

Researchers studying the aging process have found that surfing the Web may improve the memories of middle-aged and older adults.

The new study suggests that searching the Internet stimulates the parts of the brain that control reading, language and memory, which could prolong cognitive function.

Volunteers were given a series of Web searches and tasks that involved reading passages in a book, while the researchers monitored their brain activity.

The magnetic resonance imaging scans revealed that the temporal, parietal and occipital lobes were activated in all of the participants as they performed the book-reading tasks.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Microsoft Surprises With New Windows 7 Name

In its brief but troubled lifetime, Windows Vista has been characterized as something of a bloated memory hog by many Microsoft channel partners and customers, some of whom have been clamoring for a slimmer, more simplified version of Windows.

In a Monday post to the Windows Vista team blog, Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management, announced that Windows 7 will be the official name of the OS, marking the first time that a Windows product code name will be carried over to the final version.

Nash also threw readers a dose of logic by noting that the Windows 7 name also denotes the fact that it's the seventh version of Windows that Microsoft has developed.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

US satellite returns first high resolution images

Satellite imaging company GeoEye has released the first pic from its GeoEye-1, launched on 6 September and destined to provide high resolution pictures for Google's Earth and Maps services.

According to Cnet, commercial customers include Google, which has "an exclusive partnership to use the GeoEye-1 imagery for online services". The powers that be will also benefit from GeoEye-1's sharp eyesight. GeoEye's CEO, Bill Schuster, explained that the satellite is "an excellent fit to meet the US Government's important requirements for mapping and broad area space-based imagery collection over the next decade".

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Skype Messaging Surveillance found in China

A group of computer security researchers and human-rights activists based in Canada at the University of Toronto recently found a gigantic surveillance system in China that is being utilized to monitor and archive Internet text conversations that contain politically charged wording.

The system is capable of tracking text messages that are sent by TOM-Skype customers. TOM-Skype is a joint venture between eBay and a Chinese wireless provider.

The Canadian activists of Citizen Lab stumbled upon the surveillance operation last month. The stated that a cluster of eight message logging computers in China held over a million censored messages. Within the last two months the servers were able to archive over 166,000 censored messages from over 44,000 users.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Google Smart Phone Launched

Google and the Open Handset Alliance launched a smartphone that would rival that of Blackberry and Apple's iPhone. The T-Mobile HTC G1, also known as the Google Phone, is the first mobile handset running the new Google-backed Android software.

The G1 smartphone, manufactured by HTC and marketed by T-Mobile, has a 3.2-inch touch display that flips out to reveal a full keyboard and trackball navigation. With Google closely involved, the G1 has tight integration with many of the search giant's offerings, including free push Gmail, wireless syncing with Google's calendar, and support for YouTube.

The phone also has integrated Wi-Fi, and users can hop on to T-Mobile's expanding 3G network for mobile Web access. There's a GPS chip that can use cellular data for assisted GPS services, such as location-based searches, and a full HTML browser is built on the same technology as the recently released Chrome desktop browser. The handset has a multimedia player, preloaded with an application that lets users shop from more than 6 million DRM-free music tracks.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Windows 7 to Replace Some Apps with Live Services

Microsoft said that several services currently found within Windows XP and Windows Vista will be dropped for Windows 7, and replaced with similar versions of its Live services.

Starting with the next release of Windows, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Contacts, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker will no longer be available in the Windows operating system," a spokesman for Microsoft said. "Similar functionality for email, contact, calendar, photo and movie making will be available for free from Windows Live, removing the duplication of functionality for our consumers between Windows and Windows Live."

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin Hackers May Dodge Feds via DOJ Loophole

Palin Hackers May Dodge Feds via DOJ Loophole

Could the hackers who infiltrated Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin's personal Yahoo account avoid prosecution thanks to a Department of Justice policy statement?

Though federal law prohibits the unauthorized access of someone's e-mail account, the DOJ's interpretation of one particular case might only hold the Palin hackers accountable for accessing unopened messages, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The hackers changed the governor's password, took screen shots of the account's contents, accessed personal photographs, and sent all the data to the Wikileaks Web site.

Under DOJ's interpretation, the Palin hackers might only be prosecuted for accessing e-mails the Alaska governor had not yet opened. Based on the data leaked by the hackers, it is not clear if they opened any unread messages.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Sony Vaio comes with a 18.4 inch Screen

Sony announced the Vaio AW notebook will come with a 18.4 inch screen, RGB color fidelity, and even the 3LCD backlighting Sony includes on its LCD TVs.According to Sony, the new Vaio AW provides the experience of a desktop plus an HDTV, and it is priced similarly: the base model costs about $1,600, while adding the upgraded 3LCD backlight will raise the price to about $2,000.

The Vaio AW contains a 2.8GHz processor, 4 GB of PC2-6400 DRAM, a 500 GB hard drive, an optional 128 GB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT and wireless. The optional 3LCD display is the first time an HDTV-quality backlight has been placed inside of a laptop.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Google Launches Mapping Satellite

Google has expanded its reach into space with the successful launch Saturday of a new satellite that will provide the company with exclusive images for its maps. The satellite launch was coordinated by terrain mapping company GeoEye. Although GeoEye did not mention Google in any of its announcements regarding the satellite, the search engine giant's name appeared on the satellite.

It will collect 0.41-meter ground resolution black and white images and 1.65-meter color images simultaneously. It can show objects as small as 16 inches. U.S. licensing restrictions limit commercial images to a half-meter ground resolution. The satellite can capture the images from 423 miles above the Earth and travel about 4.5 miles per second.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Sony recalls 438,000 laptops

Sony has launched a voluntary recall of 438,000 Vaio portable computers, citing a potential hazard that could cause the machines to overheat or possibly burn a user.

Sony received 15 reports of overheating, including one of a consumer who suffered a minor burn. The flaw, in Sony's VGN-TZ100, VGN-TZ200, VGN-TZ300 and VGN-TZ2000 series computers, is related to "irregularly positioned wires near the computer's hinge and/or dislodged screw inside the hinge" that can cause a short circuit and overheat, the agency said.

"This poses a burn hazard to consumers," the agency added. "Sony has initiated a voluntary program to perform a free inspection and, if necessary, a repair to ensure these units meet our high quality standards."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Google Browser Will Be Available soon

Google is launching a beta version of its own Web browser in more than 100 countries. The open source browser, called Chrome, first appeared on an unofficial Google blog in the form of a comic book. The blog posting was by Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director.

The browser window is "streamlined and simple," they said, describing in words what can be seen visually at the unofficial blog, Google Blogoscoped. "To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff -- the pages, sites and applications that make up the Web. Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go," the blog posting said.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 To Include Privacy Mode

Microsoft has confirmed that it will add several new privacy features to its forthcoming Internet Explorer 8 browser that will allow users to cover their digital tracks while surfing the Web.

InPrivate Browsing will let users control whether IE 8 saves their browsing history, cookies, and other Internet data. InPrivate Blocking will inform users about sites that can track their browsing history, and will allow them to block such activity. InPrivate Subscriptions will let users choose which Web sites to subscribe to or block.

A fourth feature, Delete Browsing History, gives users control over their browsing history after visiting a Web site.

Many current Web browsers, including Explorer 7, leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that can reveal a user's path across the Web. In the past, such information has been used by law enforcement officials investigating suspected criminal behavior, by employers keeping tabs on workers' browsing habits, and even by jealous spouses who suspect their partners of cheating or frequenting porn sites. IE 8's new feature could make it more difficult for interested parties to track such behavior.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Internet users may hit usage caps

Several Internet service providers are moving to curb the growth of traffic on their networks, or at least make the subscribers who download the most pay more.

Cable companies have been at the forefront of imposing and talking about usage caps, because their lines are shared between households. In a sense, caps on Internet use are no stranger than the limited number of minutes a cell phone subscriber gets each month. Internet use varies hugely from person to person, and service providers argue that the people who use it the most should pay the most. But the industry hasn't worked out where to set the limits, or how much to charge users who exceed them.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Intel Takes a Step Forward to USB 3.0

Intel announced that a draft specification of the Extensible Host Controller Interface of USB 3.0.

The draft announcement was expected, and some form of additional demonstration at the Intel Developer Forum next week is likely. USB 3.0 products probably won't be expected until next year.

USB 3.0, also known as "SuperSpeed USB," is designed to dramatically increase the bandwidth of USB, lower power consumption, and maintain backwards compatibility with the current USB 2.0 specification. SuperSpeed USB are will provide a 10X boost in transfer rate from 480 Mbits/s in USB 2.0 to 4.8 Gbits/s in USB 3.0.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

U.S. Broadband Speeds Continue To Lag

Rhode Island, the smallest state, has the fastest median download speed with 6.8 Mbps, while Alaska, the largest, has the slowest at 0.8 Mbps, says a CWA survey. While U.S. broadband providers continue to boost speeds for their subscribers, they still are falling behind the broadband deployment efforts of many other nations, according to survey of 230,000 U.S. Internet users.

Population density can be a factor in providing broadband. The median download speed in the U.S. is 2.35 Mbps. Densely populated Japan enjoys a 63.60 Mbps speed.

To improve broadband reception in rural and lower-income areas, the CWA and some government and public policy organizations have suggested that the Universal Service Fund be reformed to support build-out of broadband in undeserved communities.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Internet firms agree to code of conduct in China

Just days before the Olympic torch will reach Beijing, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft say they are close to an agreement on a code of conduct for doing business in China and other countries that censor the Internet. Senator Dick Durbin on Monday released separate letters from the companies, stating they have "reached agreement on the core components of the principles" of the code.

Those components, the letters say, include principles for promoting freedom of expression and privacy, implementation guidelines, and an accountability framework. The specifics of the code are now being reviewed by the individual organizations involved. Google said the companies are working toward "a set of clear and rigorous principles, such that restrictive governments would be unable to ignore or reject these best practices on freedom of expression and the protection of individual privacy."

The impending Olympic games have increased questions about Internet censorship in China, especially after Chinese officials tried to block journalists there for the games from accessing certain sites, even after the Chinese government assured reporters they would have full freedom to search the Internet, unlike its citizens.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Hacked Sites than Ever

According to the Websense State of Internet Security report covering the first half of 2008, compromised URLs continue to advance as the most popular means of online malware delivery.

During the first six months of 2008, over 75% of the sites Websense observed distributing malware were legitimate URLs that had been somehow subverted by attackers, a 50 percent increase over the last six months of 2007. Websense contends that a whopping 60 percent of the Web's most popular sites were either subverted or indirectly involved with some form of malicious activity over the past six months.

It does appear that the use of malware tool kits to launch online attacks has slowed, with Websense reporting that some 12 percent of the sites it saw infected with malicious code were created using Web malware exploitation kits, a decrease of 33 percent since December 2007. Websense researchers said the decrease may be related to attackers launching more customized threats to avoid traditional signature-based detection techniques.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Windows 7 on its way

Microsoft has said it would ship by January 2010, but top executives have also said from time to time that it would be done by the end of 2009.

Microsoft has released few details on the product, largely assuring customers that it would be making big architectural changes and that it will have a new multi touch user interface, an alternative to the computer mouse. This means that users will be able to control the next version of Microsoft Windows with touch controls.

Bill Gates framed the new feature as an evolution away from the mouse. The ability to use touch to give users fingertip control of their screens could help revolutionize how computer desktops and mobile phones are controlled and would be an alternative to existing mice, keyboard and pen based user controls.

New enhancements to DirectX will help applications harness the latest innovations in GPUs and LCD displays, including support for scalable, high performance, 2D and 3D graphics, text, and images.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hackers unlock newest iPhone software

A group of hackers known has provided an update to its iPhone unlocking tool that works with Apple's new 2.0 software release.

Jailbreaking (making it possible to install un-sanctioned apps) and SIM unlocking is supported for the first generation iPhone, while iPod touches can also be jailbroken. While the iPhone 3G is also supported in the new release, at this time it is only to jailbreak the device. No SIM unlock is available, which means it must still be used on AT&T or whatever network Apple has partnered with.

Performing the jailbreak and unlock is an fairly easy task. Upon opening the application, the user selects what device model they are using, then tells the program where the locations of the three necessary files are.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spammer Gets 30 Months for Inundating AOL

A 27-year-old man was sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday for blasting AOL subscribers with spam over a four-month period. Adam Vitale was also ordered to pay AOL US$180,000 in restitution.

Vitale and his partner, Todd Moeller, were busted after they offered their spam services to a government informant, according to an indictment filed in May 2006.

The two sent around 250,000 spam messages to more than 1.2 million e-mail addresses belonging to AOL subscribers. The spam messages contained false headers, or the set of information contained in an e-mail that identifies where it has been sent from. The information can be faked.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Google, Yahoo to Reach 3 Billion Mobile Phones

With a market size three times bigger than the Internet today, Internet search engines Yahoo! and Google both aim to bring the Internet to about 3.2 billion cell phone users as compared to the 850 million PC users today.

Since Google's business comes mostly from advertisements,enabling Internet like experience in cell phones is very important to them. Google's new cell phone platform, Android, could be "the ultimate Internet style luminated mobile phone" slated to be launched later this year or early 2009. Android is open-source platform for mobile phones. It allows developers to develop Internet-style applications on the phone. It has Internet style application features such as BreadCrumbz, PedNav, Fon11, Enkin, multiple weather applications, and various pocket PC games,among others.

BreadCrumbz is a first-person view navigation for tours and route-finding, while PedNav helps a user plan his foot-based itinerary, incorporating time estimates based on traffic and other variables. Fon11, however, is for social networking with real-time location, presence and status.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Microsoft Hopes Office Subscription Plan Will Counter Free Software

With its Office franchise under attack from a host of competitors offering free software, Microsoft is hoping that a new subscription pricing model for its Office suite will encourage consumers to continue upgrading to the latest editions of the product.

Microsoft said that it will give consumers the option of buying an annual license for Office and its Windows Live OneCare security package for $69.99 per year under a program called Equipt. The license covers use of the software on up to three computers and includes access to all future product upgrades.

Microsoft is counting on Equipt's convenience factor to help it fend off competitive threats from Google, IBM, and other vendors that are offering free and open source desktop productivity suites.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

MD Releases New 140-Watt Black Phenom X4 chip

On Tuesday, AMD announced a new version of its flagship "Black" Phenom X4, as well as two energy efficient versions of the Phenom X4 chip.

However, the AMD Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition does not command a flagship price: AMD is charging a suggested retail price of just $235 for the 2.6 GHz chip. AMD also released the AMD Phenom X4 9350e, a 2.0 GHz processor for $195; and the AMD Phenom X4 9150e, a 1.8 GHz version for $175.

All three chips are manufactured on AMD's 65nm process, contain 2 MB of a shard level 3 cache and include 512 KB of level 2 cache per core.

AMD's new Black processor consumes 140 watts at maximum, an increase over the 9850, which consumes 125 watts. However, the chip also ships with AMD's OverDrive software with clock multiplier control, allowing users to scale down the performance to save power, or dial it up for more performance. At Computex, Asus releaed a list of boards that could accept the new 140 watt Black chips.

The energy efficient Phenom X4s, on the other hand, consume no more than 65 watts in total.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chrysler to turn cars into hot spots

Chrysler is going to let drivers turn most of the company's 2009 vehicles into hot spots, at least for mobile Web access.

The automaker will unveil a system today that will let motorists check email on their laptop at stoplights, while the kids play online video games in the back seat.

"What UConnect Web does is turn the whole vehicle into an Internet hot spot," says Keefe Leung, who works on advanced connectivity strategies for Chrysler. The wireless router and cellular-based Web connection will serve WiFi enabled laptops, iPhone and other smartphones, entertainment systems and other personal devices.

UConnect Web will be offered in most 2009 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles starting in August. The in vehicle router will cost $449, plus installation of up to $50. Mobile Web access for it will require a $29 a month subscription, after $35 for activation, through provider Autonet Mobile.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Verizon plans more fiber optic for cities

Verizon Communications is looking toward big cities as the next big opportunity for its Fios broadband and TV service. "Our plan is to cover all of the 3.1 million households in all five boroughs in the next five to six years," Verizon's COO Denny Strigl said.

Verizon is also working to get video franchise approval for the Fios TV service in other large cities. Verizon sees cities as a huge opportunity for the Fios service, which provides high-speed Internet service, telephony, and cable TV service over a super-fast fiber connection.

The company has also doubled the upload and download speeds of its lowest-tier Fios broadband service. The service will now offer 10Mbps downloads and 2Mbps uploads.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mozilla tries to set world record with Firefox launch

After nearly 3 years in development, the much anticipated release of Firefox version 3 should be available on June 17. As part of the launch the Mozilla Foundation has announced that they'll be attempting to set a world record for the most software downloads in a 24 hour period. They're also suggesting that fans of Firefox host parties celebrating the launch.

The good news for Mozilla is that they don't seem to have any competition for the record. According to the FAQ on the website created to promote the launch, "This is the first record attempt of its kind so there is no set number. We'd really like to outdo the number of Firefox 2 downloads on its launch day, which was 1.6 million. Let's shoot for 5 million--the sky is the limit!"

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mozilla Firefox 3.0 RC2 released

Mozilla unveiled the second release candidate of Firefox 3.0 and said all of the issues that remain are on the server or site side, not in the application itself.

Firefox 3.0 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) fixed about 40 bugs identified after Mozilla issued the first release candidate three weeks ago.

Mozilla made the decision to go with another release candidate last week, rejecting the option of shipping Firefox 3.0 as is, then following up with a bug fix update later. Mozilla executives assured users that the additional RC would not delay the expected launch date, which has been set for mid-month.

Firefox accounts for 18.4% of the browser market, according to the most recent data from Net Applications Inc. Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer remains the most widely used browser, with a 73.8% share, while Apple Inc.'s Safari comes in third with 6.3%.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Safari Flaw Worse Than First Thought

Microsoft is warning that a previously disclosed flaw in Apple's Safari browser could have dire consequences for Windows users.

The Safari bug, originally disclosed on May 15 by security researcher Nitesh Dhanjani, allows attackers to litter a victim's desktop with executable files, an attack known as "carpet bombing."

It turns out that if this flaw is exploited in combination with a second unpatched bug in Internet Explorer, attackers can run unauthorized software on a victim's computer. For the attack to work, a victim must first visit a maliciously crafted Web page with the Safari browser, which in turn will trigger the carpet bombing attack and exploit the IE flaw.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Samsung develops 256GB solid state drive

Samsung announced the development of a 2.5-inch, 256GB solid state drive (SSD). Typical solid state drives shipping in notebook PCs today have a storage capacity of 64GB.

With a sequential read speed of 200 megabytes per second and sequential write speed of 160MBps, Samsung is claiming some of the fastest SSD data transfer rates to date. Samsung is slated to begin commercial production of the SSD by year's end.

SSDs have no moving parts, which means they avoid both the risk of mechanical failure and the mechanical delays of hard disk drives.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Member of Online Piracy Group Faces Prison Term

A member of an online piracy group has been convicted of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and faces up to five years in prison.

Barry Gitarts, 25, from New York, was convicted Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In addition to up to five years in prison, Gitarts could face a fine of US$250,000 and three years of probation.

Gitarts was a key member of the Internet music piracy group Apocalypse Production Crew (APC) from at least June 2003 through April 2004. Gitarts paid for and administered a computer server located in Texas that APC group members used to upload and download hundreds of thousands of copies of pirated music, movies, software and video games.

The Gitarts case is part of an ongoing federal investigation into the organized piracy groups responsible for the distribution of movies, software, games and music on the Internet.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Google Health Goes Live

After months of speculation, the search engine giant on Monday unveiled its health-related Web site, Google Health.

Users can now log in to the service at to import their medical records, fill prescriptions, and get lab results, set up text-based pill alerts, keep track of immunizations, and get pertinent news alerts.

Google stressed that the information entered into Google Health will remain completely private. When asked whether that information might be aggregated, Google said that any information that is shared will be done so in a way that is not identifiable.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Google starts to blur faces in Street View photos

After privacy complaints, Google Inc. is beginning to automatically blur faces of people captured in the street photos taken for its Internet map program.

As specially equipped Google vehicles cruised city streets snapping panoramic images of homes and businesses, the resulting photos revealed people falling off bikes, exiting strip joints, crossing the street, sunbathing — everyday, in-public things but nonetheless, things they might not have wanted preserved for posterity.

This week, Google revealed it had indeed begun deploying a facial-recognition algorithm that scans photos for mugs to blur. The changes are happening first in scenes in New York, before slowly expanding to the other 40 cities in Street View.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Microsoft Releases Windows XP Service Pack 3

Microsoft has released Service Pack 3 for Windows XP users. The update should now be offered via both Windows Update or Automatic Updates. The company was expected to release it earlier, but pulled the plug at the last minute due to a compatibility problem with an obscure product they offer.

Microsoft says it is not adding any significant Windows Vista technology into XP with Service Pack 3. No surprise there, given that Microsoft has said Service Pack 3 will be XP's swan song: The company currently plans to stop issuing new licenses for the operating system this summer.

In addition to all the previously released security updates and hotfixes (some of which users may not have, even if they have been keeping up with security patches), SP3 includes "a small number of enhancements, which do not significantly change customers' experience with the operating system," Microsoft said.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Users Fuming Over Vista Audio Driver Glitch

Several users running Windows Vista with SP1 installed who recently downloaded an audio driver for through Windows Update say the update disables their machines' audio functionality.

The update for IDT (Formerly Sigmatel)'s high definition sound and is called "IDT High Def Codec," according to several users on a Dell customer forum, who claim that installing the update results in a "Code 10" Error after rebooting, as well as the loss of audio.

Sigmatel drivers were on the list of problematic device drivers that caused Microsoft in February to delay the public release of Vista SP1. When Microsoft did release Vista SP1 through Windows Update in March, the vendor blocked users with these drivers on their PCs from downloading the update.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

PC makers find ways to extend XP's life

Facing a June 30 deadline to stop selling PCs with Windows XP, the world's largest computer makers are getting creative.

Taking advantage of the "downgrade rights" offered as part of the Windows Vista license agreement, Hewlett-Packard and Dell both plan to offer machines loaded with XP well beyond June.

Technically, the computers will be Vista Business or Vista Ultimate machines that have been factory downgraded to XP at the customer's request. In practice, they are more like XP machines that come with an already paid-for upgrade to Vista when and if the customer chooses to do so.

The pre-downgraded PC option is just the latest way that PC makers have responded to stronger-than-expected demand. After shifting largely to Vista after its January 2007 mainstream launch, Dell and others quickly began adding more XP options in response to customer requests.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Change in XP Plan

Comments by Steve Ballmer at a press conference in Europe have led to speculation that Microsoft is reconsidering its June 30 deadline to stop selling most new Windows XP licenses. A spokeswoman from Microsoft's public relations firm said Thursday that there is no plan for a change in deadline, however.

"If customer feedback varies we can always wake up smarter, but right now we have a plan for end of life for new XP shipments," Ballmer said.

The spokeswoman said Microsoft is aware that some customers are pushing for an extension to the deadline -- more than 160,000 people have signed a "Save XP" petition launched by Infoworld magazine, for example.

Retailers and PC vendors can also continue to sell any backlog of Windows XP licenses that they bought before the June 30 deadline. Beyond those exceptions, most new Windows licenses purchased after June 30 will be for Windows Vista.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

PayPal To Block Older IE, Firefox Browsers From Site

As part of an effort to combat phishing, PayPal plans to block older versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox and other unsafe browsers from accessing the online payment site.

Phishing is a deceptive practice used by Web criminals to acquire personal information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. Phishers often pose as legitimate businesses in emails to lure victims to fraudulent sites where they are asked to input their personal data. Phishers also use Websites with URLs similar to legitimate sites, hoping that a person will misspell the address and end up at the fraudulent site. PayPal is among the favorite targets of phishers, along with eBay and online banks.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Google Helps Group Find Child Predators On The Web

Google has developed search technology that sifts through millions of pornographic images and videos from the Web to help police find child sex predators.

A team of Google researchers led by Shumeet Baluja used the free time the company provides employees to work on pet projects to develop software tools tailored to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children track down child predators. Google is a member of the organization's Technology Coalition Against Child Pornography.

The tools developed by Google researchers helps NCMEC workers sort and identify files that contain child pornography. In addition, the new video tool streamlines analysts' review of video snippets, Baluja said. "In particular, the tools we provided will aid in organizing and indexing NCMEC's information, so that analysts can both deal with new images and videos more efficiently and also reference historical material more effectively."

In organizing the data more efficiently, analysts will be able to work faster in getting law enforcement the information they need to locate missing children and find child sex predators, the researcher said.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plot Thickens in Yahoo-Microsoft Drama

Yahoo's last ditch efforts to avoid a takeover by Microsoft Corp. appear to be setting the stage for a dramatic finale featuring a rich cast of Internet and media stars.

Eager to frustrate Microsoft in any way possible, Internet search leader Google Inc. has already agreed to help out Yahoo by participating in an unusual test that will gauge how much more advertising Google can sell for its struggling rival. The 2 week experiment will be limited to ads posted alongside a small percentage of Yahoo's online search results in the United States.

As part of the AOL deal, Time Warner would make a cash investment in return for a 20 percent stake in the combined entity, according to a Wall Street Journal story that cited unnamed people familiar with the matter. Yahoo then would use the Time Warner cash to buy back stock to put some money in shareholders' pockets. Yahoo would pay between $30 and $40 per share for an unspecified amount of stock, the Journal said.

Microsoft's bid was worth about $42 billion, or $29.24 per share, as of Wednesday, when Yahoo shares closed at $27.77. Analysts have said that Microsoft can afford to pay about $35 per share, or about $50 billion, for Yahoo without undermining its future earnings. Yahoo has indicated it thinks its franchise is worth at least $40 per share, or more than $55 billion.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Intel Unleashes Powerful, Power-Saving Atom Chips

Intel unveiled the Centrino Atom family of low power processors for mobile Internet devices. It also announced a new class of inexpensive, simple Internet centric computers, called "netbooks," which will hit the market later this year.

The Atom processor is based on a new micro-architecture designed for small devices with low power consumption. It is compatible with the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set, and supports multiple threads for better performance and increased system responsiveness.

Their thermal design power (TDP) specification maxes out at 2.5 watts, less than one-tenth the 35 watts TDP of the current mobile Core 2 Duo processors. The new family supports hyper-threading technology, which lets the processor execute two instruction threads in parallel.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Windows XP SP3 RC2 Refresh available

Microsoft has released yet another build of the next (and possibly last) service pack for its most popular operating system. The build, dubbed "Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate 2 Refresh" (not to be confused with SP3 RC2), does not contain many changes. According to Microsoft Technet, "Beyond fixes for common Windows Update issues and the inclusion of support for HD Audio, there are no substantial differences between this beta release (build 5508) and XP SP3 RC2 (build 3311)."

The preview release is available to the public in three standalone downloads: English (315.2MB), German (312.0MB), and Japanese (324.5MB). Although Microsoft has still not disclosed a date (other than "first half of 2008"), XP SP3 is probably coming in the second half of April.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dell Plans $52 Billion in Chinese Purchases

Dell plans to buy $23 billion of components from China this year and $29 billion in 2009, helping it reduce costs while the company's main market, the United States, is facing recession.

The commoditization of computer hardware means competition is more a function of price and efficiency than quality and branding, making China a favorite place to source a broad range of goods, including electronic components.

"China is critical to Dell's global supply chain," founder and Chief Executive Michael Dell told reporters on Thursday.

The company lost top market-share spot to HP in 2006 as consumers favored buying notebook PCs in stores, leading it to abandon last year a long-standing direct-only sales model.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Retail Vista SP1 and final XP SP3 expected this week

Microsoft officials have been saying for the past few weeks to expect Microsoft to release Vista SP1 through retail channels and via Windows Update in mid March. Even though Microsoft released Vista SP1 to manufacturing in early February and delivered the final SP1 bits to its TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network subscribers a couple of weeks after that — company officials said they were holding back on making the service pack more broadly available due to driver installation problems.

Microsoft officials have said to expect XP SP3 to ship by mid 2008. Web site PCInpact earlier this year said Microsoft planned to ship the final version of XP SP3 the week of March 23, a date Microsoft would neither confirm nor deny when I asked.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Infected Excel Files Exploit Known Hole

Security experts have warned that malicious Microsoft Excel documents are making the rounds via e-mail, exploiting an unpatched Excel vulnerability that has been known publicly since January.

"This Trojan is circulating through email messages that contain attached Excel files," US-CERT said in an advisory. "Known file names for these attachments are OLYMPIC.XLS and SCHEDULE.XLS. These files may also contain Windows binary executables that can compromise an affected system."

The bug affects Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Excel Viewer 2003, Excel 2002, Excel 2000, and Excel 2004 for Mac, Microsoft said. Successful attacks give the attacker the same rights as the local user.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

U.S. Military Restricts Google Maps

The U.S. Department of Defense put Google on the defensive when it issued a communique to make it clear that the roving photographic vehicles Google uses to acquire Google Maps Street View images aren't allowed on U.S. military bases.

The DOD took action when Street View images of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, appeared on Google Maps. Google introduced Google Maps Street View images for San Antonio in February. Google removed the pictures at the request of the military. Fort Sam Houston is not open to the public.

Google isn't unaware of the privacy issues surrounding its collection of images. "We've been pretty clear with people that if they're concerned with the imagery, we try to make it easier and easier to submit requests to get the imagery taken down," said spokesperson Larry Yu.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Microsoft Office On The Web Available For Public Trial

Microsoft it has made available for worldwide public testing a hosted version of its widely used Microsoft Office productivity software.

As part of the trial, users can access an English-language beta version of Microsoft Office Live Workspace, as the offering is called, from the company's Web site at no charge.

Office Live Workspace lets users store and access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office applications on the Web through any computer with an Internet connection even if the PC isn't running Office on its hard drive.

Office Live could also eliminate the insecure practice, often used by executives on the go of downloading files to a public computer. Office Live users can store more than 1,000 documents on the service and also grant access authorization to their files to business colleagues and other third parties.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Microsoft cuts Vista prices

Microsoft Corp. is cutting the retail price of its Windows Vista operating system by as much as 20% in the U.S., but will slash at least some versions' price tags by more than 46% in both the U.K. and the European Union.

Microsoft announced sweeping price cuts to boxed copies of Vista, saying then that the cuts would range from as low as 3% in developed countries to nearly 50% for some editions sold in poorer nations.

According to Microsoft, the price for the upgrade version of Vista Home Premium will drop 18.8% in the U.S., from $159.95 to $129.95. The full edition of Vista Ultimate, on the other hand, will be cut 20%, from $399.95 to $319.95.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

When will iTunes replace WalMart as the #1 music retailer?

Apple's iTunes will likely surpass WalMart to become the largest U.S. music retailer sometime this year.

The NPD Group issued a report Tuesday that said Apple had outpaced Best Buy and Target to become the #2 U.S. music retailer. Digital music sales were up close to 50 percent and CD sales were down 20 percent last year.

As CD sales continue to slide, retailers like WalMart, Best Buy, and Target devote less and less floor space to discs which of course serves to erode sales even further.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 to be released

Microsoft has revealed details of the next version of its Windows OS for small businesses and formally introduced a new product line aimed at small and mid size businesses.

Microsoft Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 is one of two software bundles in Microsoft's new Windows Essential Server Solutions line; it also includes Windows Essential Business Server 2008.

SBS 2008 is aimed at companies with up to 50 PCs and includes one-year trial subscriptions to Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server Small Business Edition and Windows Live OneCare for Server. Microsoft designed SBS 2008 for simplified deployment, setup and administration from one management console that administrators can access remotely.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Is LTE the Next Big Wireless Technology?

A high-speed wireless technology that is still in development promises to make mobile Web surfing about four times faster.Several big operators recently said they will build networks using an emerging technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).

LTE promises to make everything from mobile-video sharing to music downloads speedier, but it may not show a visible boost in sales for the network equipment industry any time soon as the first networks are not expected for two years and many operators will wait longer, until the technology matures.

Godfrey Chua, a network equipment analyst at research firm IDC said that even if many operators start LTE services in 2010, the technology would still only serve to help stop the industry from declining rather than create a massive growth spike.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Microsoft says Vista SP1 Drivers Not Malfunctioning

Microsoft has clarified that the phased rollout of Vista's first service pack was not due to malfunctioning drivers, but because of issues that arose when these device drivers were reinstalled during the SP1 update process.

Mike Nash from Microsoft's Windows product management group said that SP1 would be rolled out gradually due to a driver problem Microsoft uncovered during the testing phase. He also said it "was an issue with the way the device drivers were reinstalled during the SP1 update process, not with the drivers themselves."

Microsoft on Friday made SP1 RTM available to individuals and companies who participated in the SP1 beta program. By week's end, Microsoft will release the English version of Vista SP1 available to volume licensing customers and other languages will be added soon.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Apple Fixes QuickTime Bug

Apple on Thursday released an updated version of its QuickTime media software for Mac OS X and Windows that addresses a security vulnerability and restores compatibility with a third party video program.

QuickTime 7.4.1 addresses a flaw in the way earlier versions of QuickTime handled the Real-Time Streaming Protocol. By enticing a user to visit a maliciously crafted Web page, an attacker may cause an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.

QuickTime 7.4.1 works with Mac OS X v10.3.9, Mac OS X v10.4.9 or later, Mac OS X v10.5 or later, Windows Vista, and Windows XP SP2. It's available through the Software Update control panel or from Apple's Web site.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Google and Yahoo Take on Outlook

Business software units of Yahoo and Google are introducing beefed up versions of their Web based software that compete with Microsoft Outlook, offering yet another clue why Microsoft Corp made a $45 billion unsolicited bid for Yahoo.

Yahoo's new Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0 allows users to read Microsoft Outlook email alongside Yahoo Mail or Google's Gmail or Zimbra's own branded email.

Google paid $625 million to acquire email security firm Postini to beef up Google Apps to make it more useful inside businesses.

Zimbra software is targeted at universities and small businesses and Internet service providers such as Comcast Corp and Indiatimes, which in turn can offer such e-mail services to millions of consumers.

Postini's services are hosted in Google's data centers, allowing Postini to offer its security services at dramatically lower cost than many existing e-mail security products.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsoft Proposes Acquisition of Yahoo!

Microsoft announced that it has made a proposal to the Yahoo! Board of Directors to acquire all the outstanding shares of Yahoo! common stock for per share consideration of $31 representing a total equity value of approximately $44.6 billion.

"The combination of these two great teams would enable us to jointly deliver a broad range of new experiences to our customers that neither of us would have achieved on our own." says Ray Ozzie, chief software architect at Microsoft

The online advertising market is growing at a very fast pace, from over $40 billion in 2007 to nearly $80 billion by 2010. Microsoft has developed a plan and process that will include the employees of both companies to focus on the integration of the combined business.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AMD Launches Two-Chip Graphics Card For Gamers

The ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 combines two graphics processors on a single board, giving it nearly double the performance of the single chip Radeon HD 3870 introduced in November 2007. The latest graphics card tops a Teraflop, or 1 trillion floating point operations per second, which is the equivalent of a trillion mathematical calculations per second.

High end graphics cards target hardcore gamers looking for realism in 3D effects used in many video games today. To get peak performance, game enthusiasts will use multiple graphics cards and use software tools to boost the clock speed of CPUs.

AMD's latest product would compete with Nvidia's GeForce 8800 Ultra that starts at $630. The Radeon HD 3870 X2 has a suggested retail price of $449. With the card comparable in performance to Nvidia's highest end product, but selling for substantially less, the new card places AMD ahead of its rival, Peddie said. Nvidia, however, is likely to respond quickly to the competition.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Best Buy Sold Infected Digital Picture Frames

Best Buy sold digital picture frames during the holidays that contained malicious code able to spread to any connected Windows PC. They are not recalling the frames, however.

What Best Buy called a limited number of the 10.4 inch digital frames sold under its Insignia brand were contaminated with a computer virus during the manufacturing process. The malware packed with the frame is an older virus that Best Buy claimed would be easily detected by any up to date antivirus software.

Best Buy recommended users running a current antivirus program plug the frame into the PC so that the security software can scan the frame and delete the malware. Other customers should call a special toll-free number for help.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

AT&T offers free Wi-Fi and superfast broadband

AT&T says that it will soon offer its broadband subscribers unlimited free Wi-Fi access in its hot spots, as well as 10Mbps tier of service. Free Wi-Fi will be offered only to AT&T broadband subscribers who subscribe to services with 1.5Mbps downloads or higher. Subscribers who only have the company's wireless service will not be offered free Wi-Fi.

AT&T has more than 10,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in the U.S. and has been offering free Wi-Fi access to its higher-speed broadband customers since last year.

AT&T's move could be seen as a way to entice subscribers to bundle cell phone service with their broadband service.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

FCC to Test 'White Spaces' Broadband Devices

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) next week will begin testing devices that will allow Internet service providers to utilize unused spectrum for wireless broadband service.

The field tests will be conducted at a variety of locations to provide information on the performance of the devices under real world conditions. In an effort to free up spectrum for public safety use, Congress has ordered TV broadcasters to shift their signals from analog to digital by February 2009. When this happens, there will be open, unregulated spectrum between the digital channels, or white spaces, that companies like Google and Microsoft want to use for wireless broadband service.

Accessing that spectrum, however, is easier said than done. A coalition of Internet companies known as the White Spaces Coalition has been working on equipment that will provide white space broadband access via spectrum sensing.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Excel Vulnerability Affects Windows And Mac Users

Microsoft posted a security advisory warning of a vulnerability in several versions of Microsoft Office Excel that affects both Windows and Mac OS users.

The affected versions include Microsoft Office Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Excel Viewer 2003, Excel 2002, Excel 2000, and Excel 2004 for Mac.

The attack relies on a maliciously crafted Excel file that contains malformed header information. Attempting to open the file, either through a Web browser or as an e-mail attachment, can corrupt system memory, which could give an attacker the opportunity to execute remote code on the victim's system or to obtain elevated user privileges.

Microsoft said it is working on a fix that will be released either as part of its regular patch schedule or in an out-of-band release.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another QuickTime bug revealed

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has discovered a new buffer overflow vulnerability with Apple's QuickTime media software.

The vulnerability affects both Mac and Windows operating systems. Because QuickTime is part of Apple's popular iTunes software, it is also affected.

The vulnerability is found in the way QuickTime handles RTSP response messages. When attempting to display a specially crafted Reason-Phrase, QuickTime crashes at a memory location that can be controlled by an attacker.

US-CERT offers several solutions to the problem including uninstalling QuickTime, Blocking the RTSP protocol and disabling the QuickTime plug-ins in your Web browser.

Attackers targeted QuickTime in December in a separate RTSP vulnerability that Apple later fixed with a software update.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Microsoft Patches Flaw That Could Trigger Worm Attack

Microsoft has fixed a critical flaw in the Windows operating system that could be used by criminals to create a self-copying computer worm attack.Microsoft also released a second update for a less-serious Windows flaw that would allow attackers to steal passwords or run Windows software with elevated privileges.

Microsoft says that an attacker could send specially crafted packets to a victim's machine, which could then allow the attacker to run unauthorized code on a system. Microsoft does not believe that hackers will have an easy time developing attack code that will work reliably.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Intel Quits Effort to Get Computers to Children

A frail partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group was undone last month in part by an Intel saleswoman: She tried to persuade a Peruvian official to drop the country’s commitment to buy a quarter-million of the organization’s laptops in favor of Intel PCs.

As a result, One Laptop’s XO computer comes with a processor built by Intel’s rival Advanced Micro Devices and open-source software, rather than Microsoft’s Windows and Office software.

Although Intel made an initial $6 million payment to One Laptop, the partnership was troubled from the outset as Intel sales representatives in the field competed actively against the $200 One Laptop machine by trying to sell a rival computer, a more costly Classmate PC.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Researcher Accuses Sears of Spreading Spyware

Sears and Kmart customers who sign up for a new marketing program may be giving up more private information than they'd bargained for, a prominent anti-spyware researcher claims.

According to Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Ben Edelman, Sears Holdings' My SHC Community program falls short of U.S. Federal Trade Commission standards by failing to notify users exactly what happens when they download the company's marketing software."It tracks every site you go to, every search you make, every product you buy, and every product you look at but don't buy" Edelman said.

Sears says members can join the community with or without the tracking software and that less than 10 percent of the members have signed up for the tracking program.

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