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Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: Year of the Social Network

The year saw major changes at sites like Facebook and Twitter as millions of non-technical users became regular users of social networks. The user base of social networks this year expanded greatly from the traditional teenage and college student set. It now includes many of their parents and even grandparents who now use the technology as a primary mode of communication.

Perhaps most significant is that companies in various industries startedfacebook to see how social networks can help boost business even in a recession. While many CEOs may still be a bit disconnected from the social networking phenomenon, many companies, like and Dell Inc., have found ways to draw in new customers using Web 2.0 methods.

All this growth did have to come at someone's expense, and that burden seems to have fallen on MySpace. A pioneer in the social networking scene and an early market leader, MySpace's share fell behind Facebook globally and in the U.S. this year for the first time. Facebook's share of the U.S. market reached 30.26% in September while MySpace's September share plunged 55% to 30.26% from a market leading 66.84% share a year earlier, according to Experian Hitwise.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Microsoft Word Sales Face U.S. Ban

Appeals court says software maker must halt distribution of popular program unless patent-friendly changes are made. An appeals court ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word 2007 and other Office 2007 products by Jan. 11 because the software infringes on a patent held by a Canadian company. The judge also hit Microsoft with a $290 million fine.

I4i originally sued Microsoft in 2007, claiming that an XML editor built into Word steps on its patent. In August, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas found in favor of i4i, prompting Microsoft's appeal. The ruling means Microsoft can't sell versions of Word that can open documents saved in the .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM formats that contain custom XML.

Those formats were at the heart of the patent dispute. DOCX is the default format for the most current version of Word, which is included in Microsoft Office 2007. Custom XML is used by businesses to link their corporate data to Word documents.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cybercrooks Target File Sharing Networks

Cybercriminals have changed their strategy and in 2010 they will no longer attack via websites and applications. They are now more focused on attacking computers through file sharing networks. This concept is not entirely new according to Kaspersky Lab, which points out that this year saw a series of mass malware epidemics supported by malicious files that were spread via torrent portals.

Partner programs will be popular in the future as botnet owners will try to make profits from activities such as sending spam, performing denial-of-service (DoS) attacks or distributing malware without committing an explicit crime.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adobe Reader Zero-Day Exploit

Reports that a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader is being exploited in the wild have been confirmed by Adobe in a blog post. Adobe is exploring the issue to determine how to patch it.

The issue reportedly impacts Adobe Reader, and Adobe Acrobat--versions 9.2 and earlier. The good news is that attacks thus far are narrowly-focused, targeted attacks rather than widespread efforts.

The Trojan horse exploits a flaw in the Adobe software to allow it to install additional malware components and further compromise the vulnerable computer. The additional malware could potentially be anything, but Symantec reports that the most prevalent malware associated with this threat right now is some type of information-stealing software.

The actual exploit relies on JavaScript. The Shadowserver Foundation and SANS Institute both recommend that you simply disable the execution of JavaScript within the Adobe software. In your Adobe product, go to Edit--Preferences--JavaScript, and uncheck the box next to Enable Adobe JavaScript.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

WiGig Fast Wireless Group Finishes Standard

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance has completed its specification for a technology to deliver as much as 7G bps (bits per second) over a very high unlicensed frequency band.

WiGig was designed for very high speeds over a relatively small area, using the 60GHz band. It will have the capacity to deliver high-definition video streams or let users connect laptops to desktop docks and displays.The WiGig Alliance had said in May the specification would be available to members in the fourth quarter.

The group originally had said WiGig would have a top speed of about 6G bps but has raised that estimate. At that speed, WiGig will have about 10 times the capacity of the fastest Wi-Fi technology today, a form of IEEE 802.11n that offers 600M bps.

Along with the completion of the specification, the WiGig Alliance said it has included a "beam-forming" feature that should allow WiGig networks to work over distances greater than 10 meters.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Office 2010 confirmed for June 2010 release

A beta tester pointed out that Microsoft was planning to release its Office 2010 suite in June 2010, according to Fudzilla. Previously Redmond had only been quoted as saying "the first half of 2010" but more recently the company apparently posted the following message on one of the Office 2010 beta webpages: "The final version will be available to the public for purchase in June 2010." a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed "We expect Office 2010 and related products to be generally available in June 2010".

The most ambitious goal Microsoft is striving for with Office 2010 is making it available via a familiar experience across the PC, phone, and browser. Office 2010 is the first release of the productivity suite that will come in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors and on one DVD no less. In addition to the five editions of Office 2010 announced in July 2009, and the ad-supported one announced in October 2009, Microsoft is also working on the Office Web Apps, first demonstrated in October 2008: Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bing Maps Adds Street Level View

Microsoft has enhanced its Bing search engine with several new capabilities, including a street level view that takes users inside public buildings, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The new "Streetside" view is an addition to aerial and angled "Bird's Eye" views on Bing Maps. As you navigate, an Automatic option switches to the optimal view for your current position, using Microsoft's Silverlight plugin to deliver dynamic visual Web content. Streetside is similar to Google's Street View, but Microsoft has not photographed quite as many streets as Google.

By comparison, Google offers checkboxes to show photos, webcams, Wikipedia entries, and real estate listings. But in Bing the apps are a more full-fledged feature, and it's a surprising instance of Microsoft offering a more open platform than Google, in which third-party developers can add their own apps to the map platform.

Microsoft has also updated its mobile search site and is announcing new apps for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry. The company is also working on a Bing iPhone app, but that is not yet available.

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