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Monday, December 27, 2010

Microsoft Tablet Aimed at Fighting IPad Faces Long Odds

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, said to unveil new software for tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show next week, will face skeptics who say his company won’t soon narrow Apple Inc.’s iPad lead.

“By the time Microsoft gets it figured out everybody will already own an iPad,” said Keith Goddard, CEO of Capital Advisors Inc. an investing firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that holds Apple shares. “That train has left the station.”

Allying with ARM is Microsoft’s way of stepping up rivalry with Apple, which has garnered the largest share of the tablet market with its iPad. The new Windows version would be tailored for battery- powered devices, such as tablets and wireless handsets. Computer makers have unsuccessfully been trying to sell tablet-style computers based on Microsoft’s Windows for about a decade.

By adapting its computer operating system for a tablet, Microsoft is taking a different approach from Apple, which used a mobile-phone operating system as the basis for the iPad. Microsoft is taking software designed for use with a mouse and keyboard and adapting it to a touch screen, according to the people familiar with the matter. That will require developers to rework PC programs to make them useful on a tablet.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Skype says two-thirds of users still can't log in

Skype estimates that about two-thirds of its users are still unable to log in after an outage caused by problems with its underlying peer-to-peer interconnection system. Almost 5 million users are back online, Skype said, but that's still only around 30 percent.

Skype's initial description of the problem said many of the "supernodes" that act as directories for Skype users to find one another were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of the Skype client.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Ships 1.5M Devices In First Six Weeks

Microsoft announced that 1.5 million mobile devices running its Windows Phone 7 platform have been shipped to retailers in the six weeks since the operating system's launch November 8. Corporate VP for Mobile Communications, Business and Marketing Achim Berg said this number was "in line with our expectations – especially when compared to other new platform introductions" and that customer momentum and retail presence were still building.

Windows Phone 7's initial shipment rate puts the platform well behind current rates for other major mobile phone operating systems. That said, the numbers are favorable compared to those for other first-generation phone platforms. The original iPhone took 74 days to sell its first million units when it launched back in early 2007.

The sales rate for the first six weeks represents a slight slowdown from 40,000 reported sales on the platform's first day of availability.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Microsoft Unveils Upgrade to Bing Search Engine

Microsoft showed off a host of visual and search enhancements to its search engine Bing Wednesday, in hopes that better packaging will help it eat away at Google's online dominance.

Wednesday's announcements includes a new mobile app for Android and the iPhone, that brings some of the design feel of Windows Phone 7 to their competitors' devices, along with some nifty maps, real time bus directions, and an easy way to make beautiful panoramas.

Microsoft also redesigned its browser-based image search and maps and traditional search also got a slight makeover, with visual changes being made to how results are returned for musical artists, destinations and movies, among other types of search.

Perhaps most importantly, Bing now has a partnership with Facebook, and one out of five Bing users are candidates for "instant personalization," since they are logged into Facebook and haven't chosen to opt-out.

Bing now has 11.8% of the U.S. search market, a 48% hump growth since Bing replaced Live search in the summer of 2009.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gawker hack triggers password resets at major sites

Yahoo, Twitter and LinkedIn have asked users to change their details, days after gossip site Gawker was hacked. Online game World of Warcraft, which has more than 12 million subscribers, has also asked some users to reset their passwords.

Although thousands of Twitter accounts were compromised after the attack, there have been few other reports of damage directly linked to the breach.

The attack on Gawker, which runs one of the world's most popular blog networks, was carried out over the weekend by an organization calling itself Gnosis. The group - which says it was making a protest at the site's perceived "arrogance" - subsequently published account details of 1.3 million Gawker users online, including a significant number of passwords.

Documents show that the most popular password among Gawker users was "123456", followed by "password" and "12345678". Although security experts warn against the use of passwords that are easy to guess, research suggests such behavior is increasingly common online.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Seagate Unveils 1TB Enterprise Hard Drive

The 2.5-inch, 15-mm z-height Constellation.2 is geared at dense server storage applications needing high capacity and low power consumption, Seagate said. It can be used by small to midsized businesses up to large enterprise data centers that store and host data in the cloud for a number of applications in directed attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS), and storage area network (SAN) environments.

Capacity choices for the Constellation.2 drive are available in 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB, and with 6-GB/s SATA or 6GB/s serial-attached SCSI interface options. The Constellation.2 operates on less than 6.4 watts (and up to 54% of that during slow or idle periods); saves up to 72% over traditional 3.5-inch hard drives; and lowers data management costs by deploying a scalable and secure tiered storage system, according to Seagate.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Firefox plugs drive-by download security holes

Mozilla has shipped a highly critical Firefox update to patch 13 vulnerabilities that expose Windows and Mac users to hacker attacks.

Some of the vulnerabilities could be exploited to launch drive-by malware downloads or code execution attacks if a user simply surfs to a rigged Web page. According to Mozilla, 11 of the 13 vulnerabilities are rated “critical,” meaning that they can can be used to run attacker code and install software, “requiring no user interaction beyond normal browsing.”

The vulnerabilities affect both Firefox 3.5 and 3.6. The patch is being delivered via the browser’s automatic update mechanism. Mozilla Firefox users should immediately update the browser to Firefox 3.6.13 and Firefox 3.5.16.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Google Chrome OS May Launch Today

Chrome OS is expected to be little more than a bare-bones operating system, good enough to quickly boot into the Chrome browser. Google executives have said previously that what they're trying to accomplish is to quickly push the user onto the Web, where users can interact with Google's Web apps and services.

What's unclear is whether Google will launch Chrome OS with any hardware partners, or even launch a netbook itself. Dell has reportedly been in talks to use the Chrome OS, and Inventec, HP, Acer and HTC have all been named as potential launch partners. Google does, however, plan to introduce a slightly larger than usual netbook to accommodate more comfortable typing and viewing.

"Chrome OS is an operating system
which is in early availability and it's targeted primarily at the netbook space today," Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said in September. "Because it's free and open source, people will also use it for tablets. But I think it's too early to say exactly how it'll play out. We're looking forward to the partnership announcements later this year."

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

FTC Proposes 'Do Not Track' Option For Internet

The Federal Trade Commission has made a potentially far-reaching proposal that would give web users the option of shielding personal information from advertisers, retailers and other companies while browsing the Internet.

The commission favored giving consumers a simple mechanism for disallowing data gathering. To do that, the FTC recommended adding a button to browsers that would activate technology to prevent people from being tracked or receiving targeted advertising. The proposal would be an alternative to current browser privacy settings, which a recent study by Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon found inadequate to shield people's viewing habits.

The commission's proposed privacy framework would have companies build consumer privacy protection into every stage of development of products and services. In addition, organizations would offer a clearly defined no-tracking option at the time a consumer is making a decision that would set data gathering in motion. Finally, companies would increase transparency of their data practices through clearer, shorter and more standardized privacy notices and by providing access to consumer data they maintain.

The FTC does not have the authority to require companies to follow its framework, much of which would require an act of Congress.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks hit by second DDoS

Wikileaks was hit by a second denial of service attack on Tuesday. The assault followed attempts to blitz the site off the web on Sunday night in the run-up to the controversial release of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.

Analysis of the first attack by DDoS mitigation experts Arbor Networks shows that the assault ran at a relatively modest 2-4Gbps for several hours. The attack, modest by the standards of other attacks this year that have hit 10Gbps and above, was nonetheless severe enough for Wikileaks to move its systems back back over to Amazon's cloud infrastructure in order to seek shelter from the storm.

The source or sources of the attack remain unclear, but Arbor's early analysis lends credence to the theory that more sophisticated application-level attacks targeting vulnerabilities in Wikileak's server rather than a simple packet flood were behind its brief outage on Sunday.

Whoever launched the attack, or whatever method they used, the assault had no effect on stemming the flow of information from the leaked cables.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Acer releases Android, Windows tablets

Acer plans to offer three tablet options with two supporting Google's Android OS and one running Microsoft's Windows 7. The difference among the Android based options is primarily size: one will be a 7 inch version and the other 10.1-inches.

Both of the Android models offer HDMI support and wireless connectivity through Wi-Fi and 3G. Expect them to be available in April of next year.

The Windows 7 version will be offered as a 10.1 model only. It features both front- and rear facing 1.3MP cameras, and a docking station that includes a full-size physical keyboard. This model will be 15mm, slightly thicker than the 10.1-inch Android version. It will also have support for both Wi-Fi and 3G connections. It will be available in February of 2011, sooner than the Android models.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

RIM Denies BlackBerry Data-Sharing Deal with India

Research in Motion denied that it struck a deal with Indian officials to provide them with access to information from its BlackBerry Enterprise servers. The denial came after an Indian newspaper published a story in which an interior ministry official was quoted as saying that RIM had "in principle agreed to provide us recorded data from their servers."

RIM said its discussions with India "have been and continue to be productive and fully consistent with the four core principles we follow in addressing lawful access matters around the world."

The company pointed to the four core principals it follows when addressing lawful access requirements with governments around the world. One of those principles says there will be "no changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server."

At issue is a July request from the Indian government that RIM allow it to monitor activity on BlackBerry services; India threatened to shut down BlackBerry services in the country by August 31 if its demands were not met, but that deadline was eventually delayed. Officials want access to content traveling over the BlackBerry network for security purposes.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Facebook unveils new messaging system

Facebook has unveiled a new messaging system that will envelope e-mail, instant messages, Facebook messages and SMS.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched what he calls a "modern messaging system" to handle the convergence of different kinds of messages and bring them together under one social umbrella.

Although people will now be able to have a e-mail address, Andrew Bosworth, a software engineer at Facebook, noted that the new system will work with other e-mail systems, such as Gmail and Yahoo mail. Zuckerberg and Bosworth also pointed out that the messaging system doesn't exclude non-Facebook users. Users will be able to send and receive messages from people who aren't on Facebook.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Mozilla Releases Faster Firefox 4 Beta

The new version provides a significant boost in running JavaScript and displaying graphics, Mozilla said. The JavaScript performance boost stems from the addition of the JagerMonkey just-in-time compiler and more support for hardware-accelerated graphics, as well as hardware acceleration for Windows XP and Mac OS X. Mozilla says Firefox 4 Beta also includes support for WebGL, a standard technology for running 3D graphics in a browser without the use of a plug-in.

The JagerMonkey JIT compiler has been added to the Firefox SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine, which also includes enhancements to the existing TraceMonkey JIT and SpiderMonkey's interpreter. The improvements bring a faster startup time and better performance to Web apps and games, Mozilla says. Benchmark tests show the browser runs JavaScript from three to five times faster than Firefox 3.6.

In delivering hardware-accelerated graphics, Firefox 4 Beta takes advantage of DirectX technology in Windows and OpenGL in Mac OS X.

Mozilla plans to release additional betas before the final version of Firefox 4. The company had planned to release the browser this month. However, development delays pushed back the release to early 2011.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Google adds Instant Preview to search

Google announced Instant Preview, which give users a previewable image of each search result. As of today, the graphics will appear if users click on magnifying glass icons to the right of individual search results, said Raj Krishnan, a Google product manager.

While Instant Preview is designed to provide graphical previews of all search results, it will also at times highlight the most relevant parts, as well as where the search term appears on the page. If a user is looking for a chart or list, they'll be able to see if one appears in the preview.

Krishnan said a Google survey showed that people who tried using Instant Preview reported being 5% more likely to be satisfied with the search results they clicked on.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

YouTube Banned In Turkey (Again)

The battle between YouTube and Turkish officials continued this week as Turkey reportedly unblocked and then re-blocked the site in the country over unflattering videos of the country's political leaders.

A Turkish court banned YouTube again, this time over an old video purportedly showing former opposition leader Deniz Baykal in a hotel room with someone other than his wife. Baykal was forced to resign over the video in May. Turkish authorities first imposed a ban on YouTube for two days in 2007 over four videos that were deemed insulting to Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Another ban was put into place in May 2008 over the same issue, which lasted for more than two years.

YouTube refused to remove the videos from its site but made them inaccessible to users in Turkey. "We refused because we do not believe that Turkish law can or should be applied outside Turkey," Google said in a previous statement. Many Turkish people got around the ban via proxy Web sites.

Turkish president Abdullah Gul condemned the YouTube ban on his Twitter page, The Guardian reported, saying he did not approve of the bans and had asked officials to examine legal ways of reopening access.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taiwanese Firm Claims iPad Name

According to the Financial Times, Proview, a "struggling Taiwanese-owned company," has threatened to sue Apple for alleged trademark infringement, claiming ownership of "I-Pad" -- a device the company tried to market 10 years ago.

Proview, a contract manufacturer of flat screens, registered trademarks in the EU, China, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam between 2000 and 2004, trademark databases show.

Citing "people involved in the case," Apple has successfully won preliminary injunctions to stop Proview from selling off the IPAD name, in pending cases in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. As far back as 2006, Proview agreed to sell the "global trademark" for the name to a US registered company called IP Application Development (IPAD) for £35,000 ($55,104), which at the time Proview didn't think had any direct links with Apple.

"It is arrogant of Apple to just ignore our rights and go ahead selling the iPad in this market, and we will oppose that," Mr Yang, Proview Electronics (Taiwan) said.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LimeWire shut down by federal court

LimeWire, one of the world's most popular peer-to-peer filesharing websites, has been shut down after a four year legal battle with the US music industry. A federal court in New York issued a "permanent injunction" against LimeWire late on Tuesday, ruling that the platform intentionally caused a "massive scale of infringement" by permitting the sharing of thousands of copyrighted works by its 50 million monthly users.

The court also ruled that LimeWire should "use all reasonable technological means to immediately cease and desist" copyright infringements still taking place through applications already downloaded. The site's popularity is reflected in a survey by NDP Group, which found that LimeWire was used by 58% of people who have downloaded music from a peer-to-peer network in the year from May 2009.

Earlier this year, LimeWire planned to release a service called Spoon, which would allow users to legally purchase copyrighted tracks. The deal fell through, however, when record labels were told that the site would need at least a year to migrate illicit filesharers to the new service. The company reinvented itself as a legal download service in 2004, later launching what it claimed was "the world's largest and most comprehensive MP3 store", before unveiling a "freemium" model similar to that of Spotify last year.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

China hijacked U.S. Internet data

A Chinese state run telecom provider was the source of the redirection of U.S. military and corporate data that occurred this past April, according to excerpts of a draft report sent to CNET by the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission. In several cases, Chinese telecommunications firms have disrupted or impacted U.S. Internet traffic, according to the excerpts.

On March 24, Web traffic from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other popular sites was temporarily affected by China's own internal censorship system, sometimes known as the Great Firewall. Users in Chile and the United States trying to reach those sites were diverted to incorrect servers or encountered error messages indicating that the sites did not exist. The USCC report said it was as if users outside China were trying to access restricted sites from behind China's Great Firewall.

Then on April 8, a large number of routing paths to various Internet Protocol addresses were redirected through networks in China for 17 minutes. The USCC identified China's state-owned telecommunications firm China Telecom as the source of the "hijacking." This diversion of data would have given the operators of the servers on those networks the ability to read, delete, or edit e-mail and other information sent along those paths.

Evidence didn't clearly indicate whether this diversion of data was done intentionally or for what purpose, according to the USCC. But the capability alone raises a red flag. Though the USCC could not definitively link this incident to the Chinese government, the authors of the report do believe there's an "obvious correlation to be drawn between the victims, the nature of the documents stolen, and the strategic interests of the Chinese state."

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

244,000 Germans Opt Out of Google Mapping Service

Google said 244,000 people in Germany had asked the company to remove images of their houses and apartments from its Street View maps, but that the requests would not derail its plans to activate the service this year. In a blog posting on its Web site, Google said 2.9 percent of the 8.5 million households in Germany’s 20 largest cities had opted out of the service.

Google has been working to make amends with privacy regulators in Germany over Street View, and over personal data that Google inadvertently obtained off unencrypted Wi-Fi routers while collecting information for the service. Under its pact with German data protection officials, Google is blurring the image of entire apartment buildings even if just one apartment resident has requested to be removed from the archive.

After initially balking, Google in September gave German data officials a copy of the data it had mistakenly collected there. German data officials say they are evaluating the data Google provided.

The company faces both an administrative inquiry and a criminal investigation in Hamburg.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Facebook Caught Up in Apps Privacy Breach

Many Facebook applications share users' personal information with advertising networks and other Internet-tracking companies, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Facebook said Sunday, however, that the Journal is exaggerating the problem and that Facebook is working to put an end to any inadvertent data sharing.

The problem affects tens of millions of Facebook's 500 million users, the Journal said, and all of the social-networking site's top 10 apps. At issue are Facebook user IDs (UID), a number that is assigned to every Facebook user that can be used to look up your name, the Journal said. It might also reveal age, location, occupation, and photos, depending on your privacy settings.

The news comes five months after sites like Facebook and MySpace fixed a glitch that allowed advertising partners to see user ID information. Specifically, advertising partners might receive user names or ID numbers tied to member's personal profiles if that member clicked on an ad within Facebook or MySpace.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

US Teens Text 3,339 Times a Month, Nielsen Says

According to The Nielsen Co. SMS (Short Message Service) is now the main reason to own a cell phone, according to teens in the U.S. SMS, which was created as a testing and communication system for cellular network technicians, is limited to 160 characters per message but has proved well-suited to consumers around the world. The pace at which the average U.S. teens is now using SMS comes out to six messages per waking hour, according to Nielsen.

Teens also are using much more data on their phones, with a gain to 62MB per month from 14MB a year earlier, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, mobile users in the 13-17 age group are talking less, now averaging 646 minutes per month, down 14 percent from last year.

Texting is easier and faster than making a voice call, as well as more fun, teens told Nielsen. Among teens, the mobile Web has now outpaced earlier mobile data offerings, including pre-installed games, ringtone downloads and instant messaging.

Nielsen said its findings came from analyzing the cell phone bills of more than 60,000 mobile subscribers and survey data from more than 3,000 teens.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Google robo cars drive selves on public streets

Google has built a fleet of cars that drive themselves, and over the past several months, these robotic vehicles have driven over 140,000 miles on public roads, from the Pacific Coast Highway to the famous twists and turns of San Francisco's Lombard Street.

As the company revealed on Saturday morning with a blog post, each car is equipped with video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder that alerts the vehicle to other traffic, and they navigate using maps previously collected by cars that were driven by people. The self-driving cars, Google says, are never unmanned. A human sits in the driver seat and can take control of the car at anytime.

According to Google's blog post, the project aims to improve car safety and efficiency. "Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use," the post reads." Naturally, Google says it has no firms plans to actually make money form the project. But speaking with The Times, it seems to indicate that it might be able to profit by providing information and navigation services for makers of self-driving vehicles.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hitachi LG Prototypes 1TB Bluray Cartridge Storage

Hitachi LG Data Storage has developed a prototype data storage device that can automatically back up unused data to Blu-ray Disc cartridges, each capable of holding one terabyte (1TB) of data.

Packed with Blu-ray Discs based on the new BDXL format, each cartridge can hold 1TB of data. BDXL was standardized earlier this year and offers 128GB of storage space on a write once disc and 100GB on a rewritable disc. Each disc contains several recording layers. The system is programmed to run automatic back-ups, transferring little-used data from the hard disks to the cartridge for backup.

For most consumers or professionals the creation of even a terabyte of data would take years, but users working with high-definition video can quickly generate massive amounts of data that needs to be archived. The system is meant for such users.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Facebook Photos Go High-Resolution

Catering to some 500 million users who upload more than 100 million images each day, Facebook said it is adding high-resolution image support and a new photo upload tool.

Facebook in April purchased Divvyshot for the expertise of Sam Odio, who as the founder of that startup wrote software to let groups of people upload photos to the Web, share them and edit them.

Many of the social network's 500 million-plus users use the Website to build whole digital photo albums online, adding pictures from computers and mobile phones, storing them for posterity.

As Facebook Photos Product Manager, Odio was tasked with drastically revamping the company's photo software. After adding face detection and photo-tagging in July, Odio has added new perks to improve the service.Facebook began rolling out free support for print-quality, high-resolution photos, which are geared for larger images. Odio said he is increasing the size of the photos stored by a factor of 8, from 720 pixels to 2,048 pixels on the largest edge.

Don't fret if you don't see the new photo capabilities right away. They will roll out over the course of October.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

U.S. Wants Broader Internet Wiretap Authority

The Obama administration is developing plans that would require all Internet-based communication services such as encrypted BlackBerry e-mail, Facebook, and Skype to be capable of complying with federal wiretap orders, according to a report published Monday.

The bill, which the White House plans to deliver to Congress next year, would require communication service providers be technically capable of intercepting and decrypting messages, raising serious privacy concerns, the Times said.

The proposal has "huge implications" and poses a test to the "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution," vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, James Dempsey, told the Times. "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function," he was quoted as saying. Officials contend, however, that without new regulations their ability to prevent attacks could be hindered.

Internet and phone networks are already required to have eavesdropping abilities thanks to a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, but the mandate does not apply to communication service providers.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Facebook outage spotlights social media addiction

Frustrated Facebook users find themselves jonesing for updates when site crashes. Industry watchers say Facebook users suffering through the two-and-a-half-hour outage were like drug addicts going through withdrawal. Facebook's more than 500 million users have grown accustomed to sharing updates about their cats and colleagues, and posting funny pictures of drunken friends and kids acting silly. They certainly don't like it when the social networking site goes down.

This past summer, a report from The Oxygen Media Insights Group, which is part of a company that focuses on Web sites for women, noted that a majority of the women in a survey said they are addicted to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. More than half (57%) of the women polled said they communicate with people more online than they do face to face, and 39% called themselves Facebook addicts.And analysts say social media's addictive qualities aren't only catnip for women. Men are also posting, uploading and checking out news feeds throughout the day.

While some users joked that U.S. worker productivity might skyrocket without Facebook, others said that instead of focusing on work, they spent their time complaining about the outage.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Twitter Hack Started With `Rainbow Tweets,' High School Student Says

A person in Australia, who claims to be the center of an incident that impaired service on Twitter Inc.’s website for thousands of users, said he had no malicious intent when he disclosed a security weakness to others. A Twitter user identifying himself as Pearce Delphin, a 17- year-old high school student in Melbourne, said in an e-mail interview that he saw the potential for trouble in the short messages of another user in Japan.

As a test, Delphin said he created messages containing the Javascript command “onmousover,” which displayed the words “uh oh” when a mouse was dragged over it. Hackers, who saw his demonstration model on Sept. 21, tweaked the code to direct people to pornography websites and to create malicious software, or “worms,” that copied themselves into the message stream of anyone mousing over them. He said he didn’t write malicious code himself.

Twitter said in the blog post that the security flaw was identified and repaired about a month before the incident. It resurfaced following a software update, the company said.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Google Docs is going mobile

Google has announced that mobile document editing will soon come to mobile users. First will come a new verification process that will reduce the reliance on passwords and increase the security of connections. But "in the next few weeks," document editing will come to Android and the iPad.

Google has provided almost no details of the editing capability, though it did show a demonstration at its Atmosphere event in Paris.

For corporate users, Google has launched two-factor authentication for mobile users. One of the factors is the mobile device itself, but it's still a step up from securing solely against a password. That feature is available to enterprise users immediately.

Mobile document editing is an enviable consequence of Android's move into the tablet space, and Google's provision for the iPad (no mention of iPhone support) is unsurprising as the company seeks to make cloud editing standard.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yahoo and Microsoft gain little ground on Google

New Internet search partners Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. left a small dent in Google Inc.'s market dominance last month. Google ended August with a 65.4 percent share of the U.S. search market, down from 65.8 percent, based on an analysis by the research firm comScore Inc.

The share that Google lost in August went to Yahoo and Microsoft, which are teaming up in an attempt to pose a more formidable challenge to Google. Yahoo's website in the U.S. switched over to Microsoft's search technology in late August as part of a partnership that is supposed to last for the next decade.

Yahoo ranked second with U.S. search share of 17.4 percent last month, up from 17.1 percent in July. Microsoft's Bing processed 11.1 percent of U.S. searches in August, up from 11 percent in July.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Microsoft, Intel tout faster IE9 graphics

Recent Microsoft and Intel primers on Internet Explorer 9's accelerated graphics point to snappier Web browsing.

In a blog posted on Friday, Microsoft spelled out what it says are the merits of "full vs. partial acceleration," while Intel, in a new video, is claiming IE9 acceleration on its Core i series of chips, which will include new Sandy Bridge processors.

Graphics chip-based acceleration (Microsoft calls it "hardware acceleration") shifts some tasks from the main processor (CPU) to the graphics processor (GPU). Mainstream GPUs pack in dozens or even hundreds of processing cores. While each GPU core delivers a tiny fraction of the processing power of a CPU core, combined, they can tackle certain tasks much more quickly and efficiently than a CPU. Intel, for its part, has improved the built-in graphics on its Core i series of processors and will integrate its fastest graphics function yet onto the CPU in its upcoming Sandy Bridge processor.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Google TV Goes Worldwide In 2011

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that his company's forthcoming Google TV service will be made available to customers around the globe in 2011. Sony is expected to deliver the first Google TV devices -- a standalone TV model and set-top box with an integrated Blu-ray Disc drive.

Google has said it plans to deliver Android Market support and the Google TV SDK for Android in early 2011. That means Google TV devices next year will be able to utilize apps created by independent developers. Samsung may begin making Google TV devices, too, Bloomberg reports. Samsung hasn't managed to create a developer land rush to rival Apple's or Google's respective mobile platforms.

Apple last week introduced an updated $99 version of its Apple TV device, which allows users to rent movies and TV shows through iTunes and to stream content from Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, and other online services.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Is Apple's Ping a Haven for Spammers?

It seems Apple is getting into the social networking business, God help them. Among the other life changing products rolled out at this week's semi-annual Apple fanboyfest was "Ping," a service that lets you see what music the other 160 million people using iTunes like and recommend.

Turns out that Ping is a spammer-scammer's heaven. By all reports, Ping users are getting dinged with the same kinds of URL-baiting comment spam we've grown so fond of elsewhere on the blogosphere. Apple is filtering Ping for other offensive material (such as nude profile photos), but it forgot about spam. Or maybe Apple believes its users truly are the Chosen People and that, like malware, spam simply doesn't touch them. It's probably just those Windows iTunes Untouchables that are having the problems. Unfortunately, there appears to be no easy fix for the comment spam.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Why WebOS 2.0 Should Have Rivals Worried

An early release of WebOS 2.0 for developers demonstrates that the mobile OS still has some life in it, and indicates that new WebOS devices are on the horizon. Rival platforms should be prepared for another strong player in the smartphone and tablet arenas, and avoid counting WebOS out too quickly.

Suffice it to say there are some unique features that bring some pizazz to WebOS 2.0, but none of the details for the new WebOS suggest that there is anything groundbreaking about it as a mobile OS. So, should Apple, Google, RIM, or Microsoft even pay attention to WebOS? Rivals don't need to be concerned about WebOS in and of itself, but the combination of WebOS with the marketing and distribution power of HP is another story.

Some have argued (and many still do) that WebOS is a technically superior mobile operating system than Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or any other smartphone OS on the market. Whether or not that is true, Palm was unsuccessful at taking any significant chunk of the smartphone market and was eventually bought by HP.

Now, WebOS has a second chance--and this time it has the marketing credibility and established sales and distribution channels of HP on its side. An excellent technology with poor marketing is doomed. A poor technology with excellent marketing can succeed. An innovative technology with superior marketing is virtually guaranteed.

WebOS 2.0 is expected to be available by the end of this year. There are nohardware specs for new WebOS smartphones, tablets, or other devices yet, but, its coming soon and competing platforms have reason to be concerned.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

AMD Says Goodbye to the ATI Brand

Advanced Micro Devices said it will remove the ATI name from its products by the end of the year, killing a brand name synonymous with graphics enthusiasts for 25 years. AMD offers a range of graphics products under the ATI brand, including the Radeon, FirePro and Eyefinity offerings. The chip designer will instead attach the name AMD to those products by the end of the year.

ATI was originally established in 1985 as a graphics company and was acquired by AMD in 2007 for US$5.4 billion. AMD had trouble incorporating ATI into operations, taking billions of dollars in charges that affected the company's profitability.

The change could also help give AMD more exposure. For example, Apple uses the ATI graphics in the iMac, with the ATI logo prominently displayed on Apple's website. The logo would instead reflect AMD, which could help expand the company's visibility.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Facebook to kill IE6 support for Chat on IE9 beta day

Facebook has announced that it will soon end Internet Explorer 6 support for Facebook Chat. The kill date is September 15—the same day Microsoft plans to release the first IE9 beta. Today's announcement comes just a week after Microsoft launched a beta version of Windows Live Messenger that integrates with Facebook Chat.

Facebook explains its decision by saying that many users have complained about unstable chat sessions, or ones that stop completely. In order to improve the way connections are established and messages are sent, however, the social networking giant must make changes that aren't supported by older browsers.

Microsoft plans to support IE6 along with Windows XP until April 2014. Last month, IE6 had a usage share of just under 17 percent; at the start of the year it had just over 20 percent.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Web scam hits iTunes and Paypal

iTunes accounts linked to PayPal have been hacked with a number of users complaining that they have been cleaned out. Experts have said there is no security hole in iTunes or Apple servers and that it is most likely users have fallen for an online scam. Apple would not comment but said that they had recently implemented new security measures.

PayPal nor Apple would talk about the scale of the problem or how many people or accounts had been hacked. PayPal said that any unauthorized charges will be reimbursed.

Phishing involves using fake websites to lure people into revealing details such as bank accounts or login names.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Google patches 11 Chrome security problems

Google patched 11 vulnerabilities, three critical, seven high risk, and one medium in a new version of Chrome. All but one of the problems was in Chrome itself. The additional issue handled in Chrome 5.0.375.127 is a workaround for a critical Windows kernel bug.

Chrome has an automated update process that periodically checks for updates, downloads new versions, and installs them when a person restarts the browser.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Apple staff allegedly sold secrets worth $1m

Asian companies negotiating contracts with Apple allegedly paid more than $1m in kickbacks to an Apple manager in exchange for confidential information about what Cupertino would be buying.

That's according to a suit filed by Apple against Paul Shin Devine, until now a global supply manager at Apple. The suit follows his indictment for wire fraud and money laundering, among other things, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News. Devine was allegedly paid the money in exchange for information about the iPhone and iPod, which gave the companies the upper hand in negotiations with Apple.

The Wall Street Journal names three of the companies involved as Kaedar Electronics Co, Cresyn Co and Jin Li Mould Manufacturing Pte, of China, South Korea and Singapore respectively. Bloomberg got a statement out of Cresyn Co explaining that the company had paid an Apple employee for consultancy services, but that this was "limited to the trends in the US market" and that the firm "neither requested nor received any information regarding technologies".

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Is Apple prepping for a Verizon iPhone?

Rumor has it that Apple is buying millions of CDMA chipsets for a Verizon iPhone launch, according to TechCrunch. The tech blog published a story Sunday citing unnamed sources that said Apple ordered millions of CDMA chips from Qualcomm in what looks like preparation for a Verizon Wireless iPhone. TechCrunch said that the chipset order is due for December, which could mean a January launch for a Verizon iPhone.

AT&T and all the other carriers around the world that are selling the iPhone use a network technology called GSM. Verizon Wireless uses a competing technology called CDMA. The main supplier of CDMA chips is Qualcomm. So if Apple is indeed buying CDMA chipsets, then it would make sense that it might be developing a Verizon iPhone.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Microsoft to issue record number of patches

Microsoft will issue 14 security bulletins on Tuesday to plug 34 holes, including eight that are critical, in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, SQL and Silverlight, the company said on Thursday.

"This will be the most bulletins we have ever released in a month; we have released 13 bulletins on a couple of occasions," Angela Gunn, security response communications manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

Affected software includes: Windows 7; Windows XP; Vista; Windows Server 2003 and 2008; Windows Server 2008 release 2; IE 6, 7 and 8; Office XP Service Pack 3; Office 2003 Service Pack 3; 2007 Microsoft Office System Service Pack 2; Office 2004 and 2008 for Mac; Office Word Viewer; Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel and PowerPoint; 2007 File Formats Service Pack 2; Microsoft Works 9; and Silverlight 2 and 3.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Five Secrets to Windows 7 Success

According to Net Applications, it's been a good month for Microsoft. Internet Explorer 8 gained more market share to continue dominating the browser market, and Windows 7 surpassed its predecessor--Windows Vista--in market share for the first time. So, what exactly is driving the success of Windows 7?

1. Management. With integrated support for PowerShell 2.0, Windows 7 provides a superior infrastructure for IT admins to be able to automate common tasks and manage the desktops more efficiently.

2. Troubleshooting. Windows 7 provides Troubleshooting Packs that enable users to conduct their own troubleshooting for many common issues. IT admins can also create custom Troubleshooting Packs for recurring issues or internal applications.

3. Security. Windows XP--which is still by far the most used operating system--is far behind Windows 7 when it comes to security controls. Windows 7 has security controls--like ASLR (address space layout randomization), DEP (data execution prevention), and UAC (user account control), and PMIE (Protected Mode IE)-- that don't exist in Windows XP.

4. It's Not Vista. The reputation of Vista is more a Microsoft marketing failure than the result of any real issues with Vista. While Windows 7 is not "Windows Vista R2" as some have suggested, but it is does have many of the same core elements that Vista has.

5. It's Still Supported. Although Windows 7 has surpassed Windows Vista, Windows XP still has more than twice the market share of both Windows 7 and Windows Vista combined. Those that have applied Windows XP SP3 are still being supported by Microsoft, but Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP SP2, or earlier OS versions such as Windows 2000.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Microsoft Preps Monday Patch for Critical Windows Shortcut Exploit

Security researchers at VirusBlokAda identified an exploit in multiple versions of the Windows operating system that allow a compromised USB key to use Windows shortcuts to deploy malware on a user's PC. The only thing a user has to do to infect one's PC is to look at the contents of the USB key via Window Explorer.

Microsoft is now planning to release a patch Monday to address the shortcut exploit. According to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center's Threat Research & Response Blog, a rise in exploits under the family name Sality have picked up Microsoft's attention—so much so, that Microsoft's releasing this fix "out-of-band," or outside of the typical Windows monthly update schedule.

"Sality is a highly virulent strain. It is known to infect other files (making full removal after infection challenging), copy itself to removable media, disable security, and then download other malware.

Users can expect to see the aforementioned patch hit their systems around one p.m. Eastern Time on Monday. As mentioned, it will go live for all versions of Windows, as all are equally affected by the shortcut exploit.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Suspected Slovenian Super Hacker Sniffed Out

The suspected ring leader of the massive Mariposa Botnet and a pair of other hackers have been arrested in their native Slovenia and will face charges that allege they cracked into the computer systems of several Fortune 1000 companies and international banks.

The three suspected hackers are allegedly tied to the widespread Mariposa Botnet, which infected millions of computers and allowed hackers to glean information from the infected machines and launch denial-of-service attacks.

"In the last two years, the software used to create the Mariposa Botnet was sold to hundreds of other criminals, making it one of the most notorious in the world," said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a statement.

The Mariposa Botnet was disabled in February. At the time it was taken down, three suspected operators of the botnet were arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil and are currently being prosecuted in Spain.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Yahoo Will Invest in Hackers With Good Ideas

Yahoo is considering investing in hackers with good ideas and technologies, a company executive said on Saturday.

"We are open to many ways of having a stake in creative young companies," said Jeff Kinder, Yahoo's senior vice president for media products and solutions, on the sidelines of a Yahoo Open Hack Day in Bangalore. Hackers and Open Hack Days have proven to be important sources of new ideas and technologies for Yahoo, Kinder said.

Starting as an internal event for Yahoo developers, Hack Days were later extended to developers in a number of locations including London, Brazil, Taiwan, and Bangalore. Open Hack Days also help Yahoo get feedback on its new APIs (application programming interfaces) and technologies.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Internet Is Running Out of Addresses

According to experts, the nearly 4.5 billion current addresses aren't enough, only six percent of available addresses are left, and the Internet will run out of addresses by sometime late next year. Three main factors are behind the upcoming shortage. One is the explosion in web access from multiple devices for each user, primarily in developed countries. Each of those smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktops and other devices that access the web require a different IP, or Internet protocol, address. And the demand for device addresses is increasing rapidly, with TVs, game consoles, even automobiles offering web-browsing capability.

A second factor is a rapidly growing user base in developing countries, such as Brazil, India or China. And, third, the Internet is becoming the communications network Relevant Products/Services for non-user-based equipment, such as smart electricity grids, sensors, RFIDs and smart houses.

Some experts say IPv6 could provide four billion addresses for each person on Earth. In addition to zillions of new addresses, IPv6 brings other improvements, including in routing, network auto-configuration, and better handling of 3G mobile networks.

Some government agencies and businesses in Europe and Asia have started to use IPv6 and Verizon, Comcast and some other large telecommunications companies have announced IPv6 trials. Until IPv6 is fully implemented, there are stopgaps, such as network address translation (NAT), which reduces the number of unique IP addresses needed by mapping multiple addresses to a single one.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Microsoft may face tough patch job with Windows shortcut bug

Microsoft may have a tough time fixing the Windows shortcut vulnerability, a security researcher said. A noted vulnerability expert, however, disagreed, and said Microsoft could deliver a patch within two weeks.

"The way Windows' shortcuts are designed is flawed, and I think they will have a very hard time patching this," said Roel Schouwenberg, an antivirus researcher with Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

Microsoft has acknowledged that attackers can use a malicious shortcut file, identified by the ".lnk" extension, to automatically execute their malware by getting users to view the contents of a folder containing a malformed shortcut. The risk is even greater if hackers use infected USB flash drives to spread their attack code, since the latter automatically executes on most Windows PCs as soon as drive is plugged into the machine.

Another problem facing Microsoft is that the code is obviously old, making a quick patch that much more unlikely. The vulnerability exists in Windows as far back as the Windows 2000 edition, which Schouwenberg has tested and successfully exploited.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Outlook Friends Facebook

Microsoft's integration of Facebook into its Outlook email and calendaring application is indicative of its desire to stay relevant in a world that's becoming increasingly social.

Facebook has joined the list of social networking sites available in the in-boxes of Outlook users, thanks to Microsoft's Outlook Social Connector. Outlook users have been expecting the announcement since November, when Microsoft said the service would be included in its Office 2010 suite.

Social Connector works by including a "People Pane" that provides information about each sender, including posts from other social networking services. The Social Connector also links to company Sharepoint sites, downloading activity feeds from colleagues and placing them into the same People Pane information flow.

The free service is available for Office 2010, Office 2007 and Office.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Nearly Half of All Windows 7 Users Running the 64 Bit Version

Microsoft has released new figures that indicate nearly half of all Windows 7 installations are running on a 64-bit computing setup. And it could very well be said that Windows 7 is to "blame" for the switch. 54 percent of worldwide systems run the 32-bit version of Windows 7 compared the 46 percent that opts for Windows 7 x64.

Nearly three and a half years after the launch of the OS, Windows Vista users are decidedly 32-bit at a measured percentage of 89 to 11. And, as one might expect, Windows XP users are predominantly running their operating system on a 32-bit system versus 64-bit to a measurement of more than 99 percent to less than one percent, respectively.

The analyst numbers stack up as well. Microsoft cites NPD's Stephen Baker, who says that 77 percent of all retails systems sold in April of 2010 were being pushed out with Windows 7 x64 preinstalled.

So what, then, do you get for running a 64-bit OS? We've covered some of the advantages brought forth by the newer architecture, including granting one's system the ability to process more memory—up to a theoretical limit of 16 exabytes, technically.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Firefox 4 Beta 1

A week after a pre-beta version of Firefox 4 appeared on Mozilla's nightly developer build site, the browser has been released as a public beta.

The latest version of the Web browser sports some visual changes, including Chrome like tabs on top, and an Opera like button to replace the menu bar. Firefox 4 now supports Google's WebM HTML5 video format, regulates plug-ins such as Flash to a separate process for greater protection against crashes, and offers faster JavaScript performance.

The move to tabs atop the browser began with Chrome's first beta, which backtracked a bit, moving to a design with a window border over the tabs (though they were still on top of the menu). The design is good in that it leaves more space for the Web content, but it may confuse some users who are used to seeing them down below the toolbars.

Firefox 4 beta 1's new menu button may also confuse some people, since its function isn't perfectly clear. Another detail taking inspiration from Opera (and Safari) is Firefox 4's combining of the Stop and Reload buttons, which switches between the two functions depending on whether you're loading a page or not. The address bar now offers a switch to tab option when you start typing text from another page's URL or page title.

Firefox 4 beta 1 plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, or Apple QuickTime are now run in their own separate process, which can prevent crashes in the event of an error. A couple of major benefits for users is that they'll no longer have to restart the browser to install extensions, and they won't be thwarted from starting the browser by incessant update messages whenever any extensions have new versions.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Windows 8 Details Leaked On Internet

Bloggers have uncovered what are claimed to be internal Microsoft slides detailing some of the features planned for the company's next computer operating system—Windows 8. The slides, which first popped over the weekend on the Italian blog Windowsette, are stamped "Microsoft Confidential" and "Under NDA".

If real, they would appear to show that Microsoft may be looking to mimic rival Apple's success in developing products that provides users with a more intuitive computing experience. The documents also indicate Microsoft is focusing on portability in Windows 8 from the ground up. They describe built in support for motion sensing accelerometers, ambient light sensors, GPS units, wireless networking, and cameras.

Microsoft also may be planning to mimic Apple in other ways, as another document supposedly reveals plans for a Windows "App Store."

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Rumor: Google to Challenge Facebook with "Google Me"

Is Google prepping to launch some kind of Facebook killing service? That's the rumor of the day, spawned by a brief Twitter update by Digg founder Kevin Rose. If true, it wouldn't be the first time that Google's launched a new high profile service to compete with an equally high-profile Web 2.0 entity. Remember Google Buzz?

So what, then, would the proposed "Google Me" really do? The only details thus far are sheer speculation. However, it appears that Google Me could fly in as an upgrade to the preexisting Google Profiles service that, itself, is almost like a mini biographical profile page.

Adding more fuel to the fire, the site All Facebook reported earlier this week that Open Graph friendly Web pages were now showing up in search results on the social media site. Open Graph connects Web elements to Facebook by allowing users to "like" elements of third party sites such as a movie on a retail platform which then becomes a part of one's social experience on the site.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

150 Million Copies of Windows 7 Sold

Microsoft announced that it has sold over 150 million Windows 7 licenses, and that the next generation of its Windows Live Essentials apps are now available as public betas. As a result, Windows 7 is now the fastest selling operating system in history; a copy sells every seven seconds.

Jamie Cannon, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows Live Essentials, said that Windows Live Essentials could be considered a "free upgrade to Windows."

Messenger in particular links Windows to the online world. It can connect with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Microsoft's own Windows Live online services such as Hotmail and SkyDrive, along with dozens of third-party services like Flickr.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google's Street View faces multi-state US probe

Connecticut will lead a multi-state investigation into Google's collection of wi-fi data. Google has admitted that its Street View cars "accidentally" collected data from unsecured wi-fi networks in 30 countries because of some rogue code in the software used by the service.

The US investigation will attempt to answer how that code ended up being used by Street View. It will ask the search giant who inserted the code and why, whether the data was extracted and why Google saved it.

Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked for copies of the company's internal procedures regarding Street View and for exact details of how and when Google learned that its cars were capturing sensitive data. Consumers have a right and a need to know what personal information - which could include e-mails, web browsing and passwords - Google may have collected and why. Google must come clean," he said.

Investigations are also on-going in Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 Hits Stores

Office 2010 features updates to the familiar Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications, plus free, online versions of those same apps. Office 2010 is available in the box, as a download, and also as preloaded software on new PCs. Computer buyers can purchase a key card at major retailers to activate the software on new systems.

The online version of the software, Office Web, includes Internet-based editions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Users in the U.S, UK, Canada and Ireland can now access Office Web applications through Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive portal. Office Web Apps are tailored specifically for the online environment. For instance, the Office Web version of PowerPoint does not include some of the desktop version's high-performance video editing tools.

The boxed, Professional edition of Office 2010 is priced at $499, while the download is $349. There's also significant price discrepancies between boxed and download delivery for other versions as well. For the Home & Student version, it's $149 vs $119. For Home & Business, it's $279 vs $199.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Windows XP SP2 users face end of Internet Explorer patches

Although Microsoft has told Windows XP SP2 users several times this year that it will retire the 2004 operating system on July 13, users may not realize that they will also not receive any Internet Explorer (IE) security updates after that date. Microsoft confirmed that users running Windows XP SP2 will receive no IE6, IE7 or IE8 patches after July 13.

"Customers will need to install [Windows] XP SP3 in order to leverage the extended support (which includes security updates), which will run through April 2014," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

To continue to receive IE security updates, users must upgrade to Windows XP SP3, shift to a newer edition of Windows, or manually download the browser updates from Microsoft's site. The latter, however, is not supported.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

AT&T : security gap exposed Apple iPad e-mail addresses, IDs

AT&T has said that a security breach had exposed the e-mail addresses of Apple iPad users. They said that the problem had been fixed and that it would inform customers of the breach, which also exposed their iPad identification numbers used to autheticate a wireless user.

The hacker group that breached AT&T's network obtained the e-mail addresses of top level politicians, television reporters and business executives and 114,000 e-mail addresses were exposed.

“The issue has escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday; and we have essentially turned off the feature that provided the e-mail addresses,” AT&T said in a statement.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Security Advisory for Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Acrobat

A critical vulnerability exists in Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Solaris operating systems, and the authplay.dll component that ships with Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.x for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX operating systems. This vulnerability (CVE-2010-1297) could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. There are reports that this vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild against both Adobe Flash Player, and Adobe Reader and Acrobat. This advisory will be updated once a schedule has been determined for releasing a fix.

Adobe Flash Player, 9.0.262, and earlier 10.0.x and 9.0.x versions for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Solaris
Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.3.2 and earlier 9.x versions for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX

The Flash Player 10.1 Release Candidate available at does not appear to be vulnerable.
Adobe Reader and Acrobat 8.x are confirmed not vulnerable.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Customize Your Google Search Page

Google will now let users add personal photos to the background of the traditionally minimalist search page. In what is perhaps a transparent effort to out-feature Microsoft Bing, Google is ditching its boring white background and letting users upload their own photos. The Microsoft Bing search site features a different, Microsoft-chosen background picture every day.

Users are given three methods for customization--they can upload a photo from their computer, they can choose a photo from their Google-run Picasa photo album, or they can choose a photo from the public Picasa photo album. To change your Google background photo: click on the link in the lower left corner of the Google search page.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Quit Facebook Day flops

Just 34,100 of Facebook's more than 450 million members pledged to quit over privacy concerns. The low number is probably more a reflection of how hard it is to break the Facebook habit, rather than signifying acceptance of the simplified privacy controls introduced by the social network last week after much criticism, as Quit Facebook Day explains.

Facebook has weathered a series of privacy controversies in its short lifespan of just six years. The latest controversy kicked off in December with a privacy roll-back that meant users' profiles become public by default, whatever the previous settings.

In other Facebook news, last weekend became the third successive week to witness a run of hacker attacks.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Google Names Facebook Most Visited Site

Google has publicly released a list of the top 1000 websites in the world, raking the Facebook social networking site as the leading Web property by unique users. According to Google's AdPlanner stats, Facebook scores more than 540 million unique visitors per month, reaching a sizable chunk of 35.2 percent of the Internet population and has totaled more than 570 billion page views.

A noteworthy entry on the 18th spot in the AdPlanner rankings is Twitter (#18), with 98 million unique visitors per month and destination portals such as (#2) and (#5) are also high on the list, probably due to the fact that many people use these sites as their home page.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Man Infects Himself with (Computer) Virus

Dr. Mark Gasson, a cybernetics expert at the University of Reading, deliberately infected himself (by way of an RFID chip implanted in his wrist) with a benign computer virus. This was part of an experiment designed to show how implantable bionic devices are susceptible to computer viruses.

The device in Gasson's arm is an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip that emits a signal and allows him to access certain parts of the University of Reading laboratory, as well as operate his cell phone. In other words, the chip functions as an internal swipe-card.

Gasson and his colleagues then created a virus for the chip. They put it on the chip and Gasson went into the lab and when the lab's computers read the code, the virus implanted itself into the database and began to replicate. This experiment shows that viruses can be transferred wirelessly from implant devices to the computers they communicate with.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Note to Facebook on Privacy: How About Opt-In, Not Opt Out?

Staring down a storm of criticism around privacy issues on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised today to give users an easy way to opt out of third-party services. Probably, though, most users would be a lot happier if Facebook came up with a simple approach to opting into those services, rather than out of them.

Public outcries over unwanted visibility of users’ Facebook information has reached the halls of Congress, spurring U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to release an open letter last month asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to produce privacy guidelines for all social networking sites, including Twitter and MySpace, for example, along with Facebook, as well as to keep a close eye on compliance.

Facebook’s existing controls are complicated. In fact, Facebook currently has something like 170 different privacy options and 50 privacy settings.

In an informal poll conducted by Internet security firm Sophos, 60 percent of 1,588 Facebook users said either that they’d “possibly” leave Facebook because of privacy concerns, or that they were “highly likely” to do so, while 16 percent said they’d already canceled their Facebook accounts.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Germany Asks Google to Surrender Private Data

Google came under increased pressure in Europe over its collection of private data from unsecured home wireless networks, as a German regulator threatened legal action if the company did not surrender a hard drive for inspection.

The German demand underscored the seriousness of the quandary Google now faced following its admission last Friday that it had stored the snippets of Web sites and personal e-mail messages from people around the world while compiling its Street View photo archive.

Through a spokesman, Google reiterated its offer to destroy the WLAN data in conjunction with regulators, but stopped short of saying it would hand over a hard drive.

Google last week said it had collected 600 gigabytes of data from unsecured wireless area networks, or WLANS, from around the world as its roving cars compiled a photo archive for Street View.

Google has said its WLAN catalogue was designed to enhance its mobile advertising service, which can alert mobile phone users to nearby businesses and other attractions by often pinpointing their locations through WLANs.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook Unveils New Security Features

Facebook took the wraps off two new security features aimed at protecting users from phishers and other online scammers.

"At Facebook, we're constantly working on new ways to protect you from scams and help you keep your account and information secure," wrote Lev Popov , a Facebook software engineer, in a blog post.

One of the new features, now available to all Facebook users, is designed to allow users to approve the devices they use to log in and then be notified whenever their account is accessed from a device they haven't approved.

Facebook also is taking steps to block suspicious logons.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mozilla sets Firefox 4 release for November

Mozilla plans to ship a beta of Firefox 4 next month, and a final by the end of November, a company executive said. Mike Beltzner, the director of Firefox, spelled out not only the timeline for the next major upgrade, but also outlined the new features, changes and technology enhancements the company hopes to pack into the browser.

It will include technology that splits some plug-in processes from the core browser. That technology and associated project, dubbed "Lorentz," prevents crashes by Adobe's Flash, Apple's QuickTime or Microsoft's Silverlight plug-ins from bringing down the browser.

Performance is one of the key areas Firefox 4 will address, said Beltzner. Beltzner emphasized that Mozilla will both boost the raw speed of Firefox, it has been working on ways to push its TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and in users' perception of speed.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

First USB 3.0 Portable Drives Hit Market

USB ports connect host devices, such as PCs, to other devices such as printers and storage drives. USB 3.0 increases bandwidth and transfers data close to 10 times faster than USB 2.0. The USB 3.0 interface can offer a transfer rate of 5G bps (bits per second) compared to 480M bps per second for USB 2.0.

Super Talent is offering three USB 3.0 flash drives with capacities up to 256GB. The line achieves data transfer speeds of up to 125M bps. A 32GB drive goes for $120, which is relatively expensive compared to USB 2.0 thumb drives.

External hard drives were some of the earliest USB 3.0 devices to come out last year, but OCZ this week announced Enyo USB 3.0 solid-state drives. The SSDs will be available in capacities of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The drives offer up to 260M bps read (around 1.5G bps ) and 200M bps write capabilities. The USB 3.0 drive also is backward-compatible with older ports.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Internet Explorer losing browser share

Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser, now accounts for less than 60% of the market, down from 95% at its peak in 2003. Latest statistics, from measurement firm NetApplications, show that IE has 59.9% of the market, with Firefox gaining on it, with 24.5% while third place Google Chrome's 6.7%.

Microsoft has gradually been losing market share, largely due to concerns over security, experts said.

There are more viable alternatives now. Google has been advertising and there are more people using Macs and Apple's Safari. There is just a great awareness that there are alternatives.

IE9 promises to support HTML5, the next-generation standard for coding web pages, which aims to reduce the need for software plug-ins, such as Flash.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

PDF Exploits Bloom in the Spring

Numerous reports of new malicious PDFs have come out in the last few days. They all seem a little different and, while there are no new vulnerabilities in them, there are some new techniques.

The TrendLabs Malware Blog describes a PDF that it found, which exploits two different patched vulnerabilities. If you are running current Adobe software, you are not vulnerable. But if you do get exploited, the PDF decodes an embedded XML file containing a malicious TIFF file.

The most important thing to know about all these attacks is that by keeping your software up-to-date and not blindly clicking on unsolicited attachments, you can protect yourself, at least to a significant degree. Add updated malware protection to the mix and it's even harder for attacks to succeed.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Believe In Privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears to have been outed as not caring one whit about your privacy. Zuckerberg’s apparent disregard for your privacy is probably not reason enough to delete your Facebook account. But we wouldn’t recommend posting anything there that you wouldn’t want marketers, legal authorities, governments (or your mother) to see.

Facebook has been on a relentless request over the past six months to become the center of identity and connections online. The site unilaterally decided last December that much of a user’s profile information, including the names of all their friends and the things they were “fans” of, would be public information — no exceptions or opt-outs allowed.

Zuckerberg defended the change — largely intended to keep up with the publicness of Twitter, saying that people’s notions of privacy were changing. He took no responsibility for being the one to drag many Facebook users into the net’s public sphere.

It’s an ambitious attempt to rewrite the web as a socially linked network. But many see Facebook’s move as trying to colonize the rest of the web, and keep all this valuable information in its data silos, in order to become a force on the web that rivals Google.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Twitter Issues Alert About Phishing Scam

Twitter has issued a warning about phishing emails that tell users they have unread messages on the Twitter site.

The emails come from a email address and say that you have unread, delayed, or undelivered messages on Twitter, and asks you to click a link in the email to view the mystery messages.

The email itself does not appear to contain malware, Twitter said. The link in the e-mail actually takes users to a pharmaceutical site, though to get to that site, users are re-routed through several other sites, which could contain malware.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Microsoft’s Income Rises 35%, Driven by Sales of Windows 7

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker reported record results for its third quarter, with sales rising 6 percent to $14.50 billion. But Microsoft’s numbers left investors wanting more. Shares of Microsoft promptly fell about 4.5 percent to $29.98 in after-hours trading on Thursday, after the release of third-quarter figures.

Its net income rose 35 percent, to $4.01 billion or 45 cents a share, from $2.98 billion, or 33 cents, in the period a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected Microsoft to earn 42 cents a share.

Executives at Microsoft pointed to Windows as the main driver of revenue during the quarter, as sales of the software rose to $4.42 billion, from $3.45 billion in the same period last year.

According to Microsoft’s estimates, the PC market grew 25 percent during the last quarter, with the consumer segment rising 30 percent and business market rising 14 percent. The strength of the sales to businesses was a real highlight for Microsoft, because many companies have resisted buying new PCs.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Office 2010 Reaches RTM

Office 2010 has reached the release to manufacturing (RTM) stage. The official launch for businesses is May 12, and the ship to retail stores will be in June.

Amazon and Best Buy are now promoting Office 2010 pre-sales, as is Microsoft's own online store. What's clear from Amazon's site is that customers who opt for a fully boxed version of the software over a download will pay a heavy price for the extra cardboard. The boxed version of Office 2010 Professional is $499, while the download is $349.

Microsoft is offering free upgrades to a comparable version of Office 2010 to customers who purchase Office 2007 between now and September 30.

Along with the desktop versions of the software, Office 2010 includes an online version Microsoft is calling Office Web.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Israel bans imports of Apple iPad

Israel has banned imports of the iPad, citing concerns the powerful gadget consumes too much capacity on wireless networks and could disrupt other devices.

Customs officials said Thursday they have already confiscated about 10 of the lightweight tablet computers since Israel announced the new regulations this week. The ban prevents anyone from bringing iPads into Israel until officials certify that they comply with local transmitter standards.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission allows Wi-Fi broadcasting at higher power levels than are allowed in Europe and Israel — meaning that the iPad's stronger signal could throw off others' wireless connections.

Israeli officials said the ban has nothing to do with trade and is simply a precaution to assure that the iPad doesn't affect wireless devices already in use in Israel.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Microsoft signs outsourcing pact with Indian giant Infosys

Microsoft today said it has signed a deal with Indian outsourcer Infosys Technologies Ltd. to manage key parts of worldwide internal IT operations, and hopefully cut IT costs.

The agreement calls for Infosys to take over responsibility for managing Microsoft's IT help desk and desk-side services operations, as well as servicing the company's applications, devices and databases in more than 100 countries.

Although such agreements often lead to layoffs and/or the transfer of employees to the outsourcer, Microsoft said that "this new contract will not impact internal resources."

The value of the contract wasn't disclosed though Bendor-Samuel projected its worth at more than $100 million.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Apple Bites the Hand That Feeds It with New App Rules

Apple has not been shy about publicizing its culture war with Adobe over the use of Flash on the iPhone or iPad platforms. Apple has changed the legalese for the App Store to prohibit any apps not built solely on Apple's proprietary Objective-C programming language. he new iPhone Developer Program License Agreement includes the following text:

"3.3.1--Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)."

By banning Adobe, Apple may be biting the hand that feeds it, though. Apple and Adobe have had a symbiotic relationship that has been mutually beneficial. The Mac computer has always been perceived as a superior platform for graphic arts and design, and Adobe has provided the fuel to drive that engine with products like Photoshop and Illustrator. Setting those considerations aside, Apple's war with Adobe puts developers in a tough spot as well. Apple has managed to establish itself as the de facto App Store--meaning that it is virtually a requirement to at least create an app for the iPhone and iPad, but it is not the only platform.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

HP's 'iPad Killer' Features Video Camera, Flash and USB Support

It appears to show that HP's yet to be named slate PC has a built in video camera, USB ports, support for SD cards, music player software, and direct integration with social media and file sharing sites. It will also support Adobe's Flash multimedia format.

A video posted online emphasizes the Windows 7-powered HP slate's functionality as a communications platform.

Numerous blogs, citing a report last month on the Spanish tech site, said HP's slate will debut in the U.S. in September at a price of about $540.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

YouTube's big redesign goes live

YouTube's cleaner look is part of a bigger plan to simplify the site based on user feedback and testing, as well as to keep people from ever leaving.

YouTube UI designer Julian Frumar explained that the site was simply not working like it should with the addition of extra features over the years. There were too many things on the screen that were slowing down page views and overwhelming people.

The redesign goes beyond the people watching, and has been tweaked for content owners as well. The company hopes this will spur more subscriptions, and give users a better sense of who made it.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Google Says 600 Communities Seek Broadband Project

Google is planning to build a local broadband network as a test project, has received more than 600 responses from communities interested in the effort.

The company announced plans to build a fiber optic network that would serve between 50,000 and 500,000 people, providing connections that are 100 times faster than current networks. The proposed network set off a frenzy of lobbying by cities and towns across the U.S., with some holding rallies and sending gifts to Google’s headquarters.

After urging the Federal Communications Commission to expand broadband access, Google is developing the network to show the potential of high-speed Internet service. The company already offers a wireless network in its hometown of Mountain View, California.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

No More Go Daddy Domains for China

Go Daddy is joining Google in its fight against China's Internet control.The company has announced it'll no longer register new domains in the People's Republic. There has been an apparent change in Chinese law that requires Go Daddy to now collect color headshot photos of all users trying to register new domains. In addition, the company must obtain business identification documents and physically signed registration forms from all of its Chinese customers. All that data has to be forwarded on to China's government-run Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) for "review."

Go Daddy has been told to apply the new rule retroactively, obtaining photo identification from every existing China customer and supplying it to the government.

According to CNN, U.S. lawmakers at Wednesday's hearing praised Google and Go Daddy's efforts and slammed others for not following suit.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Chinese Media Launches New Attack on Google

China's state-run Xinhua news agency launched a new broadside against Google saying in an angry commentary that the company had reneged on promises to abide by Chinese law.

Speculation is swirling that Google will soon announce a decision to pull out of China, or at least shut down its Chinese search engine.

Two months since Google said it would no longer agree to abide by Beijing's censorship rules even if that meant shutting its site, some Chinese Internet users and state media are baying for the company to pull out.

Xinhua, in a signed commentary, said Google had promised when it entered the Chinese market to filter its search engine for "harmful content," in accordance with the law.

A Global Times editorial cited online surveys as showing 80 percent of respondents said they could not care less if Google withdrew from China, the world's largest Internet market with an estimated 384 million users. Currently, Google offers Google Maps, Gmail and free music downloads to Chinese users, all of which could be in jeopardy if the company leaves.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

New IE9 won't run on Windows XP

Microsoft has given developers a glimpse of its next Web browser, Internet Explorer 9. When the software eventually ships, it will not run on Windows XP.

The browser, which will not be available for at least a year, will support HTML5, a Web protocol which makes it possible to play videos and other embedded content on Web pages without the need for a specialist plug-in, such as Adobe Flash.

IE9's inability to run on Windows XP will prevent it from becoming widespread until the nearly nine-year-old OS loses significant share to Windows 7. No other major browser maker has announced plans to stop supporting Windows XP, but several have dropped other operating systems or platforms.

Nevertheless, analysts believe that IE9 could help Microsoft to arrest the slide in its browser share, which has seen nearest rival Firefox slowly increasing its footprint in the browser market.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Facebook traffic outpacing Google

Facebook is beginning to eat into Google’s dominance of web traffic, edgeing ahead of the search giant as the most visited website in the US, according to data released by Hitwise.

Facebook has been rapidly accelerating its market share among internet users. The social networking site also took the top ranking on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Facebook still has some catching up to do in order to overtake Google on a consistent basis.

Google has unveiled Google Buzz, which uses its search technology to sift through social media information with real-time updates of tweets, status updates and media streams. The programme is closely linked with Gmail, Google’s e-mail service that has about 176m monthly users.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Intel Core i7 980x Brings Six-Core Power to Desktops

Intel unveiled its newest flagship processor for the desktop market, the Core i7 980x Extreme. The CPU pushes the envelope by including six physical cores, and hyperthreading technology to virtualize twelve cores, its almost like having twelve computers in one.

The Core i7 975 Extreme, the quad-core processor that was Intel's previous flagship CPU for desktops, matches the new Core i7 980x with a 3.3GHz core frequency, 3.6GHz turbo boost frequency, triple-channel DDR3 memory controller, as well as a 130-watt TDP.

The main differences between the two processors is that the Core i7 980x has six physical cores as opposed to the four cores in the Core i7 975x, and that the Core i7 980x has a 12Mb cache rather than the 8Mb cache of its predecessor.

Those six cores, or twelve cores once they're virtualized with Intel's hyperthreading technology, won't do much good, though, in most cases. While Intel and AMD continue to push the processor envelope and evolving technology to higher performance standards, most software development has not kept up. With the exception of the high-end processing tasks, most businesses will have little to no reason to upgrade to the new processor.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

YouTube adds video captions for deaf

YouTube is making the tens of millions of videos it hosts more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing by putting automatic captions on them. The Google-owned company said this use of speech recognition technology is probably the biggest experiment of its kind online.

Initially the feature will apply to English language videos, with other languages being added in the coming months. The technology behind speech recognition has been around for about 50 years, said Google engineer Mike Cohen, and has finally become good enough to be used on a large scale.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

New Google Chrome Beta Instantly Translates Web Pages

Google introduced new language translation and privacy tools for its Chrome browser. Chrome now includes a beta feature that will instantly translate Web pages that are in a language different from your preferred language setting.

Chrome will display a prompt asking if you'd like the page to be translated for you using Google Translate. The new features are available via the Chrome beta release. Those already running the beta channel will be updated automatically, and those on the stable version will be updated in the coming weeks.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Microsoft Gets Court Nod to Cripple Spam Botnet

Microsoft has succeeded in smashing a particularly loathsome botnet, Waledac, through a new strategy that enlisted a federal court's cooperation. Although the company may have choked off as many as 1.5 billion emails distributed daily by the operation, it's highly likely that the spammers will regroup in short order.

A Federal judge granted Microsoft a temporary restraining order that cut off 277 Internet domains believed to be run by criminals as the Waledac bot. Microsoft was then able to downgrade much of the peer-to-peer communication within the botnet.

Waledac is one of the 10 largest botnets in the U.S. and a major global distributor of spam. It is estimated to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world that could send over 1.5 billion spam emails per day.

The spammers will just move to another domain and continue, suggested Ben-Itzhak. "Their operation makes them tons of money, so they will continue to do what they know to do very well. We may have a short slowdown in spam, but in days it will ramp back again."

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Twitter Hits 50 Million Tweets Per Day

Users of the micro-blogging social network are posting more messages than ever, as many as 50 million 140 character-long messages every day. Twitter measured over 600 tweets per second from its users.

When the service launched in 2007, there were only 5,000 tweets per day; by 2008, the number soared to 300,000, according to the stats released by the micro-blogging service. By 2009, the number of tweets went up to 2.5 million per day, and then up to 35 million per day towards the end of the year.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Google Cleared on Power Bid

U.S. energy regulators approved a request by Google Inc. to become an electricity marketer, allowing the Internet giant to buy and sell bulk power like a utility.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously backed Google's application for what is known as market-based rate authority. The Internet company currently doesn't own generation facilities or transmission lines to deliver power and isn't planning to use the new authority for retail purposes, FERC officials said before the commission voted at its monthly meeting.

Google has said its interest in the power markets stems from a desire to manage its own energy supplies and gain better access to renewable power. The company doesn't provide information on its electricity use, but it operates massive networks including large data centers.

Google does offer an online tool to help consumers manage their energy use known as Google's PowerMeter. The company has partnered with utilities on this project.

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