French Government calls on internet users to abandon Internet Explorer

Sunday, January 31, 2010

AUSTRALIANS have been advised against using Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) because of a security threat.

Local web users have been advised to install security patches or switch browsers, while two countries - France and Germany - have now issued warnings against all versions of Microsoft's browser.

Germany warned users Friday after a malicious code - implicated in recent attacks on Google - was published online, and now Certa, a French Government agency that oversees cyber threats, has warned against using all recent versions of the web browser.
While the Google attacks were designed to exploit Internet Explorer 6, Microsoft has released a security advisory for Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.

Microsoft said it has only seen a "very limited number of targeted attacks against a small subset of corporations".

"The attacks that we have seen to date are only effective against Internet Explorer 6."

"We are not seeing any widespread attacks and thus far we are not seeing attacks focused on consumers."

The company recommended users upgrade to Internet Explorer 8 - which is technically still vulnerable - and anyone using older versions of Windows XP to upgrade to Service Pack 3.

Australians spend record $2.05 billion on video games in 2009

Saturday, January 30, 2010

AUSTRALIANS spent a record-breaking $2.05 billion on video games last year, snapping up more than 2 million games consoles in 2009 and investing in many more gaming extras, from plastic guitars to microphones.

But the record spending in 2009, released yesterday by research firm GfK Australia, could underestimate Australia's love affair with video games.

Interactive Games and Entertainment Association chief executive Ron Curry said many game sales fell outside the retail research and, if counted, the industry would smash existing records.

"If you look at the wider gaming industry and include iPhone game downloads and other mobile phone content, subscription to Xbox Live and other services, it's a much bigger industry than $2 billion," Mr Curry said.

"iPhone games, for example, might cost a little but collectively they make a huge amount."

AT&T-Verizon price war debunked

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Some people are calling the new tweaks to AT&T and Verizon Wireless' pricing plans the start of a mobile price war, but for many wireless consumers, they'll actually be paying more each month.

The companies each revised pricing late last week in separate announcements. The price cuts follow new aggressive pricing from Sprint Nextel, which last year introduced plans that allow customers to call any cell phone in the U.S. for free.

AT&T's and Verizon's new plans were supposed to simplify pricing for consumers. But the fact is that the new plans are still somewhat confusing. To better explain where consumers will save money and where they'll likely pay more, CNET has put together this FAQ.

In short, where consumers can expect to save money is on voice calls. Whether they are using a smartphone, quick-messaging/multimedia device, or a basic feature phone, the companies have lowered the price of their unlimited voice plans. But where many customers will likely pay more is on accessing the mobile Internet.

In fact, both AT&T and Verizon Wireless are extending data plans to a whole slew of customers who formerly were not subscribing to any data plans. And it is likely these are the customers who will see a bigger phone bill when they upgrade their phones or renew their contracts.

So before you sign another contract or agree to a new phone, take a look at this FAQ to make sure you know what the changes mean for you.

Let's start with voice pricing. What has changed for AT&T and Verizon Wireless customers with respect to voice pricing?
AT&T and Verizon have each reduced the price on their unlimited voice plans. The plans have dropped from $99.99 to $69.99 per month for individuals. Verizon's Nationwide Unlimited Talk Family SharePlan and AT&T's family talk plan will now each cost $119.99 per month with two lines included. Additional voice lines from Verizon can be added for $9.99 a piece. AT&T said additional lines can be added to its plans, but prices will vary depending on the type of plan that users subscribe to.

Do the changes in voice plan pricing also apply to smartphone customers?
Yes, they do. All AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers can sign up for the new voice plans.

If I am an existing customer paying a higher fee for my voice service, can I switch to the all-you-can-talk plan without being penalized?
Yes, AT&T and Verizon Wireless representatives say all you have to do is call a customer service agent to change your plan. You will not be charged any kind of fee for switching. And you will not extend your existing contract by switching to the lower cost plan.

Will 3-D Make

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Television manufacturers and content producers started out the year pushing 3-D television hard, hoping to ride the wave of success enjoyed by the 3-D movie Avatar. Though glasses-free 3-D is still some ways away, manufacturers hope to entice consumers with a flurry of products that make the best of the difficulties with bringing 3-D content to the small screen.
Producing a 3-D television that doesn't require glasses is "impractical for the foreseeable future," says Peter Fannon, vice president of corporate and government affairs for Panasonic.

Demos featuring glasses-free 3-D television technology have yet to pan out into real products. Two years ago, Mitsubishi attracted attention by showing off glasses-free 3-D research technology, but the company has no products based on the work.

Fannon says that a key trouble with glasses-free 3-D is that it would significantly raise production costs. Most glasses-free TV displays use a lenticular lens, which gives off light at different angles--so that a different image reaches each eye. Such a display requires images of the same object to be captured from many different angles, forcing content producers to film and process the same scene from a dozen or more angles at a once. "That's a production cost no one can bear," he says. Lenticular lenses can also distort a picture, and viewers often have to watch from a specific angle.

Instead, 3-D technologies in use today employ glasses to control the images. The most common technology, used in movie theaters, is made by RealD, a company based in Beverly Hills, CA. This technology uses a special screen to reflect polarized light to the audience when images are projected onto it. The glasses then filter the light so that images are directed correctly to each eye.

Five things to expect at Apple's next event

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One week from today Apple is hosting what has easily become its most anticipated event since the original iPhone.

Here's a summary of everything we know Apple will unveil for sure: nothing. With the exception of one thing: Apple is definitely hosting an event at one of its favorite locations, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco at 10 a.m. on January 27.

But it's plenty of fun to do some educated guessing about what they're cooking up down in Cupertino. And thanks to some well-placed leaks and a slow trickle of clues over the past year, it's easy enough to predict what will be the main event: the much rumored, blogged, and wished for Apple tablet device.
But that leaves plenty of other questions. What will it be called? We don't know. iSlate, iTablet, Tablet, iBook, iPad have all been tossed around. When will it ship? The Wall Street Journal said March, but an industry analyst is now saying maybe June. Like most Apple events nothing is for sure until Steve Jobs announces it from on stage. And though Apple runs a pretty tight-lipped organization, things have a way of trickling out right before their major announcements. So even though Apple hasn't confirmed anything yet, here are some pretty safe bets as for what to expect next week.

The tablet, in theory, will fall somewhere between a MacBook and an iPod Touch. So what do you do with it to make it stand out as a device you'd need in addition to one or both of those? A large-screen device with no physical keyboard certainly isn't going to be for making phone calls or word processing. The easiest assumption is that video and music will be two of the most important applications at the center of the tablet's purpose. In regards to music, there's been some speculation that the tablet is the reason Apple developed iTunes LP in the first place. It's a more in-depth multimedia experience for full albums, and while it works on a laptop or PC, it would appear to be a better fit for a touch-screen device with a large screen, which is what a tablet will be.

A New Way to Make Useful Chemicals from CO2

Monday, January 25, 2010

When it's exposed to the elements, the surface of copper turns green because it reacts with oxygen. But now scientists have discovered a copper-based material with a surprising property: it reacts with carbon dioxide in air rather than oxygen. Though the reaction is not a practical way to remove large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it does provide an alternative new route, using a cheap, nonpetroleum feedstock, to make useful chemicals.
Researchers have been looking for such a material for a long time, taking a cue from plants, which use atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce a wide range of useful materials. But previous approaches have fallen short in a variety of ways. For example, they've required large amounts of energy and concentrated streams of carbon dioxide rather than the trace amounts found in air. One of the big challenges is that materials tend to preferentially react with oxygen, which is much more reactive than carbon dioxide and far more abundant. Oxygen makes up over 20 percent of the atmosphere, whereas there are only a few hundred parts per million of carbon dioxide.

With the new material, "the energy you need to put in is very low," says Daniel DuBois, a senior scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA, who was not involved with the research. "And the fact that it will bind and reduce CO2 directly from the atmosphere is pretty startling. I wouldn't have thought that you could do that."

Intel cites AMD

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In a recent response to longstanding antitrust accusations from chipmaking rival Advanced Micro Devices, Intel included in a Federal Trade Commission filing a quote from one of AMD's own executives critical of AMD chips.

Near the top of the document is the most condemning statement against AMD--an excerpt of a 2004 internal AMD communication from former AMD Executive Vice President Henri Richard, the company's then-highest-ranking sales executive: "If you look at it with an objective set of eyes, you would never buy AMD. I certainly would never buy AMD for a personal system, if I wasn't working here."

The Intel response (PDF), according to Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy, was posted on the FTC Web site on Friday. Although Intel agreed to pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle an antitrust case in November, the FTC continues to pursue the case against Intel.

Intel got the internal AMD communication through the discovery process, Mulloy said. "Over time, more and more [of] this kind of information will be available in the case," he said Wednesday.

AMD technology has gone through periods when its chips have been decidedly less competitive than Intel's, according to Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at research firm In-Stat. "You're looking at a period of time when AMD wasn't necessarily the most competitive product out there. AMD has gone through cycles," he said, adding that Intel has gone through a similar competitiveness ebb and flow.

Nevertheless, it is a stinging indictment of AMD processors. AMD has accused Intel of essentially blocking PC makers from buying its chips by using alleged anticompetitive business practices. (AMD has claimed that PC makers would rather buy its chips but were pressured not to.) "From a positioning standpoint, [Richard's] is a harsh statement against your own product," McGregor added.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Electric vehicles are one of the top stories coming from the auto show in Detroit this week. But despite the introduction of even more electric concept cars, familiar old hybrids are projected to be the dominant form of electric vehicles.
Boston Consulting Group sought to inject some reality into the electric-car buzz even before the doors opened at the North American International Auto Show with the release of a study that concluded battery cost will keep pure EVs from taking over any time soon.

Specifically, auto makers need to lower the cost of batteries to $250 per kilowatt hour, which would mean cutting the current cost by far more than half. "Given the current technology options, we see substantial challenges to achieving this goal by 2020," wrote Xavier Mosquet of the Boston Consulting Group.

That's not to say that consumers won't like their plug-in electric cars, which can run entirely off of batteries or use a gasoline engine in combination with electric motors. A number of cars, in fact, already have a sizable fan base before even being delivered to customers, including the Tesla Model S, 2011 Nissan Leaf, 2011 Chevy Volt, the Think City, and the 2012 plug-in Toyota Prius.

But at this point, this first wave of electric vehicles will be aimed at early adopters who are eager to dramatically reduce gasoline use or want a car with prominent eco-credentials. Other likely buyers are fleet owners who have predictable driving patterns and tend to purchase based on the total cost of ownership, rather than only upfront cost.

Nexus One Goes, So Goes Android

Friday, January 22, 2010

When Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unveiled its wildly hyped Nexus One phone last week, it described the device as more than just another Android smartphone.

Rather, it dubbed the new handset as one of an emerging class known as "superphones" and "an exemplar of what's possible on mobile phones through Android," as vice president of product management Click to learn how AT&T Application Management can help you focus on the growth and profitability of your business. Mario Queiroz put it.

Fast forward a few days, and it's not at all clear that the new device deserves either of those titles.
Following the buildup and the much-anticipated release, criticisms are already mounting. Some argue that the Nexus One is just another smartphone, and with questionable connectivity to boot; others charge that customer service and tech support are lacking.

Perhaps even more notable is the fact that it's not possible for consumers to even touch the device in person before buying it, as it's available only online from Google's new storefront.

All is not rosy in Nexus-world, in other words, suggesting that perhaps the device may not live up to Google's aspirations for it.


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Detroit Auto Show

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rock down to "Electric Avenue" at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, and you might think that sales Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales of battery-powered cars were going to take the industry higher sooner rather than later.

Twenty models from automakers large and small get their own 37,000 square-foot section at the annual show, and a few of the featured cars, like the Chevy Volt and the BMW B-Class F-Cell, actually hit dealer showrooms this year.

Yet despite government mandates and money that are putting some juice into the fledgling battery-only car segment, the technologies and infrastructure necessary to give the internal combustion engine a run for its money are still viewed as being at least a decade away from viability, much less affordability.

So if it isn't the Year of the Electric Automobile, "it's certainly the year of electric automobile hype," Robert Farago, an automotive journalist and former publisher of, told TechNewsWorld. "It's definitely too early. The Volt is going to be a limited-edition vehicle. Some of these (models) are no more than prototypes. There's no mass market yet, and nobody's proven that there could be."

Are We Risking Our Digital Lives?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Consumers are growing increasingly comfortable storing sensitive information on their computers, USB flash drives, and external hard drives, as well as using Web-based solutions to automate Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales regular tasks such as shopping for holiday gifts, paying bills and tracking financial portfolios. The push from vendors encouraging their customers to move toward e-billing has also played a major role in more personal information being stored locally on personal computers.

To put the magnitude of this problem into perspective, consider this: Over 600,000 laptop thefts occur annually in the U.S. alone, resulting in an estimated US$5.4 billion loss of proprietary information, according to the Ponemon Institute. Over 90 percent of these laptops are never recovered.

At the same time, cybercriminals are developing increasingly savvy techniques to access and exploit sensitive information -- such as usernames, passwords and credit card details -- for personal gain.

There are two very easy methods available to protect consumers from identity theft at a relatively inexpensive cost. The first is to encrypt any data containing personal information, and the second is to utilize password manager tools to store online logins, passwords and banking information.

Are We Risking Our Digital Lives?

Consumers are growing increasingly comfortable storing sensitive information on their computers, USB flash drives, and external hard drives, as well as using Web-based solutions to automate Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales regular tasks such as shopping for holiday gifts, paying bills and tracking financial portfolios. The push from vendors encouraging their customers to move toward e-billing has also played a major role in more personal information being stored locally on personal computers.

To put the magnitude of this problem into perspective, consider this: Over 600,000 laptop thefts occur annually in the U.S. alone, resulting in an estimated US$5.4 billion loss of proprietary information, according to the Ponemon Institute. Over 90 percent of these laptops are never recovered.

At the same time, cybercriminals are developing increasingly savvy techniques to access and exploit sensitive information -- such as usernames, passwords and credit card details -- for personal gain.

There are two very easy methods available to protect consumers from identity theft at a relatively inexpensive cost. The first is to encrypt any data containing personal information, and the second is to utilize password manager tools to store online logins, passwords and banking information.

Many experiments in biology rely on manipulating cells: adding a gene, protein, or other molecule, for instance, to study its effects on the cell. But getting a molecule into a cell is much like breaking into a fortress; it often relies on biological tricks such as infecting a cell with a virus or attaching a protein to another one that will sneak it through the cell's membrane. Many of these methods are specific to certain types of cells and only work with specific molecules. A paper in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers a surprisingly simple and direct alternative: using nanowires as needles to poke molecules into cells.
Author Hongkun Park, a professor of chemistry and physics at Harvard University, says that, in theory, "you can put more or less any molecule in more or less any kind of cell." If the method proves effective, it could greatly speed the ability to manipulate cells in a variety of applications, including stem-cell reprogramming and drug screening.

Park's lab recently discovered that cells can be grown on beds of vertical silicon nanowires without apparent damage to the cells. The cells sink into the nanowires and within an hour are impaled by the tiny spikes. Even resting on this bed of needles, cells continue to grow and divide normally. This setup makes it possible to directly interface with the cell's interior through the nanowires. "Since we now have direct physical access, we can deliver molecules into cells without the restrictions of other techniques that are available," Park says. He adds that while his lab has found that many different types of cells seem to accommodate the tiny wires without negative effects, further studies will be needed to examine whether any important cell behaviors are affected.

Netflix's Video Game

It's a triple crown for Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX). Beginning in the spring, the Wii will become the last of the three current video game consoles to get instant viewing of Netflix movies and TV shows over the Internet.

Wii owners who have a broadband connection and a Netflix subscription that costs at least US$9 a month will be able to watch those programs with no extra charge.

Nintendo and Netflix, which wouldn't give an exact launch date for the service, were set to announce the deal on Wednesday.

To watch flicks through the gaming system, Wii users will need a special "instant-streaming" disc that Netflix will mail out in the spring. They will then be able to use the Wii's motion controller to navigate through their Netflix account and pick what they want to watch. This setup is similar to the way Sony's (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation 3 currently streams Netflix programs.

Owners of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360 can also stream Netflix, but the service is only available to Xbox Live "Gold" members, who pay $50 a year mainly to play games online.
Wrangling Wii

The Wii is a great catch for Netflix because it gives it access to the living rooms of millions of potential new subscribers. It is easily the most popular gaming console in the U.S. with 26 million sold in the country through December, according to Nintendo.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long said his company's goal is to offer movie streaming on as many devices as possible, including all three gaming consoles. Letting subscribers watch movies over the Internet is an increasingly important service for Netflix, which is based in Los Gatos, Calif., even though the company says it expects to keep renting DVDs for another couple of decades.

Part of the reason for that is because it'll take some time for movies to become available for streaming. The company has about 17,000 movies and TV shows available for Internet watching, compared with more than 100,000 DVD titles it rents out.

In another sign of its commitment to streaming, Netflix said last week it will delay sending out Warner Bros.' latest movies by nearly a month so it can get rights to show its subscribers more movies over the Internet.

Up Its BI Brawn

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jaspersoft on Tuesday released its latest offering aimed at helping businesses make sense of the piles of data they accumulate on a regular basis.

The new Jaspersoft Enterprise Edition provides organizations with a package of business analytics and reporting functionalities. Company officials also announced the availability of an upgrade of its flagship BI product to Jaspersoft 3.7.

"The Enterprise Edition is a special packaging schema that includes some of the new features of Jaspersoft 3.7 and additional features not found anywhere else," Brian Gentile, CEO of Jaspersoft, told LinuxInsider.
Growing Need

Companies dealing with substantial reporting and analysis challenges often look to BI tools for assistance, but acquiring these tools is often restricted by budget constraints, said Gentile.

In the past, enterprise Click to learn how AT&T Application Management can help you focus on the growth and profitability of your business. BI environments with large and distributed data stores were a problem that only a small segment of the overall BI market faced. Today, however, CIOs and IT managers at organizations of all sizes have to more effectively capture and analyze growing volumes of data, he added.

This need for better BI tools is driven by the new economics of IT, the mainstream adoption of open source software, the proliferation of Software as a Service (SaaS) and the emergence of cloud computing. These factors all lead to a need for tools that provide a simple, powerful reporting and analytics, he said.
New Capabilities

Jaspersoft 3.7 gives users new interactive functions through integrated in-memory analysis. This provides the ability to slice, pivot, filter, drill into and visualize data.

A new search-powered report repository allows users to quickly find reports. Users can also interact with advanced Flash-based graphs, maps and widgets. This makes reports, dashboards and applications more powerful.

A new audit log lets administrators gain greater manageability, control and visibility into the Jaspersoft BI platform by chronicling many aspects of report usage. This provides tuning features to optimize in-memory analysis processing.

The latest version of the BI platform gives users the ability to dynamically design Web-based, ad hoc reports, refine filters, modify dimensions and visualize techniques on the fly.

Avoiding online charity scams

Monday, January 18, 2010

The harrowing images of victims of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in the impoverished island nation of Haiti on Tuesday have left many wondering how they can most effectively contribute money to help. Unfortunately, with any urgent call for donations often comes a rash of scams that can pilfer cash or result in identity theft.

"Whenever there is a major natural disaster, be it home or abroad, there are two things you can count on," Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance president Art Taylor said in a release on the organization's Web site. "The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims, and the second is the appearance of poorly run and in some cases fraudulent charities." The FBI has also put out a release warning Internet users of scams.
Map and flag of Haiti.

Map and flag of Haiti.
(Credit: U.S. State Department)

"After Hurricane Katrina, it was reported that there were some 4,000 bogus Web sites (for donation), and in that disaster we knew in advance that it was coming, so some of those Web sites even popped up before the hurricane hit, but you're certainly seeing the same effect today," said Sandra Miniutti, director of marketing for Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit Web site dedicated to evaluating the quality of nonprofits and disseminating information about the best ways to donate, in an interview with CNET. Charity Navigator has amassed its own list of recommended nonprofits for Haiti, ranging from Doctors Without Borders to the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

But the days of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 already seem like an eon ago, technologically speaking. The charity world has turned many of its operations to new media, so there's a host of new platforms for donations--PayPal, text messages, Facebook applications--that can make a scammer more difficult to spot, and social media's lightning-fast viral channels can make a scheme spread even more quickl.

Behind the China attacks on Google

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Computer attacks on corporations happen all the time, but most companies don't publicize them. They fear damage to their reputation and they don't want to jeopardize the investigation or reveal any information that could be used in future attacks.

Google shocked the security community on Tuesday by disclosing that it and other companies had been hit by attacks that originated in China, with some targeting Gmail users who were human rights activists. As a result, the search giant said it would stop censoring its Web results in China and could end up exiting that market altogether.

Google hasn't released many details on the attacks or named any of the other companies, and sources seem to have only bits and pieces of information. Here's what CNET knows at this time.

What happened? Google said in a blog post on Tuesday that in mid-December it discovered a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on its corporate infrastructure originating from China that led to theft of its intellectual property. It said it discovered as part of its investigation that at least 20 other large companies, in the areas of Internet, finance, technology, media, and chemical, had been similarly targeted.

The attack on Google involved attempts to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, but only two accounts were accessed and the contents of e-mails were not exposed--only account information like the date the account was created, Google said.

Separately, Google discovered that accounts of dozens of Gmail users in the U.S., China, and Europe who are human rights advocates "appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties," not through a security breach at Google, but most likely as a result of phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers, the company said.

Consumers to Google's Big Desktop in the Sky

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is continuing its march to put the desktop on the Web, with its offer to store files as large as 250 MB in Google Docs.

Google is offering 1 GB of free storage for files that are not converted into one of the Google Docs formats -- such as Google documents, spreadsheets or presentation. If more storage space is needed, it can be purchased for US$0.25 per GB per year.

The increase means users can back up large graphics files, RAW photos and ZIP archives, as well as collaborate and organize on such content online, according to Google Docs product manager Vijay Bangaru.

The increase follows enhancements Google made to its Docs product lineup late last year, rolling out such features as live sharing of folders and the ability to upload multiple items simultaneously into folders, along with a general redesign of the Docs page. Called an "incremental" improvement even by Google, the enhancements had their share of fans. The shared folders features, for example, had been the No. 1 request from users on the Google Docs Product Ideas page.

Server Predictions for 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Although the enterprise Click to learn how AT&T Application Management can help you focus on the growth and profitability of your business. server market has been among the hardest hit by the suffering economy, there is reason to be hopeful as 2009 draws to a close. I'd like to take a moment to share eight predictions of what we can look forward to in 2010 -- trends that have the potential to dramatically change the enterprise in the years to come.

1. The Customer Really Is Always Right

As budgets tightened, C-level executives were forced to make hard decisions to survive, shifting their business models to meet what customers needed. In the year to come, they must remain open to this model. Great innovation is often spurred by client demand -- doing proof of concept prototypes and applying what we've learned, such as IBM's (NYSE: IBM) experience creating Blue Gene.

Working with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, IBM sought to create a complete solution, not simply a new chip or server, but an entirely new architecture designed to simulate physical phenomena of national interest -- such as aging of materials, fires and explosions -- that required computational capability much great than anything available.

These types of partnerships continue to push the envelope in terms of how much data can be stored and how quickly systems can scale, enabling the industry to bring supercomputing power to the masses by adapting these systems for commercial applications such as simulations and modeling, data mining or business intelligence.

Facebook Partners With McAfee

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Facebook has partnered with McAfee to improve the social network's security measures.

The arrangement will have McAfee remotely clean up Facebook subscribers' PCs if the social networking site detects that the computer is infected. These subscribers will also see an ad for a six-month free subscription to McAfee's Internet Security Suite software.

Both companies will codevelop educational materials that will be posted on Facebook's site for its subscribers.
McAfee created a custom scanning and repair tool for Facebook that will be made available to the social networking site's more than 350 million users. Any infected PCs detected by Facebook will be cleaned up remotely at no charge.

"We have dedicated a lot of time and resources to protecting users and the network, but the one thing we don't have control over, which is an integral part of the network, is users' PCs," Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt told TechNewsWorld. "So we looked for someone to help fill that gap."

The system includes a custom package that deals with malware on users' PCs. McAfee was selected after a competitive process, Schnitt said.

Infected PCs that log on to Facebook are quarantined. The custom-designed tool, McAfee Scan and Repair, then freezes the account and cleans the PC remotely using a client on McAfee's servers, Brent Remai, McAfee's vice president of consumer marketing Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales, told TechNewsWorld.

During the process, Facebook subscribers will be shown McAfee's free subscription promo as they are walked through five or six screens that show them how to clean their account, Remai said. Subscribers who don't take up the offer are sent back to their Facebook accounts.

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iPod Touch's Holiday Sales Spike Likely Beat the iPhone's

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ever since Apple (AAPL) introduced the iPhone in the summer of 2007, it has been hailed as one of the most revolutionary products in tech history. By comparison, the iPod touch, which has all the iPhone's features without the cell phone, has been downright publicity-starved.

But this holiday season, it seems the thinner, cheaper device may be Apple's breakout hit. While actual sales data are not yet available, Broadpoint AmTech (BPSG) analyst Brian Marshall figures iPod touch sales soared more than 100%, to 7.2 million, in the final quarter of 2009, while iPhone sales rose 53%, to 11.3 million.

For further evidence of an iPod touch boom, check out the data from Flurry, which makes analytics software embedded into thousands of mobile applications. While the number of apps downloaded onto iPhones rose 29% from Dec. 24 to Dec. 25, downloads onto iPod touches skyrocketed by more than 300%—and surpassed the iPhone for at least that day. "It wasn't just that the iPod touch barely squeaked by," says Flurry Vice-President Peter Farago. "It blew the doors off the iPhone—and overnight."

The iPod touch can do pretty much anything an iPhone can do, and for a lot less money. It features the same slick multi-touch interface and can run almost all the 100,000-plus programs in Apple's App store. The main difference is that the iPod touch does not work over cellular networks, so owners must be within striking distance of a Wi-Fi hotspot to go online or download apps. But Wi-Fi is available in most homes, offices, airports, and coffee joints, either for free or for a few bucks—but it costs nowhere near the monthly $100 of an AT&T (T) contract.

Suzaku Finds 'Fossil' Fireballs from Supernovae

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"This is the first evidence of a new type of remnant -- one that was heated right after the explosion," said Hiroya Yamaguchi at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Japan.

A supernova remnant usually cools quickly due to rapid expansion following the explosion. Then, as it sweeps up tenuous interstellar gas over thousands of years, the remnant gradually heats up again.

Capitalizing on the sensitivity of the Suzaku satellite, a team led by Yamaguchi and Midori Ozawa, a graduate student at Kyoto University, detected unusual features in the X-ray spectrum of IC 443, better known to amateur astronomers as the Jellyfish Nebula.

The remnant, which lies some 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Gemini, formed about 4,000 years ago. The X-ray emission forms a roughly circular patch in the northern part of the visible nebulosity.

Suzaku's X-ray Imaging Spectrometers (XISs) separate by energy in much the same way as a prism separates light into a rainbow of colors. This allows astronomers to tease out the types of processes responsible for the radiation.

Some of the X-ray emission in the Jellyfish Nebula arises as fast-moving free electrons sweep near the nuclei of atoms. Their mutual attraction deflects the electrons, which then emit X-rays as they change course. The electrons have energies corresponding to a temperature of about 12 million degrees Fahrenheit (7 million degrees Celsius).

Several bumps in the Suzaku spectrum were more puzzling. "These structures indicate the presence of a large amount of silicon and sulfur atoms from which all electrons have been stripped away," Yamaguchi said. These "naked" nuclei produce X-rays as they recapture their lost electrons.

But removing all electrons from a silicon atom requires temperatures higher than about 30 million degrees F (17 million C); hotter still for sulfur atoms. "These ions cannot form in the present-day remnant," Yamaguchi explained. "Instead, we're seeing ions created by the enormous temperatures that immediately followed the supernova."

Leaked Specs Describe Lustrous Google Chrome Netbook

Saturday, January 9, 2010

hen Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) opened up the source code for its Chrome operating system last month, third-party hardware manufacturers lined up plans to build Chrome-based netbooks, with availability expected in late 2010. Could Google also be cooking up plans to sell its own, Google-branded Chrome netbook at around the same time?

The blogosphere's rumor mill is humming with purported hardware details of such a Google netbook, which were first listed by IBTimes.

Google remains elusive on the issue. "We can't comment on hardware specifics at this point," spokesperson Nate Tyler told TechNewsWorld. Everything Google has stated on the subject in its blog and Chromium Web site is "still accurate," he added

Visions of Google Netbooks' Guts

The Google netbook will reportedly have a chipset from Nvidia's (Nasdaq: NVDA) Tegra line and be powered by an ARM (Nasdaq: ARMHY) CPU, which consumes less power than Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC) Atom line.

The netbook will have a 10.1-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) HD-ready multi-touch display, according to the leaked specs. It will come with a 64 GB solid state drive, 2 GB of RAM, and the usual ancillary features such as WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, Ethernet and USB ports, a webcam and a multi-card reader, the report states.

Pricing will reportedly fall below US$300, and the laptop's price will be subsidized. It will be sold in two ways: directly to the consumer by Google and bundled with a wireless plan.

A Dose of Reality

Closer examination of the reported specs raise some questions. For example, if the netbook is using an Nvidia Tegra chipset, it might not actually need a separate CPU.

"Tegra is our low-power HD processor for mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and smartbooks," Nvidia spokesperson Bruce Chan told TechNewsWorld. "It has eight separate processors, including an ARM CPU and separate graphics and HD video processors."

On the other hand, speculation about the hard drive and the screen size sound right on the money, judging from past Google statements. Announcing the upcoming Chrome netbooks in November, Sunder Pichai, Google's vice president of product management, said that they'd have solid state drives (SSDs) and wireless cards, and that the netbooks would have large keyboards and screens.

How likely is Google to settle for 64 GB SSDs? Very likely, Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. "It's all about the price point, and SSDs with 64 GB capacity or less are vastly more affordable than those with 128 GB or more," he explained. While SSD prices will inevitably fall, "a good 128 GB SSD will likely cost more than Google can sell the netbook for," Enderle pointed out.

China's Latest Knockoff: Ubuntu in XP Clothing

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chinese-language consumers unwilling or unable to pay the cost of a legitimate copy of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows XP now have a new alternative: a clone of the operating system that's based on Ubuntu.

Dubbed "Ylmf OS," the software is available from Rain Forest Wind Guangdong Computer Technology as a free download on a dedicated Web site.

The system is based on Ubuntu 9.10 and integrates Wine, according to the page. Also included are OpenOffice 3.1, CompizConfig Effects Settings Manager, Firefox and Pidgin for instant messaging.

Canonical, the company that serves as Ubuntu's commercial sponsor, could not be reached for comment by this story's deadline.
'I Don't Recommend It'

Uncovered last Saturday by Download Squad, the Ylmf hack is actually not the first instance of Ubuntu being made to look like Windows.

In what may or may not be a coincidence, an Ubuntu fan who goes by the name of Phrank Waldorf received considerable attention on the Linux blogs just a few weeks ago by posting a similar hack, also using Ubuntu 9.10 to emulate Windows XP.

"I don't use this. I don't recommend it, either!" Waldorf wrote. "I actually made the script as a programming exercise."

The response, however, was likely more than Waldorf had expected. Countless enthusiastic comments were left by readers on Waldorf's page, including at least one asking permission to translate it for a Chinese blog.
'Far More Interesting Work to be Done'

It's not entirely clear why Linux fans -- many of whom are overtly hostile towards Microsoft -- would want to emulate Windows with open source technology.

Indeed, in the open source community, "the general sense is there is far more interesting work to be done differentiating and competing with Windows rather than emulating it," Jay Lyman, an analyst with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider.

It's also not likely such technology holds much promise going forward, Lyman added, "particularly as we see more support for Windows in Linux and other open source software and more support for Linux and other open source in Windows."

The Imminent Netbook Explosion

Thursday, January 7, 2010

As netbook sales Download Free eBook - The Edge of Success: 9 Building Blocks to Double Your Sales continue to grow, hardware and software vendors are battling to exploit this relatively new market.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) released a beta software development kit (SDK) in early December for developers who create applications for netbooks based on its Atom chip. These apps will run in the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows and Moblin operating systems. Meanwhile, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has promised a new netbook operating system (OS) in time for holiday sales next year, while computer vendors such as Asus, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) and Lenovo are jostling to get their slice of the networking pie.

Generally, vendors are positioning the netbook as a second computer -- not as powerful as one's main desktop or hefty notebook, but certainly less expensive and easier to tote around while on the go. Google is also positioning it as a gaming device. Will consumers accept a "less is often good enough" proposition, or will they demand more?

In what directions will the netbook category go over the next few years?

In Tough Times, Cheap Is Good

New features will be driven by consumer demand -- once a platform sells well, vendors will do what it takes to make it even more attractive, a cycle clearly seen in the smartphone market. Netbooks figured significantly in the 0.5 percent growth in computer shipments worldwide in the third quarter, according to Gartner (NYSE: IT). That doesn't seem like much until you find out that Gartner had expected sales to fall by 5.6 percent. Gartner expects netbook shipments to total 29 million for this year, and to hit 41 million in 2010.

More immediately, netbook sales on Black Friday last month showed a 240 percent month-over-month increase, Vipin Jain, CEO of online consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo, told TechNewsWorld. "We are seeing continued strength in netbook demand through December," Jain said. Sales of full-fledged laptops were comparatively weak, increasing by 40 percent month-over-month on Black Friday, Retrevo's figures show.

That strong demand for netbooks is fueled in part by low prices. "Consumers can find really attractive and highly functional netbooks for less than (US)$300 on a regular day and for less than $250 with a deal," Jain pointed out. He expects more of the same in 2010. "Expect this pricing and demand to continue in 2010 as Google raises the stakes with the launch of a number of netbook products using Chrome OS," Jain said.

The low prices charged for netbooks require a trade-off in features. "If you mostly just want to surf the Web, write emails, check your eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) auctions and perform other simple tasks, netbooks are good tools and offer great value," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld. "You don't get the power of a full-sized laptop for that price, but you get light weight and a long battery life."

AT&T wants out of landline business

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

AT&T, the oldest US telephone company, made the request in a filing last week with the in which it also asked the FCC to set a "firm deadline" for phasing out wireline service.

"The business model for legacy phone services is in a death spiral," AT&T said. "With an outdated product, falling revenues, and rising costs, the plain-old telephone service (POTS) business is unsustainable for the long run."

The AT&T filing was in response to an FCC request earlier this month for input on plans to extend high-speed Internet broadband to the entire country.

It was published online by technology blog GigaOM.

AT&T said the high costs of maintaining the legacy phone network were "diverting valuable resources, both public and private, that could be used to expand broadband access and to improve the quality of broadband service."

The company said it was being forced to "dedicate substantial resources to an antiquated network and outdated service."

AT&T said that with the rise of cellphones and Internet communications such as VoIP less than 20 percent of Americans now rely exclusively on landlines for voice service and 25 percent have abandoned them altogether.

Hackers Jimmy GSM Cellphone Encryption

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hackers have once again demonstrated that the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard, the most widely used mobile phone standard in the world, can be hacked.

The GSM Association (GSMA) has acknowledged the technology's flaw, but it said the weakness is not a serious threat and that hackers have not been able to create a practical attack capability that can be used on live, commercial GSM networks.

However, the danger of this latest hack is that it was done with relatively inexpensive equipment, including a PlayStation 3 and open source software, showing that it's getting cheaper and easier to hack wireless communications.

The Latest Hack

The A5/1 cipher used by GSM is insecure, Karsten Nohl and Chris Paget told attendees at the 26th Congress of the Chaos Club in Berlin on Monday. They recommended that it be replaced.

"It was stunning to see what (US)$1,500 of USRP can do," they wrote in a summary of their presentation at the Chaos Club congress. "Add a weak cipher trivially breakable after a few months of distributed table generation, and you get the most widely deployed privacy threat on the planet."

GSM is used by nearly 800 mobile carriers in 219 countries worldwide, representing more than three billion connections, according to GSMA statistics.

USRP stands for "Universal Software Radio Peripheral." A USRP is a high-speed USB-based board for making software radios. It has an open design with freely available schematics, and comes with free software to integrate with the GNU Radio free software toolkit.

Nohl and Paget have created a code book, or lookup table, for the A5/1 cipher using fast graphics cards such as Nvidia (Nasdaq: NVDA) and ATI/AMD cards, and Sony (NYSE: SNE) PlayStation 3s. While compiling such a code book would take more than 100,000 years on a single CPU, it took three months on 40 Nvidia Cuda nodes.

The Dangers

The most important thing about this latest hack is that it used relatively inexpensive, widely available technology. "Processing power is increasing dramatically, with GPU (graphics processing units) in particular," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, said. "This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how this power could be used to hack into otherwise secure data streams."

Terrorist Attempt May Strip Fliers of More Privacy

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back in early October -- nearly three months before Umar Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit -- the Transportation Safety Administration's blog cheerily announced it had received US$355 million of Recovery Act money for "a lot of really nifty improvements to aviation security."

Included in that amount: $25 million to pay for 150 backscatter advanced imaging units which allow screeners to detect threats under people's clothes.

"This deployment follows a successful pilot phase, during which 46 imaging technology units were deployed at 23 airports and passengers opted to use imaging technology for primary screening 98 percent of the time," according to the blog post. "It is important to note that this technology is always optional to passengers."

The "optional" aspects of airport security, and just how effective whole-body scanning technologies can be, are back in the headlines this week following President Obama's vow to review airline security procedures in the wake of a failed attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines (Nasdaq: NWAC) jet. Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to use explosives sewn into his underwear.

Whole-body scanning has so far been done away from public security areas at airports, and TSA employees never see a passenger's face during the scan; in most cases, they aren't even in the same room.

Debate about the scannners has come up before in the years after Sept. 11, but their full implementation in airports has been delayed by privacy concerns. Groups like the ACLU call them "virtual strip-searches" and have suggested that the potential for abuse and civil rights violations outweighs any security benefits.

NASA trains WISE eye on the sky

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Tuesday, NASA engineers aiming for new images of the stars did what every photographer needs to remember to do before taking snapshots--they removed the lens cap. In this case, they sent signals to the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope to jettison a cover that protected the optical gear during launch and helped to keep it chilled.

WISE will start its infrared survey in January, and the "first light" images will be released to the public about a month from now, NASA said. The Delta II rocket carrying the telescope into Earth orbit lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 14.

Apple tablet rumours excite market

Saturday, January 2, 2010

APPLE shares have hit a record high following reports that the California company may unveil a long-awaited portable tablet computer next month.

Apple shares traded at up to $US209.06 ($237.76) as the tablet computer rumours were absorbed by the market.

The surge came after the Financial Times, citing "people familiar with the plans," reported in a blog post that Apple has rented an arts centre in San Francisco to make a "major product announcement" on January 26.

Speculation about a tablet computer from the company behind the Macintosh computer, iPhone and iPod has swirled for years and the FT noted that there have been a number of reports recently that "suggest the tablet will make its debut in January."

The newspaper pointed out that Apple used the same San Francisco venue in September for an iPod event featuring the first public appearance by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs following a lengthy medical leave of absence.

Apple is notoriously secretive about product launches and has declined to address the speculation concerning an "iPad" or "iTablet," which analysts have said may resemble an oversized iPod Touch or a low-cost netbook computer.

Judge dismisses 'defective iPod' class action against Apple

Friday, January 1, 2010

A US appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a class action lawsuit filed against Apple that claimed the iPod was defective and could cause hearing loss.

"The plaintiffs simply do not plead facts showing that hearing loss from iPod use is actual or imminent," the San Francisco-based US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said.

"The iPod has an 'ordinary purpose of listening to music' and nothing they allege suggests iPods are unsafe for that use or defective."

The suit against Apple was filed by Joseph Birdsong of Louisiana and Bruce Waggoner of California.

They claimed the iPod "is defective because it poses an unreasonable risk of noise induced hearing loss".

Mr Birdsong and Mr Waggoner said the iPod was capable of playing music as loud as 115dB and users may listen at unsafe levels.