Vietnam political blogs hacked

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

INTERNET giant Google says Vietnamese computer users have been spied on and political blogs hacked in attacks which a leading web security firm suspects are linked to the country's government.

The incidents recall cyber attacks in China that Google in January said had struck it and other unidentified firms in an apparent bid to hack into the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

"These infected machines have been used both to spy on their owners as well as participate in distributed denial of service attacks against blogs containing messages of political dissent," said Neel Mehta of Google's security team in the firm's Online Security Blog.

Perpetrators of the Vietnamese attacks "may have political motivations and may have some allegiance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," George Kurtz, chief technology officer of California-based Internet security firm McAfee, wrote in his Security Insights Blog.
Vietnamese authorities could not immediately comment.

Mr Kurtz said McAfee had been sharing the results of its investigation with US-based Google which, in its own blog posting late Tuesday, said malicious software had infected the computers of potentially tens of thousands of users around the world.

"Specifically, these attacks have tried to squelch opposition to bauxite mining efforts in Vietnam, an important and emotionally charged issue in the country," Mr Mehta said.

The mining project which is underway in Vietnam's Central Highlands is controversial partly because at least one Chinese company has been granted a major contract.

Opposition to the development peaked last year in a rare public outcry from a broad spectrum of society.

A website which initiated a petition against the mining displayed a notice Wednesday saying it had been hacked and suggested alternate sites which users could try if they experienced access problems.

"We've had notably two problems: hackers and the firewall. People can no longer open our site in internet cafes," said Nguyen Hue Chi, an administrator of the Bauxite Vietnam site

Amazon routes Kindle books to rival iPad

Monday, April 26, 2010

Apple's latest creation will be available Saturday morning at the California company's shops and at Best Buy electronics chain stores.

The application will let iPad users buy any of more than 450,000 digital books from the online Kindle Store.

Amazon "Whispersync" technology lets people read across an array of devices, picking up at pages where they left off whether they are switching to Kindle, iPod Touch, iPads or other gadgets.

"Kindle for iPad includes all the features customers love about Kindle for iPhone, along with a beautiful new user interface tailored to the look and feel of iPad," said Amazon Kindle director Jay Marine.

"Kindle for iPad is the perfect companion for the millions of customers who already own a Kindle or Kindle DX, and a way for customers around the world to download and enjoy books even if they don't yet have a Kindle."

The iPad is seen as a threat to the Kindle, which has dominated the electronic reader market since its launch in late 2007.

Apple's touch-screen iPad doubles as a full-color e-reader of books, newspapers and magazines.

The World Around Them

Saturday, April 24, 2010

About twenty percent of people are born with this “highly sensitive” trait, which may also manifest itself as inhibitedness, or even neuroticism. The trait can be seen in some children who are “slow to warm up” in a situation but eventually join in, need little punishment, cry easily, ask unusual questions or have especially deep thoughts.

While such traits are relatively familiar because they are easy to observe, the researchers, have found evidence that for those with this innate trait, the actual underlying difference is in the brain’s attention to details. The study was conducted by Jadzia Jagiellowicz, Xiaomeng Xu, Arthur Aron, and Elaine Aron at Stony Brook University, along with Guikang Cao and Tingyong Feng of Southwest University, China and Xuchu Weng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. This research, designed to validate the fundamental role of deeper processing of information, was published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Sensory perception sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait characterized by sensitivity to internal and external stimuli, including social and emotional ones, is found in over one hundred other species, from fruit flies and fish to canines and primates. Biologists are beginning to agree that within one species there can be two equally successful “personalities.” The sensitive type, always a minority, chooses to observe longer before acting, as if doing their exploring with their brains rather than their limbs. The other type “boldly goes where no one has gone before.” The sensitive’s strategy, sometimes called reactive or responsive, is better when danger is present, opportunities are similar and hard to choose between, or a clever approach is needed. It is not an advantage when resources are plentiful or quick, aggressive action is required.

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R18+ games

Thursday, April 22, 2010

AUSTRALIA should keep its ban on R18+ games because children could be damaged by the act of participating in simulated violence and sex, says Guardian for Children Pam Simmons.

AdelaideNow reports the Federal Government is investigating whether the ban should be dropped, which Ms Simmons said would open the country to a range of games depicting domestic violence, rape, murder and torture.

Ms Simmons, who is the woman in charge of protecting the rights of children in South Australia, said people should understand that watching simulated domestic violence, for example, on a DVD was totally different from getting involved or children watching parents or older siblings getting involved.

"We are talking about high-impact violence including sexual and domestic violence and the game participation in drug use," she said.
"People will say, 'What is the difference between the games and violent movies?', and it is the interaction, the getting involved, rather than just watching.

"I am not advocating children watching it either, but they are not just seeing violence in these games, they are participating in it or watching an adult participating it, they are in there playing the game.

"There was new evidence as recently as two weeks ago showing the link between the actual participation of violence in games and violent behaviour."

Ms Simmons said it would be impossible to make sure only those aged 18 years and over played the games.

"No matter how well we think it will be controlled, we cannot control everything, and there will be situations where children are using the games, watching older siblings or adults playing them," she said.

School District

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In the past two months since it originally surfaced, the Blake Robbins v. the Lower Merion School District school spying case just keeps getting bigger.

It turns out the Lower Merion School District took "thousands of webcam pictures and screen shots" of students in their homes using the LANRev "peeping tom" technology on school-issued laptops, according to a motion filed last week.

Some 400 of those were photos of Blake Robbins alone, including shots of him partially dressed or sleeping, the motion alleges. Also captured were numerous images of private instant messaging communications between 15-year-old Robbins and his friends, the motion charges.

'May Be a Voyeur'

Carol Cafiero, a technology coordinator now on leave from Harriton High School, "may be a voyeur," the motion suggests. Responding to an email Free Report - Discover the Difference of Email Marketing 2.0! from an IT staffer about how viewing students from the computer webcams amounted to a sort of "[school district] soap opera," Cafiero responded, "I know, I love it," according to the recent filing.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Thursday ordered that Cafiero be sanctioned US$2,500 for refusing to answer any questions in a deposition, citing her Fifth Amendment rights.

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Mars radar

TECHNOLOGY used to discover underground ice on Mars could also be used in the search for water on Earth and help ward off conflict in the arid Middle East, a NASA scientist said.

A probe launched by the US space agency NASA discovered in 2007 that the desert which covers Mars sat on enough frozen water to submerge the Red Planet.

The same radar technology should be used in the vast deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, scientist Essam Heggy told a UN-sponsored water conference in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria.

"We (in the region) are best placed to use this technology," Mr Heggy said.

The equipment, dubbed Marsis, consists of a radar sounder with a 40m antenna fitted to an orbiter that is able to bounce radio waves 3.7km beneath the surface of Mars.

Mr Heggy said the technology could detect water up to 1km beneath the dense deserts that cover much of the Middle East and North Africa and which experts say threaten to consume more land in the next century.
Scans taken by NASA showed an especially arid region of Darfur in Sudan sat on top of 6000-year-old valleys and lakes.

The "water that was at the surface is now on the subsurface level", said Mr Heggy, a planetary scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"If we don't have these images we're shooting in the dark."

Middle East countries, which include the world's largest oil exporters, spend more on oil discovery than any other region in the world but devote the least amount of funds to water exploration, Mr Heggy said.

"Water has no substitute. But still, we're not looking for it," he said, adding that its scarcity could trigger potential water-related conflicts in the region.

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Bug Catching

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Debugging normally involves putting a chip through a battery of tests to identify spots that are likely to fail and to give engineers a chance to fix problems before the chips go into mass production. As chip-making companies as push the functionality of their hardware, this becomes increasingly complicated.

Subhasish Mitra, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford and colleagues have developed a method that uses a small number (about 1 percent) of the transistors on a chip to record a log of chip activity--the instructions that pass through the chip's circuits. This log can be extracted from the chip, dumped into a computer, and analyzed to find out where the bugs are.

"It's enormously expensive to diagnose where chips are failing," says Rob Rutenbar, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, who wasn't involved with the research. As the features on microprocessors get smaller, Rutenbar says, "people worry more about wear-out and reliability issues."

Monitoring Cancer

Friday, April 16, 2010

One way that cancer is thought to spread from its original site and metastasize elsewhere in the body is through cells that detach from the primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. Recent studies have shown that tracking blood levels of these circulating tumor cells could help monitor how well a cancer treatment is working. But because their concentration in the blood is so low, researchers have struggled to detect them with enough accuracy to be clinically relevant.

Three years ago, bioengineer Mehmet Toner and cancer biologist Daniel Haber of Harvard University reported making a microfluidic chip that captured these cells at a higher rate than other techniques. The chip had a good enough resolution for proof-of-principle studies, says Shannon Stott, a postdoc in Haber's lab, but analysis required an individual to scan thousands of images with a microscope--a process that takes about eight hours per sample and is therefore not amenable to diagnostic use in the clinic.

In the current work, a pilot study of prostate cancer patients led by Stott and Shyamala Maheswaran at the Mass General Hospital Cancer Center, and published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers tested an automated imaging system. In addition to reducing analysis time by more than 75 percent, the scientists could use the imaging to analyze the cancer cells at different points--before and after tumor removal surgery and during hormone-based therapy.

Solar Cells Cheaper

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The crystalline silicon wafers used to make today's solar cells are treated to create a textured surface, then coated with an antireflective layer, usually silicon nitride, using high-vacuum processes. This additional layer increases the value of a solar cell by improving its efficiency--the more times a photon bounces around inside a solar cell's active layer, the greater the chances it will contribute to the flow of electricity off the cell. But the extra layer also adds to the expense. "We believe it can be cheaper," says Howard Branz, principle scientist in silicon materials and devices at NREL. Even with a coating, the best-quality silicon solar cells typically reflect 3 percent of the light that hits them. Branz's lab is developing inexpensive ways to create black silicon, which reflects almost no light.

Prototype solar cells made at NREL have the best efficiency ever reported for black silicon cells. Monocrystalline silicon cells with the black surface, and no additional antireflective coating, convert 16.8 percent of the light that hits them into electricity, about the same efficiency offered by a typical crystalline silicon solar cell coated with antireflective material. The previous record for black silicon cells was 13.9 percent.

Robotic Planes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

For the first time, NASA has begun flying an unmanned aircraft outfitted with scientific instruments to observe the Earth's atmosphere in greater detail. The agency has partnered with Northrop Grumman to outfit three aircraft, called Global Hawks, which were given to NASA by the U.S. Air Force. Unlike manned aircraft equipped with Earth observation tools, the Global Hawks can fly for up to 30 hours and travel for longer distances and at high altitudes; they can also gather more precise data than satellites and can be stationed to monitor an area for extended periods of time.
"There are certain types of atmospheric and earth science data that we are missing, even though we have things like satellites, manned aircraft, and surface-based networks," says Robbie Hood, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. NOAA has formed an agreement with NASA to help construct the scientific instruments and guide the science missions for the Global Hawks. Hood will evaluate the aircraft to determine how they could be best used. For example, she says, they could fly over a hurricane to monitor its intensity changes or fly over the arctic to monitor sea ice changes in higher detail.

The Global Hawks' first mission launched last week--an aircraft flew from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California over the Pacific Ocean. The project scientists will launch approximately one flight a week until the end of April. The drone is outfitted with 11 different instruments to take measurements and map aerosols and gases in the atmosphere, profile clouds, and gather meteorological data such as temperatures, winds, and pressures. It also has high-definition cameras to image the ocean colors.

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Android Security

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Today's smart phones have all the speed, storage, and network connectivity of desktop computers from a few years ago. Because of this, they're a treasure trove of personal information--and likely the next battleground for computer security.
What makes smart phones attractive--the ability to customize them by downloading applications--is what makes them dangerous. Apps make the mobile phone a real computer, and Apple's App Store has been a key factor in the phone's success. But apps also make smart phones a target for cyber criminals.

Apple knows that it wouldn't take more than a few malicious apps to tarnish the iPhone's reputation. That's why the App Store is a walled community. The only apps that get listed are those that have been approved by Apple. To get approved, developers must create a developer account and pay an annual fee. A team at Apple evaluates and approves each version of each application that is made available. Apple reportedly turns down roughly 10 percent of applications submitted to the App Store because they would steal personal data, they contain "inappropriate content," or are designed to help a user break the law.

Google has taken a fundamentally different approach to ensuring the security of smart phones running Android. Like Apple, Android also has a store, called the Android Marketplace, from which users can download applications. But unlike Apple, any application can be uploaded to the Android Marketplace--Google doesn't evaluate them first. What protects Android users from malicious applications is a security model based on "capabilities."

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Prostate Cancer Results

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The rapid results are possible because of a novel microfluidics technology developed by startup Claros Diagnostics, which hopes to make quick PSA monitoring in the doctor's office a reality. If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the device will be one of the first examples of long-awaited microfluidics-based diagnostics tests that can be performed in the hospital or doctor's office. While microfluidics--which allows for the manipulation of fluids on a chip at microscopic scales--has been around for a decade, the complexity and expense has kept it largely limited to research applications.

Claros's technology, which consists of a small blood-collector device, a disposable cartridge, and a toaster-sized reader, could, in theory at least, be adapted to detect any number of different proteins. But the company has initially chosen to focus on PSA, which is routinely monitored. With current testing, blood samples are typically sent to a centralized lab for PSA analysis. Results are returned in a day or two. Claros's test, now in clinical trials, would allow PSA readings to be determined during the patient's visit. While there is debate over how useful PSA testing is in diagnosing cancer, it is a well-accepted tool for monitoring those who have it. Within a month after prostate surgery, a man's PSA levels drops--a subsequent increase suggests that PSA producing cancer cells have returned.

YouTube's New

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The redesign eliminates one of the chief irritants to tubesters: clutter.

"We heard from users that there are a lot of unnecessary features and clutter that could be cleaned up," YouTube spokesperson Chris Dale told TechNewsWorld.

"Video is the center of our universe, and it's the center of the user's universe, and that is much clearer in this redesign than it has been in the past," he maintained. "We're bringing everything back to centering on the video experience and how the users are engaging in that video."

To avert clutter, the redesign groups all the information about a video in one place, and its detail can be obtained in a consistent way.

The action bar on a video's page has also been cleaned up, and the presentation of controls for sharing, flagging and embedding videos streamlined.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

IBM is joining forces with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to protect the nation's civilian aviation system from the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks. They are working on building a prototype security system capable of protecting the vast amount of information flowing daily through the FAA's computer networks.

This project will introduce first-of-a-kind security analytics technology, said Josyula Rao, senior manager, secure software and services, at IBM's Watson Research Center. Rao is the research leader on the research and development project.

"This project could play an important role in addressing the growing cybersecurity threat -- threats that are constantly on the rise," Rao told TechNewsWorld.
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The analytics technology is a new approach to protecting large digital infrastructures from hacking, botnets, malware and a whole host of other forms of cyberattacks. It is designed to protect both data at rest, that is, computer files that are not often updated, and data in motion -- files that move rapidly throughout the system, Rao explained.

There is not usually enough storage space available in such a large computer network to analyze the data in motion. "It's like drinking out of a fire hose," Rao said. "You need to have the ability to process it without storing it."

With data at rest, the goal is to learn from it, Rao said. Therefore, the system is designed to look back at event occurrences and system compromises. It will also be able to correlate historical traffic patterns with dynamic data from monitors, sensors and other devices capturing information about network traffic and user activity in real-time.

The FAA will also be able to store real-time results in a data warehouse, Rao said. This will allow for security experts to go back and analyze the data and learn from it.

Android Phone

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What sets Devour apart from other Android phones is Motorola's MotoBlur software. The phone, which is offered by Verizon Wireless, allows you to funnel a host of information from email accounts and social networking sites into a single home screen on the phone.

On the screen's central panel are widgets for displaying your online status, "happenings" from your friends, and a universal in-box.

The Happenings widget aggregates wall posts, status updates and photo updates from social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

The Universal Inbox collects phone texts, messages and emails.
Speech-to-Text Searching

By sliding a finger from left to right on the mobile's Learn how SugarCRM will improve your business. Free Trial. Click here. 3.1-inch capacitive color touchscreen, you can access the home screen's left panel, which initially contains widgets for news headlines, music playlists, current weather and an analog clock.

Slide your finger in the other direction and the home screen's right panel rolls into view. It has some help widgets for using the phone, a stock market app, a Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) search bar and Verizon Navigator.

As with other Android phones, search terms can be spoken into the phone's microphone and turned into text on the Google search line.

Verizon Navigator is a paid subscription service from the carrier. For US$9.99 a month, or $2.99 a day, you can get turn-by-turn auto navigation, local search for points of interest, and detailed maps.

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