2/16/2006

AT&T Pays Off Congressmen To Kill Municipal Networks

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

AT&T has been using its considerable checkbook to pay off Congressman to ban cities and towns from setting up their own broadband and wireless networks. The top two recipients of AT&T campaign donations in 2006 have proposed laws to ban or dramatically curtail municipal networks.

That’s according to Russel Shaw’s blog. Shaw dug into AT&T campaign donations, and found that the top recipient this year is Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas), and number two is Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada).

Sessions has proposed a law that would outright ban municipal networks. At the heart of his so-called “Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act” is section two, titled, “Prohibition On Municipal Services.” As the name implies, it would outlaw municipal networks.

Source: networkingpipeline.com

Linux beats Windows to Intel iMac

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Mactel-Linux folks have now successfully booted Linux on a 17″ Core Duo iMac. They used the elilo bootloader, a modified kernel, and a hacked vesafb to boot from a USB drive. No GUI pictures for now, just white text on a black background. The distro of choice was Gentoo, and instructions and patches are promised this weekend.

Source: Slashdot

FBI wants your help to fight cybercrime

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The FBI needs more help from private businesses to stay ahead of the curve in the fight on cybercrime, said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“Those of you in the private sector are our first line of defense,” Mueller told attendees of the RSA Conference 2006 here in a speech on Wednesday. “We recognize that in certain areas we lack the expertise that you possess. We lack the specific knowledge of threats that affect individual businesses every day.”

The advent of the information age has made the world smaller and smarter, but the threats have become equally more diverse and dangerous, Mueller said. “We need your help, and we continue to ask for your cooperation,” he said.

Information technology has become a “force multiplier for criminals,” with threats including online fraud, identity theft and botnets, Mueller said. “It is not easy for law enforcement and private industry alike to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to these ever-evolving threats.”

The bureau has several initiatives to work with private businesses, such as its InfraGard program, which has about 3,000 members. These efforts have helped identify new attacks and track down attackers, Mueller said. For example, in collaboration with Microsoft, the FBI found the alleged creators of the Mytob and Zotob worms.

Source: News.com

Cellular Service to Offer MySpace Phones

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The social networking site MySpace, hugely successful among teenagers and twenty-somethings, is about to become more ubiquitous with the launch of a cellular service that will let users read and post to the site for free.

The service and two accompanying phones will be launched in a few months by Helio LLC, a joint venture of Internet service provider Earthlink Inc. and South Korean carrier SK Telecom Co.

Helio’s two phones, dubbed “Hero” and “Kickflip” will be based on Korean designs. Made by Pantech and VK Mobile, the phones will feature large color screens and cameras, but no QWERTY keyboards.

An exact launch date was not announced. Nor were prices for the phones and plans, but Dayton said they will not be prepaid. Apart from a monthly fee, access to MySpace will be free.

Helio will be a so-called “mobile virtual network operator,” meaning it won’t have its own cellular network. Instead, it will buy access to Sprint Nextel Corp.’s and Verizon Wireless’ high-speed networks.

Source: AP

China defends right to police Internet

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

China on Thursday defended its right to police the Internet, one day after four American technology giants appeared before Congress on charges they collaborated with Beijing to crush free speech online in return for market access.

“It is normal for countries to manage the Internet in accordance with law and to guide its development in a healthy and orderly fashion,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. “China has also borrowed and learned from the United States and other countries in the world.”

While China encourages use of the Internet for business and education, it strictly monitors the Web and censors anything it considers critical or a threat to the ruling Communist Party.

Source: AP

Amazon Plans Music Service To Rival iPod

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Amazon, the world’s No. 1 online retailer, is in advanced talks with the four global music companies about a digital-music service with a range of features designed to set it apart. Among them: Amazon-branded portable music players, designed and built for the retailer, and a subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans as part of the deal.

The service could be launched as soon as this summer, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon declined to discuss the service, and hasn’t finalized deals to license content from major music companies: Vivendi Universal SA’s Universal Music Group; Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG; Warner Music Group Corp.; and EMI Group PLC.

Amazon’s online music plans would take advantage of the company’s strong position in selling CDs and portable music players. The online retailer sells an estimated 10% of digital music players in the U.S., including iPods, and the pending deal could hurt its relationship with Apple. If Amazon’s competing offering presented enough of a threat, Apple could even stop selling iPods on the site, says Chris Crotty, senior analyst at iSuppli Corp., an El Segundo, Calif., market-research firm. Apple declined to comment.

Source: wsj.com

Mac OS X virus sighted

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Antivirus researchers have discovered what’s claimed to be the first computer virus to infect Apple Mac OS X computers. The malware, dubbed Leap-A, spreads via the iChat instant messaging system as a file called latestpics.tgz that infected machines send to contacts on an infected user’s buddy list.

The malicious file is disguised as a jpeg, and users who open it will find their machines infected. Mac viruses were relatively common at the dawn of personal computing, but these days the overwhelming majority of viruses are Windows specific. Leap-A shows other platforms are also vulnerable.

Source: The Register

Apple updates iDVD, iPhoto, iWeb, iTunes, iMovie

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple on Wednesday updated most of the individual applications that are included with its iLife 06 suite. The updates are available for download through the Software Update system preferences pane.

iDVD has been updated to version 6.0.1; iPhoto has been updated to 6.0.1; iWeb has been updated to 1.0.1; iMovie HD has been updated to 6.0.1 and iTunes has been updated to 6.0.3.

Most of the applications have been updated to “address a number of minor issues,? according to Apple.

The updates are individually described and available for download on Apple’s software downloads page.

Source: macworld

Review: TaxCut Is Best Tax Prep Program

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

AP reviewed three tax preparation applications: H&R Block’s TaxCut, Intuit’s TurboTax and the comparatively cheaper TaxAct, from an Iowa company called 2nd Story Software.

All three products, for those of you new to this method of tax prep, ask you a series of questions and fill out your tax forms based on your responses. How long you travel down the various avenues depends on the complexity of your finances.

Now, several other factors will figure into which program you might use:

Each offers different versions at varied costs, for features that may or may not interest you.

And all three manufacturers sell cheaper versions if used online (though some people don’t like the idea of keeping their precious financials online, no matter how secure companies may claim their storage).

Of course you will probably have to pay to electronically file your return — unless you qualify the IRS’s free e-filing and meet certain income requirements.

Mac users beware: Only one of the three programs — TurboTax — offered software using a Mac format.

So which program would I choose to actually file my taxes? Certainly not TaxAct.

Between the other two, I found TaxCut more informative and, pardon the jab, a bit more intuitive. Oh, and don’t forget the additional $12 dollars in refund it calculated — which these days will get you about three lattes.

Source: AP

Microsoft announces Office 2007 pricing, details

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft on Wednesday offered further details on the next version of Office, announcing plans for a new home version as well as new server-based products and a new high-end enterprise edition of the desktop suite.

The software maker also offered pricing details for some, though not all, of the new products. In general, Microsoft said both businesses and consumers should expect to pay about the same for the new Office as they have paid for past versions.

“We do not expect our customers to notice any significant change in our pricing,” said Parri Munsell, a group program manager in Microsoft’s information worker unit. Office Standard, for example, will sell for $399, while Office Professional will sell for $499. Also, as widely expected, the version formerly code-named “Office 12″ will be known as Office 2007 when it ships in the second half of this year.

Munsell said the new Office will offer a bevy of new features, including an all-new user interface and new XML-based file formats.

There’s a tremendous amount in the new Office 2007,” he said. “We do believe this is the most significant advance in over a decade.”

Microsoft released an initial beta of Office 2007 in November, with a second beta planned for this spring.

Source: News.com

Oracle tried to buy open-source MySQL

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Oracle tried to acquire open-source database maker MySQL, an indication of the profound changes the software giant is willing to make as it adapts to the increasingly significant collaborative programming philosophy.

Though it is increasingly diversified, Oracle’s primary business is selling its own proprietary database software. MySQL, in contrast, is a leader among several companies trying to commercialize rival open-source products.

MySQL Chief Executive Marten Mickos confirmed the acquisition attempt in an interview at the Open Source Business Conference here but wouldn’t provide details such as when the approach was made or how much money Oracle offered.

He did, however, say why he turned down Oracle’s offer: the desire to keep his company’s independence. “We will be part of a larger company, but it will be called MySQL,” Mickos said.

Source: News.com

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