12/1/2007

MTV to offer free South Park downloads

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

MTV Networks, the biggest division of Viacom Inc. has announced plans to make every South Park episode available online for free as part of a plan to make the show available to a larger audience.

MTV originally based this decision from the success of providing “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” online. Since offering the “Daily Show” videos in October, viewership has been up with no obvious harm to ratings.

Microsoft Intros New Developer Portal

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft’s introduction Nov. 30 of its new United Communications Developer Portal is the next step in fulfilling Chairman Bill Gates’ promise in October that the software giant was readying a major push into the unified communications space.

At the Oct. 15 event, Microsoft launched unified communications and VOIP (voice over IP) software, including Microsoft OCS (Office Communications Server) 2007, which delivers VOIP, video, instant messaging, conferencing and presence within applications such as Microsoft Office system applications and upcoming versions of Microsoft Dynamics ERP (enterprise resource planning) products; Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, which is client software for phone, instant messaging and video communications; and Microsoft Office Live Meeting, the next version of Microsoft’s advanced conferencing service.

On Nov. 30, the company took aim at the developer community. The Microsoft Unified Communications Developer Portal features several resources, including new SDKs (software developer kits) and APIs (application programming interfaces) to help developers build applications on Microsoft’s unified communications platform.

Mozilla Swats Firefox Bug With a Patch

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Officials at Mozilla said they have released an update to fix a flaw in the recently released 2.0.0.10 version of their Firefox browser.

It is the first time ever Mozilla has released two versions of the open-source browser in the same week. When Mozilla released Firefox 2.0.0.10 Monday, it included a bug in its rendering canvas HTML elements. Canvas elements allow for dynamic, scriptable rendering of bitmap images in HTML.

“The bug affects a specific use case of the Canvas tag, which is not yet in wide use,” said Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering at Mozilla. “We used our standard process of releasing a beta to tens of thousands of users and had no reports of this issue prior to the full release of 2.0.0.10. Once we became aware of the issue, we worked overtime to address it.”

The new version, Firefox 2.0.0.11 is now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux

NASA reveals manned Mars mission plans

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

NASA says it will send a 400,000kg crewed spacecraft on a 30-month round trip to Mars as early as February 2031. The details of the planned mission were announced at a meeting in Houston, Texas, the BBC reports.

According to the plans, the spacecraft will be built in orbit, being far too large to ever be lifted from the bottom of Earth’s gravity well by rocket. The Martian living quarters, which would be nuclear-powered, will be sent to the red planet two years ahead of the manned mission itself, along with all the cargo.
Opportunity starts exploring Victoria crater

Given the right start date, the trip to Mars takes roughly six months. Life support on the craft would be a so-called closed loop system, with air and water having to be recycled, and NASA says it expects the astronauts will grow fresh food en route, taking advantage of the sun’s diminishing rays as they travel. Once there, the team would set up camp and stay for around 16 months before heading home again.

Estimates of the cost of sending people to the red planet vary hugely, ranging from $20bn to $450bn. Other stumbling blocks include what to do if the mission should run into difficulties.

Cisco VoIP bug poses eavesdropping risk

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A bug involving 7900 Series IP phones from Cisco creates a means for hackers to eavesdrop on calls.

The flaw stems from security shortcomings in the Extension Mobility feature of the phones, which allows users to configure a Cisco IP phone as their own. The feature is disabled by support, which is just as well because when enabled the feature fails to encrypt signalling communications between a device and an internal web server. This, in turn, creates a means for miscreants to sniff out authentication credentials. These credentials might subsequently be misused to cut off users or eavesdrop on streaming media connections associated with calls.

However, an attack along these lines will only succeed in cases where would-be hackers are already in possession of valid Extension Mobility authentication credentials. Attackers would also need to have access to a targeted network. Although remote hacking is theoretically possible, a bigger danger would appear to stem from internal attacks.

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