1/31/2008

Dell developing Google Android handset, moles claim

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Dell will unveil a smartphone based on Google’s Android platform and it’ll do so at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in Barcelona next month.

At least, that’s what unnamed “senior industry sources” cited by UK trade paper Marketing Week claim.

It also admitted Google insiders say that there’s no near-future announcement on the calendar.

Google announced the open source, Linux-based Android back in November 2007, and while the platform’s pitched as a Google initiative, it has plenty of support, mobile phone majors like Samsung and Motorola among them. Android’s tied firmly into Google’s online apps, and is essentially a way to get the advertising company’s ‘word from our sponsor’ wares out in front of eyes on the move.

Founder says Russian authorities hack critical Web site

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An opposition Web site in the southern Russian region of Ingushetia accused local authorities on Thursday of trying to shut it down after it promoted protests and published details of kidnaps and murders.

Ingushetiya.ru had been one of the only information sources criticizing the authorities from the mainly Muslim region bordering Chechnya.

The Web site promoted and helped organize a protest on Saturday in which demonstrators armed with petrol bombs clashed with police and burnt a pro-government newspaper office.

On Thursday the Web site was closed, founder Magomed Evloev said, accusing authorities of hacking into the site to try and silence opposition.

“This is the action of the Ingush authorities,” he said. “They want to silence us and all the people of Ingushetia, but they will not succeed.”

Ingushetia’s authorities declined to comment.

Mozilla fixes Firefox’s flat add-on vulnerability

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The security team at Mozilla has fixed the flat add-on vulnerability acknowledged last week. However, no decision has been made when Firefox 2.0.0.12 will be pushed out to users’ desktops.

The vulnerability, known formally as the “chrome protocol directory transversal,” occurs when a “flat” add-on is present. In this case, an extension to the browser stores its information within JavaScript files as opposed to JAR files. Window Snyder, Mozilla’s chief of security, says the vulnerability is not within the browser, but in how the extensions are written.

An attacker exploiting this flaw may be able to retrieve data or profile a compromised system.

Top Google execs pledged to stay 20 years

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google Inc’s top three executives had pledged to work together for 20 years in a pact they made shortly before the company’s initial public offering in August 2004, Fortune magazine has reported.

Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, together with Chief Executive Eric Schmidt say in a joint interview for Fortune’s February 4th issue that the three had agreed to work together for two decades starting one month before the 2004 IPO.

“We agreed the month before we went public that we should work together for 20 years,” said Schmidt, who added that he will be 69 years old by that time. Page would be 51 and Brin 50.

Porn to spice up cell phones

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Size matters in pornography, except when it comes to tiny mobile phone screens, the next frontier for erotica.

If the adult entertainment industry has its way, Americans will soon get a choice of free porn on cell phones — or at least some photographs of good-looking girls in bikinis.

Unlike in Europe, mobile porn has yet to take off in North America as carriers have been afraid of offending political and religious groups and parents concerned about children being exposed to adult content.

That may change this year as phone companies plan to loosen control on their networks to allow a wider variety of gadgets and services, while introducing new tools to shield minors. More advanced phones with better Web browsers like Apple Inc’s iPhone also offer higher quality pictures and video.

1/30/2008

Skype Trojan wiretap plan leaks onto the net

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

German cops are pushing ahead with controversial plans, yet to be legally approved, to develop “remote forensic software” - in other words, a law enforcement Trojan.

Leaked documents outline proposals by German firm Digitask to develop software to intercept Skype VoIP communications and SSL transmissions. A second leaked document from the Bavarian Ministry of Justice outlines costing and licensing proposals for the software. Both scanned documents (in German, natch) have found their way onto the net after being submitted to Wikileaks.

As previously reported, the German government is looking to recruit coders to develop “white hat” malware capable of covertly hacking into the PCs of suspects in investigations of terrorism or other serious crimes.

Proposals to give explicit permission for law enforcement officials to plant malware stem from a Federal Court ruling last year declaring clandestine searches of suspects’ computers to be inadmissible as evidence, pending a law regulating the practice. Germany’s Federal Court of Justice said the practice was not covered by existing surveillance legislation.

Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany’s Federal Police Office (BKA), expressed frustration about their inability to decipher the encryption used by Skype in order to tap into the VoIP calls of suspected terrorists. Digitask, if the leaked documents are to be believed, has stepped into the breach.

Skype is widely used by consumers to make VoIP calls. The firm has commissioned security experts to audit the encryption and security of its software.

However, other experts have contested the security of Skype’s software. Skype uses widely trusted encryption techniques, such as Advanced Encryption Standard, to encrypt conversations and RSA for key negotiation. But unlike Zfone, its source code has not been publicly released.

Google Docs going offline soon?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Looks like Google is hard at work on offline access to Google Docs. Google Blogoscoped has screenshots of what looks like the beginnings of such a service.

No doubt Google will try to enable offline access for all of its Web apps. This was pretty apparent when the company announced Google Gears last May. Google Gears is a browser plug-in that lets people run Web applications even when they are not connected to the Internet. The Blogoscoped screenshots appear to be the first public evidence of such testing.

In response to questions, a Google representative said: “We’re working on enabling many of our applications to work with Google Gears, but we don’t have anything more specific to share at this time.”

EBay adjusts pricing to encourage low-cost sellers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Online auction leader eBay Inc on Tuesday introduced price changes and tighter sales standards in a bid to retain quality sellers, improve customer service and revive flagging growth.

In a speech to eBays top store operators and market makers in Washington D.C., CEO-in-waiting John Donahoe will set out a plan to reward the companys best sellers with sales incentives and priority ranking in search results for auction items.

Key changes involve lowering fees for listing items within auctions or for independently operated stores run on eBay. It also involves raising some of the fees sellers pay once sales transactions are successfully completed. And eBay plans to raise minimum standards to discourage abusive sales practices.

MySpace launches developer platform, appoints COO

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

MySpace, the world’s largest online social network, will launch its program to court outside software developers in February in a bid to widen the gap against rival Facebook.

As part of the February 5 launch, it has also promoted MySpace business development executive Amit Kapur to a new role as chief operating officer, the company will announce on Wednesday.

Over the past year, rival Facebook has moved aggressively to close the gap between it and MySpace, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Developers have cited, as one reason for Facebook’s rapid growth, its policy of opening up its platform to entrepreneurs to profit from creating applications from the silly — like the ability to throw sheep at each other — to the functional, such as sharing photos.

Although few details were furnished ahead of MySpace’s official launch of its platform, Kapur said the developer program would be rolled out globally in about 28 territories.

Spring, Java platform combos eyed

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Spring technology is an alternative to EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) for Java development, but an upcoming Java version will enable combinations of established Java platform technologies with Spring, the founder of the Spring Framework said on Tuesday.

Interviewed at the WebGuild Web 2.0 Conference & Expo, Rod Johnson, founder of the Spring Framework and CEO of SpringSource, anticipates accommodations with the enterprise Java platform once Java Platform, EE (Enterprise Edition) 6 is released. This is expected to happen sometime in 2008, according to a Java Community Process Java Specification Request focused on Java EE 6.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Spring provides an alternative to EJB — I recently blogged about how requirements for Spring skills have overtaken requirements for EJB in North America — I don’t think that necessarily means Spring is in opposition to Java EE as a whole, given that Java EE 6 is introducing the notion of profiles,” Johnson said.??

Java EE 6 could allow for standardized combinations of technologies without the legacy of the traditional, full Java EE platform, Johnson said. “We could combine our technology with the various standard technologies we support,” he said.

1/29/2008

Researchers Make Tiny Radio From Nanotubes

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Transistor radios tinier than a grain of sand, made using nanotechnology, can not only tune in to the traffic report, but may end up outperforming current silicon-based electronics, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The researchers made the microscopic radios out of carbon nanotubes—tiny strands of carbon atoms—and say in theory they could lead to faster devices.

They overcame a series of obstacles that have defeated efforts to make nano-radios, including getting amplification, by making their devices on quartz wafers.

“Our goal is not to make tiny radios per se, but really to develop nanotubes as a higher-performing semiconductor,” said John Rogers, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois.

He said the devices are meant to showcase a new way of making carbon nanotubes in perfectly aligned rows, much like strands of silky hair that have been combed flat.

Has Microsoft Disavowed Vista?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

It seems that Microsoft is already giving up on Vista and is setting up business users to switch from XP to Windows 7.

Technically, Vista is pure misery. It eats system resources like an elephant does peanuts, Windows applications break and its so-called improved security is a joke. I know it. You know it. Even Microsoft’s most devoted yes-men know it–although they won’t admit it–and perhaps Microsoft knows it as well.

What else can explain why Microsoft is now leaking news about Windows 7, the next version of Windows? Oh, officially Vista SP 1 is still the big upcoming news, although I think most businesses are actually more interested in XP SP 3. The simple truth is that no matter how Microsoft and its partners like CDW spin it, Vista is not being picked up by corporate users. Even Bill Gates’ vaunted 100 million Vista users number should be taken with a large—very large—grain of salt.

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