1/11/2008

Don’t Upgrade to Vista, UK Gov’t Agency Tells Schools

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

British schools should not upgrade to Microsoft’s Vista operating system and Office 2007 productivity suite, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) said in a report on the software. It also supported use of the international standard ODF (Open Document Format) for storing files.

Schools might consider using Vista if rolling out all-new infrastructure, but should not introduce it piecemeal alongside other versions of Windows, or upgrade older machines, said the agency, which is responsible for advising British schools and colleges on their IT use.

“We have not had sight of any evidence to support the argument that the costs of upgrading to Vista in educational establishments would be offset by appropriate benefit,” it said.

The cost of upgrading Britain’s schools to Vista would be �175 million (US$350 million), around a third of which would go to Microsoft, the agency said. The rest would go on deployment costs, testing and hardware upgrades, it said.

Yahoo tool eases music playback from personal Web pages

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

If you often link to music files from your personal Web page or blog, and have some control over the code on that page, Yahoo’s got an interesting tool for you. With a few lines of very simple Javascript code, you can add small “play” buttons that link to specific songs. When users click those buttons, the Yahoo Media Player launches, letting visitors play the song without leaving your page. There was a previous iteration of the Player, but it worked only on Yahoo Music and linked only to music files from Yahoo’s own site.

Zero-Day Exploit For Apple’s QuickTime Posted

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An Italian security researcher has posted a proof-of-concept exploit for a zero-day vulnerability in the most current version of Apple’s QuickTime media software (7.3.1).

Luigi Auriemma, noted among other things for discovering a vulnerability in the Unreal Engine in 2004, on Thursday posted details about producing a buffer overflow error in QuickTime. Buffer overflows can often be exploited by attackers to compromise the affected system.

“The bug is a buffer-overflow and the return address can be fully overwritten so a malicious attacker could use it for executing malicious code on the victim,” Auriemma said in an e-mail.

The vulnerability affects both Windows and Mac OS X versions of Apple’s QuickTime software.

In his description of the exploit, Auriemma explains that when QuickTime encounters a Real-Time Streaming Protocol link (rtsp://) link and port 554 of the server is closed, the application will switch to the HTTP protocol on port 80. The server then sends a long HTTP error message, so long that it causes the buffer to overflow. This allows the attacker to take control the affected system.

Auriemma said that Apple was not been notified of the flaw in advance of its publication.

Toshiba Shows Prototype TV Running on PS3 Chip

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

What happens when you take the powerful Cell microprocessor, the chip that sits at the heart of the PlayStation 3 games console, and put it to use inside a television? Toshiba is demonstrated just such a TV at this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show and the results are impressive.

The Cell chip was developed by Toshiba along with IBM, Sony and Sony Computer Entertainment, and is dedicated to graphics processing. Each chip contains a single Power PC core and eight co-processors to make heavy-duty processing of video a breeze.

While Sony developed the chip for its PlayStation 3, Toshiba invested money in the project with an eye to using the device in consumer electronics products. Until CES, the company hadn’t shown a Cell-powered consumer device, but a pair of flat-panel TVs on its booth at the trade show have changed that.

The first and perhaps most relevant benefit of putting the Cell inside a television is the ability to handle real-time upscaling of standard definition TV to high-def. With more and more HDTV channels, we get more and more used to the crisp, sharp quality offered by HD and that makes standard definition look poor. With a Cell-powered TV you’d be able to enjoy regular channels in higher quality much closer to that of HD, said Hiroaki Komaki, a specialist at Toshiba’s core technology center in Tokyo.

Gizmodo messes with CES flat screens

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Gizmodo kids pulled a good stunt at CES: they fired TV-B-Gone remotes at walls of shiny new monitors on display and during press conferences, much to the displeasure of booth staffers.

The video is funny. The ramifications of prank will not be. The CES organizers only grudgingly gave bloggers press credentials to the conference, and even then kept them segregated into a working lounge that was a step down in amenity and luxury from the “press” lounge and work area. This prank will not endear the blogging class to either the CEA, which produces CES, or the companies that paid dearly for the right to occupy CES floorspace and show off their products.

Sony BMG to Sell MP3s on Amazon.com

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the last major music label holding out against selling music online without copy protection, relented Thursday and announced Amazon.com Inc.’s digital music store will carry songs by its artists.

Until this week, Sony BMG had resisted selling songs from its catalog without embedding Digital Rights Management coding, which prevented them from being copied.

Amazon’s digital music store sells songs only in the MP3 format, which can be burned onto CDs, copied to multiple PCs and played on any number of digital media players, including Apple Inc.’s iPod and Microsoft Corp.’s Zune.

Sony BMG, which is jointly owned by Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, said Tuesday that it also plans to sell some DRM-free music directly to customers in the U.S. and Canada.

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