3/31/2008

Adobe brings AIR to Linux, joins Linux Foundation

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Adobe Systems on Monday is expected to release an alpha version of AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) and announce that it is joining the Linux Foundation.

AIR is Adobe’s Web browser plug-in for running and creating Web applications that run both online and offline. AIR 1.0, released late last month, runs on Windows and Mac OS. Adobe had said it will port AIR to Linux and then mobile devices.

As part of the AIR-on-Linux release, Adobe is making an update to the alpha version of its Flex Builder framework for Linux. Both will be made available at Adobe Labs for free and will be completed later this year.

Yahoo Launching Site for Women 25-54

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo Inc. is launching a new site for women between ages 25 and 54, calling it a key demographic underserved by current Yahoo properties.

Monday’s launch of Shine is aimed largely at giving the struggling Internet company additional opportunities to sell advertising targeted to the key decision-maker in many households. Yahoo said advertisers in consumer-packaged goods, retail and pharmaceuticals have requested more ways to reach those consumers.

Amy Iorio, vice president for Yahoo Lifestyles, said internal research also shows women are looking for a site to aggregate various content and communications tools.

“These women were sort of caretakers for everybody in their lives,” she said. “They didn’t feel like there was a place that was looking at the whole them - as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter. They were looking for one place that gave them everything.”

Yahoo is entering a market already served by Glam Media Inc. and iVillage, a unit of General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal. It is Yahoo’s first site aimed at a single demographic, although other Yahoo sites like Finance and Sports already draw specific audiences.

With Shine, Yahoo plans to expand its offerings in parenting, sex and love, healthy living, food, career and money, entertainment, fashion, beauty, home life, and astrology.

Shine likely will replace the existing Food site over time, although Yahoo plans to keep its Health site operating to serve men and other age groups as well as women.

Yahoo is partnering with media companies like Hearst Communications Inc. and Rodale Inc. for content exclusive to Shine. Hearst publishes Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and other magazines aimed at women, while Rodale publishes a range of magazines on sports and recreation, including Women’s Health.

3/30/2008

Ban on cell phones lifted in Cuba

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Ordinary Cubans will soon have the luxury of owning a cell phone, according to a story by the Associated Press.

President Raul Castro’s government said Friday that it will allow anyone in the country to get cell phone service, a right previously limited to executives working for foreign companies or high communist party officials.

This is the first announcement that a major government policy or restriction has been changed since the 76-year-old Castro took over as leader of the island nation from his older brother Fidel Castro.

The AP said there has been a kind of black market for cell phones in Cuba where people who were ineligible were able to get phones and service by having foreigners sign contracts in their names. But for the most part, mobile phones are not common in Cuba.

Adobe Tackles Flash Flaw

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Adobe is working on an update to its Flash Player software that will address a widespread vulnerability found on hundreds of thousands of Web sites.

The issue, first reported in December by Google researcher Rich Cannings, allows attackers to use buggy Shockwave Flash (.swf) files in order to attack Web surfers. Using what is known as a cross-site scripting attack, criminals could create fake phishing pages or, much worse, gain access to online banking sessions or Web accounts of victims in some situations.

After Cannings went public with his findings, Adobe and other software vendors fixed their development tools so they would no longer create the vulnerable Flash files, but there are still more than 500,000 of these files posted on different sites on the Internet, according to Cannings.

Because of the amount of work it would take to clean up the mess, Cannings had been encouraging Adobe to make changes to its Player software that would nullify these cross-site scripting attacks.

This fix is being developed and will be available “soon,” said Adobe spokesman Matt Rozen in an e-mail message.

Philippine company launches 406-dollar mini laptop

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Philippine PC manufacturer Neo and multinational computer processor maker Intel have jointly launched a new 16,999-peso (406-dollar) mini laptop, spokesmen said Saturday.

The Neo Explore is a “ruggedized and shock-proof” laptop with a keyboard that will not be damaged by spillages of liquids, said Neo spokeswoman Mariel Que.

It weighs 0.66 kilograms (1.45 pounds) and is the size of a schoolchild’s lunchbox but will have the memory capacity and usual features of a standard basic laptop.

Who Patches Bugs Faster, Apple or Microsoft?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple’s teasing commercials that imply its software is safer than Microsoft’s may not quite match the facts, according to new research revealed at the Black Hat conference on Thursday.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology looked at how many times over the past six years the two vendors were able to have a patch available on the day a vulnerability became publicly known, which they call the zero-day patch rate.

They analyzed 658 vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft products and 738 affecting Apple. They looked at only high- and medium-risk bugs, according to the classification used by the National Vulnerability Database, said Stefan Frei, one of the researchers involved in the study.

What they found is that, contrary to popular belief that Apple makes more secure products, Apple lags behind in patching.

“Apple was below 20 [unpatched vulnerabilities at disclosure] consistently before 2005,” Frei said. “Since then, they are very often above. So if you have Apple and compare it to Microsoft, the number of unpatched vulnerabilities are higher at Apple.”

It’s generally good for vendors to have a software fix available when a vulnerability is disclosed, since hackers often try to find out where the problem is in order to write malicious software to hack a machine.

For a vendor to have a patch ready when the bug is detailed in public, it needs to get prior information from either its security analysts or external ones. Otherwise the vendor has to hurry to create a patch, but that process can be lengthy, given the rigorous testing needed to test the patch to ensure it does not conflict with other software.

Apple only started patching zero-day vulnerabilities in late 2003, Frei said.

3G iPhone launch seen in 2nd quarter

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple Inc is expected to launch a high-speed wireless version of iPhone in the second quarter and produce as many as 8 million of the devices in the third quarter, according to Bank of America.

Apple shares closed up $2.76, or 2 percent, at $143.01 after the prediction in a research report about the third-generation phone from Bank of America analyst Scott Craig. Shares in AT&T Inc the exclusive U.S. carrier for iPhone, closed up flat at $37.66 after rising to $38.39 earlier in the day.

“Our latest channel checks point to a significant production build of a 3G iPhone beginning in the month of June after an initial small build in May,” he said.

AT&T said last year it expects to be able to sell a 3G version of iPhone in 2008, but it declined comment on specific launch dates on Friday.

Antioch University Reports Computer Breach

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A computer system at Antioch University that contained personal information on about 70,000 people was breached by an unauthorized intruder three times last year, the school said Friday.

The university said there is no conclusive evidence that any personal information was stolen, but law enforcement officials are investigating.

The system contains names, Social Security numbers, academic records and payroll documents for current and former students, applicants and employees going back to 1996.

Antioch University has campuses in Yellow Springs, Ohio; Seattle; Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Keene, N.H.

The breaches occurred on June 9, June 10 and Oct. 11.

3/28/2008

Microsoft prepares ‘Albany’ to compete with Google Docs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Facing pressure from hosted productivity suites like Google Docs and Google Apps, Microsoft is planning a new package of low-end productivity software and hosted services through a secretive project code-named Albany.

Project Albany puts together a combination of Office, Office Live Workspaces, Windows Live OneCare and the Windows Live suite of services in one package that eventually is expected to be available in retail outlets such as Best Buy, sources familiar with the company’s plans said Wednesday.

The sources, who asked not to be named, said Microsoft is asking select testers to try out the Project Albany beta but is requiring them to sign a non-disclosure agreement just to participate in the test. The main focus of the initial beta is to test the unified installer for the package, they said.

Office is Microsoft’s enormously successful productivity suite, and it’s unclear how much of that product will make it into Albany. Because of its price points and functionality, Office Home and Student 2007, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, is the most likely candidate for inclusion in the new suite, which is expected to be fairly low-cost. Office Home and Student 2007 retails for $149.95, about $250 less than Office Standard 2007 — which in addition to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint also includes Outlook and has a list price of $399.95.

Other products that are expected to be a part of Project Albany are hosted services Microsoft has developed over the last few years. Office Live Workspaces is Microsoft’s hosted service for storing and sharing documents online, while Windows Live OneCare is a security service that includes firewall and antivirus protection. Windows Live services include hosted e-mail, search, photo-sharing, and other services; it is also not certain at this time which of these services will be a part of Albany. However, one source said the Windows Live products included in Albany will be client-side applications, such as the desktop version of OneCare, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Writer, not hosted services.

Through its public relations firm Wednesday, Microsoft confirmed that it sent out beta invitations for a product code-named Albany but declined to share additional details.

TorrentSpy Shuts Down

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A little over a year ago, TorrentSpy.com was still the most visited BitTorrent site, but times have changed. After an expensive two year battle with the MPAA, TorrentSpy decided to throw in the towel and the site has now shut down permanently.

torrentspyTorrentSpy is no more, Justin Bunnell, the founder of the site writes: “We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the TorrentSpy.com search engine to an end and thus we permanently closed down worldwide on March 24, 2008.”

The main reason for the shutdown is the ongoing legal battle with the MPAA, which started February 2006. “We now feel compelled to provide the ultimate method of privacy protection for our users - permanent shutdown,” Justin writes.

U.N. agency ousts record number of “cybersquatters”

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ousted a record number of “cybersquatters” from Web sites with domain names referring to trademarked companies, foundations and celebrities in 2007.

WIPO, a U.N. agency based in Geneva, received 2,156 complaints alleging “abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet” last year, up 18 percent from 2006 and 48 percent more than the filings lodged in 2005.

“These increases confirm that ‘cybersquatting’ remains a significant issue for rights holders,” Francis Gurry, WIPO’s deputy director-general said on Thursday.

Most complaints came from the pharmaceutical, banking, telecommunications, retail and entertainment sectors.

Drugmakers were the top filers “due to numerous permutations of protected names registered for Web sites offering or linking to online sales of medications and drugs,” WIPO said.

Google: No kids allowed

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google’s terms of service, while ignored by the vast majority of users, contain a pretty shocking clause: Under 18’s are not permitted to use any of Google’s Web properties. That’s right, kids–no search, YouTube, Gmail, news, or images.

Under 18s wishing to watch YouTube videos of skateboarding dogs, or perform research for a school project will have to go elsewhere–Ask.com or Microsoft’s Live.com search, perhaps. The message from Mountain View seems clear: We don’t want your (underage) business.

Google’s terms of service, thick with legalese, state that:

“You may not use … Google’s products, software, services and web sites … and may not accept the Terms if … you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google.

The problem with this, of course, is that all 50 states in the United States require that someone be at least 18 years old to form a binding contract. As for what happens when a person under 18 attempts to agree to a click-through contract, the jury is still out on that one.

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