Google Voice Extends Free Calling Through 2011

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google will continue to offer free telephone calls in Gmail through all of 2011.

Google on Tuesday said calls made within the United States and to Canada would remain free “in the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year.” The company first introduced free calling in Gmail in August, saying the service would be available at no charge only for the rest of the year.

While Google has framed the giveaway in the context of the holiday spirit, it’s more likely the latest move is primarily to boost usage of its Google Voice Internet telephony service, which has been integrated into Gmail. Google is building Gmail into a communication hub encompassing phone calls, e-mail, and instant messaging. Gmail has hundreds of millions of active users, so providing free calling through the service is expected to encourage wider use of Google Voice in time. Google Voice was made available to the public in June after a lengthy period of closed testing.


Skype Suffers Massive, Multi-hour Network Outage

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Skype went down for several hours Dec. 22, the result of a crashing of servers linked by peer-to-peer technology. Millions of VOIP users were affected in worst outage since 2007.

Skype suffered a serious server outage Dec. 22 that left swaths of its 560 million or so worldwide users without PC calling capabilities for most of the day.

Skype, the VOIP service people use to make free and low-cost long-distance calls from their PCs and phones, began going down for users around 11 a.m. EDT, according to ReadWriteWeb.


‘Big App’ is watching you, with iPhone worse offender than Android

Filed under: — Aviran

Your smartphone may be secretly transmitting to “outsiders,” such as ad networks, your name, your location, your age, your gender, your phone number, your unique device number and other personal data without your knowledge or consent.

As part of a series of articles on privacy, Scott Thurm and Yukari Iwatani Kane reported in the Wall Street Journal that smartphones “don’t keep secrets. They are sharing this personal data widely and regularly.”

The reporters, reviving the spyware controversy in the new era of apps, examined 101 apps and found that 56 of them transmitted the smartphone’s unique device ID and 47 apps transmitted the phone’s location.

Daniel Eran Dilger said in Apple Insider: “The findings might be news to some smartphone users, who are rarely presented with simple, straightforward information about individual apps’ privacy policy.”

The limited survey—where Apple offers hundreds of thousands of apps for the iPhone—found: “iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system.”

Google PowerMeter tracks home electricity via Wi-Fi

Filed under: — Aviran

Google’s PowerMeter Web application can now track home electricity from a PC or smartphone using Wi-Fi and a home’s broadband connection.
Blue Line Innovations is expected to announce a deal tomorrow to tie its PowerCost Monitor to Google’s PowerMeter for monitoring home energy. Combined with a WiFi Gateway sold by Blue Line Innovations, a person can get real-time and historical information on electricity use. PowerMeter also lets people create a home energy budget, share efficiency tips, and predict costs.


JCP Approves JSRs for Java SE 7, Java SE 8, Project Coin and Lambda

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

After one week’s extension (due to the US Thanksgiving holiday), the JCP Executive Commitee for Java SE and EE has now approved the following four JSRs:

* JSR 334: Small Enhancements to the Java Programming Language (”Project Coin”)
* JSR 335: Lambda Expressions for the Java Programming Language (”Project Lambda”)
* JSR 336: Java SE 7
* JSR 337: Java SE 8

Yahoo preparing to lay off 600 to 700 workers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo Inc.’s holiday trimmings will include 600 to 700 layoffs in the Internet company’s latest shake-up triggered by lackluster growth.

Employees could be notified of the job cuts as early as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with Yahoo’s plans. The person asked for anonymity because Yahoo hadn’t made a formal announcement.

The planned cutbacks represent about 5 percent of Yahoo’s work force of 14,100 employees. It will mark Yahoo’s fourth mass layoff in the past three years.


Microsoft Develops JavaScript Malware Detection Tool

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

As browser-based exploits and specifically JavaScript malware have shouldered their way to the top of the list of threats, browser vendors have been scrambling to find effective defenses to protect users. Few have been forthcoming, but Microsoft Research has developed a new tool called Zozzle that can be deployed in the browser and can detect JavaScript-based malware at a very high effectiveness rate.

Zozzle is designed to perform static analysis of JavaScript code on a given site and quickly determine whether the code is malicious and includes an exploit. In order to be effective, the tool must be trained to recognize the elements that are common to malicious JavaScript, and the researchers behind it stress that it works best on de-obfuscated code.

Howard Stern in 5-year deal with Sirius XM

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Howard Stern will be shocking Sirius XM Radio Inc listeners for at least five more years, news that pushed the satellite radio company’s shares up more than 6 percent.

Under a new contract announced on Thursday, Stern will be broadcasting until December 31, 2015, and the shock jock’s content will be available for the first time on mobile devices, Sirius XM said in a statement.

Stern’s previous five-year, $500 million contract with Sirius XM Radio expires this month, and investors had been concerned that subscribers would abandon the service if he were to move on.

One estimate says Stern brought 1.2 million subscribers aboard when he joined Sirius in 2006. Sirius merged with XM Satellite Radio in 2008, and the service now reaches 20 million listeners.

No other terms of the new contract were disclosed.

Crockett estimates that Stern will get $80 million a year in cash, the same amount he makes now, but not the $100 million in stock over five years that he had previously received.

Stern first announced that he had reached an agreement with Sirius XM on his morning show and on his website.

Google Android phones biggest network hogs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Users of Google’s Android phones, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S, use more data services than those with other smartphones, threatening to choke wireless network capacity, an industry study showed.

The growing popularity of Android-operated phones — made by companies including Asian vendors HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics — comes as handsets look set to overtake computers as the most used device for browsing the Web.

Wireless operators are keen on raising revenue from Internet browsing and the social networking boom as revenue from traditional voice calls decline, but they are facing increasingly congested networks.

Fearful of losing customers, only a few operators have publicly admitted to the problem of keeping pace with data traffic, but the majority is experiencing difficulties.

WikiLeaks backers threaten more cyber attacks

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Internet activists defied efforts to end their online assaults against institutions seen as enemies of WikiLeaks on Thursday, promising more cyber attacks on targets starting with PayPal.

The campaign to avenge WikiLeaks against those who have obstructed its operations, calling itself Operation Payback, has already temporarily brought down the websites of credit-card giants Visa and MasterCard, and of the Swedish government.

A succession of U.S. institutions has withdrawn services from WikiLeaks after the website published thousands of sometimes embarrassing secret U.S. diplomatic reports that have caused strains between Washington and several allies.

Online retail and web-hosting powerhouse Amazon last week stopped hosting WikiLeaks’ website, and on Thursday it briefly became the main target of the pro-WikiLeaks campaigners — before they admitted it was too big for them, for the moment.

“We cannot attack Amazon, currently. The previous schedule was to do so, but we don’t have enough forces,” read one message on Twitter.

The activists said they would instead attack PayPal, which has suspended the WikiLeaks account that the organization had used to collect donations. MasterCard and Visa had also become targets after stopping processing donations.

At 1:10 pm EST, the websites of PayPal, Amazon — a key Christmas shopping destination — MasterCard and Visa all appeared to be functioning normally.

Source: Reuters

Facebook said it had removed the activists’ Operation Payback page on Thursday because it was promoting a distributed denial of service attack — a form of freezing websites by bombarding them with requests that is illegal in many countries.

The campaign also disappeared briefly from Twitter before reappearing in a different guise. Twitter declined to comment.

Microsoft unveils new privacy feature for IE

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An upcoming version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer browser will let users add lists of sites that they don’t want tracking them, a peace offering amid uproar over the sneaky ways that websites watch their users as they bounce around the Internet.

The new feature, however, won’t be as sweeping as a “do not track” option that the Federal Trade Commission is proposing to limit advertisers’ ability to do that. Users will have to create or find their own lists of sites they want to block.

And the feature won’t be automatically turned on when it debuts with the release of Internet Explorer 9 early next year.

Part of the reason for the uproar over tracking is that it’s hard to tell which sites you’re sharing information with. Websites use many third-party advertising partners, and some may use shady surveillance schemes, perhaps without the knowledge of the websites.

Amazon’s UK site selling WikiLeaks excerpts

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Portions of the diplomatic cables contained in WikiLeaks are available for sale on Amazon’s U.K. website, an odd twist after the company ousted the organization from its hosting service.

Excerpts from some of the 250,000 sensitive documents were contained in a Kindle e-book self-published by an author listed as Heinz Duthel. The book isn’t available in the U.S.; people in the U.K. can buy it for 7.37 pounds ($11.60).

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