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Wed, 31 Aug 11
Microsoft Ties a Ribbon on Windows 8 Explorer
Speculation about what features Windows 8 will include is sizzling as Microsoft continues to remain tight-lipped about details of the new operating system. However, Redmond has talked to some extent about the upcoming OS' handling of Explorer, the Windows file management system. Posts on the Windows 8 blog indicate Explorer will have the ribbon GUI Microsoft Office users know -- and, in some cases, hate. It will also let users mount VHD and ISO drives, possibly doing away with the need for optical storage media.

Wed, 31 Aug 11
The Apache Web Server's Not-So-Secret Weakness
If you thought the hacks by Anonymous and AntiSec were bad, boy, are you in for a revelation. This past week brings news that the Apache Web server -- the one that powers the majority of the Internet and most websites -- has a vulnerability that can be exploited with relatively little effort. The Apache Software Foundation has been working on a fix and has, in the meantime, put out some mitigations that it admits are just stop-gap measures. It's testing two possible long-term fixes and will send out notifications as soon as they're ready.

Wed, 31 Aug 11
The Death of the Smartphone
Smartphones and tablets might be the current hot technology, but history says it's all just another fad. Twenty years from now, almost nobody will own either device. Seems unbelievable, but the same technology that makes them hot today will make them not tomorrow. Consider what happened to another "must-have" technology: the fax machine. Back in 1991, the Baby Bells were predicting an explosion of landlines and a corresponding shortage of phone numbers because "everyone will need a fax machine." Phone companies offered leases for "only $60 a month on a three-year contract." (Sound familiar?)

Wed, 31 Aug 11
'Mega Mall Story': An Addictive Battle for Hearts and Wallets
If the idea of an empire-building game in which you construct a shopping mall sounds familiar, that might be because Take Two Interactive published a series starting about a decade ago called "Mall Tycoon." It wasn't part of the Maxis/Electronic Arts Sim universe, but it had that general feel to it. It definitely felt Sim-ier than "SimRefinery.". But while "Mega Mall Story" shares "Mall Tycoon's" basic concept, the iPhone game doesn't look much like a Sim game at all. It looks like a two-dimensional version of "Habbo Hotel."

Wed, 31 Aug 11
Samsung Adds Another Channel to the Mobile Conversation Mix
Samsung Electronics is launching a free mobile communications service called "ChatON." It works on several smartphone and feature phone platforms -- but apparently not Windows Phone -- and offers a Web client for tablets, desktop and notebook computers as well. The service will let users text each other, chat in groups, share video, or create and share hand-scribbled notes on smartphones. It is available in more than 120 countries and supports up to 62 languages. It comes in two modes: basic functionality option for feature phone users; and advanced, for smartphone users.

Tue, 30 Aug 11
IBM to Build Super-Storage Phenom
IBM is working on a 120-petabyte storage array that will consist of 200,000 disk drives, according to the MIT Technology Review. The array is expected to store about 1 trillion files. It's being developed for a client that needs a new supercomputer for detailed simulations of real-world phenomena. Storing the metadata about the information in the array -- the names, types and other attributes of the files in the system -- will require about 2 PB. The largest arrays available today are reported to be about 15 PB.

Tue, 30 Aug 11
Steve Jobs' Exit: The Day the Magic Died
It is amazing to me the number of people I know who are basically saying Steve Jobs (some wonderful quotes from him here) leaving Apple will not change Apple. Most saw what Apple was like with Jobs, have seen that no similar company has been able to repeat what Apple has done over the last decade, and have seen both Microsoft after Gates and Disney after Walt. They even saw what happened to Dell during the short time Michael stepped down. But Jobs, who is even more hands on than the most-micro manager any of us know, will pass without a ripple. Wow -- now that is a reality distortion field.

Tue, 30 Aug 11
On Slashdot's Lost Taco and Apple's Big Turnover
There may not be enough tequila in this world to see the tech community all the way through to the end of August 2011. We've had Googlerola; we've had the ever-escalating software patent storm. We've had HP's lily-livered maneuvers regarding webOS and PCs. Did we need more than that? No, we did not. Yet more is just what we got last week in the form of a one-two punch: First Steve Jobs's resignation as Apple CEO, then similar news from Slashdot's Rob Malda, or CmdrTaco.

Tue, 30 Aug 11
Monster-Making App Splatters Virtual Ink in Delightful Ways
I like a good monster. Good monsters can be scary, evil, otherworldly, or well-dressed feathery ink blots like those that spring from the creative genius of Stefan G. Bucher, the guy behind DailyMonster.com. Bucher has been turning blown ink blots into monsters on his website for years, and he's got an amazing eye and style, which you can now tap into yourself through his new app, Daily Monster. It's available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, and I like it best on the larger screen of the iPad.

Sun, 28 Aug 11
The Next New Cyberdefense Strategy: Monitor Everything
The definition of "cybercrime" is ever changing, as is the severity of attacks. 2011 has already been labeled the "year of the data breach," and yet many of the breaches are not the typical SQL injection attacks or database hacks. Instead, criminals are using legitimate website functions to steal data and sometimes money, from targeted organizations. Compounding the problem, as U.S. banks and other financial institutions are enabling customers and employees to make mobile transactions, security implications around both Web and mobile functionality have become a large concern for IT.

Sat, 27 Aug 11
Microsoft Slate Could Foretell the Shape of Tablets to Come
Attendees at Microsoft's TechEd New Zealand show were reportedly treated to a preview of what may have been a new quad-core Windows slate device running on the not-yet debuted Windows 8. The slate could be a giveaway at Microsoft's Build conference in September, according to a Smarter Geek blog post by attendee and IT consultant Alan Burchill. The information was treated with some skepticism, since other TechEd attendees didn't recall that claim, and one said the slate was running on Windows 7.

Sat, 27 Aug 11
Where the TouchPad Went Fatally Wrong
HP's TouchPad tablet never sold so well as when HP announced last week that it was ceasing production of the device. Consumers have cleaned out the market's $99-per-unit inventory of TouchPads. At a time when Apple's selling all the iPads it can mak and manufacturers are launching new Android tablets that are making headway in the market, why did the TouchPad crash and burn? Many factors play into the answer, falling roughly into four categories: issues with HP's management; a lack of apps; the competition; and patience -- or the lack of it.

Sat, 27 Aug 11
HP's Tablet Failure: Big Fun for FOSS Fanatics
There may be life yet for the seemingly defunct HP TouchPad. The company has discontinued its development of all webOS devices, leading retailers to drastically mark down prices on the TouchPads they have in stock. Some buyers have been able to score one for as little as $100 -- that's $400 off the initial asking price when the device entered the market a couple of months ago. Those TouchPads aren't necessarily doomed to support a dead-ended OS, either. Open source hackers have launched efforts to port Android to the TouchPad.

Fri, 26 Aug 11
Video Clip Reveals Possible Chinese State-Sponsored Hack Attack
Solid proof regarding the origins of high-profile international cyberattacks is typically elusive. However, when Western interests are targeted, suspicion often turns to China -- whether rightfully or otherwise. Those suspicions were again aroused recently, courtesy of government-controlled China Central Television. CCT ran a 20-minute documentary called "Military Technology: Internet Storm Is Coming." The clip included a brief segment featuring a hacking tool that appears to be used to attack a U.S. website.

Fri, 26 Aug 11
Have Apps, Will Travel - Part 1
Travel apps open a whole new world for vacationers and business travelers alike. However, there are now so many travel apps that it's hard to determine which will render the best and most frequently updated information. Muddying the issue further, app stores tend to list flight and hotel apps first and leave the fun and wonky and offbeat apps buried somewhere underneath. To liberate you from that app rut, here are some suggestions and "did ya knows" to make your next trip truly memorable.

Fri, 26 Aug 11
As Linux Turns 20, Hopes and Wishes for Its Next 20 Years
Birthdays and anniversaries are a natural time for reflection on what has been and what is yet to come. When they mark major milestones such as 20 years, however, there's a considerable temptation to think bigger. So it's been in the Linux blogosphere, where our favorite operating system officially turns 20 today. Happy Birthday, Linux! The celebrations began months ago, thanks to the Linux Foundation's jubilant efforts, but now that the actual day is upon us, that 20-year anniversary is dominating the thoughts and conversations of bloggers far and wide.

Thu, 25 Aug 11
Sony Looks Into the Mirror to Boost Its DSLR Cred
Sony has announced two new additions to its SLT-A family of cameras: the A77 and A65. They offer 24.3MP effective resolution and have what Sony says is the world's first XGA OLED electronic viewfinder. Both cameras use the translucent mirror technology common to Sony's SLT-A family and offer progressive full HD video recording. "No other DSLR offers full HD recording in 60p, 50p, 25p, and 24p," digital photographer and film director Preston Kanak told TechNewsWorld.

Thu, 25 Aug 11
New Facebook Privacy Tweaks Have a Googley Aftertaste
In a nod to users who have complained about Facebook's privacy settings for years, the social network announced new, simplified settings Tuesday that allow users to exercise greater control over what information is shared across the network. Going forward, users can choose a feature called "Profile Tag Review," which would allow them to approve a photo or post in which they're tagged before it hits their profile, or they could simply remove the tag. The upgrades also make it easier to share tagged photos or posts with specific individuals or groups.

Thu, 25 Aug 11
Fighting the Good Global Cybercrime Fight: Q&A With Security Guru Mikko Hypponen, Part 2
Mikko Hypponen has spent the past 20-plus years studying malicious software, including everything from "Brain" -- the first PC virus, dating back to 1986 -- all the way up to Stuxnet and today's most sophisticated global malware. He's widely considered one of the world's foremost experts on information security, and he's played a key role in taking down numerous international rings of cybercriminals. TechNewsWorld recently had a chance to speak with Hypponen, and we asked him to share his thoughts on the relative merits of the various operating systems and platforms when it comes to security.

Thu, 25 Aug 11
Pybackup Makes Saving and Restoring Easy as Pie
Sure, we all know that making regular file backups is an essential survival task for frustration-free computing. But backing up data and backing up computer systemfiles are not entirely the same things. Doing one without the other is like having an uninterrupted power supply that's not connected. For instance, you no doubt have multiple copies of your critical data. But how many copies do you have of your Linux desktop home folder? Chances are that unless you have already been burned by a system crash, you see no need to back up your system files.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
RIM Throws Smartphone Newbies a Curve
In the wake of its largest-ever global launch of smartphones earlier this month, Research In Motion on Tuesday announced three new BlackBerry Curve devices. These -- the Curve 9350, 9360 and 9370 -- run the BlackBerry 7 operating system. They are aimed at the newbie smartphone user and have an optical trackpad in addition to the standard BlackBery keypad. All three also have GPS, WiFi, a 5PM camera, a memory card slot, and built-in support for near field communications, which is being experimented with as a mobile payment technology.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
Hacker Smack Talk Escalates
This past week saw considerable hacker activity: AntiSec released to the Internet 1 GB worth of emails and documents stolen from the account of VanGuard Defense Industries SVP Richard Garcia. A related hacker community, Anonymous, hacked into the servers of the BART Police Officers' Association. Anonymous also breached the servers of another BART website, releasing data on about 2,000 BART riders. A former Shionogi employee pled guilty to U.S. federal charges that he remotely deleted the contents of 15 virtual hosts on the company's network after he had left the firm's employ.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
Minimash: The Lazy DJ's Friend
Earlier in the year I reviewed an app called "Tap DJ," a set of virtual turntables for mixing songs on an iPhone. I had some good things to say about it, but on the downside, I thought the controls were too difficult to manage on a small touchscreen. Really good DJs aren't just standing there slapping turntables and flipping switches at random; it takes a lot of finesse to produce sound that doesn't cause physical nausea. I thought that finesse just wasn't possible on an iPhone screen, especially when it comes to one fundamental skill in particular.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
It's a Roll of the Dice for Linux Game Makers
If you had the option to pick your own price for a computer game that only runs on your Linux rig, would you pay to play? Not if you are a typical Linux gamer. At least, that's the popular perception of fans of free and open source software. Linux is available freely. So why pay for a game -- or any other Linux app -- when the FOSS mantra is based on a no-cost buy-in? The team behind the Humble Bundle set of computer games is trying to buck the notion that Linux users are cheapskates. That company allowed its customers to name their own prices to purchase and download their software.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
Where Do WebOS Devs Go From Here?
Reeling from the gap created in their lives by HP's announcement Thursday that it's ceasing work on webOS devices, webOS app developers have reportedly been swift to stagger into Microsoft's arms. At least 500 webOS app devs responded to a call put out by Brandon Watson, Microsoft's senior director of Windows Phone 7 development, within 22 hours, Watson tweeted Saturday.That's good news for Microsoft. "It seems that Microsoft currently really lacks developers around its app ecosystem, which is why it's so actively recruiting them," said AppGeyser's Estuardo Robles.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
DARPA's Long-Term Long Shot to the Stars
In a few short weeks, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, will award a $500,000 grant for a 100-year starship project. The grant will be awarded at the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. The symposium will deal with the practical issues humanity needs to address to achieve interstellar flight 100 years from now. The award will be given to the organization or person who comes up with the business model selected to develop and mature a technology portfolio enabling long-distance manned spaceflight.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
Birth of Googorola, Rebirth of Compaq, Death of RIM
Last week's announcement of Google's plans to acquire Motorola -- Googorola -- created a massive change for Android licensees. They are now looking for alternatives, tossing the biggest smartphone platform into flux and increasing the interest in what will happen to RIM -- with specific emphasis on its QNX platform. As if that weren't enough, speculation surrounding the HP spinoff of its PC division tossed the PC market into flux, initially benefiting Apple, Lenovo, and Dell but suggesting that Compaq could be reborn. The Holy Crap moments just keep coming.

Wed, 24 Aug 11
A Big Round of Face-Palms For HP
Life tends to be pretty exciting even in an ordinary week here in the Linux blogosphere, but few can be compared with the one we just endured. Not only did we learn of Google's Motorola Mobility purchase plans on Monday, but later in the week came word of HP's mother-of-all-face-palm-inspiring acts in the form of its decision to dump pretty much everything relating to webOS. No wonder there's been standing room only at the blogosphere's bars and saloons over the past few days. In times like these, who doesn't need a little extra liquid comfort?

Wed, 24 Aug 11
National Geographic's Great Map App Lets You Take the World For a Spin
The National Geographic Society may be best known for its iconic yellow National Geographic magazine, which very often includes, folded up inside, some awesome maps from all around the world. As a youngster, I remember pouring over National Geographic maps on the living room floor, hanging a map of North America on my bedroom wall, and using them as study aids in school. So far, National Geographic Society has been a prolific app creator, producing 19 apps for the iPhone and 16 for the iPad.

Sun, 21 Aug 11
The Lonely Life of WebOS
While the iPad remains king of the tablet market in terms of sales, it's getting stared down by a growing gang of competitors, most of which have taken sides with Google's Android operating system. Android tablets come in large and small, expensive and cheap, really nice and complete crap. There are a lot of them out there, but they all coalesce around that same Android platform. Then there are the rebels who go it alone. The RIM PlayBook is keeping its head above water for the time being, bolstered by the fact that Research In Motion is a mobile stalwart that's still kicking.

Sat, 20 Aug 11
AntiSec Carves Another Notch in Its Keyboard With Defense Contractor Hack
AntiSec, the hacker movement that emerged as LulzSec closed shop in June, apparently hacked into the servers of yet another defense contractor Thursday. This time, the victim is Vanguard Defense Industries. AntiSec hackers on Friday released 1GB of private emails and documents regarding Richard Garcia, VDI's senior vice president, on the Internet. The documents include notes about internal meetings, contracts, schematics and other sensitive information. AntiSec apparently cracked Garcia's password to get in.

Sat, 20 Aug 11
Will There Be Life After HP for WebOS?
HP on Thursday shook the mobile devices world in announcing that it's killing off its webOS-powered smartphones and TouchPad tablet line. The TouchPad reportedly suffered poor sales in its short few weeks on the market, and little has been heard about HP's Palm Pre family of smartphones. HP said it'll continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. "They're just trying to say they're looking for somebody to buy webOS," Carl Howe, director of anywhere consumer research at the Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld.

Sat, 20 Aug 11
The Plight of the Android App Wallflowers
Android device users spend more time on their apps than on the mobile Web, and the top 10 apps account for 43 percent of that time, according to Nielsen. When the top 50 Android apps are considered, they account for 61 percent of the time Android device users spend on apps. That means the rest of the nearly 250,000 Android apps available have to compete for the remaining 39 percent of users' time spent on apps. Does this mean creators of the less popular apps aren't making any money at all? Is there no long tail in the Android ecosystem? And how does this compare to Apple's iOS app ecosystem?

Fri, 19 Aug 11
IBM Makes Brainy Breakthrough in Computing
IBM researchers unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips Thursday. The chips are designed to mimic the brain's abilities of perception, action and cognition. The development could lead to advances in computers that require much less power and space than current technology. IBM's first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the spiking neurons and synapses of biological systems such as the brain by using advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry. The first two prototype chips have been fabricated and are undergoing testing.

Fri, 19 Aug 11
Do You Really Know What Your Android Is Capable Of?
As a Sprint corporate customer I'm referred to as "preferred," which basically translates to "preferred because I give them increasing amounts of money." Anyway, it gets me a phone upgrade annually, rather than the non-preferred biannual deal. The only problem with an annually replaced gadget is you have to figure out how to use it annually too. I'm now on my third Android phone and that's not including a tablet. They've all worked differently -- and quirkily.

Thu, 18 Aug 11
Is the HP TouchPad Untouchable?
Battered by repeated price cuts and reportedly sluggish sales, it looks as if the HP TouchPad tablet is struggling in the market less than two months after it first hit retail shelves in July. The Best Buy retail chain reportedly sold only 25,000 of the 270,000 units it ordered. The retailer apparently refuses to pay for its unsold inventory of TouchPads and demands that HP take them back. HP is reportedly sending a top executive to Best Buy headquarters in Minnesota to discuss the issue.

Thu, 18 Aug 11
Fusion Garage Tries, Tries Again With Grid-10 Tablet
Fusion Garage threw a new tablet into the mix Tuesday when it announced the debut of the Grid-10, a tablet computer that features a new twist on the Android operating system, a dramatic gesture-based interface and predictive intelligence. It's not Fusion Garage's first foray into the tablet market. In 2009, CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan launched the Joojoo tablet in hopes of revolutionizing the market. Critics generally called it a flop and sales were dismal. Now, the company is coming back swinging with the Grid-10

Thu, 18 Aug 11
Fighting the Good Global Cybercrime Fight: Q&A With Security Guru Mikko Hypponen, Part 1
It was once the case that computer viruses and other malicious software were written primarily by hobbyist hackers. Their motivations, for the most part, were simply bragging rights and the respect of their peers -- desirable rewards, to be sure, but certainly not the sole focus of any career. The results of their efforts, meanwhile, could spread only as fast as a floppy disk could travel. How things have changed. Today's malware creators, by contrast, are professional criminals around the globe whose efforts are proving lucrative beyond most people's wildest dreams.

Thu, 18 Aug 11
PartedMagic: A Swiss Army Knife for Hard Drive Resuscitation
I started out looking for a handy disk partitioning tool to repair a colleague's ailing computer. I ended up finding a toolbox full of very handy repair and system maintenance apps. As a bonus, I got all of this packed into a nifty specialized Linux distro called "PartedMagic" that boots into RAM from a CD or USB drive. PartedMagic is compact and lightweight. Having a live distribution built around GParted is a failsafe way to use Linux to manage your computer's hard disk. Normally, any OS will partition the hard drive as part of the installation process.

Wed, 17 Aug 11
FCC to Scrutinize BART's Cellphone Block
The U.S. Federal Communications Communication reportedly intends to investigate the Bay Area Rapid Transit system over the San Francisco-area public transportation system's recent shutdown of cellphone service at four stations in the face of a public protest. BART cut cell phone services for several hours on Aug. 11 when a public demonstration began moving from station to station. The demonstrators were protesting the shooting of homeless man Charles Hill by BART police last month.

Wed, 17 Aug 11
Reining In Mobile Security Mayhem
Two papers on mobile security were presented at the 20th USENIX Security Symposium, held in San Francisco recently. Both touch on mobile security, a topic that's become increasingly hot lately as security vendors warn that this may well be the year of the mobile hack. Other security issues include the launching of security products and updates in the mobile and wireline areas, as well as Patch Tuesday, which occurred just this past week. One of the papers presented at the USENIX conference was "Security Fusion: A New Security Architecture for Resource-Constrained Environments."

Wed, 17 Aug 11
Will Google Build an Uber Android?
The initial response to Google's surprise announcement on Monday that it had inked a deal to acquire Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion was that it was a move largely to protect itself from the increasing patent attacks against Android. That could be why all five major manufacturers of Android devices appear to be thrilled with the deal. Should they be? Putting aside the matter of patents, for the moment, and looking at the acquisition strictly from a technology perspective, some possible scenarios emerge that could radically realign the market for Android developers.

Wed, 17 Aug 11
Kindle Cloud Reader Takes Web Apps to New Heights
It's been a really long time since I've used a Web app on iOS. Before the App Store was launched, that used to be the only way to use anything resembling third-party software on an iPhone. In Year 1, nobody but Apple could develop directly for iOS, so the best anyone could do was build a site that fit nicely on a 3.5-inch screen. Naturally, most of the results were kind of lame, at least when compared to the software app makers can write when they're building native applications. Web apps couldn't use many of the phone's hardware resources or sensors.

Tue, 16 Aug 11
Is InfoSec Ready for Big Data?
Over the past few decades, most IT shops have followed a somewhat similar trajectory: Starting from a centralized model, computing resources, much like the cosmological Big Bang, have exploded outwards to become ever-more-distributed and decentralized. This makes sense given market dynamics. Computing platforms evolve quickly, so monolithic computing platforms that require heavy up-front investment are less efficient from a depreciation standpoint than numerous, incremental investments in lower-powered devices.

Tue, 16 Aug 11
Why Video Conferencing Sucks
I've been covering video conferencing (now often called "telepresence") products since the late 80s and saw my first offering in the mid-60s as a child at Disneyland. Over the years, product wave after product wave has come to market with the promise of the next big thing in telecommunications only to fail to meet even reasonable expectations for deployment in a market where users are measured in billions. Andy Grove, one of the smartest people I've ever met, referred to Intel's axed video conferencing effort as his biggest mistake while running that company.

Tue, 16 Aug 11
Peakfinder: A Primo Panoramic Portfolio of Prominent, Pointy Places
As I drive around the Northwest, I see a lot of mountains. Some are majestic, rising suddenly out of nowhere after a bend in the highway reveals their snowy tops etched against a blue sky. These big peaks usually have well-known names like Mt. Rainier or Mt. Hood. And then there are mountain ranges, like the Cascades or Rocky Mountains, and these ranges satisfy part of a guy's need to know the name of a mountain -- because they are part of something greater that is known, the range.

Sun, 14 Aug 11
The Patent World War
Even though Google lawyer David Drummond laid into Apple, Microsoft and Oracle in his public critique of their anti-Android patent lawsuits, it was Microsoft that really ended up tussling with the search giant on open ground. But that doesn't mean Apple and Oracle are easing up their own patent battles; so far, they're just saving their arguments for the courtroom. Apple in particular is landing some big blows against one of Android's top device makers, Samsung. One of its targets is Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which Cupertino claims runs afoul of several of its patents.

Sat, 13 Aug 11
Acer's Latest Iconia Tablet May Run Out of Gas
Acer on Friday announced the first seven-inch tablets in its Iconia line -- the Iconia Tab A100 series. These devices run Android 3.2, a.k.a. "Honeycomb," and are available now in North America. There are two models in the Iconia Tab A100 family, with 8 GB and 16 GB of memory. They are priced at $330 and $350, respectively. These devices weigh less than a pound; however, the A100s still have a few rough edges, one being a relatively short battery life of about five hours.

Sat, 13 Aug 11
The UK Riots, RIM and the Price of Privacy
London's burning, and it may lead to a clampdown on social media in the UK. UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday suggested censoring social media in response to the violence. Mobs reportedly communicating in part through BlackBerry Messenger, and later social media sites, wreaked havoc throughout the UK. Research In Motion's UK office responded to news of the disturbances by tweeting that it would help the authorities in any way it could. That led to a storm of protest and the hijacking of RIM's Inside BlackBerry blog page by hacker group TeamPoison.

Sat, 13 Aug 11
Linux Distros: When It Absolutely, Positively Has to Be Secure
If you use Linux instead of Microsoft Windows, its free availability may well be a deciding factor. But the fact that virus and malware contamination are less likely to take down your Linux computers is no doubt an essential influencing factor as well. But does using a more popular Linux distro like Canonical's Ubuntu make your system more or less vulnerable than a Linux-on-a-stick variety such as Puppy Linux? More likely than not, if you use any Linux distro, you will compute in a relatively strong security envelope.

Fri, 12 Aug 11
Scientists Pop Atoms in Microwave, Out Comes Quantum Entanglement
Researchers at the National Institute of Science and Technology have used microwaves to entangle ions in yet another step toward developing quantum computers. Quantum entanglement is a feature of quantum physics in which two atoms are linked together in such a way that in order to describe the properties of one, you must describe the properties of the other. The use of microwaves instead of the normally employed laser beams to entangle the ions indicates that we may be able to shrink down the size of quantum computers.

Fri, 12 Aug 11
Social Menaces
In terms of online communication, social media is the biggest trend in recent years. There are billions of participants around the globe as well as an array of forms: blogs, forums, wikis, multimedia content, social bookmarking and, of course, popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. What's more, social media is strongly established as an important channel for companies to communicate with their customers. Corporate social media pages keep users informed about products and trends in an informal way and allow a simpler, more effective method of communication between the two parties.

Fri, 12 Aug 11
A Visit from the Ghost of Linux Future
Industry pundits may typically favor the start of a new year for making long-term predictions, but here in the Linux blogosphere -- where the dog days of summer have us effectively trapped in a small set of heavily air-conditioned bars and saloons -- we like August. When else, after all, are the hours so plentiful or the tempers so hot? That, indeed, may be why TuxRadar's recent Open Ballot -- entitled, "What will Linux look like in 10 years?" -- was met with such glee. At last, a meaty topic that can help us while away the time until the mercury sees fit to dip below 100 again!

Thu, 11 Aug 11
Kindle Cloud Reader Rains on Apple's In-App Fee Parade
Amazon unveiled a new HTML5 Kindle Web app on Wednesday. Kindle Cloud Reader, which is already up and running, provides access to books offline and online via a Web browser with no download or installation needed. Currently the service works with Google Chrome and Safari, both on PCs and the iPad. As with all Kindle apps, the cloud reader synchronizes with the user's Amazon Kindle Library. Without leaving the app, customers can start shopping in the Kindle store, giving Amazon a way to circumvent Apple's stiff commission policy for in-app purchases.

Thu, 11 Aug 11
How Anonymous Could Attack Facebook - If It Really Wants To
Could Facebook be the next target in hacker group Anonymous' crosshairs? A tweet from the Twitter handle "OP_Facebook" -- which is labeled "Anonymous" yet had only a single tweet in its history as of mid-day Wednesday -- urged readers to go to a Pirate Bay Web page or watch a YouTube video in which a threat is made to attack Facebook on Nov. 5. It's perhaps worth noting that that tweet was originally posted nearly a month ago. News of the threat has only recently been widely circulated.

Thu, 11 Aug 11
Messaging App Moves Users Closer to Facebook, Further From Phone Numbers
Facebook launched a new mobile app Tuesday that provides SMS and Facebook message services as well as group chats between phone contacts and Facebook friends. By Wednesday morning, the app topped the list of free apps in the iTunes store. The feature is a challenge to traditional messaging and could take on competitors such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry Messenger, Apple's iMessage and the message elements on Google+. Once the app is installed, it will upload all the user's Facebook friends to a contacts list.

Thu, 11 Aug 11
The Social Game Changers
Once considered the red-headed stepchild of the gaming industry, social gaming is finally taking its rightful place at the table. The free-to-play model has surged to the forefront of next-generation gaming, while console game companies and traditional game developers have faltered by the wayside. With its risk-free adoption, discoverability, and virtual goods format, the F2P model demonstrates how billions of smaller transactions, coupled with lower costs and data-driven design, offer compelling game experiences to a market segment the traditional gaming companies persistently ignored.

Thu, 11 Aug 11
PiTiVi: A Solid B-Lister of a Movie-Maker
PiTiVi is a GTK-based film editor that shows promise but lacks enough refinement to be much more than a "lite" version of other film packages. Its interface is simple enough to use as it was designed, with both newbie and seasoned film fanciers in mind. PiTiVi was created in 2004 by a team of student developers. Recent versions are rewritten in Python and wrap around the GStreamer Multimedia Framework. The latest version, 0.14.0, was released in June 2011. It solves a bevy of missteps but still has room for improvement.

Wed, 10 Aug 11
Paper Pushers Turn to Tablets
Two major publishers -- the Tribune Co. and the Philadelphia Media Network, or PMN -- plan to offer long-term subscribers free or heavily subsidized tablet readers. The Tribune is reportedly developing an Android tablet. PMN plans to offer deeply discounted Android tablets together with applications developed in-house. Whether or not they can pull off these programs is open to question. "On the surface this sounds like a great lure to try to shore up their dwindling readership, but how are they going to do this?" asked Laura DiDio, principal at ITIC.

Wed, 10 Aug 11
Half-Pint Hackers and Rats in the Walls
It's been a mighty interesting week in security. Kids learned about cryptography and received a visit from federal authorities at a special session at DefCon, McAfee is duking it out with other security vendors over Operation Shady Rat, facial recognition is stripping away what little is left of our privacy, and Microsoft is offering big bucks for anyone who comes up with a new security technology. Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has released HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox browser tool to make searches safer.

Wed, 10 Aug 11
The Future of Android, Part 2: Security Snafus
The number of attacks on Android devices has been rising over the past few months. The malware has exotic names such as "Zitmo," "DroidDreamLight," "Hong Tou Tou," "DroidKungFu," "YZHCSMS," "Geinimi" and "Plankton." In January 2010, Google removed more than 50 fake banking apps from the Android market, and in March of this year, it removed another 50 infected apps, Amit Sinha, chief technology officer at Zscaler, told LinuxInsider. Meanwhile, Android smartphones are growing in popularity.

Wed, 10 Aug 11
The New Must-Have App for Parents: FBI Child ID
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a fabulous new app to help locate missing children, but it has one glaring omission: password protection. Still, there's a lot to like in this new free iOS-based app called "FBI Child ID." The premise for the app is this: When a child goes missing, precious time is wasted while caregivers gather relevant information for the authorities to aid their search. It seems like simple things like hair color and eye color and photos would be in their minds ready to share, but I imagine they could be difficult to say when your child has disappeared.

Wed, 10 Aug 11
Is Social Networking's Honeymoon Nearly Over?
The recent launch of Google+, which offers users a convenient way of managing who gets to see what, addresses the social networking privacy issue to an extent. However, the vast majority of Facebook's multitudes are still not terribly concerned -- they're having too much fun. There's a need to pay more attention to privacy, though, and technology analyst Scott Steinberg is confident that social networkers are awakening to that fact and becoming less blase about the potential ramifications of sharing so much of their personal lives online.

Tue, 9 Aug 11
DefCon Welcomes Kids: Hacking Fun for Everyone
The twenty-somethings arrested by the FBI in July on suspicion of partaking in criminal activities tied to the Anonymous hacker community may soon be regarded as geriatrics. The first annual hacker conference for kids, DefCon Kids, was held in Las Vegas last weekend as part of DefCon, which bills itself as the world's largest hacker conference. DefCon Kids included sessions with representatives of United States federal agencies. Its goal is to convince children aged 8 to 16 that it's cool to be a white hat -- a hacker who fights crime.

Tue, 9 Aug 11
Sprint Conquer Breaks the C-Note Barrier
Sprint on Friday unveiled the Samsung Conquer 4G, an Android smartphone that will be available for purchase Aug. 21. The Conquer 4G is the first 4G smartphone from Sprint launched at less than $100. It has a 1 GHz processor, front and rear cameras, runs Android 2.3, and comes with Sprint ID widgets, shortcuts, ringtones and wallpapers. Despite the price, the Samsung Conquer 4G is not just a cheapo smartphone that will offer only basic services. "From a hardware point of view, it's a smartphone people can glom onto easily," Ramon Llamas, a senior analyst at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

Tue, 9 Aug 11
Whine, Whine, Whine ... Oh, RATs!
Last week was kind of an amazing week. Google's chief counsel earned himself a new title: chief whining officer. He tried to blame Microsoft, Apple and Oracle (missed EMC) as companies that were colluding to force Google to stop stealing other people's stuff. Google's whiny argument made me wonder if anyone over there actually reads what they write. Also, McAfee released its RAT report, which basically says there are two types of organizations in both the private and public sector: those that know they've been hacked and those that haven't found out yet.

Tue, 9 Aug 11
What Would Linus Do About GNOME 3? Why, Use Xfce
Debates are always plentiful here in the Linux blogosphere, and the topic of desktop environments is no exception. That may be more true now than ever before, in fact, thanks to GNOME 3, which has come to rival only Unity in the controversy it has caused. It's one thing when a mere mortal user criticizes GNOME; however, it's quite another when none other than Linus Torvalds does. Yet that, it seems, is just what recently happened. "The user experience of Gnome3 even without rendering problems is unacceptable," Torvalds recently wrote.

Sun, 7 Aug 11
Google and Microsoft Take It Outside
By just about any measure, the Android mobile platform is making a killing in the U.S. As of last March, comScore said over a third of U.S. smartphone subscribers use Android phones. Every major U.S. carrier supports Android phones, every major handset maker in the world not named "RIM," "Apple" or "Nokia" makes Android phones, and the platform's app selection is almost as ridiculously diverse as Apple's. But despite all that success, Android is causing a gut-full of worry for its parent company, Google.

Sat, 6 Aug 11
Invasion of the Body Hackers? Wireless Medical Devices Susceptible to Attacks
Security expert and diabetic Jerome Radcliffe has hacked into the wireless insulin pump he wears on his body around the clock to keep his blood sugar level stable. Radcliffe talked about the hack in a presentation at the Black Hat Security Conference, held in Las Vegas. He reportedly detailed how untraceable attacks could be launched against wireless insulin pumps, pacemakers and implanted defibrillators from a distance of half a mile. It's possible to hack any wireless medical device that's not configured properly, Tim Gee, principal at Medical Connectivity, told TechNewsWorld.

Sat, 6 Aug 11
Of Horseshoes, Hand Grenades and Broadband Advertising
Broadband service providers in the United States are celebrating the results of the Federal Communications Commission's findings on the contentious question of broadband speeds in the country. The FCC has found that actual sustained download speeds are much closer to the speeds advertised by ISPs than was the case in early 2009. Sustained speeds refer to speeds averaged over a period of several seconds, and the FCC used this measure because broadband Internet access service is "bursty" in nature, meaning there are some periods where it's faster than others, due to network congestion.

Fri, 5 Aug 11
Now That We Know There's a Rat Among Us, What's Next?
Security vendor McAfee earlier this week revealed Operation Shady Rat, a long-running series of network intrusions and acts of data theft that preyed on organizations all over the world. "The threat is absolutely real and serious, and McAfee has been aware of it for many years, as have many others," Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, told TechNewsWorld. McAfee has worked with law enforcement groups to keep them apprised of Shady Rat, Alperovitch said. However, the right solution might entail taking a more sweeping approach.

Fri, 5 Aug 11
Clearwire Coils for the Leap to LTE
Clearwire said Wednesday that it intends to add "LTE Advanced-Ready" technology to its 4G network. The announcement follows the successful completion of 4G tests that clocked download speeds above 120 Mbps. The deployment is subject to additional funding, the company said. Clearwire's initial implementation of the LTE technology will be targeted at densely populated urban areas where 4G demand is already high. The LTE 4G network is set to become the company's wholesale offering to other carriers, and there is no word yet on Sprint's interest in the upgrade.

Fri, 5 Aug 11
Field of Streams, Part 3
When ICE identifies a site that is violating copyright and/or intellectual property laws, it obtains a warrant from a United States court granting it the authority to seize the URL. At that point, ICE takes down the streams and throws up an intimidating warning that is overlaid on a red background with the word "SEIZED" written over and over. Case closed. But it's not that simple. URLs are obtained though registries, such as Go Daddy or Register.com. When ICE wants to seize a domain, it must do so through the registries: It serves the registry, not the site owner, with a warrant.

Fri, 5 Aug 11
Taming the Lion: A Week With Apple's Latest Mac OS X
I'll admit, for a few hours, especially when TextEdit and Preview were crashing upon launch and I was having trouble adjusting to the new "unnatural" direction of mousing, I thought I had made a terrible mistake upgrading to Mac OS X Lion on launch day. How was I going to get any work done? With 250 new features, Lion offers a solid upgrade, especially when you consider the price is just $29.99. Of the 250 new features, though, there's a handful that have the potential to impact the everyday use of your Mac, as well as propel you into a new touch-focused Apple future.

Thu, 4 Aug 11
RIM Blazes Into Smartphone Market With New Torches, New Bolds
Research In Motion announced five new smartphones based on its new BlackBerry 7 operating system on Wednesday. AT&T, Sprint and U.S. Cellular will all get new devices that maintain some of the feel of earlier products while offering functionality competitive with the leading smartphones on the market. AT&T will get the BlackBerry Torch 9810, which looks similar to the existing AT&T Torch. The Torch 9850 and 9860 will be available for AT&T, Sprint and U.S. Cellular. These represent RIM's newest stab at touchscreen technology.

Thu, 4 Aug 11
McAfee Smells a Rat
Security vendor McAfee has released information pertaining to a years-long series of network intrusions and data theft incidents that the company has collectively dubbed "Operation Shady RAT." The data stolen falls into a broad range of categories: closely guarded national secrets, negotiation plans and exploration details for new oil and gas field auctions, legal contracts, design schematics, data from a U.S. real estate firm, information from the Olympics committees of three countries, and info from the United Nations.

Thu, 4 Aug 11
Field of Streams, Part 2
Anyone who has watched a sporting event on TV has heard something along the lines of, "Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without express written consent is prohibited." The message is relatively simple: This broadcast is a product, our product, and we are the only people allowed to show it. (We did, after all, and pay a pretty penny for it.) But things have gotten infinitely more complicated in the past few years.

Thu, 4 Aug 11
Jokosher: A Completely Kosher Audio Multitool
Jokosher is an audio editing application that gets the job done without an overly stuffed toolset. It lags behind other professional-strength audio editing packages available on the Linux platform. But what it lacks will not be missed by audiophile tinkerers and musicians who want to handle their own sound-mixing chores without a studio. That said, Jokosher is a powerful, easy-to-use multi-track audio editor. It is one of the more popular choices among a list of options that includes Audacity, EnergyXT and Hydrogen.

Wed, 3 Aug 11
Will Privacy Concerns Spawn the Faceless Book?
Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a system that combines facial recognition technology with social networking data and information drawn from other sources, raising new privacy concerns. The research team, led by Alessandro Acquisti, associate professor of information technology and public policy, will present its findings in full at Black Hat, a security conference to be held in Las Vegas later this week. Using facial recognition software with other sources of data makes it possible to identify strangers and gain substantial personal information about them.

Wed, 3 Aug 11
Field of Streams, Part 1
Tommy Thompson's concept of football fandom is derived from his 28 years following the Kansas City Chiefs. He was weaned on scenes from Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, where tens of thousands of people congregate for their own Sunday service, replacing wine and bread with beer and barbeque. Thompson became a devout follower. Sunday meant NFL football, and NFL football meant the Kansas City Chiefs. This was on par with scripture. Thompson's faith was tested when he and his wife moved to Jinan, China, for a six-month stint teaching English. Chinese television didn't broadcast NFL games.

Wed, 3 Aug 11
Capture for iPhone Puts Johnny a Little Closer to the Spot
Depending on how often you find yourself in bizarre, hilarious or thrilling situations, many events in life deserve to be caught on video. But the unexpected moments tend to pass right by, undocumented, simply because it's usually pretty cumbersome to whip out a video cam and get it going in time. Unless you've already got a camera in your hand with your thumb on the Rec button, that ridiculous person / automotive near miss / crook -- or cop -- behaving badly will never be digitally immortalized.

Tue, 2 Aug 11
Adobe's Edge Lets Devs Wedge a Foot in HTML5 Door
Adobe on Monday announced the first public preview release of its Edge HTML 5 Web motion and interaction design tool. This lets Web designers add animation to websites using standards such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS in much the same way they do with Flash Professional, Adobe said. It's adopting an open development methodology for Edge because of rapid changes around HTML 5. Edge is being positioned as complementary to Flash rather than its replacement. "Flash and HTML 5 products will continue to coexist," Adobe spokesperson Vanessa Rios told TechNewsWorld.

Tue, 2 Aug 11
Motorola Photon: Many Glowing Reviews, a Few Dark Glares
Motorola's latest high-end Android smartphone, the Photon, has hit the shelves at Sprint stores for $200 and a two-year contract. Online customers had a head start -- the Photon was available at Sprint's website days ahead of its brick-and-mortar arrival. The Photon runs on Android 2.3 -- Gingerbread -- and works on both 3G and 4G networks. Features include a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, WiFi hotspot capability and enterprise support. The Photon offers various options, including an HD Station and a full-size wireless keyboard.

Tue, 2 Aug 11
Dilbert Gets Windows Phone 7, the US Gets the Three Stooges
Dilbert gets Windows Phone 7, the US Gets Three Stooges The two things I found particularly interesting last week were the continued focus on the U.S. government's inability to live within its means and Scott Adams, the father of Dilbert, accepting the Windows Phone 7 challenge. The first continues to piss me off because both sides seem to be unable to grasp the need to actually live within a budget, and the second provides a much-needed chuckle and some attention to what is likely the most underappreciated operating system in the market.

Tue, 2 Aug 11
Mozilla's Boot 2 Gecko: Who Wants Another Web-Based OS?
Well it's been another scorching week here in the Linux blogosphere, where all the vegetation has been baked to oblivion and all the tempers are running hot. There's nary a drop of water to be found around here anymore -- all the wildlife have packed up and set off in search of more hospitable ground -- but at least there's still the Punchy Penguin blogobar, where the shades remain drawn and the air conditioning stays on High. Linux Girl was comfortably settled on her favorite barstool for the day, in fact, when a brawl broke out in the pool room in back. Turned out it was over Web-based operating systems.

Tue, 2 Aug 11
HowStuffWorks: A Wild and Wonderful Cornucopia of Explanations
There is a HowStuffWorks app for iPhone, but I went for the iPad version -- bigger, better, easier to navigate and consume, especially when I want to kick back and learn about how things work. I was expecting a nitty-gritty experience of things like how combustion engines work, or how a potato-launching spud gun manages to blast a tuber 100 yards. Well, I got what I was expecting, but so much more. What's the more? More information about less-mechanical things, like how lying works, how makeup works, the top five most poisonous plants, and communicating with animals.


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