Apple: Taking security more seriously now

June 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News

Apple has started to take security seriously. The security issues came to light during the attack of the Flashback botnet few months back. PCWorld now reports that Apple has changed a statement in their website that says the OS X is not vulnerable to viruses.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant in Sophos U.S., said in his blog, “I view the changes in the messages pushed out by their marketing department as some important baby-steps… Let’s hope more Apple Mac owners are also learning to take important security steps — such as installing antivirus protection.”

Previous statements like, “It doesn’t get PC viruses” has been replaced with “It’s built to be safe,” & “Safety. Built in.” instead of “Safeguard your data. By doing nothing.” A comparison between the old & the new can be found here.

Even Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of anti-virus maker Kaspersky, points out that Apple has to extend the time frames to support their older operating systems. For instance, Apple ended the support for Leopard OS X 10.5 in May this year after OS X 10.7 was released. “Apple has stopped supporting some older operating systems but there are still millions of people using these systems,” he said. “It means if vulnerabilities are found, any kind of bad guys will be free to infect these machines.”

Apple declined to comment on the issue.

Ubuntu reveals their plans to run on Microsoft’s Secure Boot system

June 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News

There has been a lot of discussion in the Linux community as to how Microsoft will allow Linux distributions to run on a Windows 8 x86-based PC with Microsoft’s Secure Boot system. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora had revealed their plans last month. Now, Neowin reports, Canonical (the makers of Ubuntu) has come out  with their own plans on how Ubuntu Linux can dual boot on a system running Windows 8.

Steve Langasek, a team leader at Ubuntu detailed, “… we’ve generated an Ubuntu signing key for use with UEFI. The private half of this key will be stored securely on our Launchpad infrastructure, which will be responsible for signing boot loader images and distributing them in the Ubuntu archive.”

Canonical will not offer a signing service for Ubuntu Linux, unlike Red Hat (another company making Linux operating systems). It was revealed by Red Hat last month that “Microsoft will provide keys for Windows and Red Hat will provide keys for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora. Similarly other distributions can participate at a nominal cost of $99 USD – allowing them to register their own keys for distribution to system firmware vendors.” This solution has received the support Linux’s creator, Linus Torvalds.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, does not share the same view. He stated, “We’ve been working to provide an alternative to the Microsoft key, so that the entire free software ecosystem is not dependent on Microsoft’s goodwill for access to modern PC hardware.” In his post, he criticizes the Secure Boot idea by saying, “Secure Boot retains flaws in its design that will ultimately mandate that Microsoft’s key is on every PC (because of core UEFI driver signing). That, and the inability of Secure Boot to support multiple signatures on critical elements means that options are limited but we continue to seek a better result.”

Police breaks into the wrong house – SWAT style

June 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News

It’s just like in the movies! Techdirt reports that police in Evansville, Indiana, sent a SWAT team in response to some internet trolls – to the wrong house!

“The issue was that on a Topix community forum for Evansville, Indiana, someone claimed that a list of police staff had been “leaked.” Some trolls in the comments spoke out against the police — and one certainly went too far, suggesting that a certain officer’s house was going to be shot up. Rather than investigating the issue, the police got some info on where the comment came from (or, rather, where they thought the comment came from) and sent the SWAT team and a TV news crew to the home of Ira and Louise Milan — whose front door was open.”

Courierpress sheds in more light. “Police used what they called a law enforcement threat matrix to determine the proper response to information in the posts. One post mentioned explosives, and another specifically named Bolin and referenced the area where he lives. But no other officers’ names or addresses were identified.” Furthermore, Sgt. Jason Cullum, a police department spokesman, said “This is a little more difficult than a traditional crime scene, because we’re dealing with the Internet. They definitely weren’t expecting (a SWAT team at the door). The reason we did that is the threats were specific enough, and the potential for danger was there. This is a big deal to us. This may be just somebody who was online just talking stupid. What I would suggest to anybody who visits websites like that is that their comments can be taken literally.”

HTC working on its own version of Siri-like app

June 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News

TechRadar reports that HTC may very well be planning to release their own version of the popular Siri, Apple’sintelligent voice assistant app.

“The Taiwanese manufacturer added a mocked-up screenshot from the Sense UI which showcases an application translating the woofs and barks of a pet dog into English… The snap, shown above, is sardonically labelled with a “Top Secret” stamp with an asterix stating: “Sorry dog fans, this isn’t real… The caption below adds: “Ever wonder what your pet has been trying to tell you all these years?”"

Recently, Samsung joined the game by releasing S-Voice on the Galaxy S3 “to challenge Siri for iPhone, which is soon to be available on new iPads also.” LG came out with its Quick Voice app. So it won’t be a surprise if HTC does indeed come out with its own flavor too…

The Facebook IPO Dilemma

June 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Blogs

There has been a lot of talk lately regarding Facebook going public… And rightly so. The company’s share has fluctuated enough for everyone to understand that share prices may not always be priced right. Is it too over-priced or is it giving the investors a run for their money by selling for too less?

Honestly, I didn’t think it would be so complicated, especially when you have Morgan Stanly running the books. But then again, as it turned out, the investment banks shared information with selected few that they didn’t do with the public. They say that such communication falls within their legal rights. And then I am reminded as to why fundamental analysis in trading is significant to understand that securities are not always priced right. A little prudence is not too much to ask I suppose.

And now Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in the picture. Something went wrong with Facebook’s recent IPO. As with any underwriter, it is always desirable to keep the prices steady when an initial offering takes place. And they did so. The shares went public for $38 last month, and as of now, it is trading at around $33. What does this tell you? Was the stock priced too high at its start?

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a U.S. House of Representatives committee chairman has voiced his concerns (on behalf of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) by writing to the SEC. “The investment banks were given almost 80 years to enjoy this flawed law, fraught with conflicts of interest and incentives to misprice shares. Among other things, I ask that you take advantage of the vast improvements in communications technology to protect investors while unleashing capital formation to strengthen our economy.” said Issa.

Specifically, he asks to reconsider the Securities Act of 1933. The act provides a structure on how all the IPOs are managed. The act facilitates underwriters & issuers to “exercise substantial discretion” in instituting the IPO price. When you have discretion over information that may well be valuable, and at the same time share ‘privileged’ information to selected few, it does raise caution. It’s an unfair advantage over individual investors.

Now that the offering has already taken place (and done with), I hope Facebook keeps acquiring companies that will contribute to its growth. Judging from the past, it has not been hesitant in making acquisitions. And the kind of companies they acquire show what types of services they plan to change or update. Instagram. Lightbox. Hot Potato. Rel8tion. And recently, Face.com. These and hopefully more in the coming days will be essential to understand the future of the company – and of course, the investors’ faith.

Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition to be phased out

June 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Microsoft, News

Many of us, who bought a branded PC or a laptop in the last two years, may recall that they were shipped with a stripped down & ad-supported version of Office 2010 – known as the Starter Edition. Softpedia now reports that they are already being phased out.

The reason behind this may be because the company did not succeed in “its attempt to determine users to grab a more complete flavor of Office 2010 once they gave the Starter edition a try.” A company’s spokesperson reported, “We will begin to phase out the shipment of PCs with Office Starter 2010. After Windows 8 becomes available, most new PCs shipped will not have Office Starter. People who use Office Starter 2010 today will continue to be able to use the product for the life of their PC,” the Microsoft representative also stated. “For Windows7/Office Starter 2010 users who want to upgrade their PC to Windows 8 and continue using Office Starter 2010, they will have to install an update to Microsoft Office 2010 which is available today.”

It seems Microsoft is making the way for its upcoming new version of its Office Web Apps, part of the Office 2013 release. “It should hit beta sometime in summer, and is expected to become commercially available in the coming months, in conjunction with the launch of Windows 8.” notes Softpedia.

Google could launch its own cloud service

June 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Google, News

Gigaom has confirmed with multiple sources that Google will soon offer its own comprehensive cloud based services, competing with rivals like Microsoft’s Azure & Amazon’s EC2.

Essentially “cloud computing comes in three flavors, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). They each provide increasing levels of rented virtual resources. With IaaS, users simply rent use of servers provided by one or more cloud providers. PaaS users rent servers as well as the system software to use in them. SaaS users also rent application software and databases along with the servers and system software.” Google will likely offer enterprise-level IaaS.

Google has chosen Microsoft to be its main target, for “the enterprise developer community is… one of Microsoft’s biggest strengths, and Google wants to go after them.” However, it has yet to give an official announcement.

YouTube could be outlawed in Japan

June 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News

Japan has revised its copyright laws that make illegal downloading of copyrighted video & audio files ”punishable by up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of 2,000,000 Yen ($25,106 U.S. dollars)”. The revision, passed yesterday, will go in to effect on October 1, reports Mashable.

 

 

Japanese attorney Toshimitsu Dan notes that “the revisions now forbid ripping and copying of copy-protected and encoded materials, selling software and hardware that circumvents copyright protection laws and intentionally downloading illegally uploaded materials.”

This issue is of great concern, especially when dealing with video sharing websites like YouTube. Essentially, “every time you watch a video on YouTube, your computer stores a temporary download file in the browser cache on your hard drive. These files are inconsequential under United States law, but the files could be construed as official downloads in Japan, leaving even the most YouTube-law abiding citizens subject to prosecution.”

Facebook to enable editing of Comments: Coming very soon

June 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News

Facebook plans to roll out the ability to edit the comments on posts very soon, reports The Next Web. In case you are not seeing it just yet, the company says that it will be available to everyone in the coming few days. Currently there is no provision to edit one’s comment – one simply has to delete the post, & re-send it again with the correction/update. The annoyance? Yet another useless notification for both the parties.

Moreover, Facebook will show the edit history for a comment, allowing everyone else to have the complete context of a conversation. The next Web also notes that the “feature is particularly important because a lot of publications have started using Facebook’s commenting system, and it’s a feature that most other commenting systems already have.”

No physical keyboard for the first BlackBerry 10 device

June 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, News, Smartphones

RIM’s upcoming Blackberry device running the new OS 10 will not have a physical keyboard – only a touch screen. Once dominating the corporate smartphone market, it is now failing to adapt to the latest trends in the smartphone industry.

Analysts believe that RIM should lead with its strength by releasing a keyboard Blackberry first. “The physical keyboard is the most dominant item that separates out Research In Motion from its competitors,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Financial.

But others believe that RIM is only trying to close the gap that with market leading smartphone makers, Apple & Google. “They are going to build a BlackBerry device with a keyboard, but it’s just going to take longer… Maybe it will come a month or two after, but frankly it might be already too late.” said analyst Peter Misek from Jefferies.

“RIM’s stock fell 27 cents, or 2.6 percent, to close Thursday at $10.07” noted The Washington Post.

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