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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Apple to post prominent warning of possible iPod overheating on Web site | The Japan Times Online

iPod Nano Red. Special Edition. Author: o_more...Image via Wikipedia
Apple to post prominent warning of possible iPod overheating on Web site | The Japan Times Online

After prodding from the government, Apple Inc. will post prominent notices on its Web site warning that some iPod Nano music players in Japan may overheat.

Sixty-one cases of batteries overheating have been reported in first-generation iPod Nano machines sold in 2005 and 2006, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Some units were warped by the heat that caused minor burns when people touched them, but no serious injuries or damage have been reported, it said.

A battery replacement notice was posted late last year on Apple Japan's Web site but it requires several clicks before it can be read.

Saudis Reach Deal On BlackBerry, Avoiding Ban : NPR

Saudis Reach Deal On BlackBerry, Avoiding Ban : NPR


A Saudi customer is served in a mobile shop at a market in the capital Riyadh on Thursday.
text size A A A August 7, 2010
Saudi Arabia and the makers of the BlackBerry have reached a preliminary deal on granting access to users' data that will avert a ban on the phone's messenger service in the kingdom, Saudi officials said Saturday.

The agreement would likely involve placing a BlackBerry server inside Saudi Arabia to allow the government to monitor messages and allay official fears the service could be used for criminal purposes, the telecom regulatory officials said.

Bandar al-Mohammed, an official at the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission, told The Associated Press that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. has expressed its "intention ... to place a server inside Saudi Arabia."

That will guarantee the kingdom's ability to see communications and data exchanged on BlackBerry handsets, he said. Al-Mohammed said talks were ongoing and declined to provide more details pending an announcement, which he said was expected soon.

Microsoft's Ribboned Office for Mac 2011 Set for October

Microsoft's Ribboned Office for Mac 2011 Set for October

Office for Mac 2011, the first release of the Mac-based suite to include Microsoft's controversial ribbon user interface (UI), is now slated to ship at the end of October in three editions, at pricing ranging from $99 to $279.

Positioned by Microsoft as the Mac-based counterpart to the Windows 7-enabled Office 2010, Office for Mac 2011 is also expected to bring new icons and splash screens, a Template Gallery, more proofing tools, and first-time support for languages such as Russian and Hebrew which read right-to-left rather than left-to-right.

In a statement this week, Microsoft said that Office for Mac 11 will also add two new languages - Russian and Polish - to the 11 supported by its predecessor, Office for Mac 2008.

Also in the statement, Microsoft set late October as the release date for "several regions" - without specifying those regions -- and provided US MSRPs for the three editions.

Microsoft did not pinpoint specific capabilities in its press release, but members of Microsoft's Office for Mac team have already previewed some of the new features in a series of posts to their Mac Mojo blog. Microsoft also released a video demo of the product on the blog last week.

Microsoft's Mac suite to add ‘MacRibbon' interface

"The most notable introduction to our new Office 2011 user interface is strikingly new, but readily familiar to Mac and PC users alike. It's called the ‘Office for Mac ribbon,' or as we refer to it internally, ‘MacRibbon,'" according to Han-yi Shaw, senior lead program manager at Microsoft responsible for Office User Experience (UX) and Word for Mac.

‘The ‘Mac' part tells you that it was designed for the Mac, with all of the recognizable attributes that Mac users have come to love; the ‘Ribbon' part signifies the shared lineage with the ribbon seen in Office 2007 and now Office 2010 for Windows," wrote Shaw, in a blog post in February.

Not everyone is thrilled with the ribbon interface. "It's cluttered, with huge icons and takes too much screen estate," wrote a user named Burst, in a comment posted to the MacStories blog over the past week.

The ribbon, though, will complement but not replace "signature Mac user interface elements such as the menu bar and standard tool bar," according to Shaw.

The "MacRibbon" will show up in Word, Excel and PowerPoint above the content display area but underneath the Mac menu bar. The standard tool bar will also remain. Users will be able to collapse both the ribbon and the standard tool bar.

The Huffington Post- Josh Silver: Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

Josh Silver: Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It

For years, Internet advocates have warned of the doomsday scenario that will play out on Monday: Google and Verizon will announce a deal that the New York Times reports "could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege."

The deal marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as you know it. Since its beginnings, the Net was a level playing field that allowed all content to move at the same speed, whether it's ABC News or your uncle's video blog. That's all about to change, and the result couldn't be more bleak for the future of the Internet, for television, radio and independent voices.

How did this happen? We have a Federal Communications Commission that has been denied authority by the courts to police the activities of Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast. All because of a bad decision by the Bush-era FCC. We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision, conducting back room dealmaking, and willing to sit on his hands rather than reassert his agency's authority. We have a president who promised to "take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality" yet remains silent. We have a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry. Yes, more than half of the US congress will do pretty much whatever the phone and cable companies ask them to. Add the clout of Google, and you have near-complete control of Capitol Hill.

A non-neutral Internet means that companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google can turn the Net into cable TV and pick winners and losers online. A problem just for Internet geeks? You wish. All video, radio, phone and other services will soon be delivered through an Internet connection. Ending Net Neutrality would end the revolutionary potential that any website can act as a television or radio network. It would spell the end of our opportunity to wrest access and distribution of media content away from the handful of massive media corporations that currently control the television and radio dial.

So the Google-Verizon deal can be summed up as this: "FCC, you have no authority over us and you're not going to do anything about it. Congress, we own you, and we'll get whatever legislation we want. And American people, you can't stop us.

This Google-Verizon deal, this industry-captured FCC, and the way this is playing out is akin to the largest banks and the largest hedge funds writing the regulatory policy on derivative trading without any oversight or input from the public, and having it rubber stamped by the SEC. It's like BP and Halliburton ironing out the rules for offshore oil drilling with no public input, and having MMS sign off.

Fortunately, while they are outnumbered, there are several powerful Net Neutrality champions on Capitol Hill, like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Henry Waxman, Jay Rockefeller, Ed Markey, Jay Inslee and many others. But they will not be able to turn this tide unless they have massive, visible support from every American who uses the Internet --- whether it's for news, email, shopping, Facebook, Twitter --- whatever. So stop what you're doing and tell them you're not letting the Internet go the way of Big Oil and Big Banks. The future of the Internet, and your access to information depends on it.

Author's note: Notice how a company can change their tune in the name of profitmaking. From Google in 2006: "Today the Internet is an information highway where anybody - no matter how large or small, how traditional or unconventional - has equal access. But the phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can't pay."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

BBC News - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in BlackBerry talks

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...Image via Wikipedia
BBC News - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in BlackBerry talks: "The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold talks with the UAE over the ongoing BlackBerry dispute.
The United Arab Emirates is to prevent sending e-mails, accessing the internet, and delivering instant messages to other Blackberry handsets.
Authorities are unhappy that they are unable to monitor such encrypted communications via the handsets.
Mrs Clinton said authorities had to balance 'legitimate security concerns' with 'right of free use and access'.
'We are taking time to consult and analyse the full the range of interests and issues at stake, because we know that there is a legitimate security concern,' Mrs Clinton said.
'But there is also a legitimate right of free use and access.
'So I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward,' she added."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Google's Android leads U.S. smartphones | Reuters

Google's Android leads U.S. smartphones | Reuters

(Reuters) - Smartphones running Google's (GOOG.O) Android software were the top seller among consumers in the United States in the second quarter, industry tracker NPD said on Wednesday.

Android accounted for one-third of all smartphones purchased in the April-June period, with Research in Motion's (RIM.TO) BlackBerry sliding to second place for the first time since 2007.

BlackBerry lost nine percentage points of market share, falling to 28 percent. On Tuesday, RIM unveiled a new touchscreen device as the company tries to reinvigorate its image with consumers.

Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone was in third place with a 22 percent share.

Android is available on smartphones from a number of different manufacturers.

NPD said Motorola's (MOT.N) Droid was the best-selling Android handset in the second quarter among U.S. consumers, followed by HTC's (2498.TW) Droid Incredible and EVO 4G.

Google said recently that 160,000 Android phones were activated each day during the second quarter, up from 65,000 in the first quarter.

Smartphone unit prices averaged $143 in the April-June quarter, down 9 percent from a year ago.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway; editing by John Wallace)

AppleInsider | iPhone 4 owners report fewer dropped calls than iPhone 3GS

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
AppleInsider | iPhone 4 owners report fewer dropped calls than iPhone 3GS: "By Neil Hughes Published: 11:10 AM EST A new survey of iPhone 4 users has found that owners of Apple's latest handset have experienced fewer dropped calls than those who own an iPhone 3GS, suggesting the real-world impact of the iPhone 4 antenna issue is a non-factor.
ChangeWave Research on Wednesday released the results of a new survey conducted between July 19 and 28 of new iPhone 4 owners. The company waited until a few weeks after the handset launched to allow the impact of the device's antenna controversy to set in.
The survey of 213 new iPhone 4 owners found that users claimed to experience fewer dropped calls than those who own an iPhone 3GS. A June 2010 survey of iPhone 3GS owners found that 6.3 percent had experienced dropped calls. But in July, just 5.2 percent of iPhone 4 owners said they had dropped a call.
'Despite all of the issues surrounding the antenna, in actuality iPhone 4 owners reported experiencing fewer dropped calls on the average than iPhone 3GS owners,' said Paul Carton, vice president of research with ChangeWave.
Those numbers are actually different from the data that Apple reported last month at its iPhone 4 press conference. There, Chief Executive Steve Jobs revealed that the iPhone 4 drops slightly more call, at a rate less than one call per 100 greater. Jobs said he believes this is because there were not many cases that fit the new form factor of the iPhone 4 available when the handset launched in June.
Respondents were also very satisfied with Apple's response to the antenna controversy, in which the company will give away free cases to all customers through Sept. 30. Users can select an Apple branded 'Bumper' case, or a number of other third-party options."

Saudi Arabia announces BlackBerry ban | Wireless - CNET News

Saudi Arabia announces BlackBerry ban | Wireless - CNET News

Saudi Arabia has ordered the country's cell phone service providers to halt all BlackBerry services this week, the latest Mideast nation to announce moves to exercise greater control over data sent by the Research In Motion phones.
The country's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) on Tuesday asked Saudi Telecom, Mobily, and Zain Saudi Arabia to suspend service to BlackBerry phones on Friday, the Saudi state news agency SPA said in a report detailed by Al Jazeera. The suspension was being implemented because BlackBerry service "in its present state does not meet regulatory requirements," the SPA said.
"CITC has informed the three mobile telecommunications providers more than a year ago of the need to quickly fulfill with the manufacturer of BlackBerry handsets the required regulatory requirements," it added.
RIM representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The prohibition is expected to impact about 700,000 BlackBerry users in Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Google's China answer page inaccessible - The China Post

Google's China answer page inaccessible - The China Post

BEIJING -- A Google question-and-answer page for Chinese users was inaccessible from mainland China on Tuesday less than a month after the search giant's Internet license was renewed amid a dispute over online censorship.
The company found no technical problems with the Hong Kong-based service, said a Google Inc. spokewoman, Courtney Hohne, in an e-mail. Phone calls to China's Internet regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, were not answered and the agency did not respond to questions sent by fax.

Beijing encourages Web use for education and business but tries to block material deemed subversive and closely watches sites where China's public can leave comments. Regulators block access to social networking sites abroad such as Facebook that pro-democracy and Tibet activists have used to criticize the communist government.

Google's future in China has been uncertain since the company announced in January it no longer wanted to cooperate with Beijing's Web censorship and shut down its China-based search engine in March. Mainland Web surfers can reach Google's Chinese-language site in Hong Kong, which has no online censorship, but industry analysts say users might defect to local rivals, eroding its advertising revenues.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Browser Wars Enter a New Round - PCWorld

Browser Wars Enter a New Round - PCWorld

Apple released version 5.0.1 of its Safari browser last week. It fixes one major security vulnerability. More pleasantly, it turns on support for extensions, which Apple is now collecting in its new Extensions Gallery. The quantity of available add-ins is skimpy compared to Chrome or (especially) Firefox, but there's already some good stuff -- I like Gmail Counter, which adds a button indicating how many e-mails have arrived since you last checked your inbox, along with a banner that rotates through recent subject lines. And Safari extensions have the most seamless installation process I've seen to date -- one click, and you're good to go.

Until now, when folks have asked me how the major browsers stack up, I've mostly praised Safari but noted that the lack of extensions made for a less customizable working environment. Now it's got ‘em. One more reason to consider using Safari, one less major distinguishing characteristic for the competition.

Which got me to thinking: It's been a long time since the race for best browser was this close. Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are all really good -- and they're growing more and more similar. (Internet Explorer still lags behind, although everything we know so far about IE9 is promising.) The overarching goals are mostly industry-wide ones, such as more minimalist interfaces, zippier performance, cutting-edge HTML5 support, and slicker frameworks for extensions and other customizations.

An embarrassment of excellent browsers to choose from is great news, of course. But on some weird level, it leaves me blasé about the whole topic. A few years ago, I was practically going door-to-door urging strangers to use Firefox. Today, I'm more likely to explain that most of the major browsers are roughly comparable. And I can't always remember which browser I'm using at the moment. (At the moment, I have Safari, Chrome, and Firefox open -- I'm writing this post in Firefox, but I had to check.)

We seem to be in a period of equilibrium, but I don't think it'll last forever. At some point, interfaces will get as sleek as they're going to get, it'll be hard to eke any more speed out of JavaScript engines, and HTML5 will be everywhere. Browser developers will need to latch onto fresh ideas -- and when they do, their products might once again feel more distinctive than they do at the moment.

Okay, I'm not claiming that there's nothing unique in current browsers. A few examples of fresh ideas currently on display: Safari's easy-reading mode, Firefox's "Tab Candy," Opera's Turbo browsing, and all the social features in my favorite underdog browser, Flock. I'd love to see more stuff like this, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we're headed for a new era of browser inventiveness rather than an age of stasis...
As far as I am concerned the choice is clear. Chrome 5 is the browser of choice on any platform. I regularly use it on my Mac and on my wife's P.C. I uninstalled FireFox after using Chrome 5, when it was released for Mac. It is so much faster than FireFox and more flexible than Safari 5. On a PC it is much faster than FireFox and Internet Explorer is not even in the running. It is slow, there are no extensions and it is buggy. Safari 5 now supports some of the Asian sites that you used to need Internet Explorer to use. Enterprise I.T. departments need to get off their rusty dusty and switch to chrome 5.

John H. Armwood

Firefox Falls Further Behind in Browser Wars - PCWorld Business Center

Firefox Falls Further Behind in Browser Wars - PCWorld Business Center

Linux user, how many different Internet browsers do you have on your system? You have Konqueror if you use KDE, Iceweasel or Epiphany if you use GNOME, and optionally, you might have Firefox, Chrome or Opera. You might have all of those.

You need so many browsers because none of them is perfect. And, Chrome comes closer to perfection than Firefox does. Since Google released the Chrome browser, Linux users have converted to it by the hundreds of thousands. Although Firefox claims millions of downloads, you can bet that its usage is not close to the number of downloads.

Maybe you’ve seen stories declaring, as Keir Thomas did on this blog last year, that Firefox is dead while Chrome looks increasingly like a better choice. But why is Firefox taking all this abuse? In short, because its alleged strengths are its greatest weaknesses.

Firefox fans tout the browser’s use of extensions, or add-ons, as one of its many boastworthy features, but if you’ve ever connected to a site that uses some new Web feature that Firefox doesn’t support, you’re out of luck. Those same extensions often break other extensions on the way in during installation.

Further, why should a user constantly download and install extensions for such common Web gadgetry as Flash or PDF? Why aren’t those extensions included by default if their inclusion is necessary for a rich Web experience?

How often has Firefox notified you at startup that there are updates for one or more of your extensions that result in no updates, or that upon updating, you'll have to restart your browser only to find that the extension update broke your browser. This exercise is time-consuming and tedious. It’s almost as bad as patching and rebooting a Windows system. You find that simply opening your browser to check stock prices becomes so involved that you forget why you originally opened it.

But Firefox extensions aren’t the only problem. Firefox is also so notoriously slow that on older systems, it’s almost unusable or it takes so long to open that you find yourself clicking the icon multiple times, thinking that your original launch didn’t take for some reason.

Chrome, however, is usable and responsive. Now you understand why Firefox might not survive the browser wars. Its extension model is annoying to use, it’s slow on older systems, it’s slower than Chrome on any system, and its extensions break other extensions. / Telecoms - UAE to suspend BlackBerry services / Telecoms - UAE to suspend BlackBerry services

By Andrew England in Abu Dhabi
Published: August 1 2010 09:56 | Last updated: August 1 2010 18:34
The United Arab Emirates is to suspend BlackBerry mobile communication services from October because, it said, they operate outside its laws and raise national security concerns.

Saudi Arabia appeared to be following suit, with an official at Saudi Telecom, a state-controlled company, saying the kingdom was banning BlackBerry messenger services.

The security-conscious Gulf states will be the first countries to take such actions but the announcements come after India raised similar concerns about Research in Motion’s network in recent weeks. Canada-based RIM is the company behind the BlackBerry brand.

BlackBerry services, such as e-mail and instant messaging, use internal encrypted networks that are difficult for governments to monitor. It is the only data services provider operating in the UAE that exports its data offshore and denies authorities access to its systems.

The UAE’s regulator said its decision was based on the fact that “certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the UAE”.

The UAE’s suspension will begin on October 11 and will also apply to roaming BlackBerry devices. The ban in Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf’s most populous nation and the Arab world’s biggest economy, was due to begin this month. The UAE government, which relies heavily on high-tech surveillance measures as key elements of its security infrastructure, said it had had discussions with RIM about its concerns but no progress was made.

Microsoft Rushes Out Emergency Fix For Critical LNK Bug |

Microsoft Rushes Out Emergency Fix For Critical LNK Bug |

Microsoft on Monday rushed out an emergency patch for a critical vulnerability that criminals are exploiting to install malware on all supported versions of the Windows operating system.

As promised Friday, Microsoft released the update outside of its normal patching schedule because the vulnerability is being actively targeted. When the flaw first came to public attention three weeks ago, it was being used to attack SCADA — supervisory control and data acquisition — systems that control sensitive equipment at power plants, gas refineries, and other other critical infrastructure.

Since then, it’s been used to install general-purpose malware from Zeus and other do-it-yourself crimeware kits used to siphon credit card numbers and other sensitive data from compromised computers. The Windows flaw resides in a shortcut feature that makes it easy to store commonly accessed files and folders on the operating-system desktop.

Users who employed a stopgap FixIt published two weeks ago should roll back their machines using the “disable workaround” feature here. Those who don’t follow this advice will find that icons fail to display properly, causing folders and files to appear white without any of the customary graphics.

Users will most likely have to reboot their machines twice — once after uninstalling the workaround, and again after installing the update.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Apple iMac summer 2010 (Intel Core i3 3.06GHz, 21.5 in) Desktop reviews - CNET Reviews

Apple iMac summer 2010 (Intel Core i3 3.06GHz, 21.5 in) Desktop reviews - CNET Reviews

China Called a Hacker's Marketplace - PCWorld

China Called a Hacker's Marketplace - PCWorld

Malware is openly available in China, researchers at the Black Hat conference report.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Sunday, August 01, 2010 06:30 AM PDT
LAS VEGAS -- China's rapid emergence as a hotspot for criminal hacking activities is enabled by the open and unfettered availability of sophisticated hacking tools, according to security researchers attending the Black Hat conference here this week.

Many of the hacking tools are inexpensive, highly customizable, and easy to use.
Most of the early users of the malware products have sought to steal has been from from online gaming accounts inside China. But now experts are seeing much broader use of such tools.

Hackers in China are developing malicious software "almost like a commercial product", said Val Smith founder of Attack Research, a Los Alamos, N.M.-based security firm. The products come complete with version numbers, product advertising, end-user license agreements and 24-hour support services, he said.

They are "rapidly deploying very easy to use tools for cutting edge exploits," Smith said at a Black Hat presentation last week. "Their community is huge because [the malware] is easy to use," while at the same time many of the exploits are very advanced, he added.

Unlike in the U.S, the buying and selling of hacker tools in China takes place mostly in the open, said Anthony Lai, a security researcher with Valkyrie-X Security Research Group (VXRL) a Hong Kong based non-profit firm. Often, all that's required to find and purchase a malware program often is the ability to use a browser and search engine, he said during a talk at Black Hat.

Most of those selling malware products make little effort to conceal their activities. In fact, many openly advertise their wares and their capabilities through search engines like, he said. Customers can buy the malware they need for less than $20 or sign up as subscribed members and get regular updated supplies of the tools, Lai said.

The hacking tools run the gamut and are often designed for off-the-shelf use. Many offer exploit generators that allow more sophstocated hackers to carefully customize malware for specific needs by using graphical user interfaces, Lai said. The GUIs let wannabe hackers specify what they want the program to do, for instance, whether they want it to steal data, capture screens, log keystrokes, remotely control a system or undertake any other task.

Some check boxes lets malware purchasers decide what kind of obfuscation and hiding methods they want to use to evade detection by security tools, while others walk them through the deployment and updating process, Lai said.

It's not unusual for those selling malware programs to let buyer's first test out the products before buying it and to offer regular product updates and phone numbers to call for support services. Statistical tools are also available to help buyers keep track of the systems they have infected.

China's hacking abilities has received increasing scrutiny following Google's disclosure earlier this year that it's servers had been hacked apparently by hackers based out of China.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan , or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is .

Black Techies Find Niche Online : NPR

Black Techies Find Niche Online : NPR

In the online marketplace of information, there are some deep holes. Angela Benton is working to help fill one void with Black Web 2.0, a website designed for African-Americans engaged in technology and new media work.

Benton, the founder and CEO of BlackWebMedia, launched the site in 2007. The magazine Fast Company included her on its list as one of the most influential women in technology for 2010. She is also one of this year's recipients of the National Urban League's Woman of Power award.

While Black Web 2.0 has become something of a magnet for people who want to know how technology affects the black community, it also has general interest appeal. In addition to news, the site features stories on trends, gadgets and social networking and has tips for entrepreneurs.