Contact Me By Email

Friday, November 12, 2010

iOS 4.2 now due on November 16th? | iPodNN

iOS 4.2 now due on November 16th? | iPodNN

The iOS 4.2 update will actually reach the public on Tuesday, November 16th instead of today, a Greek news site says. Though only citing a "reliable source," iPhoneHellas is thought to have a good track record with iOS release dates. Providing some backing evidence is a German site, which claims that references to November 12th were removed from carrier bundles.
The delay is likely connected to a critical Wi-Fi bug discovered by iPad users running the iOS 4.2 gold master. Connections may drop after a just a few minutes; on top of this, some people have had problems loading Safari. The Wi-Fi issue was discovered just recently, which may have forced Apple to scramble for a fix.

Rockmelt: Who Needs Yet Another Browser? - PCWorld

Rockmelt: Who Needs Yet Another Browser? - PCWorld
Analysis: RockMelt is based on Chromium and adds social networking, but it's still not open.
By Alan Shimel, NetworkWorld Nov 12, 2010 1:22 pm
I am writing this post via the web, inside of RockMelt, the new browser financed by Netscape co-founder Mark Andreessen and built by some of his old colleagues. For those of you who are not familiar with RockMelt, it is built on the Chromium open source code, just as Google's Chrome is. In fact saying it is built on it does not do it justice. It is Chrome with Facebook and Twitter integrated and some other nifty extensions built in.
According to Mr Andreessen, if you were building a browser from scratch now versus when most of the browsers we use were built, you would do things very differently. I don't disagree with this. But I don't think this is really building a browser from scratch. This is Chrome with some nifty extensions. It reminds me of back when there were custom versions of Netscape. You know, where the N in the top corner that would animate while pages were loading would be replaced by another logo. If you really want to do something radical, really build it from scratch.
But why does that bother me? Well part of it is that they have taken an open source project and built a commercial product from it. That is fine, but shouldn't there be some give back? I wonder why the browser was not open sourced, if it was based on open source code? The RockMelt blog seems to indicate at least some give back to the open source community:

Newest Firefox Beta Adds Speed - PCWorld

Newest Firefox Beta Adds Speed - PCWorld
With the release of Firefox 4 Beta 7, Mozilla returned to near the top spot in browser performance rankings.
Artwork: Chip TaylorAccording to tests run by Computerworld, the new browser is about three times faster than the current production version of Firefox in rendering JavaScript, and lags behind only Opera among the top five browser makers.
On Wednesday, Mozilla launched Firefox 4 Beta 7, a preview that includes all the features slated to make it into the final, polished version next year.
Beta 7 was the first to include Mozilla's new JavaScript JIT (Just In Time) compiler, dubbed "JagerMonkey," which shot the browser's performance into the No. 2 slot behind the alpha of Opera 11.
Computerworld ran the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark suite in Windows Vista Business three times for each browser, then averaged the scores.
Three of the five major browsers were closely bunched at the top. Opera 11 Alpha, which the Norwegian company released last month, barely edged Firefox 4 Beta 7, which in turn narrowly beat the beta of Google's Chrome 8.
Meanwhile, results for Apple's Safari and Microsoft's beta of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) put that pair significantly behind the top three. For example, Firefox 4 Beta 7 was approximately 25% faster than IE9 Beta in the trials.
Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft's primary browser, was also tested, although for all intents and purposes, it isn't in the JavaScript race: Firefox 4 was more than 12 times faster at rendering JavaScript than IE8.
Not surprisingly, Mozilla boasted of the speed improvements courtesy of the JagerMonkey compiler, and its integration with the earlier TraceMonkey optimization of the browser's JavaScript engine.
On a company blog telling users to "fasten your seatbelts," Mozilla posted JavaScript results from tests run not only in SunSpider -- a benchmark developed by the team responsible for WebKit, the browser engine that powers Chrome and Safari -- but also in Mozilla's own Kraken and Google's V8.
In two of the three tests, Firefox 4 Beta 7 proved three times faster than Firefox 3.6.12, the current production build. (Mozilla said V8's results showed Firefox 4 was five times faster than 3.6.12.)
"We knew we needed another major upgrade for Firefox 4 to make us fast all around," said David Mandelin, a Mozilla engineer who worked on JagerMonkey, in a September blog post that Mozilla cited yesterday.
Among other changes to Firefox 4 in Beta 7 were hardware acceleration in both Windows and Mac OS X, support for the WebGL 3D graphics standard, and support for the OpenType font format.
For the first time, Firefox now accelerates aspects of content rendering and page composition when running in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Window 7, as well as in Mac OS X.
Browser hardware acceleration shifts some tasks from a computer's main processor to its graphics processor to boost performance, especially of graphics-intensive chores like rendering video or complex three-dimensional objects.
Like Microsoft , which offers hardware acceleration in IE9, Mozilla relied on the Direct3D API (application programming interface) to boost page compositing in Windows. Mozilla, however, went one step further, accelerating page compositing, though not content rendering, in Windows XP.
Microsoft's IE9 will not run on Windows XP because the still-popular operating system doesn't support Direct2D, the API IE9 uses to boost content rendering.
Firefox 4 Beta 7 on the Mac uses the cross-platform OpenGL API to accelerate page composition.
The Linux version of Firefox 4 does not yet have hardware acceleration switched on, due, said a Mozilla engineer, to driver issues.
The delay was due to problems pinning down bugs in Beta 7 -- which was originally scheduled to debut eight weeks ago -- and waiting for the JagerMonkey team to integrate the new compiler into the JavaScript engine. Late last month Mozilla announced that it was pushing back the release date , once targeted for before the holiday season, into early 2011.
But the browser's development schedule remains aggressive, with three more betas before the end of the year. Mozilla, however, has tacitly acknowledged that the early 2011 final release is tentative, and could slip. "We will not ship software before it is ready," said Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox, when Mozilla announced the delay last month.
Firefox 4 Beta 7 is about three times faster than the older 3.6.12, and lags behind only an alpha of Opera 11 in JavaScript speeds. Smaller results are better.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Microsoft Explains Missing Mac Office Patches - PCWorld

Microsoft Explains Missing Mac Office Patches - PCWorld
Microsoft today explained why it has not patched older versions of its Office for Mac, but would not disclose a release schedule for doing so.
"We cannot give an exact date, but we expect to provide these updates during one of our normal monthly update cycles very soon," said Jerry Bryant, a group manager in the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC).
Bryant was responding to questions raised Tuesday when Microsoft issued a multi-patch update for all versions of Office on Windows, including Office XP, 2003, 2007 and 2010, and Office for Mac 2011.
However, Microsoft did not deliver patches for the vulnerabilities in Office for Mac 2004 and Office for Mac 2008.
"The updates for Mac Office 2004 and 2008 were not ready for broad distribution at the same time as the updates for the affected products used by the vast majority of our customers," said Bryant in an e-mail reply to Computerworld queries.
The majority of Office users run the Windows editions of the suite, which greatly outsells the same software for Mac OS X.
According to the MS10-087 security bulletin associated with the Office updates, Office 2007 and Office 2010 users are most at risk because attackers can hijack their machines simply by getting them to view a specially-crafted message in the Outlook preview pane.
In a second e-mail Wednesday, Bryant said that Office for Mac users were not vulnerable to the same types of attacks, although hackers could try to dupe them into opening malicious RTF (rich text format) documents attached to e-mail messages.
Microsoft has delayed security updates for the Mac version of Office before.
In May 2009, Microsoft shipped patches for the Windows version of PowerPoint -- Office's presentation maker -- but delayed fixes for the same flaws in its Mac software until the following month.
At the time, Microsoft's security team defended the decision by saying that fixes for Windows were finished, but were still being tested on the Mac.
Today, Bryant said it was a matter of priorities, both in the number of users running Windows software compared to the Mac, and in the threat posed to each group. "Normally, we release updates for all affected products at the same time, [but] in cases where the vast majority of our customers are at potential risk and we can provide protections, we may decide to release updates for those products, if ready, ahead of products where the risk is very low," he said.
Last year, Microsoft took heat over the PowerPoint patch delay, with one security expert saying it put Mac users at risk. Others agreed with Microsoft's decision at the time.
Today, HD Moore, the chief security officer at Rapid7 -- and the creator of the popular Metasploit penetration toolkit -- dissed Microsoft's decision, up to a point.
"It's a bit surprising because on one hand they're giving away the key," he said. "The information in Microsoft's security bulletins isn't remotely useful to researchers, but now they're free, since Microsoft has officially patched the vulnerabilities [in Windows and Office for Mac 2011], to disclose technical information to the public."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Office 2011 Update Boosts Security, Stability - PCWorld

Office 2011 Update Boosts Security, Stability - PCWorld
Two weeks after launching Office 2011, Microsoft has rolled out an update that aims to improve the security and stability of the latest version of its office productivity suite.
Release notes for the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 14.0.1 Update say that the release fixes "critical issues" in the latest version of Office that could cause components of the suite to stop responding or quit unexpectedly. Microsoft says the update also fixes a security vulnerability that could allow an attack to overwrite the contents of a computer's memory with malicious code.
As for performance and stability improvements in the 14.0.1 update, the company says that the update includes form-based authentication for connecting to Microsoft Office SharePoint Servers, allowing user credentials to be transmitted through HTML forms that users complete. The update also allows images copied from an Office for Mac application to be edited when copied back to ChemDraw; previously, images were locked when copied to the molecule editor.
Excel for Mac 2011 gets fixes that stop the spreadsheet program from crashing when a macro is enabled and allow cells to update when revisions are made to related data. The update also improves reliability when the FORMAT macro command is used. The update improves the stability of Word 2011 when users build equations, while bolstering stability of PowerPoint 2011 slideshows. Microsoft also improved compatibility with the Windows versions of its presentation software that now allows numbered lists to be displayed correctly in PowerPoint 2011.
Outlook 2011 gets a number of improvements in this update, including better reliability for deleting messages from multiple IMAP accounts, a Sync Services fix, and improved reliability for importing Office 2008 identities into the new version of the suite. The update also allows Outlook to retain e-mail passwords in the keychain after users import new accounts into the mail client.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Google Squashes 12 Chrome Bugs, Fixes Flash - PCWorld

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseGoogle Squashes 12 Chrome Bugs, Fixes Flash - PCWorld
Google last week patched 12 vulnerabilities in its Chrome browser, all of them rated as high-level threats by the company's security team.
The patched version of Chrome also included an update to Adobe's Flash Player, giving Google users an early fix for a critical flaw that hackers have been exploiting with rigged PDF documents. Adobe planned to release that Flash patch to users of other browsers later in the week.
The dozen flaws fixed in Chrome 7.0.517.44 include a pair related to SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), a collection of XML specifications for describing two-dimensional vector graphics; one in Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine; and three involving aspects of the browser's text handling.
Google paid $7,500 in bounties to eight researchers who reported 11 of the 12 bugs, the most it's awarded since mid-August when the company handed out $8,674.
As usual, Google locked down its bug tracking database to bar outsiders from picking up technical details of the vulnerabilities. The company usually unlocks access to a flaw several weeks after a patch ships, to give users time to update before the information goes public.
Other browser makers, including Mozilla, do the same.
The update to the "stable" build -- Google maintains three separate "channels" for Chrome, ranging from stable to "beta" to "dev" -- included a revamped version of Flash Player, the popular media playing plug-in.
Seven months ago, Google and Adobe struck a deal that lets the former bundle Flash Player with Chrome and upgrade the plug-in using the browser's own silent updater, This is the second time in six weeks that Chrome users received a patched Flash Player before people running rival browsers, such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Mozilla's Firefox.
Last week, Adobe confirmed that Flash contained a critical bug that attackers were exploiting in the wild, and promised to fix the flaw by Nov. 9. Earlier this week, however, Adobe bumped up the release of the Flash update to, saying that it had wrapped up work faster than anticipated.
Although the bug is in Flash, hackers are actually using malicious PDF documents; Adobe's Reader includes code to render Flash from within a PDF, and that code is also flawed. Adobe is planning to issue a fix for Reader and the Acrobat PDF-creation software the week of Nov. 15.
Thursday's update was the second round of Chrome security fixes since the browser jumped to version 7 late last month.
According to Web metrics company Net Applications, Google's hands-off update technology -- which automatically applies not only patches, but also new features -- shifted the bulk of Chrome 6 users to the new Chrome 7 within days.
A week after the Oct. 21 launch of Chrome 7, that version outnumbered its predecessor in usage share by more than 7-to-1.