Showing posts from July, 2010

Data Sorting World Record — 1 Terabyte, 1 Minute

Computer scientists from the University of California, San Diego have broken the 'terabyte barrier' — and a world record — when they sorted more than a trillion bytes of data in 60 seconds. During this 2010 'Sort Benchmark' competition, a sort of 'World Cup of data sorting,' the UCSD team also tied a world record for fastest data sorting rate, sifting through one trillion data records in 172 minutes — and did so using just a quarter of the computing resources of the other record holder.

GNOME 3.0 Delayed Until March 2011

GNOME 3.0 was scheduled to be released in September but during the developers conference, GUADEC 2010 in Den Haag, the organization had to face facts: the much ballyhooed GNOME Shell really wasn't ready. The Shell is supposed to bring 'a whole new user experience to the desktop.' So now, in September, what users will see is GNOME 2.32, distributed as a new stable release. Next target date for 3.0: March 2011.

Dell and HP To Sell Oracle Operating Systems

Oracle has announced that rival hardware vendors Dell and Hewlett-Packard intend to certify and resell its Solaris and Enterprise Linux operating systems as well as Oracle VM on their x86 servers. The announcement 'demonstrates Oracle's commitment to openness,' company co-president Charles Phillips said in a statement.

China's Firewall Stymies Google; Users Confused

Massive confusion occurred last night for Google's Chinese search engine and ad services when Google's automated reporting system claimed that everything was blocked in China. The problem was that most users experienced no outage despite Google's reports and Google has backpedaled on those reports. Google explained that their tool for detecting blockage is not 'real-time': 'Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it's possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage. That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage. It appears now that users in China are accessing our properties normally.

Microsoft To Issue Emergency Fix For Windows .LNK Flaw

Microsoft will issue an out-of-band patch on Monday for a critical vulnerability in all of the current versions of Windows. The company didn't identify which flaw it will be patching, but the description of the vulnerability is a close match to the LNK flaw that attackers have been exploiting for several weeks now, most notably with the Stuxnet malware. The advance notification from Microsoft on Friday said that the company is patching a critical vulnerability that is being actively exploited in the wild and affects all supported Windows platforms. The LNK flaw in the Windows shell was first identified earlier this month when researchers discovered the Stuxnet worm spreading from infected USB drives to PCs. Stuxnet has turned out to be a rather interesting piece of malware as it not only uses the LNK zero day vulnerability to spread, but it had components that were signed using a legitimate digital certificate belonging to Realtek, a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer.

Porn Sites Still Exposed In China

Could it be that internet censorship in China has a pecking order? Politics and human rights are bad — but porn is okay? The porn sites that suddenly popped up in China two months ago are still accessible, leaving people wondering if it's a change in policy, a glitch, or maybe a test by the Chinese Internet police. The Chinese government isn't saying, but one Internet analyst speculates, 'Maybe they are thinking that if Internet users have some porn to look at, then they won't pay so much attention to political matters.

Dell Stops selling Ubuntu powered PCs Online

Dell has stopped selling consumer PCs preloaded with Ubuntu from its website, and doesn't know when they're coming back. A search for Ubuntu on the Dell UK website returns only one laptop — the Dell Latitude 2100 from the company's business range. Dell insists that it's continuing to sell Ubuntu systems, but only over the phone, and has no idea when — or even if — the Ubuntu PCs will return online. 'We've recently made an effort to simplify our offerings online, by focusing on our most popular bundles and configuration options, based on customer feedback for reduced complexity and a simple, easy purchase experience,' Dell told PC Pro. 'We're also making some changes to our Ubuntu pages, and as a result, they are currently available through our phone-based sales only.' The move comes after Dell put a page on its website advising customers only to go for Ubuntu if they were interested in open-source programming.

Microsoft Signs License With ARM

Microsoft signed an agreement with the UK-based ARM, giving Microsoft access to some of the chip designer's intellectual property. The two companies have worked together since 1997, but Ian Drew, ARM's EVP of marketing, said this is the first time Microsoft has become a licensee of ARM's architecture, a move which will allow Microsoft to design their own microarchitecture. Other licensees include Qualcomm, Marvell, and Infineon. Neither company would reveal the cost of the license. Speculation about Microsoft's intentions includes wondering whether the company is taking aim at the iPad, or perhaps looking to produce a next-generation Xbox without the 360's heat problems.

Wi-Fi WPA2 Zero Day Vulnerability Found

Black Hat conference: a claimed vulnerability in WPA2 Enterprise that leaves traffic open to a malicious insider. "...wireless security researchers say they have uncovered a vulnerability in the WPA2 security protocol, which is the strongest form of Wi-Fi encryption and authentication currently standardized and available. Malicious insiders can exploit the vulnerability, named 'Hole 196' by the researcher who discovered it at wireless security company AirTight Networks. The moniker refers to the page of the IEEE 802.11 Standard (Revision, 2007) on which the vulnerability is buried. Hole 196 lends itself to man-in-the-middle-style exploits, whereby an internal, authorized Wi-Fi user can decrypt, over the air, the private data of others, inject malicious traffic into the network, and compromise other authorized devices using open source software, according to AirTight. 'There's nothing in the standard to upgrade to in order to patch or fix the hole,' says Kaustub

Company Claims Patent On Spam Filtering, Sues World

"Texas" IP holding company suing 36 actual companies for violating its claimed patent on spam filtering . Techdirt deconstructs the patent itself, No. 6,018,761, which seems to amount to little more than a database lookup. It was filed in 1996 and issued in 2000 (despite the lawyers' press release claiming that it "was awarded... nearly 15 years ago"). Among the companies being sued are 3Com, Apple, Google, AOL, Yahoo, J.C.Penney, IBM, Dell, Citigroup, and RIM. Not Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, or Microsoft, oddly enough.

Wireless Presenters Niels Teusink Attacked Network using Arduino

This week Dutch security researcher Niels Teusink described a method of attacking wireless presenter devices devices at an Amsterdam security conference. He had a demo showing how it is possible to use an Arduino and Metasploit to get remote code execution by sending arbitrary keystrokes to the presenter dongle. He has now  released the code and made a blog post explaining how it all works. Better watch out the next time you're giving a presentation using one of these devices!

ICANN Approves Chinese Domain Names

Millions of Chinese language users will soon be able to access the Internet using Chinese script following a decision today by ICANN's Board of Directors to approve a set of Chinese language internationalized domain names.

World's Tiniest Radiometer To Power Medical Scanner

University of Texas physicists have built the world's smallest radiometer. The minuscule radiometer is only 2 millimeters across and operates on the same principles as the common light-driven toy, which consists of spinning black and white vanes in a partially evacuated bulb. The researchers attached a mirror to their tiny radiometer and used it to rapidly scan a laser beam. Their hope is that they will be able to incorporate the radiometer into catheters to drive scanners that produce medical images of the interiors of blood vessels and organs. The devices would replace micromotors in conventional catheter-based scanners, eliminating the need to run potentially risky electrical currents into the body.

Calculate Eye Poor Vision? There's an App For That

Researchers at MIT's Media Lab have developed a smartphone app that allows users to measure how poor their vision is (myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism) and receive a corrective prescription. The user peers through a $2 optical adapter at the screen of a smartphone. The app displays lighted bars, and prompts the user to adjust the display until the bars line up. Repeating this with bars in different locations and orientations allows the vision distortion to be determined to within about 0.4 diopters using a Nexus One. The iPhone 4, with its higher-resolution display, should be able to improve that to 0.28 diopters. This could have broad application in the developing world, where experienced opticians and diagnostic equipment are hard to come by.

Boy Builds Wall-Climbing Machine Using Recycled Vacuums

" Hibiki Kono just might be a boy genius. The 13-year-old decided he wanted to climb vertical surfaces like his hero, Spiderman. So, he used two 1,400-watt recycled vacuum cleaners and a little bit of elbow grease to make a machine that allows him to scale walls. Kono has been scaling the walls of his UK school and has told the media that he hopes his invention will help window washers eliminate clumsy ladders from their daily routine.

Apple To Issue a 'Fix' For iPhone 4 Reception Perception

Apple has just released a statement addressing the signal issues a lot of users are having with their iPhone 4. They claim to have discovered the cause for the drop in bars, which is "both simple and surprising" — a wrong formula used to calculate how many bars are displayed for a given signal strength. "Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. ... we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place. ... We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present sin

Google Acquires ITA Software, Regulators May Balk

Google has acquired ITA Software, a company who sells travel-related software and information, for $700 million. "Google said it plans to use ITA's technology in its Web search tools and to allow potential passengers to shop for tickets right from Google. Travel search makes up a huge portion of Google searches, but it's a complicated type of search to express in a query box, [said Marissa Mayer]." Analysts expect the deal to come under scrutiny from the FTC. "With this deal, Google will have transformed itself into one of the biggest power brokers in the travel industry. It will control the leading software for powering online airline reservations. It will be able to provide something in its own search results above and beyond what its competitors — who merely license the ITA software — will be able to produce. And it will become the leading online advertising buy for travel-related advertisers (assuming it wasn't already) if it doesn't butc

YouTube Explains Where HTML5 Video Fails

YouTube have pretty much come down on the side of Flash having major issues with the lack of features that the HTML5 tag has and may never have.

Adobe Finally Fixes Remote Launch 0-Day

Adobe today shipped a critical Reader/Acrobat patch to cover a total of 17 documented vulnerabilities that expose Windows, Mac, and Unix users to malicious hacker attacks. The update, which affects Adobe Reader/Acrobat 9.3.2 and earlier versions, includes a fix for the outstanding PDF '/Launch' functionality social engineering attack vector that was disclosed by researcher Didier Stevens. As previously reported, Didier created a proof-of-concept PDF file that executes an embedded executable without exploiting any security vulnerabilities. The PDF hack, when combined with clever social engineering techniques, could potentially allow code execution attacks if a user simply opens a rigged PDF file.

Google To End Redirect

Google Inc. has announced a 'new approach' in China after the government said the company could no longer automatically redirect users to the unfiltered Hong Kong site. This gives Baidu Inc., which already has a greater than 60% share in Internet search in China, a chance to expand. It has announced new plans to hire US engineers to enhance its technical skills and propel its growth globally." Update: 06/29 18:27 GMT by S : Changed the headline to more accurately reflect what Google is doing. They're ending the redirect and applying for a license renewal, so it's still in question whether they'll actually go dark in China. However, they say they're also looking for ways to continue allowing uncensored search, such as putting a high-profile link to their Hong Kong site on the landing page.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 4.0 Beta 1

Mozilla quietly posted the first beta build of its Firefox 4 browser early this morning. The 'Chromified' browser leaves a solid first impression with a few minor hiccups, but no surprises. If you have been using a previous version of Mozilla Firefox 3.7, which now officially becomes Firefox 4.0, you should already feel comfortable with this new version. Mozilla has not posted detailed release notes yet, but there seem to be no major changes from Firefox 3.7a6-pre, with the exception that the browser is running more smoothly and with fewer crashes.

Google To Go Dark In China, Baidu Rejoices

Google Inc. has announced a 'new approach' in China after the government said the company could no longer automatically redirect users to the unfiltered Hong Kong site. This gives Baidu Inc ., which already has a greater than 60% share in Internet search in China, a chance to expand. It has announced new plans to hire US engineers to enhance its technical skills and propel its growth globally.