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Showing posts from February, 2011

Weak PC sales: Is it the economy or Apple?

Enterprises are buying technology, but consumers aren't -- unless it's Apple

By Patrick Thibodeau
February 23, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Businesses are buying technology and lots of it, say some of the major enterprise vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell. But consumers are holding back.

While sales of servers, storage and networking gear grew in double digits in the last quarter, consumer PC spending dipped into negative numbers for Dell and HP. IBM focuses on the business market.

In its latest quarterly report on Tuesday, HP said business hardware sales increased 22% from the same quarter a year ago. Dell last week said its large enterprise business was up 12%, and IBM last month said hardware revenue grew 21%.

However, the hardware gains are being dampened by consumer spending. The notable exception in the consumer market: Apple, which last month reported a revenue gain of 71%, thanks partly to sales of 7.33 million iPads in the last quarter.

HP said its …

Google tweaks search to punish 'low-quality' sites

By BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Technology Writer – 36 mins ago

NEW YORK – Google says it has tweaked the formulas steering its Internet search engine to take the rubbish out of its results. The overhaul is designed to lower the rankings of what Google deems "low-quality" sites.

That could be a veiled reference to such sites as Demand Media's eHow.com, which critics call online "content farms" — that is, sites producing cheap, abundant, mostly useless content that ranks high in search results.

Sites that produce original content or information that Google considers valuable are supposed to rank higher under the new system.

The change announced late Thursday affects about 12 percent, or nearly one in every eight, search requests in the U.S. Google Inc. said the new ranking rules eventually will be introduced in other parts of the world, too. The company tweaks its search algorithms, or formulas, hundreds of times a year, but it said many of the changes are so subtle that …

Apple's App Rules Prompt Charges Of 'Greed'

But an email attributed to CEO Steve Jobs suggests it's only publishers who need to comply with new subscription selling requirements.

By Thomas Claburn , InformationWeek
February 22, 2011 02:55 PM

Apple's new subscription rules and its decision to begin enforcing its longstanding iOS application requirement that apps use the company's In-App Purchase (IAP) system to sell content have again stirred up developer discontent.

Readability, a company that makes the popular iOS reading app of the same name, on Monday posted a complaint charging that Apple's rules will ruin its business model. Readability strips the ads and graphics out of published content and republishes the text in a more reader-friendly format. To mitigate the ire of publishers who might not appreciate the removal of ads from their text, Readability hands 70% of its subscription-based revenue back to publishers.

But under Apple's recently revised terms, subscriptions in iOS apps have to use Apple'…

Mobile heavyweights seek to finalize 1Gbps mobile standard

Mobile heavyweights seek to finalize 1Gbps mobile standard The LTE-Advanced standard up for discussion at a Taiwan conference this week aims to raise data transfer speeds to 1Gbps

By Ralph Jennings, IDG News Service
February 21, 2011 05:48 AM ET

The world's top handset makers are meeting this week to finalize a version of an advanced mobile communication standard that would raise data transfer speeds to 1Gbps, an event organizer said on Monday.

About 800 people, from companies such as HTC, Nokia and Samsung Electronics, will agree on final terms for the Long-Term Evolution Advanced LTE-Advanced) standard at a meeting of the 3GPP standards body in Taipei this week.

With speeds up to 1Gbps, the technology will be ideal for people who download audio-visual files onto their handhelds, said Feng Wen-sheng, wireless communications director with a lab under the event sponsor, Taiwan's government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute.

LTE-Advanced will also give machines anot…

House Passes Amendment to Block Funds for Net Neutrality Order

By Juliana Gruenwald
Thursday, February 17, 2011 | 6:48 p.m.

Updated at 9:22 a.m. on February 18.

The House passed an amendment Thursday that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from using any funding to implement the network-neutrality order it approved in December.

The amendment, approved on a 244-181 vote, was offered by Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., to legislation that would fund government agencies for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

Walden and other critics of the FCC's net-neutrality order argue it will stifle innovation and investment in broadband. The order aims to bar broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content, services, or applications.

"If left unchallenged, this claim of authority would allow the FCC to regulate any matter it discussed in the national broadband plan," Walden said.

If the defunding effort fails, Republicans are pursuing a second route to try to bloc…

Alleged Dell Leak Outlines Every Upcoming Smartphone and Tablet

PCMag
Sara Yin
February 17, 2011

Android Central has obtained two alleged product timelines for more than a dozen Dell tablets and smartphones.

To read the article and view the roadmap, click here

In the mix we spotted next-gen Windows 7, Windows 8, and Google Android's next build, 2.4, launching within the next 12 months:
Codenamed "Wrigley," Dell plans to launch a smartphone in mid-July 2011 equipped with "Windows 7 Next Gen," a 1GHz processor, 4" WGVA screen, 8 megapixel camera, and 720p video recording.

Dell Hancock, a smartphone earmarked for September 2011, looks equipped with Android's "Ice Cream" operating system only announced this week at Mobile World Congress. The OS looks to adopt Honeycomb's tablet-like capabilities for mobile phones.

Finally a "Windows 8" tablet, codenamed Peju, is scheduled for January 2012. Up to now, Microsoft hasn't officially uttered the phrase "Windows 8." But the timing of Peju…

Feds Accidentally Shut Down 84,000 Websites over Wrongful Kiddie Porn Accusation

Sam Biddle - "Operation Protect Our Children" sounded great! The Department of Justice and Homeland Security's tag-team beatdown was supposed to seize ten criminal sites this past weekend. Instead, it shuttered 84,000 innocent domains. And replaced them with a banner labeling them as child porn traffickers. Whoops!

The 83,990 sites that weren't hosting underage porn were stuck with a the gigantic graphic seen here for days after the error was realized. Not exactly a trivial accusation-and an extremely damaging one for the sites, which were mostly personal and small business pages. FreeDNS-the domain service behind the affected sites-was forced to comply with the takedown request by court order, but was clearly (and rightfully) pissed at the misuse of their system: "freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse," they commented. At the moment, nobody has any idea how the tremendous screwup happened.

Surely, DoJ and DHS must be a little red in the f…

'Watson' the computer creams human 'Jeopardy!' champs

Posted: 8:17 PM, February 16, 2011

CHICAGO -- An IBM computer creamed two human champions on the television game show "Jeopardy!" today in a triumph of artificial intelligence.

"I for one welcome our new computer overlords," contestant Ken Jennings -- who holds the "Jeopardy!" record of 74 straight wins -- cheekily wrote on his answer screen at the conclusion of the much-hyped three-day showdown.

"Watson" -- named after Thomas Watson, the founder of the US technology giant -- made some funny flubs in the game, but prevailed by beating his human opponents to the buzzer again and again.

The final tally from the two games: Watson at $77,147, Jennings at $24,000 and $21,600 for reigning champion Brad Rutter -- who previously won a record $3.25 million on the quiz show.

"Watson is fast, knows a lot of stuff, and can really dominate a match," host Alex Trebek said at the opening of Wednesday's match.

Watson, which is not connected to the …

Computer ties human as they square off on 'Jeopardy!'

By John D. Sutter, CNN
February 15, 2011

(CNN) -- The computers haven't proven to be our trivia overlords just yet. Give them at least until Wednesday.

An IBM supercomputer named Watson finished one round of the TV show "Jeopardy!" on Monday night tied with one of his human competitors and $3,000 ahead of the other.

The man vs. computer face-off won't be complete, however, until the final rounds of the extended trivia game show are aired on Tuesday and Wednesday.

IBM trumpets Watson, which has been in development for years and has the processing power of 2,800 "powerful computers," as a major advancement in machines' efforts to understand human language. The computer receives clues through digital texts and then buzzes in against the two other "Jeopardy!" contestants like any other player would. It juggles dozens of lines of reasoning at once and tries to arrive at a smart answer.

Man vs. machine on 'Jeopardy!'
After getting off to a sc…

Chrome 9 Still Shines - PCMag Editors Choice

Google Chrome 9
Michael Muchmore
February 14, 2011

Pros
Super-fast JavaScript performance. Instant site prediction. Easy installation. Excellent tab implementation. Themes. Extensions for customization. Bookmark and preference syncing. Tab process isolation.
Strong support for HTML 5. Built-in Flash player and PDF reader.

Cons
Paranoids won't want to give Google another way to collect data about them.

Bottom Line
Chrome Instant means your Web page is ready to read before you finish typing the address. This, its speed, minimalist design, and advanced support for
HTML5 have deservedly been attracting more and more users to the browser.

With Chrome, Google single-handedly set off a revolution in the Web surfing software on several fronts: Its blazingly fast JavaScript performance kicked competitors like Firefox (Free, 4.5 stars), Internet Explorer (Free, 4 stars), Safari (Free, 4 stars), and Opera 11 into a speed race. Chrome also started the trend of minimizing the application's win…

Malware Aimed at Iran Hit Five Sites, Report Says

By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: February 11, 2011

The Stuxnet software worm repeatedly sought to infect five industrial facilities in Iran over a 10-month period, a new report says, in what could be a clue into how it might have infected the Iranian uranium enrichment complex at Natanz.

The report, released Friday by Symantec, a computer security software firm, said there were three waves of attacks. Liam O Murchu, a security researcher at the firm, said his team was able to chart the path of the infection because of an unusual feature of the malware: Stuxnet recorded information on the location and type of each computer it infected.

Such information would allow the authors of Stuxnet to determine if they had successfully reached their intended target. By taking samples of Stuxnet they had collected from various computers, the researchers were able to build a model of the spread of the infection. They determined that 12,000 infections could be traced back to just five initial infection poi…

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
By Lev Grossman

On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was.

On the show (you can find the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200.

Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself—a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. The panelists were pretty blasé about it; they were more impressed by Kurzweil's age than by anything he'd actually done. They were ready to move on to Mrs. Chester Loney of Rough and Ready, Calif., whose secret w…

Android overtakes Symbian

Michael Carroll | February 01, 2011

Google's Android platform continued its meteoric rise to the top of the smartphone shipments table in 4Q, beating Nokia's Symbian into second place.

Figures from Canalys reveal total shipments of smartphones running Google software - including Android, Tapas and OMS- hit 33.3 million during the quarter, giving the firm 32.9% of the total smartphone market. Nokia was only narrowly beaten though, with shipments of 31 million and a 30.6% share.

Android's share was boosted by strong sales of smartphones from HTC and Samsung, whose combined shipments generated 45% of Google's total.

Total smartphone shipments for the period grew 88.6% to 101.2 million, showing that the market has recovered from a tough 2009 when the global economic recession impacted sales.

Chris Jones, vice president and principal analyst at Canalys, said the speed of recovery demonstrates the "commitment and innovation" of handset vendors.

Consumers in the …

Postal Service warns of default as losses mount

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter
February 9, 2011: 3:47 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The U.S. Postal Service warned Wednesday that it may default on some of its financial obligations later this year after reporting yet another quarterly loss.

The USPS, a self-supporting government agency that receives no tax dollars, said it suffered a loss of $329 million in the first quarter of federal fiscal year 2011. That compared with a loss of $297 million a year earlier.

The agency has been suffering from an ongoing decline in mail volume, which has undercut revenues, while retiree health care costs have been straining its reserves.

Excluding costs related to retiree benefits and adjustments to workers' compensation liability, the Postal Service said it had net income was $226 million in the first quarter, which ended Dec. 31.

Despite ongoing cost-cutting efforts, the USPS said it expects to have a cash shortfall this year and to hit its federally mandated borrowing limit by September, when th…

Enterprise Mobility: Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb on Xoom Wows Crowd at Googleplex

By Clint Boulton on 2011-02-03

Google built on the buzz swirling around its forthcoming Android 3.0 operating system for tablets during an event showcasing the Honeycomb platform tailored for tablets. After a brief introduction at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., Android lead Andy Rubin passed the torch to Hugo Barra, product management director for Android, and Chris Yerga, Android engineering director for cloud services. Barra whizzed through an array of demos using Motorola's soon-to-be-launched (as in late February, early March) Xoom tablet, showing off multitasking, widgets, application bars and several other perks that were introduced to developers via the Android 3.0 preview SDK last week. Yerga then relieved Barra to show off Google's new Android Market Website, a destination that will allow consumers to purchase applications, games and music on Android smartphones and tablets. In-application purchasing is also part of the mix, as you'll see here. Peruse th…

Ken Olsen, the MIT engineer who co-founded Digital Equipment Corp., has died at the age of 84

February 7, 2011 - 10:01 P.M.

Kenneth Olsen, the MIT engineer who co-founded Digital Equipment Corp., has died at the age of 84, according to local sources.

Massachusetts-based DEC was key in moving corporate computing away from sole reliance on mainframes. In today's era of notebooks, netbooks and tablets, it may not sound like much to talk about the shift from mainframes to bookcase-sized minicomputers. However, the rise of DEC was the critical first step for enterprise computing's move away from sole residence in the data center -- despite doubters who said those "small" machines couldn't handle serious tasks. It's fair to say that most IT professionals who were working in the 1980s came in contact with a DEC system, be it a PDP-11 or a VAX.

The company, the world's second-largest computer maker at its peak, helped put the Rte. 128 corridor west of Boston on the map as one of America's premier high-tech centers.

Olsen was known locally as an engine…

Hackers Penetrate Nasdaq Computers

By DEVLIN BARRETT

Hackers have repeatedly penetrated the computer network of the company that runs the Nasdaq Stock Market during the past year, and federal investigators are trying to identify the perpetrators and their purpose, according to people familiar with the matter.

The exchange's trading platform-the part of the system that executes trades-wasn't compromised, these people said. However, it couldn't be determined which other parts of Nasdaq's computer network were accessed.

Investigators are considering a range of possible motives, including unlawful financial gain, theft of trade secrets and a national-security threat designed to damage the exchange.

The Nasdaq situation has set off alarms within the government because of the exchange's critical role, which officials put right up with power companies and air-traffic-control operations, all part of the nation's basic infrastructure. Other infrastructure components have been compromised in the past, inc…

Amazon Previews Rival Streaming Service to Netflix

8:25 AM 2/1/2011 by Georg Szalai

NEW YORK - Netflix's streaming service, which has helped make the company the second-largest U.S. media subscription service and boosted the firm's market value, may finally get competition from Amazon.com.

Amazon, led by CEO Jeff Bezos, has been rumored to work on a streaming video service offer bundled with its Amazon Prime service, which for an annual subscription fee of $79 a year gives users unlimited free two-day shipping, for a while. Tech blog over the weekend showed a screen shot of an ad that has since disappeared and mentioned content from BBC America and PBS.

"Your Amazon Prime membership now includes unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost," the screen shot, which featured the film The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, said.

"The link quickly disappeared, so we don't know if it was a real video service in progress, a test, or vaporware," Lazard C…

Feds seize sports websites before Super Bowl

The shutdown comes just days before the biggest sporting event of the year.
By JENNIFER MARTINEZ | 2/2/11 12:53 PM EST Updated: 2/2/11 1:47 PM EST

The federal government has seized the Web addresses of ten websites that allegedly live stream sporting and pay-per-view events online, shutting them down just days before one of the biggest televised sporting events of the
year: the Super Bowl.

The U. S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York, working in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seized the Web addresses Tuesday. The seizure affidavit was unsealed Wednesday.

POLITICO 44

The websites, which include channelsurfing.net and Spain-based rojadirecta.org, were said to illegally provide access to content from the major professional sports organizations, namely the National Football League, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. The sites do not host the pirated sporting content themselves, but instead provide links to other …

Dissecting Honeycomb – A deep look at Android 3.0 for users

Jan. 27, 2011 (3:35 pm) By: Russell Holly
If you haven’t seen or heard something about Android 3.0 by now, you probably live under the coolest rock ever. Dubbed “Honeycomb“, next in a long line of sugary sweet names that have been assigned alphabetically to the Android version releases, 3.0 has been called everything from “the Tablet Android” to “the iOS killer”. While I doubt that either of those titles will apply, what few details and demonstrations we have seen so far have been impressive. Its promise of optimizing software for a tablet-comfortable UI has been the start along a road to what will eventually be the next major step for Android.

Earlier this week, Google finally released the Software Development Kit for Honeycomb. The Android SDK will provide us will a definitive breakdown of the tools and features developers will need to bring to their app when Honeycomb devices are finally launched. I’ve spent a lot of time now observing the Android 3.0 SDK and its new features, and…

200GB to 25GB: Canada gets first, bitter dose of metered Internet

By Matthew Lasar | Last updated about 7 hours ago
Metered Internet usage (also called "Usage-Based Billing") is coming to Canada, and it's going to cost Internet users. While an advance guard of Canadians are expressing creative outrage at the prospect of having to pay inflated prices for Internet use charged by the gigabyte, the consequences probably haven't set in for most consumers. Now, however, independent Canadian ISPs are publishing their revised data plans, and they aren't pretty."Like our customers, and Canadian internet users everywhere, we are not happy with this new development," wrote the Ontario-based indie ISP TekSavvy in a recent e-mail message to its subscribers.But like it or not, the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved UBB for the incumbent carrier Bell Canada in September. Competitive ISPs, which connect to Canada's top telco for last-mile copper connections to customers, will also be metered by Bell. Eve…