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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remote Access Offers Challenges, Benefits for Companies and IT


Remote access for employees has become a growing concern for IT shops everywhere, accelerated by the adoption of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones into the enterprise and small and midsize businesses. That proliferation of software and hardware by multiple vendors makes offering secure and easy remote access a far larger and more complicated task for ITadministrators. Despite the increasing complexity, ubiquitous remote access offers multiple benefits. It can make remote workers more flexible, lower costs for IT and allow a business to more easily employ far-flung workers. In order to reach that desired end-point, though, IT administrators need to examine how to make their remote access platform not only secure as possible, but also streamlined enough for users to operate with a minimum of frustration. Fortunately, a number of vendors have been working on solutions to both those challenges. Companies such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard are in the midst of developing (or offering) fingerprint readers, dual-factor passwords and other methods of user authentication. Others are offering cloud-based and virtualizations for winnowing down the number of steps needed to access a network. In the end, though, it takes some thought and work by IT administrators to make remote access a reality.


A long time ago, IT administrators mostly concerned themselves with managing on-premises employees and devices. They could create a homogeneous environment and deal with problems in-house.



With a VPN and corporate-issued laptop, employees could start to telecommute from far-flung locations. For IT administrators, remote access became a somewhat more complicated task.


Consumer Devices

More employees are bringing their smartphones and tablets from home, and asking their IT departments to incorporate those personal devices into the corporate network.



With more employees working from other locations and more personal devices on the corporate network, the task of offering secure, simple remote access threatens to become a monumental challenge for IT pros at every level.



Nonetheless, remote access offers some advantages. It gives workers more flexibility and can sometimes reduce an organization’s costs. 


Simplicity and Security

Companies’ concerns about remote access should focus on two areas: simplicity and security.


Secure Connection

Some of the security measures for remote access are very basic: IT administrators should ensure their VPN is secure, warn employees about clicking on possible malware links and quickly deactivate ex-employees’ access to the network.


User Authentication

Companies such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard are introducing more reliable methods of user authentication, including fingerprint scanners, face-recognition software and two-factor passwords.



Tech vendors have also been developing ways to create isolated virtual machines, which can compartmentalize different spheres of operation.



Much of the complexity associated with remote access is due to companies using four or five different platforms to enact a small number of solutions: a server from one vendor, say, running software from another, in order to deliver apps or services to a variety of devices.


Simpler Interface

IT administrators may have to make conscious decisions about ways to streamline the component chain involved in remote access. Users will be more likely to use remote access correctly if it only takes a few clicks to log onto and work within the corporate network.


The Cloud

A number of cloud-based vendors have begun offering solutions that give remote workers ubiquitous access to applications from a broad range of devices.



Software Update News


Password Safe 3.25

Posted: 19 Mar 2011 10:27 PM PDT

Password Safe allows you to manage your old passwords and to easily and quickly generate, store, organize, retrieve, and use complex new passwords, using password policies that you control. Once stored, your user names and passwords are just a few clicks away.


IBM’s 100 Icons of Progress - FORTRAN The Pioneering Programming Language


From its creation in 1954, and its commercial release in 1957 as the progenitor of software, Fortran (FORmula TRANslator) became the first computer language standard, “helped open the door to modern computing,” and may well be the most influential software product in history. Fortran liberated computers from the exclusive realm of programmers and opened them to nearly everybody else. It is still in use more than 50 years after its creation.

For the first time, Fortran made code comprehensible to people with expertise in fields other than computing, opening programming to mathematicians and scientists. Someone who knew high school algebra but nothing about computers could probably figure out Fortran statements. Fortran began the process of abstracting software from the hardware on which it ran. Previous machine language programs had to be written for a specific computer, while a Fortran program could run on any system with a Fortran compiler.

What was formerly a laborious task of manually keying as many as 1,000 program instructions for a given problem could now be translated, automated and reduced to only 47 in Fortran.

The developer of the UNIX ® operating system (Ken Thompson at Bell Labs in 1969) recalls that “95 percent of the people who programmed in the early years would never have done it without Fortran.” The program is, in essence, a compiler: A programmer using Fortran writes only 5 percent of all instructions, and the program generates (compiles) the remaining 95 percent for the computer.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, John Backus, the primary author of Fortran, assembled and guided a team of young men and women of diverse talents toward making computers more useful for their primary users—scientists and mathematicians. His process of aligning and integrating seemingly disparate talents and disciplines toward a specific goal—problem solving— was unprecedented. The team included engineers, a cryptographer, a chess wizard, programmers and mathematicians like Backus. “We were the hackers of those days,” team member Richard Goldberg recalled.

Backus understood that engineers needed a language to code their own problems. He chafed at what he considered “hand-to-hand combat” with the computer and its highly labor-intensive programming. Even though he was a programmer—a newly minted title even he didn’t understand at the time—Backus said he “didn’t like writing programs, and so, when I was working on the IBM 701 (an early computer), writing programs for computing missile trajectories, I started work on a programming system to make it easier to write programs.” It would be called “Speedcoding.”

“We thought it was a good project, and then everyone told us it couldn’t be done,” Backus recalled. “There was a sense that we really wanted to show them.”

Fortran was developed over three years, culminating in a debut presentation in February 1957 at the Western Joint Computer Conference in Los Angeles. In the Proceedings of that conference, the team’s presentation paper concluded succinctly, “The language of the system is intended to be capable of expressing virtually any numerical procedure.”

“It was ‘the turning point’ in computer software, much as the microprocessor was a giant step forward in hardware, according to J.A.N. Lee, a leading computer historian,” as reported in the New York Times.

“What Fortran did primarily was to mechanize the organization of loops,” said Backus. A loop, heavily used in scientific work and in computing payrolls, is a series of instructions repeated a number of times until a specific result is reached. As Backus wrote in a scientific paper in 1979, his team “went on to raise the question: ‘Can a machine translate a sufficiently rich mathematical language into a sufficiently economical program at a sufficiently low cost to make the whole affair feasible?’”

Management in many industries quickly realized the significance of Fortran for its ability to improve productivity by reducing the time and effort to write specific code applications. Banks began to use Fortran to build intensive number-crunching programs to assess risk, while insurance companies used it to create actuarial tables. And because other computer vendors made it available to run on their machines, using IBM’s standard, Fortran could cross operating platforms early in its history and established its durability.

In 1975, Backus was awarded the National Medal of Science. He was the first IBMer to receive this award. Two years later, he was awarded the equally prestigious Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. Backus was also awarded the Charles Stark Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering, the industry’s most esteemed prize.


9 Tips for Refreshing Your Resume


Give Your Resume a Facelift

As the job market slowly improves in 2011 and you dust off that old resume for a job search, you may find it's time to give it a face lift.

As always, your resume should be attractive and readable. But now there's more than just snail mail to send it out. It has become important to make the most of the Internet to distribute and display your resume effectively on social networking, job-hunting and career sites, and in job-application engines on corporate websites.

Follow these nine tips to update your resume for 2011 and beyond.

Focus on Selected Accomplishments

Hiring managers don't want to read a laundry list of your job duties, since they can typically figure out your responsibilities based on your title. Instead, focus on measurable achievements -- numbers, percentages, awards -- that show your skills, says Bruce Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing in New York.

"Create bullet points of three to five selected accomplishments so that the reader of the resume would immediately know why, objectively, they should consider you for the position," Hurwitz says.

Be Brief

Even if you could write dozens of pages on your work history, avoid the temptation. You'll have plenty of time to dig into the details of your skills and accomplishments when you get into an interview, so consider your resume to be a highlights reel. Curate the best of the best to keep your resume to a manageable one or two pages.

"In a resume, think these three things: short, sweet and to-the-point," Hurwitz says.

Remove Pointless Sections

If you're tempted to list your hobbies, your personal information and health, or even the phrase "references available on request," reconsider. Not only do they take up valuable space you could use to showcase your accomplishments, but they could make you look downright unprofessional.

"Some of these things used to be standard 15 or 20 years ago, but now they'll make you look dated," says Cheryl Palmer, an executive career coach and founder of Call to Career in Silver Spring, Md. A human resources director is going to assume you'll furnish references at the interview. Hobbies aren't worth listing unless they're somehow relevant to the job you're applying for, and your personal information -- marital status, children -- also isn't relevant.

Triple Check to Make Your Resume Error-Free

Employers often spend just seconds with a resume, and a single typo can send it to the discard pile.

"A resume does not get you hired, but it is commonly used to get you eliminated from the next phase of the recruiting process," says Robin Reshwan, founder of Collegial Staffing in Alamo, Calif.

Hiring managers may toss resumes for even the smallest matters -- a single typo, inconsistent punctuation, or even cliched phrases like "detail-oriented" or "people person."

"Only after the easy eliminations have been made do busy managers actually read the content of selected resumes," she says.

Have More Than one Format

Yes, you spent four hours getting the bullet points, margins, bolding and fonts just right in your Word document.

Here's the bad news. When you submit that document to an online job or corporate site, it's going to turn into a mess, with apostrophes morphing into strange squiggles and characters, and all those crisp paragraphs into a massive lump, Palmer says.

This is why it's important to prepare your resume in several different formats, so your hard work doesn't go to waste. Some popular ways to save your resume are in Word, as plain text and as a PDF. The PDF also works well if you have an artistic element to your resume that you don't want to lose. Different employers prefer different formats, so be sure to double check.

Take Advantage of LinkedIn

Job searching or not, everybody who's anybody is on the business networking site LinkedIn, including employees from every Fortune 500 company and most recruiters. You should be on it, too. It's a great way to keep your job information current. And, because of its ubiquity, it won't raise red flags with your employer who might otherwise catch on to your jobsearch.

You can add photos, recommendations and an online portfolio to help others get a sense of your work. Just make sure you're consistent, Palmer says.

"Make sure that the dates of your resume match up with the dates on your LinkedIn profile," she says. "You don't want employers comparing the two and asking themselves which one is right."

Use LinkedIn and Twitter Together

Like peanut butter and chocolate, LinkedIn and Twitter go great together. LinkedIn requires users to give permission to others to access their information. This often means it's difficult, if not impossible, to link up to future employers.

However, you can follow the feeds from companies and their employees on Twitter without any permission. "You can use a Twitter (feed) to gather intelligence about a particular company you've targeted, then start a conversation with them on Twitter," Palmer says.

If the conversation is worthwhile, you can easily send them a link to your LinkedIn profile to go beyond Twitter's limit of 140 characters per message.

Know Your Confidentiality Needs

The Internet has opened up new worlds for job seekers, but it's important to understand that if you're willing to share your information on the Web, everyone can find out that you're ready for a new gig, including your current boss. If discretion is important to your job search, it's best not to post your resume to any online job sites.

"Once you put your resume on the Internet, you can kiss confidentiality goodbye," says Hurwitz. "Only do it if you're comfortable with your boss asking you why you're looking for a new job."

Ditch the Video Resume

Unless you're looking to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast, don't bother making a video resume. There's a reason traditional documents work best. They're easy to search, they're simple to file and store, and they're easy to scan in just a few seconds.

"If hiring managers are only going to spend a few seconds looking at each resume, they're certainly not going to spend their time watching videos," Hurwitz says. "If you're applying for a position as a controller, it doesn't matter how you function in front of a camera. It matters how you function in front of a keyboard."


The 20 mobile apps riding the new wave of location innovation


The SXSW festival in Austin has become something of a pilgrimage for social and/or location-based startups, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Twitter and Foursquare in using the event as a launchpad for success.

At the same time, the ease with which developers can create location-based services by tying into datasets and APIs from Google, Facebook, Foursquare and others is driving a burst of activity around location andapps, principally around iPhone and Android.

Here's a list of 20 apps that are part of this new wave of location innovation. All face the same three challenging questions: 1 How do they find an audience? 2 How do they make money? 3 If they're successful, how will they avoid being cannibalised by Facebook? Few have answers now, but this is nevertheless a snapshot of some of the more interesting ideas in the area.


Ditto (iPhone)

Rather than ask what you're doing right now, Ditto prompts you to update your plans for what you're about to do, and then get recommendations from friends for restaurants, films or attractions, hooking into Facebook's social graph.


Yobongo (iPhone)

Launching just in time for SXSW, Yobongo is all about location-based messaging, promising to help its users "get started communicating with people around you". For now, it only works in New York, Austin and San Francisco though.


Shadow Cities (iPhone)

Location-based games are enjoying a second wind on iOS and Android, with Shadow Cities the latest attempt to turn real-world cities into massively multiplayer games. Hugely popular in its native Finland, it's launching globally this year.


Lonely Planet Audio Walking Tours (iPhone)

Travel firm Lonely Planet recently launched five walking-tour apps based on central London. Covering the West End, Covent Garden, the City, Spitalfields and the Southbank, they tie audio to location, plotting walks on Google Maps.


Flowd (iPhone/Android/Nokia)

Flowd is another Finnish startup whose app starts with Foursquare-style check-ins, but then wraps music features around them. Users can follow bands' updates and tips, while uploading photos from gigs and entering contests.


StreetSpark (iPhone/Android)

Location-based dating has some challenges to overcome – specifically concern about stalking – but StreetSpark is one of a clutch of apps looking to hook singles up spontaneously. Its social matching process aims to ensure they hit it off, too.


Ask Around (iPhone) started life as the Ask Jeeves search engine, but its latest spinoff is a location-based conversation app. The emphasis is on questions and answers, with users able to tap into local knowledge when finding themselves somewhere unfamiliar.


Screach (iPhone / Android)

UK startup ScreenReach recently worked with Newcastle FC to allow fans at the club's stadium to vote for the man of the match using its Screach app. That's one use for Screach, but there are others – it can be used for coupons, content, voting and gaming.


Situationist (iPhone)

Situationist is less about meeting friends than it is about meeting strangers in surprising ways. Users choose from a selection of scenarios, from impromptu hugs to angry flashmobs, and then wait for other users to detect their presence and carry them out.


My Star (iPhone)

My Star is a collaboration between UK developer Mobile Pie and operator Orange. It's a social music game where players level up their character and jam with friends. The location aspect involves plastering virtual flyers in real-world locations.


View (iPhone)

Like Yobongo, View is an app making its debut at SXSW that currently only works in New York, San Francisco and Austin. Its focus is on discovering information and tips about nearby venues, tapping into the Foursquare and Google Places APIs.


Love Clean London (iPhone/Android/BlackBerry/Windows Phone 7)

Even London Mayor Boris Johnson has his finger in the apps pie, having announced this week a new initiative called Love Clean London. Its app aims to encourage citizen activism, as people report graffiti and other "environmental crimes" by uploading photos.


Short Stack App (iPhone)

Australian pop-punk band Short Stack are one of the first artists with their own social location app on iPhone. It lets fans check in to gigs Foursquare-style to earn points as part of the app's loyalty programme, which can then be exchanged for rewards.


payasUgym (iPhone)

The name says it all: payasUgym is all about buying one-off e-passes to use gyms, currently across London. Its iPhone app takes the process mobile, allowing users to search for local gyms on a map, and then buy an e-pass there and then to use them.


Localmind (iPhone)

Another startup hoping to make a splash at SXSW this year by splicing location with questions and answers. With Localmind users can see who is checked in to a specific venue via Foursquare, Facebook Places or Gowalla, and send them a question – with a points system to reward answers.


Broadcastr (iPhone/Android)

Broadcastr styles itself as providing "location-award audio and storytelling", and is making its debut at – you guessed it – SXSW. It lets people record audio clips and associate them to locations, for others to tune into when using the app in that spot.


RedRover (iPhone)

RedRover takes a more niche spin on the idea of a location-based social network, focusing purely on parents. With a slogan of "make playdates on the fly", it helps groups of friends with children to arrange impromptu meet-ups, while finding child-safe locations.


Heyo (iPhone/Android)

Heyo doesn't revolve around locations, but around events – parties, meetups, sports and so on. It ties in with Facebook and Twitter to provide calendar notifications. There is a location aspect though, with the app identifying friends' events in the user's vicinity.


Unsocial (iPhone/Android)

A lot of social location apps put their emphasis on partying, but there's arguably as great a need for business-focused apps too. Unsocial ties into LinkedIn to help people find relevant work contacts at events, such as conferences, including messaging features.


Hot Spots @ SXSW (iPhone/Windows Phone 7)

PR group Waggener Edstrom has its own SXSW app that aims to pinpoint the most popular events by crunching data from Foursquare check-ins. This idea of aggregating and analysing data from the bigger social location services is likely to fuel more apps in 2011.

That's our list of 20, now tell us what we've missed. What innovative and interesting location apps have you seen that you think have a shot at building a business? Which of the ones above do you think have legs? Join the debate by posting your thoughts.


IBM’s 100 Icons of Progress - Rise of the Internet


In the span of a century, IBM has evolved from a small business that made scales, time clocks and tabulating machines to a globally integrated enterprise with 400,000 employees and a strong vision for the future. The stories that have emerged throughout our history are complex tales of big risks, lessons learned and discoveries that have transformed the way we work and live. These 100 iconic moments—these Icons of Progress—demonstrate our faith in science, our pursuit of knowledge and our belief that together we can make the world work better.

Rise of the Internet

In the late-1980s, IBM helped create a network of supercomputer centers dubbed NSFNET (the National Science Foundation Network), one of the first networks to use TCP/IP. The project essentially gave birth to the Internet—and business and life around the world changed forever. Before the Internet, scientists and researchers had to travel—often out of the country—for computing resources and to collaborate on major projects. By the early 1980s, an early Internet had begun to emerge: a primitive, regional telecommunications network linking several national laboratories and supercomputing centers that could be accessed only by trained experts. It was complicated, unfriendly and slow. But it was an important first step to the worldwide establishment of the Internet.

In 1985, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched an initiative to build a state-of-the-art national backbone network, an inter-net, that would be based on transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) and would link supercomputer centers and regional academic networks. TCP/IP is the telecommunications protocol framework developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s, which became such a crucial part of the Internet’s plumbing. A number of universities and companies participated in its development, including IBM. Recognizing that much of this new network would have to be invented and lashed together, the NSF solicited proposals and awarded the project to IBM, MCI, the State of Michigan (home to a large community of computer scientists and keen to link up existing telecommunications networks within the state) and a consortium of universities in November 1987.

In the beginning, it was not clear if the NSFNET project could even be done. The award was met by the scientific community with skepticism, according to Hans-Werner Braun, co-principal of the project. The conventional thinking was that the task was technically undoable. But discussions among academics, government and industry began and IBMers were keenly interested. Al Weis and Barry Appleman from IBM Research and Bob Mazza, Walter Wiebe and Rick Boivie from IBM’s Academic Information Systems Division quickly engaged, offering hardware, software and project management. Senior leadership in the Research Division recognized the benefits of such a project: it was important to the nation, innovative technologies would be created and shared among the participants, and new business possibilities loomed—if this could be pulled off. Al Weis explained that before NSFNET, “IBM was unable to interconnect its large mainframes and some of its new workstations to all the research communities’ networks,” but this project held out the promise of fixing that problem.

The NSF liked the plan and authorized funding. IBM’s project manager, Harvey Fraser, recalled that “the team worked well because we had resources, executive time and the desire to make it a success.” In addition to creative attitudes, teaming and technologies, IBM, MCI and others brought the disciplines of business processes and project management to the effort, and a willingness on the part of everyone to work long hours. Some IBMers worked 100-hour weeks for months at a time.

IBM assembled a team from across the company, led initially by Jack Drescher, from Research Triangle Park Laboratory. They came up with the notion of creating a depot or assembly line, in the manner of Henry Ford, and a skunkworks atmosphere developed in Michigan where the project was headquartered. Equipment and parts flowed in from IBM and other companies, such as computers and peripheral gear, which they configured and tested then deployed to various campuses and super computer sites. "We turned the third floor of the Computer Center into an assembly line.… In the end we had the whole floor covered with parts and machines and boxes; it was a great way to deploy everything," remembers Elise Gerich who was the site liaison at the time. In fact, 150 systems with thousands of machines, parts and telco equipment were implemented. Eight months later, in July 1988, the network went live with 170 networks linked together, making it possible for the first time for the academic and research communities to access a high-speed, reliable and effective data network service that spanned the United States. The previous network, ARAPANET, was shut down soon after, since the new one worked so well.

Capacity became a problem almost immediately, requiring IBM and its partners to continue delivering more innovative technologies and equipment throughout 1989 and beyond. In IBM’s case, this often involved incorporating new networking capabilities into various software products, a process that led to the development of Internet-related software and consulting offerings over the next twenty years. In fact, that year alone traffic grew by 500 percent, beyond everyone’s wildest expectations. The big next step was moving the network to a T3 capable backbone (a new generation of higher speed digital switching) and along the way, using an IBM RS/6000 for each T3 node.

Traffic volume grew and grew. Back in 1988, only users in the US, France and Canada accessed the network. Between 1989 and 1993, ten to twelve additional countries were added each year, 21 in 1994 alone. By the time NSFNET was replaced with a newer generation backbone in 1995, 93 countries were hooked up. The network accelerated its response time and expanded capacity and functions as it migrated from T1 to T3 speeds and technologies. The project brought IBM squarely into the world of the Internet, exposing scientists, researchers, product developers and field organizations to new technologies and innovative uses of telecommunications. The NSF considers it one of its most valuable contributions to the nation: the forerunner of the modern Internet.


Top 15 Companies Founded By Ex-Employees Of Google


In recent years, many Xooglers (that’s what former Googlers call themselves) left Google and went on to start-up new businesses and made headlines everywhere. Some of the companies were acquired by Google and the founders started working for Google again.

1. Ooyala

Ooyala is a platform for online video publishing and monetization. Founded by ex-Googlers Sean Knapp, Bismarck Lepe, and Belsasar Lepe in 2007, it links ads to video content, and provides a host of additional enterprise-level features, including analytics and mobile delivery.

Since launch, Ooyala and its video platform Backlot have been used by major companies to manage and monetize their video assets, including Dell, Electronic Arts, Hearst Corporation, and Telegraph Media Group.


2. Dasient

Planting malware on innocent websites is a convenient way for cyber-criminals to distribute viruses without e-mailing each of their victims individually. The sites that they target often end up remaining on the blacklists of security software and search engines even after they’ve removed the problem.

Dasient helps sites by monitoring for malicious code so they won’t end up on the dreaded blacklist. Two of the three founders who launched the company in 2009 are former Google employees. Neil Daswani was a Google security engineer manager and Shariq Rizvi was a member of Google’s Webserver and App Engine teams. The third founder, Ameet Ranadive, is a former McKinsey strategy consultant.


3. TellApart

Created by the guys who founded the Google AdWords API team in 2004, TellApart works with a company’s own e-commerce data to identify their best customers and predict who will be their best customers in the future. It also creates customized display ads for those customers, and serves them off-site.

4. Cuil

It’s not surprising that Anna Patterson, a former architect of Google’s search index, went on to create a search engine. It is unusual to find a search engine that departs from the standard list of blue links. Cuil algorithmically clusters results so that a search for “Abraham Lincoln” creates separate report pages for the “USS Abraham Lincoln,” “President Abraham Lincoln” and the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” In addition to traditional search results, it combines the documents to create a “report” with information groups and key words within the topic.

5. FriendFeed

FriendFeed allows users to share photos, articles, and other media in a news feed for their friends to “Like” or comment on. After shamelessly borrowing the startup’s key features, Facebook bought FriendFeed in 2009, taking with it FriendFeed co-founder and Gmail creator Paul Buchheit.

6. Redbeacon

Redbeacon is like an updated version of Craigslist that helps users locate qualified service providers for nearly any job. Users submit the type of work to be done, along with the required time frame, and local professionals compete for the work with price quotes and availability.

When a user chooses who they want for the job, Redbeacon allows them to book the service online. It’s not quite the startup you would expect from founders Ethan Anderson and Aaron Lee, who were responsible for launching Google’s video product before the YouTube acquisition in 2006, or from Yaron Binur, who led the development of Google News


7. Mixer Labs

The co-founder of Mixer Labs was also a co-founder of Google’s Mobile Team, and was the first project manager of Google Mobile Maps. Mixer Labs’ Geo API service helps developers integrate location into their apps. Twitter apparently decided it could also use this kind of assistance and purchased Mixer Labs in December 2009.

8. Howcast

All three of the Howcast founders worked on the Google Video Team at one point. Their startup focuses on producing instructional videos, everything from “How to Cope With Boring Office Work” to “How to Induce Labor Naturally” and claims to be approaching two million downloads across iPhone, iPad,Android, and BlackBerry phones.

9. MyLikes

MyLikes gives anybody with an online social network the opportunity to sell advertising. Users sign up to give personal endorsements for specific products, which are posted on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Every time a friend clicks on an endorsed advertisement, MyLikes either pays the poster or donates to her selected charity.

Co-founders Bindu Reddy and Arvind Sundararajan aren’t the only ex-Googlers who believe in the idea. The company is also backed entirely by former Google personnel.


10. Weatherbill

A lot of insurance companies offer umbrella insurance, but few offer rain insurance. Former Google employees David Friedberg and Siraj Khaliq created Weatherbill to cover companies with revenue streams that can be drastically impacted by an unexpected change in the weather.

Event planners, ski resorts, snow removal services, and tourism-related businesses that live and die by weather conditions can use the service to save the day. The entire country of Barbados, for instance, used Weatherbill to offer visitors $100 for every day that the weather was considered anything less than perfect.


11. Doapp

Doapps founder Joe Sriver was Google’s first user interface designer. The company aims to “develop consumer and business apps for websites, desktops, and mobile devices that help you do useful things, make you more productive, and enhance your online life.”

It also happens to be the developer behind the beloved Whoopie Cushion App.


12. reMail

ReMail provides advanced e-mail search capabilities for the iPhone. At least it did, until Google purchased it from founder Gabor Cselle in February. Proving that you can never really leave Google, Cselle re-joined the Google team as a product manager after the acquisition.

13. Aardvark

Another startup founded by ex-Googlers, only to be acquired by Google, Aardvark takes your questions and finds people in your own social network to answer them. Instead of spamming your inquiries to all of your online friends, which you could do without any help, Aardvark finds the friends and the friends of friends who are most likely to have the answer.

Google paid $50 million for the company in February 2010, the service is still a Google Labs project but it could become an integral part of Google Search or Android.


14. Hawthorne Labs

Apollo is a newspaper for the iPad. It’s just one of the products from startup Hawthorne Labs, and features an algorithm that learns what articles and sources you enjoy, and helps you discover new content based on your personal preferences and viewing history. Co-founder Shubham Mittal previously worked for both Microsoft and Google.

15. AppJet

Two of the three founders of AppJet were Google engineers. And since Google acquired AppJet an year ago, they’re working for Google again. The team, which created real-time document collaboration software called EtherPad, joined the now deceased Google Wave group.


Software Update News


Steam (Package 1503/1503)

Posted: 18 Mar 2011 10:25 PM PDT

Steam, the ultimate online game platform.

Firefox 4.0 RC 2

Posted: 18 Mar 2011 10:44 PM PDT

The Web is all about innovation, and Firefox sets the pace with dozens of new features to deliver a faster, more secure and customizable Web browsing experience for all.

TortoiseSVN 1.6.14

Posted: 18 Mar 2011 10:01 PM PDT

TortoiseSVN is a really easy to use Revision control / version control / source control software for Windows. It is based on Subversion. TortoiseSVN provides a nice and easy user interface for Subversion.

Fixing Data Breaches: Tracking the Cost and Damage Toll


The average cost of a data breach keeps going up for the organizations that have to clean up the resulting mess. The costs rose to more than $7 million in 2010, compared with $6 million in 2009. There are other factors in place that can make the data breach more expensive, such as rate of response (apparently slow is better), number of compromised records (size matters), industry sector (communications, financial and pharmaceuticals), type of breach (criminals are expensive) and whether it was the first time. According to Ponemon Institute's sixth "Annual Study: U.S. Costs of a Data Breach," companies are moving faster to notify affected users, which in turn makes customers more nervous and often prompts them to leave. What's worse, responding quickly means organizations are likely to rush through the investigation and over-notify to be on the safe side, which will cause even more customers to panic and leave. Organizations should be prepared with a strategy and proper forensics tools to conduct a thorough investigation, know the exact compliance requirements, and resist the urge to err on the side of caution. Know the extent of the breach before taking action, the study recommends. The following are some numbers from the Ponemon Institute study about data breaches in 2010.

Total Cost: $7.2 Million

The total cost of a data breach has gone up 7 percent to $7.2 million. This includes cost of investigating and resolving the breach, notifying affected individuals, covering remedies such as credit protection services, and paying fines in a regulatory environment.


Per-Record Cost: $268 vs. $174

Speed apparently doesn't pay, not when it comes to data breaches. Companies that responded rapidly to a breach paid $268 per compromised record, as compared with companies that moved slower, which paid $174 per compromised record.


Cybercrime: 31 Percent and $318

For the first time since Ponemon Institute started the survey, malicious or criminal attacks were the most expensive cause of data breaches, accounting for 31 percent of all data breaches in 2010. Breaches that were the result of a malicious or criminal attack cost an average of $318 per compromised record.


Lost Business: $4.5 Million

The cost of lost business, such as lost sales as customers leave or lost productivity because employees were distracted or diverted from regular tasks, stayed relatively the same, at $4.5 million. However, it accounted for a smaller proportion of total breach costs, at 63 percent of total cost in 2010 compared with 69 percent in 2008.


Costliest Breach: $35.3 Million

The most expensive data breach included in this year's study cost a company $35.3 million to resolve, compared with the least expensive, which cost $780,000. The cost of the data breach is directly proportional to number of records compromised.


Customer Turnover: 4 Percent

Customers tend to leave after a data breach because they are leery of the company's IT security. Abnormal churn rates stayed at 4 percent, although pharmaceuticals and health care (both heavily regulated) inched up to 7 percent turnover. Public sector organizations had less than 1 percent churn rate.


Most Frequent Cause of Breaches: Negligence, 41 Percent

Negligence remains the most common reason for a data breach, accounting for 41 percent of the surveyed breaches. Third-party breaches, such as business partners and cloud service providers, accounted for 39 percent.


Cost to First Timers: $326 Per Record

Companies that had never had a data breach before paid the highest average costs. An organization's first data breach averaged $326 per compromised record.


Cost of Detection: $455,000

Organizations spent more to become more proactive in detecting and remediating data breaches in 2010. On average, detection and escalation activities cost $455,000, up 72 percent from 2009.


Compromised Records: 4,200 to 105,000

The "2010 Cost of a Data Breach" study examined 51 organizations that experienced a data breach across 15 industry sectors. The breaches in the study ranged from 4,200 records to 105,000 compromised records.


IBM’s 100 Icons of Progress - Magnetic Stripe Technology


Some elements of everyday life are so deeply engrained that it’s hard to imagine how we coped before they existed. For many individuals born after 1970, that’s true of the magnetic stripe on credit and debit cards. People around the world swipe their cards through “mag stripe” readers more than 50 billion times a year. What they don’t realize is what a major shift this seemingly simple technology represented for retail, transportation and daily life.

As recently as the early 1970s, credit-card transactions were more physical than digital. Each one was recorded by using what was essentially a tiny printing press to imprint the raised letters and numbers from a card onto a two-sheet, pressure-sensitive paper form. One of those sheets was then sent to a processing center, where a harried clerk would type the account and sales information into a computing system. The system was insecure, slow and prone to error.

The magnetic stripe, when combined with point-of-sale devices, data networks and transaction-processing computers, was the catalyst that accelerated the proliferation of the global credit card industry, which now handles US$6 trillion in transactions per year. Initially used on transit tickets for the London underground and California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system, the magnetic stripe enabled a person’s identifying information to be logged and transmitted immediately, securely and accurately. The technology is now commonplace on ID cards, drivers’ licenses, security control cards and ATM cards.

“Why has the mag stripe proved so resilient?” writes David S. Evans, co-author of the book Paying With Plastic: The Digital Revolution in Buying and Borrowing. “I think the answer is simple. It is really inexpensive to issue mag stripe cards, and nowadays the point-of-sale technology for reading mag stripes has been perfected and benefits from economies of learning and scale.”

The first person to affix magnetic media to a plastic card for data storage was IBM engineer Forrest Parry. This was back in the early 1960s. The story goes that he wanted to combine a strip of magnetized tape with a plastic identity card for officials of the CIA, and he couldn’t figure out how to do it. When he mentioned his problem to his wife, who happened to be ironing clothing at the time, she suggested that he use the iron to essentially melt the strip on. And that’s what he did. IBM became a pioneer in magnetic stripe technology.

The story of the magnetic stripe isn’t just about the ingenuity of the technology. Even more important was the effort by IBM and other leaders of electronic payments to create open compatibility standards. Working with the banking and airlines industries, IBM helped develop the approach that was adopted as a U.S. standard in 1969 and an international standard two years later. That meant that anybody could use their magnetic stripe credit or debit card anywhere in the world.

It also meant that IBM couldn’t benefit directly from its magnetic stripe inventions. “We decided not to patent the stripe or the stripe production technologies. We wanted everybody to use them,” says Jerome Svigals, IBM’s magnetic stripe project manager in the 1960s and early ‘70s. But IBM was compensated, just the same. “For every buck we spent on developing the mag stripe, we got [US]$1500 back in computer sales,” Svigals says. “Our motive was to drive computer sales, and we did.”

At first, banks were slow to adopt the magnetic stripe. Cost was a deterrent. IBM argued that prices would come down as production volumes increased. Svigals made a presentation to IBM’s board of directors, which included several bankers. He told them that IBM had no plan to get into the credit card business itself. It would just supply the technology. Svigals recalls that at the end of the meeting, then chief executive Thomas J. Watson Jr. took him aside and confided that he wasn’t totally comfortable with the magnetic stripe strategy. The reason: “Mom doesn’t like credit cards,” he confided. IBM got into the business anyway.

These days, in an increasingly instrumented and interconnected world, the job performed by magnetic stripes can be done in other ways. Cards embedded with microchips are rapidly replacing magnetic stripe cards in Europe and other developed economies. And mobile phones are poised to become another important means of making purchases. But the global financial and transaction systems into which they plug are in many ways a legacy of the humble magnetic stripe. One could say that the magnetic stripe did for consumers and travelers what the bar code and Universal Product Code (UPC) did for inventories and supply chains. Quite a legacy for Mrs. Parry’s ironing board.


15 Companies That Made Waves at Cloud Connect 2011


Cloud computing-related conferences are en vogue in IT right now and deservedly so. There is so much to learn and discuss about this truly disruptive form of IT. This is because there is still a great amount of curiosity, misinformation and misunderstanding about what cloud computing entails. Several recent research reports that indicate that nearly half of the IT decision-makers in the United States haven't even considered moving any of their IT to the cloud yet—even though a large number of Web-based services have been available for use since the late 1990s. Trust is the major issue here. Business data, the lifeblood of any enterprise, must be kept secure at all times, and if business data is maintained outside a company's firewall, a measure of control is—by the very nature of the cloud—lost. Many people are still uncomfortable with this. In any case, the third annual Cloud Connect conference at the Santa Clara Convention center March 7-10 was a sold-out event that focused a lot of attention on cloud security problem-solving. Here are some companies—some already well known, others not so well known—with interesting products and services at the event.

OpSource, Santa Clara, Calif.

OpSource provides cloud and managed hosting solutions that enable businesses of any size to accelerate growth and scale operations while controlling costs and reducing IT infrastructure support risks. At the conference, the company launched new bundles that add hardware-based security and networking to its cloud servers offering to deliver secure cloud computing to more businesses.


UnboundID, Austin, Texas

UnboundID describes itself as the first true virtualized identity management infrastructure and the first and only VMware-certified directory service. It offers identity management infrastructure for cloud service providers and enterprises consuming cloud infrastructure. UnboundID gives cloud service providers the elastic scalability needed to grow or shrink identity management capacity on demand.


Terremark Worldwide, Miami, Fla.

Terremark is a global provider of IT infrastructure services that uses its own worldwide data centers. Terremark serves government and enterprise customers a comprehensive suite of managed solutions, including managed hosting, collocation, disaster recovery, security, data storage and cloud computing services.


StrataScale, Sacramento, Calif.

StrataScale offers secure server and cloud IT infrastructure and hosting solutions for businesses of all sizes. With StrataScale hosting, users can build, manage and scale entire cloud, dedicated and hybrid server environments in minutes from anywhere, at anytime via its advanced Web portal.


SoftLayer Technologies, Dallas, Texas

SoftLayer Technologies describes itself as the largest hosting company in the world. SoftLayer enables customers to create dedicated, cloud, or seamless hybrid computing environments, leveraging world-class data centers in Dallas, Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C. SoftLayer automates all elements of its platform and claims complete control, security, scalability and ease of management.


ScaleOut Software, Beaverton, Ore.

ScaleOut Software develops in-memory distributed data grid software for storing, managing and analyzing data in both cloud and on-premise deployments. Its flagship product, ScaleOut StateServer, accelerates application performance with linear scalability and enables automatic data migration to/from the cloud.


Nimbula, Mountain View, Calif.

Nimbula has developed a "cloud operating system" that combines the flexibility, scalability and efficiency of a public cloud with the control, security and trust of an advanced data center. Nimbula was founded by the team that developed the industry-leading Amazon EC2 public cloud service.


CloudOptix, Boca Raton, Fla.

CloudOptix has a service called MeghaWare, which gives users a single portal to view and manage the entirety of their Web identities—from Google Apps to Netflix to Amazon S3. The service works not only with S3 but also with Windows Azure, Google Storage and AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service.


Intel Application Security Products & Cloud Builders, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

Mega-chipmaker Intel has developed a 2015 vision for federated, automated and client-aware cloud capabilities based on interoperable, multi-vendor solutions that embrace industry standards. Thus, Intel has created Intel Cloud Builders—a cross-industry initiative aimed at making it easier to build, enhance and operate cloud infrastructure.


IBM Blue Cloud, Armonk, N.Y.

IBM, as one might imagine, either has—or can get you—anything under the sun for a cloud deployment. The company said March 10 that it expects to earn $7 billion in cloud-related revenue by 2015, so it must be doing something right.


Gluster, Milpitas, Calif.

Gluster delivers an open-source software platform that simplifies storage and management of unstructured data. Gluster Virtual Storage Appliances use a unified global namespace to virtualize disk and memory resources into a single shared pool that is centrally managed. Gluster provides scale-out NAS for virtual machine and cloud environments.


CoreSite, Denver, Colo.

CoreSite develops network-rich data centers that optimize and secure mission-critical IT assets of large and midrange enterprises. CoreSite offers private data centers and suites, cage-to-cabinet collocation and interconnection services, such as Any2, CoreSite's Internet exchange. The company's portfolio comprises more than 2 million square feet, including space held for redevelopment and development, and provides access to more than 200 network service providers via 11 data centers in seven key U.S. economic centers.


Cloudsoft Corporation, Edinburgh, Scotland

Cloudsoft is a venture-backed software company helping enterprises apply the benefits of cloud computing to the large-scale, distributed, transactional systems that underpin their business. Cloudsoft’s Monterey Spring Edition is an intelligent application mobility platform and the only product that lets users logically partition Spring transactional applications into discrete components. The platform is geographically aware and automatically optimizes infrastructure utilization and governance based on policies.


Cloupia, Santa Clara, Calif.

Cloupia, a new cloud automation and management software provider, offers a suite of cloud computing products and solutions that enables organizations to build their own internal private clouds as well as manage public and hybrid clouds using a so-called "single pane of glass." Cloupia helps organizations to smoothly evolve from static data center or virtual environments to private and public cloud environments with the necessary management and automation tools.


Cloud Cruiser, Roseville, Calif.

Cloud Cruiser, a venture-backed company that provides cost-optimization software for enterprise cloud deployments, launched on March 1. Cloud Cruiser claims to solve the most critical problems in the cloud market: cost visibility, next generation chargeback and optimization across heterogeneous IT environments.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Microsoft`s IE9 Browser Offers Speedy Cruising, Modern Look


Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9, the latest version in its browser franchise, late March 14. To say that the company has a lot riding on the browser’s success is something of an understatement. Faced by hearty competition from the likes of Mozilla’s Firefox and Google Chrome, Microsoft needs IE9 to not only capture the hearts and minds of users who would otherwise choose another browser but also persuade those users of older Internet Explorers (such as the increasingly antiquated IE6) to upgrade to the newer version. In addition to increased security and support for various Web standards, Internet Explorer 9 puts the Web front-and-center with an interface designed to minimize (if not eliminate entirely) the presence of toolbars and icons. Many of IE9’s new features and tweaks come courtesy of extensive beta testing, in which some 25 million users participated, followed by a widely available Release Candidate. Microsoft also claims that IE9 provides blazing speed, something that will no doubt prove useful in conjunction with the Web’s increasingly rich content.

Aero Snap

With Aero Snap, IE9 users can pin resized windows to either the left or right of the screen, or even "tear off" Website tabs if they want to view a pair of Websites next to each other. 


All Stripped Down

IE9’s stripped-down user interface recalls rivals such as Google Chrome, with similar emphasis on putting a Webpage (as opposed to toolbar and icons) prominently front-and-center.



IE9 includes extensive support for HTML5, and, for users with Windows 7, leverages the PC’s processing power to run high-definition videos, rich Websites and other media with greater clarity and speed.



Users can click and drag a Website tab to the Windows 7 taskbar, pinning it there as an icon.


InPrivate Browsing

Microsoft’s InPrivate Browsing allows for Web surfing without leaving traces that can be discovered later. Microsoft built this feature in conjunction with the SmartScreen Filter, which judges potentially security-suspect Websites based on their reputation.


Jump Lists

Once a Website is pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar, right-clicking on its icon will open a menu for one-click access to various parts of that Website. This comes in particularly useful for sprawling Websites such as eBay and Facebook.


All Together Now

The combination of translucent, stripped-down user interface, jump lists and "pinned" icons all combine to integrate IE9 thoroughly into the Windows 7 or Vista interface. However, the new browser is incompatible with Windows XP and its sizable percentage of users. 



IE9 lets users adjust features such as Privacy and Programs, giving them granular control over their Web experience.


Design Tweaks

With IE9, Microsoft also retained some very familiar elements. Many icons look like slightly cleaned-up versions of their predecessors, and features such as the "Favorites" bar are still very much present.


Market Share

Microsoft hopes that IE9 will allow it to halt or reverse its long, slow erosion in browser market share and serve as a viable competitor to the likes of Google Chrome and Firefox.


IBM’s 100 Icons of Progress - The Floppy Disk


In the span of a century, IBM has evolved from a small business that made scales, time clocks and tabulating machines to a globally integrated enterprise with 400,000 employees and a strong vision for the future. The stories that have emerged throughout our history are complex tales of big risks, lessons learned and discoveries that have transformed the way we work and live. These 100 iconic moments—these Icons of Progress—demonstrate our faith in science, our pursuit of knowledge and our belief that together we can make the world work better.

Check back. New stories will be added throughout IBM’s centennial year.

The floppy disk was once ubiquitous. More than five billion were sold per year worldwide at its peak in the mid-1990s. Now, the little plastic packages are a fast-fading memory. It has been widely reported that Sony, the last major floppy disk maker, will stop producing them in major markets this year. Today, the disks can be found mainly in the dusty bottoms of desk drawers and filing cabinets. Yet the floppy disk will go down as a singular advance in computing history. Floppies helped enable the PC revolution and the emergence of an independent software industry that now includes more than 10,000 companies. “It turned out to be one of the most influential product introductions ever in the industry,” says Jim Porter, a long-time disk drive analyst.

The floppy got its start at IBM’s data storage skunkworks in San Jose, California. In 1967, a small team of engineers under the leadership of David L. Noble started working on developing a reliable and inexpensive system for loading instructions and installing software updates into mainframe computers. The big machines were already equipped with hard disk drives, also invented by IBM engineers, but people used paper punched cards for data entry and software programming. The team considered using magnetic tape first, but then, in a project code-named “Minnow,” they switched to using a flexible Mylar disk coated with magnetic material that could be inserted through a slot into a disk drive mechanism and spun on a spindle. “I had no idea how important it would become and how widespread,” recalls Warren L. Dalziel, the lead inventor of the floppy disk drive.

The first floppies were 8-inch disks that were bare, but they got dirty easily, so the team packaged them in slim but durable envelopes equipped with an innovative dust-wiping element, making it possible to handle and store them easily. IBM began selling floppy disk drives in 1971, and received U.S. patents for the drive and floppy disk in 1972. In the early days, a single disk had the capacity of 3,000 punched cards, and IBM adapted its punched card data entry machines so their operators could easily shift from loading data on paper cards to putting it on the disks. In this way, the company sent into retirement the punched card, which had been a key to its success since its founding in 1911. It’s an example of IBM’s willingness over the years to obsolete its own technology when it discovers something that does the job better.

Fast-forward to the late 1970s. The first microcomputers used toggle switches and paper punched tape, a variant on the paper punched card, to install and store data. Later, people loaded software programs into their PCs using cassette tape recorders. The big storage breakthrough came in 1977 when Apple introduced the Apple II, its first mass-produced computer. It came with two 5-¼ inch floppy drives. George Sollman, a former executive of Shugart Associates, which had been started by IBMers, recalls showing Shugart’s new floppy drive to a meeting of the Homebrew Computing Club, of which Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were members. A few days later he was told there was a guy in the lobby of his office building who wanted to see him. “So I went out to the lobby and this guy was sitting there with holes in both knees. …. He had the most dark, intense eyes. He said, ‘I’ve got this thing we can build.’” It was Jobs. Shugart became Apple’s supplier of floppy disk drives.

Thanks to the advent of floppies, ordinary people were able to load operating systems and other software programs into their personal computers. The first IBM PC, sold in 1981, was available with two floppy drives. Users typically loaded an application in one drive and stored data on a diskette in the other.

This was a big advance in user-friendliness. But perhaps the greatest impact of the floppy wasn’t on individuals, but on the nature and structure of the IT industry. Up until the late 1970s, most software applications for tasks such as word processing and accounting were written by the personal computer owners themselves. But thanks to the floppy, companies could write programs, put them on the disks, and sell them through the mail or in stores. “It made it possible to have a software industry,” says Lee Felsenstein, a pioneer of the PC industry who designed the Osborne 1, the first mass-produced portable computer. Before networks became widely available for PCs, people used floppies to share programs and data with each other—calling it the “sneakernet.”

IBM made floppy disk drives for many years, and it continued to innovate. In 1984, it introduced the high density floppy disk for the PC, which could store 1.2 megabytes of data—capacious at the time. It produced the 3-½ inch floppy drives that became the mainstay of computing in the 1990s. Then, as the profit margins for floppy drives shrank, IBM got out of the business. But not before having again changed the business of technology.


Fortifying Android Market Application Security: 11 Ways to Do It


Google faced one of its more serious attacks when developers laced 58 applications in the Android Market with malicious code. The programs, which Google quickly removed March 1, were intended to grab codes that identify mobile devices and determine the OS version running on a device. Google not only notified police of the attacks and suspended the developer accounts responsible for the suspicious "DroidDream" malware, but took the unusual step of engaging its kill switch. That is, the search engine remotely removed the offending applications from users' devices. It’s only the second time Google has taken such a step. As an open-source platform where Google lets developers write code with great freedom and flexibility, Android is an ideal target for malicious developers and hackers attempting to dupe people or simply mess around with the Android Market applications. Security experts weighed in with their thoughts on the matter. For this slide show, eWEEK talked to some of those experts, including software developers from security firms and analysts, to learn how Google can improve security in its Android Market for mobile phone and tablet users.

Sophos Backs Raising the Bar for Developers

Vanja Svajcer, one of the principal malware researchers at Sophos Labs, said Google should make it more difficult for people to become approved developers who can publish programs on the Android Market. Google currently charges $25 for developers to publish applications in the Market. "If it was $100 or $500, that would be more comparable to Apple, and may put off some of the mischief makers who are trying to introduce malware to the Android market," Svajcer told eWEEK.

Improve Security Assessments

Sophos' Svajcer also said Google should institute a better security-assessment process for applications published to the Android Market. This would include a reputation score for every application publisher as well as the ability to track requested permission changes for every application and to scan applications with antivirus products. "A big mistake, in my opinion, is the existence of alternative unofficial Android markets. This means that even if Google manages to keep its official Market clean, the problem will not go away. This is especially true of China, where most users are downloading from these unofficial markets.

Veracode Favors App Scanning

Veracode CTO Chris Wysopal said Google must verify code before it is available for customer download. "The halo effect of the app store distribution channel combined with the fact that many apps are from developers no one has ever heard of and the failure of the reputation model of policing means that validating app security before making them publicly available is the only way to lessen instances of malware. Signature-based scanning that PC software sites such as perform is a must. Additionally, due to the intense security risk posed by spyware on mobile devices, malicious behavior scanning should also be performed."

Fix Kernel-Level Flaws

It's not just the applications. Wysopal said Android kernel flaws need to be fixed promptly and pushed out to all devices. Of course, users should only download applications from companies they know or applications that have been around for a while, paying attention to download count and the history of the application developer.

Better App-Testing Protocols

Gartner Research security analyst John Pescatore said, "The major thing Google needs badly to do is leapfrog Apple and make the Android Market have better security testing than Apple does for the Apple App Store. Google has been trying to attack the iPhone's lead in the exact opposite direction, by saying ‘Droid Does’ and having an Android Market that is totally wide open. This recent malware event is a direct result of that. Meanwhile, Google has also tried to misdirect attention to the shortcomings of the wide-open Android Market by pointing to sandboxing and other security features in the Droid OS that do absolutely nothing about many types of malware."

End ‘Wild West’ Approach to App Acceptance

Pescatore said Google's "wild, wild west" approach to Android is a losing strategy. "I have never once heard a Gartner client say ‘the iPhone app store is too restrictive’ or ‘there isn't an app for that.’ The reverse is true: I think a big part of the iPhone's success is that there are enough apps and the ones that are there are not dangerous."

BitDefender Backs Sandboxing

While Pescatore downplayed Google's "sand boxing" of applications, Catalin Cosoi, head of online threats at BitDefender, said Google did a great job when it developed Android and its sandboxing system because it makes it difficult for an application to interact with the other applications installed on the user's phone. However, free applications that require a lot of permissions and are able to steal information from a user's phone are quite easy to develop, without using complicated hacking techniques or advanced development skills. Google, Cosoi said, must double-check some of the applications that are submitted to the Android Market.

Build Android Security Apps

But beyond the obvious solutions of double-checking applications, there is a need for security vendors to create security applications for Android. "However, because of the sandboxing system, a security app will have the same privileges as a regular app, so it will just be able to notify the user that something is wrong, but the user will have to take the removal actions," Cosoi cautioned. These would be installed on users' Samsung Galaxy devices, Droid gadgets and other Android handsets.

Create Remote App Installation Alerts

Tim Armstrong, malware researcher for Kaspersky Lab, said Google needs to build a mechanism to alert users that an application from the store is being installed on their phones. "The current model which requires no approval on the device is inherently flawed. If an attacker can figure out a way to push an application, either through some remote flaw, replay attack or hacking into Google accounts, there is nothing to stop them from installing whatever they want without user consent," Armstrong added.

Check App Permission Requests

Echoing what others said before him, Armstrong said a review of submitted applications could also help. Checking applications for particular permission requests could go a long way toward ferreting out the bad guys. This could include things like a high, medium and low risk category.

Improve Patching to Resolve Android Fragmentation

As for the phones themselves, Armstrong noted that one of the major problems in Android security is applying security patches across different versions of Android. Because of this confusing platform fragmentation, there needs to be a more modular patching system. For example, platform fragmentation set the stage for DroidDream, which used two root exploits that could have already been patched in updates. They're both fixed in later versions such as 2.2.2. But at present, more than 40 percent of the devices in use are not running this version of the OS. An improved patching system would have aided greatly in protecting customers with older devices, he added.


Twitter, a five-year-old changing the world


At five years old, Twitter is just starting to change the world.
Co-founder Jack Dorsey fired off the first tweet on March 21, 2006. It read "just setting up my twttr." It was Dorsey who proposed the idea for Twitter while working with Biz Stone and Evan Williams at podcasting company Odeo.
Since then, Twitter has been embraced as a forum for sharing anything from a favorite lunch spot to violations of civil rights and calls for revolution.
"As much fun as we were having, there was always, I think, in the back of our heads the idea of the potential of something important coming from it," Stone said of the startup's formative days.
"Even if we didn't say it out loud and talk about it," the co-founder said in an interview. "Because we were just getting started and we really had no place saying anything like that."
Williams, Dorsey, and Stone thought it would be fun to build a service that lets people use text messaging to share thoughts, insights and news with the masses.
San Francisco-based Twitter won the hearts of trendsetters after officially coming out at the South By South West technology festival in Texas in 2007.
"South By South West was the real eye-opener to the fact that we had, quite possibly, created a new way for people to communicate that was real time, sort of agnostic with regard to device and potentially transformative in the way people self-organize," Stone said.
"And everything that happened around the world that Twitter found its way into was really just yet another eye-opening display of the potential."
Initially scoffed at by some as a platform for telling the world what one had for breakfast, Twitter has become respected as a lifeline during disasters such as the earthquake in Japan and an organizing tool for champions of democracy.
Stone believed it vital for Twitter to remain a politically neutral technology platform focused on fostering open communication.
He saw the use of Twitter by those out to overthrow oppressive regimes in the Middle East as proof that given the right tools, people will stand for good.
"One of the things I told our team early on was that if Twitter is to be a triumph, it is not necessarily to be a triumph of technology but a triumph of humanity," Stone said.
"If we are successful it is not going to be because of our algorithms and our machines, it is going to be what people end up doing with this tool that defines us and makes us a success or not."
More than 200 million people use Twitter, firing off more than 140 million text messages of 140 characters or less daily. The length limit was set to fit the maximum allowed in text messages sent using mobile phones.

Here are some facts about the San Francisco-based startup:

  • Dorsey's first tweet, sent on March 21, 2006, read: "just setting up my twttr"
  • Twitter has more than 200 million registered users sending more than 140 million tweets a day
  • Last year, Twitter users sent 25 billion tweets and the company added more than 100 million new registered accounts
  • Pop star Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) has the most Twitter followers with 8.78 million followed by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) with 8.13 million, Britney Spears (@britneyspears) with 7.12 million, Barack Obama (@barackobama) with 6.97 million and Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian) with 6.73 million
  • Actor Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) was the fastest to one million followers, picking them up in just 24 hours
  • The hashtag (#) feature on Twitter which groups tweets by subject debuted in August 2007, proposed by a user
  • In October 2009, Google and Microsoft began integrating tweets into their search products
  • Twitter has "370-plus" employees and is adding workers almost weekly
  • Twitter is based in San Francisco, with additional employees in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington
  • Twitter was incorporated in April 2007; it was co-founded by Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey -- @biz, @ev and @jack
  • The initial Twitter logo was created by Stone, a former graphic designer
  • Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo is a former improvisational comedian

Samsung Business Notebooks, Galaxy Player, Slim Laptops


Samsung used a March 16 event in New York City to roll out its spring offensive, displaying a number of laptops, smartphones, tablets and portable media players intended for both consumers and businesses. While some may be familiar to users, notably the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, the manufacturer also showed off some devices due to hit the market in coming weeks or months. In a bid to challenge the iPod market with an Android-based alternative, Samsung will use a Galaxy Player in 4-inch and 5-inch editions. For more business-minded folk, Samsung has three different notebook lines—the Series 2, Series 4 and Series 6—meant to couple long-lasting battery life and Windows 7 Professional with a durable and traditional-looking laptop case. But that doesn’t mean Samsung plans on giving up its pretensions to style. The manufacturer’s Series 9 notebooks offer the sleekness and ultra-portability currently in vogue among PC makers. Like the business-centric laptops, the Series 9 also runs Windows 7 Professional and offers seven hours’ worth of battery charge. During the New York City presentation, Samsung executives suggested that the company’s ultimate intention is to create a wide-ranging ecosystem of products with a heightened degree of interoperability, essentially challenging Apple’s model in that area. Nor is Apple the only competitor that Samsung has its sights on: the sheer amount of televisions on display, loaded with the app-heavy "Smart Hub," spoke to the company’s desire to challenge Google TV and other "Web television" initiatives currently in the works. One thing is very clear: Samsung wants to play a large part in your digital lifestyle.

Galaxy Player

Perhaps Samsung sees the traditional iPod’s slowly declining sales numbers as an opportunity to jump into the market: The company plans on rolling out a 5-inch Galaxy Player that offers a touch-screen portable-media platform via Google Android.


Big Screen

Samsung likely hopes the version of the Galaxy player with a 5-inch screen will draw in users looking for the (portable) big-screen experience.



The Galaxy Player’s camera employs a familiar Android interface.



Samsung is also offering the Galaxy Player in a 4-inch form-factor. Based on a brief run-through, it seemed basically the same as the 5-inch edition, in terms of user interface.


Galaxy Tab

The 7-inch Galaxy Tab remains Samsung’s flagship tablet product, although the company is expected to launch a larger-screen version soon.



According to a new IDC report, the Galaxy Tab held 17 percent of the tablet market, which was good enough for second place, but lagging behind the iPad at 73 percent.



Samsung imagines its growing array of tech products as operating in an interlinked ecosystem, similar to Apple.


Smart Hub

Samsung plans on adding its "Smart Hub," loaded with apps and other features, to its televisions. This seems a move to compete with the likes of Google TV and Apple TV.



Samsung’s newest laptops offer a choice of SSD (solid-state drives), bringing them on par with rivals’ portable offerings.


Samsung Galaxy S

The Samsung Galaxy S, offered in multiple variants on multiple carriers, continues as the company’s flagship Android-based smartphone.



At the New York City event, Samsung executives suggested the company’s heavy emphasis on 3D for the consumer market would presage a plan to introduce similar 3D functionality to enterprise-centric devices.


Series 9

Samsung’s Series 9 notebooks offer light weight (2.89 pounds) and thinness, paired with Windows 7 Professional and seven hours of battery life.


Business Laptops

Samsung’s Series 2, 4 and 6 business notebooks come in 12.5- and 14-inch models, and feature Windows 7 Professional. Like the Series 9, Samsung boasts these laptops’ seven-hour battery life.



Unlike the Series 9, Samsung’s business-oriented notebooks seem thicker and more square. The Series 2 features either Intel’s Celeron or Core i3 processor, while the Series 4 and Series 6 include the option of Core i3 through Core i7.


Software Update News


Google Chrome 11.0.696.14 Beta

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 09:41 PM PDT

Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.

FrostWire 4.21.4

Posted: 18 Mar 2011 03:17 AM PDT

FrostWire, a Gnutella Peer-to-Peer client, is a collaborative effort from many Open Source and freelance developers located from all around the world.

Winamp 5.61 Full

Posted: 18 Mar 2011 12:24 AM PDT

Winamp is a skinnable, multi-format media player.

SuperAntiSpyware 4.50.1002

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 11:21 PM PDT

SUPERAntiSpyware Professional features our highly advanced Real-Time Protection to ensure protection from installation or re-installation of potential threats as you surf the Internet. Used in conjunction with our First Chance Prevention and Registry Protection, your computer is protected from thousands of threats that attempt to infect and infilt...

PowerArchiver 12.00 RC2

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 11:05 PM PDT

PowerArchiver offers hundreds of features, yet remains easy to use, small and fast. Novice users will find a familiar interface complete with tutorial and detailed help, while more experienced users can take advantage of full Explorer integration, multiple encryption methods and advanced compression algorithms.

Inno Setup 5.4.2

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 05:29 AM PDT

Inno Setup is a free installer for Windows programs. First introduced in 1997, Inno Setup today rivals and even surpasses many commercial installers in feature set and stability.

SpeedFan 4.43

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 04:39 AM PDT

SpeedFan is a program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips. SpeedFan can even access S.M.A.R.T. info and show hard disk temperatures.

Opera 11.10 Beta 1 (Build 2048)

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 02:16 AM PDT

A full-featured Internet browser, Opera includes pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated searches, and advanced functions like Opera's groundbreaking E-mail program, RSS Newsfeeds and IRC chat. And because we know that our users have different needs, you can customize the look and content of your Opera browser with a few clicks of the mouse.

IncrediMail 2 Build 4922

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 02:05 AM PDT

IncrediMail is a free email program that manages all your email messages, communications, contact details, and email transactions. IncrediMail is all about having fun with your email.

FastPictureViewer 1.5 Build 181 (32-bit)

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 09:43 PM PDT

FastPictureViewer, an image viewer designed for photographers. Now with powerful workflow tools helping to automate file management duties like copy, move, delete, save-for-web and more.


MySQL 5.5.10

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 05:07 AM PDT

MySQL Community Edition is a freely downloadable version of the world's most popular open source database that is supported by an active community of open source developers and enthusiasts.

AntiVir Personal

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 04:52 AM PDT

Avira AntiVir Personal - FREE Antivirus is a reliable free antivirus solution, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc. Monitors every action executed by the user or the operating system and reacts promptly when a malicious program is detected.


Posted: 16 Mar 2011 02:13 AM PDT

Vuze (formerly Azureus) is a free BitTorrent client used to transfer files via the BitTorrent protocol. Vuze is written in Java, and uses the Azureus Engine. Vuze offers multiple torrent downloads, queuing/priority systems (on torrents and files), start/stop seeding options and instant access to numerous pieces of information about your torrents.


Posted: 16 Mar 2011 12:27 AM PDT

Skype is software for calling other people on their computers or phones. Download Skype and start calling for free all over the world.

Avant Browser 2010 Build 131

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 02:00 AM PDT

Avant Browser is a standalone application designed to expand features provided by Internet Explorer. It adds a bunch of features and functionalities to IE and its user-friendly interface brings a new level of clarity and efficiency to your browsing experience, and frequent upgrades have steadily improved its reliability.

Process Explorer 14.10

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 11:08 PM PDT

Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.

WinPatrol 20.0.2011.1

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 11:00 PM PDT

WinPatrol alerts you to hijackings, malware attacks and critical changes made to your computer without your permission. As a multipurpose support utility, WinPatrol replaces multiple system utilities with its enhanced functionality.

Google Chrome 11.0.696.12 Beta

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 10:07 PM PDT

Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.