Saturday, 22 December 2012

Exclusive: Hacker nabs 3m Verizon customer records

Updated at 8:00 p.m. ET: Verizon spokesperson Alberto Canal told ZDNet in an emailed statement: "We have examined the posted data and we have confirmed that it is not Verizon Wireless customer data. Our systems have not been hacked."
The hacker said in a later tweet the data likely belongs to Verizon FiOS fiber customers, rather than Verizon Wireless cellular customers. We've updated the post to reflect these changes. We've put in more questions to Verizon and will update again once we hear back.
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A hacker has posted around 300,000 database entries of Verizon customers to the Web, after exploiting a vulnerability in the cellular giant's network.

The hacker, going by the name @TibitXimer on Twitter, told ZDNet earlier this evening that the hack was carried out earlier this year on July 12, which allowed him to gain root access to the server holding the customer data. Tibit gained access to a server with little difficulty after working with another hacker to identify the security flaw.

Tibit downloaded more than 3 million customer entries from Verizon's database, including names, addresses, mobile serial numbers, the opening date of each account, and account passwords. However, he said that figure was an estimate and had "no clue" exactly how many records there were, and that it was a "low estimate based on the size of one record and the size of all the files."

A fraction of the downloaded data has been published to code-sharing site Pastebin after Verizon failed to fix the vulnerability in its network, Tibit said, noting that the data was stored in plain text and did not require decryption.

The hacker said that after he informed Verizon of the exploit, the company "ignored my report," and did not comment.

Tibit said he worked alone, and while he supports Anonymous, he is not directly associated with the hacking collective.

Before the customer records were published online, Tibit showed ZDNet a snapshot of some of the data, which appeared jumbled, but was in plain text and relatively easy to understand. It clearly showed account data, including names and addresses, and what appeared to be passwords.

Tibit said the unencrypted customer files were "split up by region," but said that he "won't publish all [of the records] as I believe one region [300,000 records] is enough."
The hacker said that the leaked customer data suggests it came from customers in "Pennsylvania and maybe two more states around it."
"I might leak the rest later," he noted.

While he did not explain the exploit used to acquire the data in full, he said that the company's current security set-up allowed him to "gain root access to the server these files were stored on." He also noted that the exploit "still exists."
"The worst part of it all, every single record was in plain text," he said. "I did not have to decrypt anything." He said he couldn't understand "why they still haven't fixed the exploits," months after informing the company of its poor network security.

The Executive's Guide to Windows 8 (free ebook)

Summary: Windows 8 offers plenty of innovation -- maybe even too much. Business and IT decision makers have a lot to consider when it comes to Windows 8 deployments. Here's a deep dive on the big issues.

When Microsoft designed Windows 8 it had a couple big goals in mind. One was about driving better convergence from the PC to the tablet to smartphone. The other was about completely re-engineering Windows for a multi-touch environment. The question of how well they pulled it off and whether it was even the right strategy will continue to be debated. However, today's business leaders are faced with the immediate decision of whether Windows 8 offers value to their organizations and if they should adopt it or route around it.

To help business and IT executives tackle this issue, ZDNet and TechRepublic have created The Executive's Guide to Windows 8, a PDF ebook that digs into the big questions facing enterprises and SMBs. The ebook is available as a free download to registered ZDNet and TechRepublic members. (If you're not already a member, you can click here to register. It only takes a moment.)
The ebook contains three main sections:
  • Does it make sense to upgrade?
  • Who plans to upgrade?
  • Why did Microsoft gamble on the new UI?
As the summary to the ebook over on TechRepublic explains:
In this guide, you'll see what industry analysts and IT professionals think about the new OS, who is planning a Windows 8 deployment (and who is holding back), the reasons behind that go/no-go decision, and what Microsoft's strategy is likely to mean for corporate IT down the road.

Download it here.


                                                         Collected from--

London court told that Anonymous cyber-attacks cost PayPal £3.5 million

The court was told that the four self-styled Anonymous `hactivists' carried out a series of cyber attacks using the name `Operation Payback'; and virtually inundated the websites belonging to a number of companies - including PayPal and Ministry of Sound - with messages and requests, with the aim of making them go offline.

Three of the Anonymous hackers involved in `Operation Payback' - which cost PayPal over £3.5 million, and brought down the websites of MasterCard and the recording industry - have admitted to their role in the cyber-attacks.

The fourth accomplice - a 22-year-old Northampton University student named Christopher Weatherhead - is currently on trial at Southwark Crown Court; and faces the allegation that he was "part of a small cabal of leaders" of the cyber-attacks carried out between August 1, 2010 and January 22, 2011.

Opening the prosecution case at the London court, Sandip Patel said that Weatherhead - known by the online name `Nerdo' - played a key role in the `Operation Payback' cyberattacks; and added: "He (Weatherhead) and others like him waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks that paralysed a series of targeted computer systems belonging to companies, to which they took issue with for whatever reason, that caused unprecedented harm."

Phorce ‘smart bag’ addresses battery-charging needs of mobile-device users

Kickstarter project called `Phorce' pertains to the world's first so-called `smart bag' which addresses the increasingly crucial `battery life' concerns of the growing number of users of digital devices in the present day.
 The Phorce `smart bag' chiefly aims at ending the battery-charging frenzy - which characteristically involves the frantic search for charging points - that is caused by the worries about `low battery life' of their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices; especially if they are addicted to their gadgets and use them extensively.

Going by the description of the Phorce `smart bag' on the crowd-funding Kickstarter site, the bag comprises an integrated 54Whr light-weight battery pack which can give the users of mobile devices the ability to charge their gadgets `on the go,' as and when they require.

For the Phorce bag, the people behind the project have set a December 22 deadline for a funding goal of $150,000. While the bag will retail at $349, backers who pledge at least $199 can avail special `early bird' offer to get the Phorce for USB in their choicest color. Even after the early bird special runs out, the same deal will be available to those who pledge a minimum of $219.

Sony India unveils next-gen hybrid Ultrabook - Vaio Duo 11


The newly-unveiled Sony Vaio Duo 11 - which weighs 1.3kg and is 17.85mm thick - will hit the Indian markets by the end December. The flexible next-generation hybrid ultrabook will be available in Gun metal colour, at a cost of Rs

Running Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system, the Sony Vaio Duo 11 is powered by a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor; and features an 11.6-inch Full HD HD OptiContrast touch panel.
Some of the other attractive features of the Vaio Duo 11 include 4GB of system RAM; storage on a 128GB SSD; a pre-loaded 64-bit version of Windows 8; 2 USB 3.0 ports; a USB 2.0 port; a full HDMI port; Ethernet; and slot for memory card. In addition, Sony's `xLoud' and `Clear Phase' smartphone and tablet technologies are also implemented on the hybrid ultrabook, which also includes Dolby Theater v4.
According to Sony, one of the USB 3.0 ports of the Vaio Duo 11 can also serve as the Sleep Charge port, which enables the users to charge any connected device even when the Duo 11 is shut down or is in sleep mode. Sony also claims that the Duo 11's battery can last for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge.

E-Law Updates Docket Tracking and Monitoring Service

New Jersey-based e-Law, a legal tracking and monitoring services provider, updated several features of its eLaw subscription services suite, which comprises eDocket online search engine for New York State courts, eWatch automated case monitoring, eCopy document retrieval services for all counties in New York and 21 counties in New Jersey, and Lawsuit Alerts, which alerts you if your firm or client has been sued.
The recent updates include a "trial" button on eLaw's eCalendar that gives you a list of upcoming court appearances, along with a view of the total number of appearances for each case. A new quick view also provides the number of times each case appears on a trial calendar.
In addition, pending trial calendar appearances now show up on a home dashboard, with a list of upcoming trial commitments immediately visible. Moreover, you can now view on your eWatch list a display of every case that courts have indicated are related to any case you follow.

Research Suggests Cellphones Deter Crime

Mobile phones have undoubtedly made us more connected than ever before, but have they also made us safer? Fresh research suggests that during the 1990s, they may have contributed to a significant drop in crime. 


 In a paper titled Mobile Phones and Crime Deterrence: An Underappreciated Link, a team of academics concluded that cellphones deter crime because they increase the chances of being caught.

"Mobile phones allow for quicker reporting of crimes, and, in some cases, real-time communication of details about the crimes and the criminals," the paper concludes. "The perceived risk of apprehension could increase among motivated offenders when they notice potential targets are carrying a mobile phone."

Additionally, mobile phones have made it much easier to report crimes to police quickly and at little cost; victims or witnesses no longer need to seek out a payphone or a landline.

The research was conducted by Jonathan Klick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; John MacDonald, a University of Pennsylvania criminology professor; and Thomas Stratman, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University.

The overall crime rate fell by about one-third between 1991 and 2001; other researchers have attributed that decline to factors including bulked up police departments, new crime-prevention tactics; rising incarceration rates, and changes in the market for crack cocaine. The new research suggests that cellphones may also have played a role, although the authors cautioned that they lack enough data to prove causation. For one thing, the only comprehensive data available for mobile phone ownership before 1999 are national in scope, they write.

The authors examined rape and aggravated assault cases at the state level between 1999 and 2007, because those crimes are more likely to be perpetrated by strangers and therefore are more likely to be deterred by the presence of mobile phones. (Police are less likely to categorize a crime as rape when the perpetrator is known to the victim, according to the study.)

They also looked at how many residents in those states owned mobile phones, and performed a statistical analysis on the data. They found that higher rates of mobile phone use correlated to lower rates of violent crime. There was no similar negative correlation for property crime, however.

The researchers also found that crime dropped more significantly in urban areas, where mobile phones were more common. (They noted that some research has shown an increase in robberies in 2005 and 2006, when portable electronics such as iPods became popular.)

"Our findings at least suggest some effect of mobile phones on sustaining the historically low rates of crimes of interpersonal violence between 1999 and 2007 in states," the researchers concluded.

Although cellphones are already fairly pervasive, the study concluded that policymakers should urge people to carry them in hopes of deterring crime.

Websites go dark for Sandy Hook moment of silence

Some major websites went dark briefly Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET as part of a national moment of silence for the victims of last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

A demo using Yahoo's main page as a backdrop shows what sites will look like during Web Goes Silent.
Dozens of sites participated, including Aol, The Huffington Post and Digg, and more than 100,000 people and sites have pledged to participate on the page for the Web Goes Silent campaign. People and companies are also spreading the word by tweeting their intention to go quiet with the hashtag #momentforSandyHook.
High-profile Silicon Valley venture capitalist Ron Conway promoted the online moment of silence, which is part of a larger campaign for federal gun control legislation. Conway is leading the campaign along with other big names including Ryan Seacrest, Jack Dorsey, Britney Spears, MC Hammer, Suze Orman and Tyler Florence. is a startup that uses social media to raise awareness and funds for charities and causes. Conway is also an investor in the for-profit company.
Sites that participated in Friday's moment of silence were invited to do so on their own, or it can embed an official badge with a green ribbon on their sites. Sites using the code appeared grayed out in the background with a white box in the foreground that reads "We are observing a National Moment of Silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy."
Conway joined other tech notables and some celebrities to demand action for stronger gun control in a full-page ad in the Wednesday print edition of the New York Times. The ad was run by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a lobbying group of more than 700 U.S. mayors. It started the Demand A Plan campaign to reform gun laws after the Aurora, Colorado, shootings in July, and it has seen a surge in new support after the Sandy Hook shootings.

Collected from CNN--

Facebook tests paid messages to strangers

How much would you pay to contact a stranger? Facebook is sprucing up its messaging system, and the most interesting change is a move to charge people to send a message to someone outside their network.

New changes to Facebook's messaging system include the ability to set filters on which messages you see.

These unlucky missives are dropped in the little-known "Other" folder, where they will often spend the remainder of their digital existence unseen, unread and unloved.

Facebook is now testing a solution to help messages avoid this limbo, the company announced in a blog post Thursday. People can pay to circumvent the dreaded "Other" folder and have their messages show up directly in the recipient's inbox. The cost to send one message will be a dollar, according to AllThingsD.

In a post announcing the changes, Facebook points out that this could be helpful for people who want to contact someone about a job or reach out to anyone else they may not have a personal connection to. Charging could also help cut down on unwanted spam, according to Facebook.

"Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful," says the post.

The "inbox delivery test" will be available only to select people using Facebook in the U.S. for now. Companies won't have access to the feature at this time, and people are limited to one paid outgoing message a week to minimize abuse.

The social network is also rolling out new filtering options for the inbox. If you select Basic Filtering, the usual messages from friends and people in your extended network will go to the inbox. With Strict Filtering, it will be "mostly" limited to messages from friends.

The update also allows members to receive messages from the Messenger for Android app, a mutual friend throwing a party and anyone with your e-mail address.

Facebook is constantly trying to find new revenue streams, testing out services such as paying to promote posts and Facebook Gifts. The pay message option is being tested out for a few months, but if it is popular, it could be an interesting way for the site to address spam and make some money at the same time.

Collected from (CNN) --

Steve Jobs' yacht impounded over pay dispute

The Venus, a 100-million-euro ($137.5 million), 260-foot-long yacht, made its unofficial debut in late October. It's currently stuck in the Port of Amsterdam after Starck hired a debt-collection agency to attempt to remit the final payment for his design.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard in October and christened
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard in October and christened "Venus."

According to lawyers at Ubik -- Starck's design company -- speaking with Reuters, the designer has only received 6 million of the 9-million-euro commission and is seeking the rest of the payment before the Venus will be released.
"These guys [Jobs and Starck] trusted each other, so there wasn't a very detailed contract," Roelant Klaassen, a lawyer for Ubik, told Reuters.

The Venus is a floating ode to both Jobs and Starck's minimalist aesthetic. Made entirely out of aluminum, with 40-foot-long floor-to-ceiling windows lining the passenger compartment and seven 27-inch iMacs making up the command center.

In Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, the late Apple CEO is quoted as saying that, "I know that it's possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat, but I have to keep going on. If I don't, it's an admission that I'm about to die."

Earth's biodiversity map updated for first time since 1876

A 'life map' of biodiversity showing the organisation of terrestrial life on Earth has been updated after more than a century.
The original map, drawn up by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in 1876, was the first attempt to depict the myriad ways life has evolved on the world's continents.
Thanks to advances in modern technology and data on more than 20,000 species, scientists from University of Copenhagen have now produced a next generation map depicting the organisation of life on Earth.

The new map provides fundamental information regarding the diversity of life on our planet and is of major significance for future biodiversity research.
The new global map shows the division of nature into 11 large bio-geographic realms and shows how these areas relate to each other. It is the first study to combine evolutionary and geographical information for all known mammals, birds and  amphibians, a total of over 20,000 species.
The attempt to describe the natural world in an evolutionary context was made in 1876 by Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection, along with Charles Darwin.
"Our study is a long overdue update of one of the most fundamental maps in natural sciences. For the first time since Wallace's attempt we are finally able to provide a broad description of the natural world based on incredibly detailed information for thousands of vertebrate species," said researcher, Ben Holt in a statement.
The new map can be split into finer geographical details for each class of animals. It is made freely available to contribute to a wide range of biological sciences, as well as conservation planning and management of biodiversity.

Modern technology like DNA sequencing and a tremendous compilation of hundreds of thousands of distribution records on mammals, birds and amphibians across the globe has made it possible to produce the map.
"The map provides important baseline information for future ecological and evolutionary research. It also has major conservation significance in light of the on-going biodiversity crisis and global environmental change," said Jean-Philippe Lessard, the other co-lead-author of study.
"This holistic description of the natural world that we provide could be a new cornerstone in fundamental biology," senior researcher Carsten Rahbek, director of the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate added.

Rare meteorite that exploded in US was fastest to hit Earth

A meteorite that exploded as a fireball over the US earlier this year was among the fastest and rarest meteorites to have hit the Earth, travelling a highly eccentric route to reach our planet.
Researchers led by UC Davis, SETI Institute and NASA found that the meteorite - a carbonaceous chondrite - that fell over California's Sierra foothills on April 22 was the rarest type known to have hit the Earth.
It is composed of cosmic dust and presolar materials that helped form the planets of the solar system.
Scientists learned that the meteorite formed about 4.5 billion years ago and was knocked off its parent body, which may have been an asteroid or a Jupiter-family comet, roughly 50,000 years ago.

As it flew toward Earth, it travelled an eccentric course through the solar system, flying from an orbit close to Jupiter toward the Sun, passing by Mercury and Venus, and then flying out to hit Earth.

The high-speed, minivan-sized meteorite entered the atmosphere at about 102998 km per hour. The study said it was the fastest, "most energetic" reported meteorite that's fallen since 2008, when an asteroid fell over Sudan.
"If this were a much bigger object, it could have been a disaster. This is a happy story in this case," said researcher Qing-zhu Yin in a statement.

Before entering Earth's atmosphere, the meteorite is estimated to have weighed roughly 45359.2 kg. Most of that mass burned away when the meteorite exploded.
Meteorites like Sutter's Mill are thought to have delivered oceans of water to the Earth early in its history.

Using neutron-computed tomography, researchers helped identify where hydrogen, and therefore water-rich fragments, resides in the meteorite without breaking it open.
For the first time, the Doppler weather radar network helped track the falling carbonaceous chondrite meteorite pieces, aiding scientists in the quick recovery of them, the study reports. Yin expects that the weather radar data in the public domain could greatly enhance and benefit future meteorite recoveries on land.
"For me, the fun of this scientific gold rush is really just beginning," said Yin.

Amazon Web Services to accommodate big data storage

Eyeing the growing market for big data analysis, AWS (Amazon Web Services) has introduced a storage package, called High Storage, that can offer fast access to large amounts of data.
High Storage, an Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) package, is designed to run data intensive analysis jobs, such as seismic analysis, log processing and data warehousing, according to the company. It is built on a parallel file system architecture that allows data to be moved on and off multiple disks at once, speeding throughput times.
[ Stay on top of the current state of the cloud with InfoWorld's special report, "Cloud computing in 2012." Download it today! | Also check out our "Private Cloud Deep Dive," our "Cloud Security Deep Dive," our "Cloud Storage Deep Dive," and our "Cloud Services Deep Dive." ]

"Instances of this family provide proportionally higher storage density per instance, and are ideally suited for applications that benefit from high sequential I/O performance across very large data sets," AWS states in the online marketing literature for this service. The company is pitching the service as a complement to its Elastic MapReduce service, which provides a platform for Hadoop big data analysis. AWS itself is using the High Storage instances to power its Redshift data warehouse service.

An AWS instance is a bundle of compute units, memory, storage and other services configured to the characteristics of a particular type of workload. High Storage is the ninth type of compute instance that AWS has introduced. It joins other instant types customized for particular workloads, such as instances optimized for using GPUs (graphics processing units) or for HPC (high performance computing) jobs.

The High Storage instance offers 35 EC2 compute units of compute capacity and 117GB of working memory. Up to 48TB of storage is spread across 24 direct attached storage hard disk drives. Spreading data across multiple disks can speed data transfers because the read-and-write speed of a single disk is no longer a bottleneck. The system can offer more than 2.4GB per second of sequential I/O performance.

Customers can evoke High Storage instances from the AWS Management Console, from the EC2 or Elastic MapReduce command lines, or from the AWS SDK or third-party libraries. The High Storage instance is currently available on the U.S. east coast and will be available in other parts of the world in the next few months. High Storage instances can be purchased ether on-demand or be reserved ahead of time at reduced cost.
Further helping potential big data-minded customers, Amazon has also turned on its data pipeline for general use, which the company announced last month.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

Proposed law would stop broadband data caps that 'undermine innovation'

Proposed law would stop broadband data caps that 'undermine innovation'In the name of promoting online innovation and protecting consumers, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) this week introduced a law that would restrict ISPs' use of data caps -- limits on how much customers can upload and download on their smartphones and computers -- solely to addressing network congestion. The proposed legislation, called "The Data Cap Integrity Act," comes in the wake of a study from non-profit group The New America Foundation, which concluded that data caps on broadband usage serve only to bilk customers and stifle online innovation, rather than ensuring that Internet data travels the network lines unfettered.

"This bill is intended to help consumers manage their data more effectively and ensure that data caps are used only to serve the legitimate purpose of addressing congestion," Wyden said in a statement, adding that "data caps should not impede this innovation and the jobs it creates."

Through the Data Cap Integrity Act, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) would establish industrywide data measurement accuracy standards as to how ISPs measure data usage; the law would also give the FCC the power to ensure that data caps are designed to manage network congestion, "rather than [to] monetize data in ways that undermine online innovation," according to Wyden.

The law would require ISPs to provide consumers with tools for managing their data consumption, and it would prevent ISPs from discriminating against any content; that is, giving favored treatment to their own services over similar services from competitors. "Data caps ... run the risk of undermining innovation in the digital economy if they are imposed bluntly and not designed to truly manage network congestion," Wyden said.

According to The New American Foundation's study, data caps don't address network congestion as ISPs have claimed. That sort of congestion stems from high levels of traffic on networks during peak hours; the critical factor is the time of day when a person uses data, not how much data a person consumes over the course of a month. Even Comcast admitted to the FCC in a disclosure document that data caps "do not address the issue of network congestion, which results from traffic levels that vary from minute to minute."
Rather, the study found that data caps serve to potentially undermine competition:
They serve to protect carriers' legacy services by discouraging consumers from accessing content online that they traditionally consumed offline. For example, customers are turning to services like Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle to watch movies and shows, rather than turning to standard cable.

"[O]ver the longer term, consumption-based billing could reduce the attractiveness of over the top video options (e.g., Netflix and Hulu), as the economic attractiveness of such over-the-top options could be partially offset by a [broadband] bill that is higher, due to [broadband] overage charges that would be driven by large amounts of data being streamed via a customer's [broadband] connection," cautioned a 2011 presentation from Credit Suisse.

In challenging the law, expect ISPs to point to a report (PDF) out of Michigan State University, funded by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. According to the report, written by Steven Wildman, a professor of information studies, "the effects of well-designed [usage-based pricing] plans on consumers are likely to be beneficial, as are the effects of UBP on investments in the broadband infrastructure."

Funded by The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the paper -- titled "The Economics of Usage-Based Pricing in Local Broadband Markets" -- also argues that the revenue ISPs garner from data plans "will likely contribute to better cash flows and stronger incentives to invest in broadband plant, both to improve the quality of service for current customers and to extend networks into unserved and underserved territories."

This story, "Proposed law would stop broadband data caps that 'undermine innovation'," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

RIM caves to Nokia's patent demands with hopes pinned on BlackBerry 10

While the high-profile mobile patent bout between heavyweights Apple and Samsung likely has many more rounds to go, the undercard match between Nokia and RIM today came to an abrupt -- and arguably merciful -- conclusion: The winner is Nokia, as RIM has submitted to a patent license agreement for an undisclosed sum.

RIM caves to Nokia's patent demands with hopes pinned on BlackBerry 10According to an announcement from Nokia, the two companies have entered an agreement that settles all existing patent litigation between the organizations and ends legal battles in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. The financial structure of the agreement includes a one-time payment and ongoing payments, all from RIM to Nokia, according to the announcement.

Nokia filed patent claims in the United States and Germany against RIM (as well as HTC and ViewSonic) last May, alleging the companies infringed on a number of patents. The company last month also sought a ban on certain RIM products with wireless LAN capabilities.

Nokia and RIM may have settled so that they could focus their resources and efforts on their respective struggles in staying relevant in the mobile market. Nokia has seen itself lose market share as it's struggled to become a purveyor of Windows smartphones. Sales of the company's older Symbian-based phones, meanwhile, have plunged. According to a recent report from IHS, Nokia has lost the title of top phone maker to Samsung.

RIM, meanwhile, has suffered steadily plummeting sales and is pinning its very future on the success of the forthcoming BlackBerry 10. Fortunately for the company, the OS has garnered praise from developers and analysts.

This story, "RIM caves to Nokia's patent demands with hopes pinned on BlackBerry 10," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Google 'in breach' of UK data privacy agreement

Google has admitted that it had not deleted users' personal data gathered during surveys for its Street View service.
The data should have been wiped almost 18 months ago as part of a deal signed by the firm in November 2010.
Google has been told to give the data to the UK's Information Commissioner (ICO) for forensic analysis.
The ICO said it was co-ordinating its response with other European privacy bodies.
In May 2010 it was revealed that Google had scooped up about 600 gigabytes of personal data from unsecured wireless networks while gathering images and location data for Street View.
The data was collected for years in 30 countries while Google compiled information for the mapping service.
Forensic checks Google apologised for gathering the data and said it was a "mistake". The blunder led to legal action, fines and investigations around the world.
In the UK, Google gave an undertaking to destroy the data it was holding and issued a statement saying it had done so in December 2010.
However, said the ICO, Google had recently contacted it to report that some of the data it had gathered had not been deleted.
The company approached the ICO with the revelation to find out how it should act.
In response, the ICO told Google to hand over the data immediately "so that we can subject it to forensic analysis before deciding on the necessary course of action".
Possessing data that should have been deleted "appears to breach" the undertaking Google signed in November 2010, said the ICO in a statement.
"The ICO is clear that this information should never have been collected in the first place and the company's failure to secure its deletion as promised is cause for concern," it added.
Ireland's data protection watchdog also expressed displeasure.
Deputy information commissioner Gary Davis said the search giant's action was "clearly unacceptable" and demanded answers by Wednesday.
'Hugely embarrassing' Peter Fleischer, Global privacy counsel, said in a statement: "Google has recently confirmed that it still has in its possession a small portion of payload data collected by our Street View vehicles in the UK. Google apologises for this error."
Emma Draper, head of communications at campaign group Privacy International, said Google should be "hugely embarrassed".
"The company's handling of the Street View episode has been a litany of disasters," she added.
"The fact that this latest one is the result of incompetence rather than deliberate misconduct will be of little comfort to Google users.
"The US Federal Trade Commission is going to come down hard on Google, and very few of their executives will deny that they deserve it."
The ICO's probe into the collection of wi-fi data was re-opened earlier in July when the privacy watchdog became aware of reports that a Google engineer had deliberately written software to obtain a wide range of material.
( Collected From BBC News )

Saturday, 16 June 2012


iPhone 5 is coming:

A report by Appleinsider’s Neil Hughes says Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White is in Taipei this week attending the 2012 Computex Show and meeting with local contacts in the component supply chain, from whom he says he’s hearing that September is shaping up to be an “exciting” month for Apple fans.
Forbes CIO Network’s Eric Savitz also cites a research note White posted to investors yesterday, based on what he’s learned in Taipei, in which he says that Apple is likely to launch the iPhone 5 in September, rather than following suit with the iPhone 4S October release last year. Aside from die-hard WWDC optimists, a punditry consensus has been leaning more toward October, although I’ve been inclined to posit either September or October as most likely.

Incidentally, a new report yesterday from 9To5Mac’s Mark Gurman says Apple will make several major software announcements at the WWDC, including iOS 6, an iCloud version update, and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and possibly a raft of Mac announcements and upgrades as well in addition to the widely anticipated redesigned Retina display 15-inch MacBook Pro, including MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac mini or even Mac Pro refreshes, but there’s nary a word from his sources on a new iPhone or iPad mini announcement in the offing for next week.
In favor of a new iPhone October release is the aforementioned iPhone 4S launch precedent, and the tidiness of letting a year elapse between version releases. On the other hand, October will also mark the first anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death, and while reportedly Jobs had a lot of input on the sixth-generation iPhone redesign, it’s become evident that many people would perceive commemorating him with a commercial product launch as tacky or worse.
Consequently, September sounds quite plausible for the iPhone 5 (more likely “New iPhone”, IMHO) release both for that reason, as well as the fact that it’s been a traditional time slot for annual iPod refreshes. With the iPod now a mature product and the preponderance of innovative development focused on the iPhone and iPad, it’s highly conceivable that Apple might choose to rededicate the primo annual September new product release window to a hotter-selling product. The cusp of late summer/early fall combines back-to-school and settling into a new business year seasons, with an early kickoff to the holiday gift-buying ramp-up.
Incidentally, Eric Saviitz also reports that Brian White is skeptical of rumors that the iPhone 5 might have a Liquidmetal amorphous metal alloy back (technology for which Apple purchased exclusive rights to in consumer electronic products back in 2010 as reported by Michael Nace here today), and expects the new handset to have a unibody aluminum case manufactured by major Apple subcontractor Hon Hai.


Galaxy S3 : 

Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3, is about to launch in the US. I'm excited! But I'm also confused. Is this my dream phone, one that I can use with both AT&T and Verizon? Getting a straight answer has proven tough.
In the past, swapping a phone between the two major networks had been hard because they use different technologies for their 2G and 3G networks. Verizon uses CDMA (as does Sprint), while AT&T uses GSM (as does T-Mobile).
But in the full 4G world, both are using LTE, right? Sure, but they're broadcasting those signals on different parts of the radio spectrum, as CNET writer Maggie Reardon explained recently. That would seem to rule out the idea that a Verizon phone could work with AT&T.
But hold the, uh, phone. Verizon was cited by PhoneScoop as saying that a future software upgrade would allow the phone to be used globally, on the 2G and 3G networks of carriers outside the US. That means somewhere inside the Verizon phone is a GSM radio. In turn, potentially that means your phone could be used on AT&T.
Of course, even if you could do this, you'd be locked to AT&T's slower 2G and 3G speeds. AT&T "slow" 4G service and its "fast" 4G LTE service wouldn't work, because the phone doesn't have the right radio for them. Or does it?
It's possible that all versions of the phone sold in the U.S. have radio equipment for CDMA, GSM, GSM's 3G/4G HSPA+ variant and 4G LTE. If that's the case, a Verizon phone could use AT&T's fast LTE system and vice versa, assuming the phone was unlocked and none of its transmission capabilities were somehow crippled.
Who would know? Samsung should, so I asked. Initially, I was told that the Samsung Galaxy S3 was "the same on each carrier except for the network and carrier specific services pre-loaded on the device." That sounded pretty positive. The phones all seemed to have the same basic guts inside. Samsung also said that within the U.S., no one is selling an unlocked version. You have to buy from a carrier.
I looked for tech specs at the Samsung Galaxy S3 site, but they were nowhere to be found. There are various ones online, but they don't seem to cover U.S. versions of the phone. Samsung told me specs would be posted soon.
Without them, I wanted to double-check that the phones sold by each carrier should be exactly the same hardware (given there are different versions with different internal storage options, that's already a reason doubt this). Samsung told me, "A specific carrier version of a device will not necessarily work on another carrier. You will have to check with each carrier to confirm how the service works."
That sent me off to the carriers, and here I wait. Still no word back from Verizon or AT&T on whether:
  • If you pay full-price, will the phone be unlocked for use with other carriers?
  • Will the phone work on an LTE network other than their own?
  • With Verizon, what it will take for customers to unlock their phones for use outside the U.S.? Will it work similarly to the way you unlock an iPhone 4S?
If I hear back (I'm still fairly positive I will), I'll update this column. I suspect that the phones won't work on each other's LTE networks, that they don't have the necessary radio equipment for this. I do think a Verizon phone, if enabled for global roaming, could work with AT&T's 2G & 3G networks, if you wanted and if they don't somehow block US GSM carriers.
I still want that dream phone that could fully work with either of them.
OK, most people who buy new phones seem to do it under contract, so that by the time they may want to change carriers, they may also want to just get a new phone. It might not be worth the extra expense (and power hit and space issues) to have radio equipment that's not needed.
But phones also get handed down or sold on. It seems a shame they can't go between networks more easily. Verizon's iPhone 4S, for example, has a GSM radio that allows you to use it abroad if unlocked as Verizon allows. But as this Forbes article details, it also appears to be deliberately crippled from preventing consumers from taking it to AT&T or T-Mobile within the U.S.
If people could more easily switch, whether iPhone users or Android users, it might also cause the networks to feel greater competitive pressure, which would be a good thing for consumers.

Friday, 15 June 2012


Tongue Drive System to operate Computers:

 Scientists developed a new revolutionary system to help individuals with disabilities to control wheelchairs, computers and other devices simply by using their tongue.
Engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say that a new technology called Tongue Drive system will be helpful to individuals with serious disabilities, such as those with severe spinal cord injuries and will allow them to lead more active and independent lives.
Individuals using a tongue-based system should only be able to move their tongue, which is especially important if a person has paralyzed limbs. A tiny magnet, only a size of a grain of rice, is attached to an individual's tongue using implantation, piercing or adhesive. This technology allows a disabled person to use tongue when moving a computer mouse or a powered wheelchair.
Scientists chose the tongue to control the system because unlike the feet and the hands, which are connected by brain through spinal cord, the tongue and the brain has a direct connection through cranial nerve. In case when a person has a severe spinal cord injure or other damage, the tongue will remain mobile to activate the system. "Tongue movements are also fast, accurate and do not require much thinking, concentration or effort." said Maysam Ghovanloo, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The motions of the magnet attached to the tongue are spotted by a number of magnetic field sensors installed on a headset worn outside or an orthodontic brace inside the mouth. The signals coming from the sensors are wirelessly sent to a portable computer that placed on a wheelchair or attached to an individual's clothing.

The Tongue system is developed to recognize a wide array of tongue movements and to apply specific movements to certain commands, taking into account user's oral anatomy, abilities and lifestyle."The ability to train our system with as many commands as an individual can comfortably remember is a significant advantage over the common sip-n-puff device that acts as a simple switch controlled by sucking or blowing through a straw," said Ghovanloo.

The Tongue Drive system is touch-free, wireless and non-invasive technology that needs no surgery for its operation.
During the trials of the system, six able-bodied participants were trained to use tongue commands to control the computer mouse. The individuals repeated several motions left, right, up and down, single- and double-click to perform computer mouse tasks.

The results of the trials showed 100 percent of commands were accurate with the response time less than one second, which equals to an information transfer rate of approximately 150 bits per minute.
Scientists also plan to test the ability of the system to operate by people with severe disabilities. The next step of the research is to develop software to connect the Tongue Drive system to great number of devices such as text generators, speech synthesizers and readers. Also the researchers plan to upgrade the system by introducing the standby mode to allow the individual to eat, sleep or talk, while prolonging the battery life.
Source: National Science Foundation