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Review: Minitube brings the YouTube experience at its best to your desktop

June 19, 2013 - 3:57pm

A good YouTube app makes it impossible to stop watching videos when what you should be doing is writing that program's review. And this is exactly what happened to me as I attempted to sit down and write about Minitube, a YouTube desktop app that's going to change the way you consume your dose of daily videos. At €9 ($12 on 6/19/13), it's not cheap…but if you spend much time on YouTube, Minitube is well worth the price.

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From Swivels to Sliders — Understanding Ultrabook Designs

June 19, 2013 - 3:36pm

The traditional clamshell laptop will always be with us, but thanks to the innovation of the Intel-inspired Ultrabook, a wide range of new mobile computer designs has recently hit the market. Offering a vast amount of flexibility, these new designs offer considerable freedom, letting you choose the Ultrabook™ that works best for you.

Here's a guide to the various types of Ultrabook designs you'll find available today.

samsung-series-9Samsung Series 9 Standard / Laptop Style

Don't fret if you just want the basics and don't want to reinvent the wheel: Ultrabook systems with a standard clamshell design are widely available. These systems look and operate just like any laptop computer, except they’re often much thinner and lighter.  Also, many now come equipped with touchscreens, so you can use the keyboard and touchpad to navigate Windows, or draw on the screen with your fingertip.

360 Degree Screen lenovo-ideapad-yoga-13
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

At first these Ultrabook systems appear to be pretty standard, except they're equipped with new hinges that allow the screen to rotate around a full 360 degrees. In other words, you can push the screen back so that it lies flat against the table, and keep going another 180 degrees so that the screen is facing outward from the bottom of the laptop. Next just flip the Ultrabook over so that the keyboard is on the bottom of the machine and the screen is facing you. Presto, you've turned your laptop into a keyboard-free, slate-style tablet.

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Intel joins Samsung, Qualcomm in wireless power consortium

June 19, 2013 - 3:35pm

Intel has joined the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), a consortium founded by Qualcomm and Samsung, as the chip maker looks to bring wireless charging to tablets and laptops.

Another member of A4WP is Integrated Device Technology, which is developing wireless charging chipsets for laptops, tablets and hybrids running on Intel chips. Intel hopes to make wirelessly charging a smartphone and tablet as easy as putting the device close to a laptop. Intel has dubbed its wireless power offering as Wireless Charging Technology (WCT).

"Although we are not yet giving out timeframes for consumer products with WCT enabled, IDT has stated they will be delivering their full chipset solution for reference design work in early 2013," Intel representative Dan Snyder said in a blog entry in August last year.

A4WP in January this year released wireless charging specifications based on near-field magnetic resonance technology, in which users can recharge multiple mobile devices without placing them in direct contact with charging pads.

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Microsoft's answer to the Facebook Win8 app question: pin a shortcut

June 19, 2013 - 3:30pm

Microsoft Wednesday announced several new apps that have arrived or will arrive within the Windows Store, including the Vevo app for music videos and an updated version of Where’s My Water?

But if you’re still hoping for a Facebook app for Windows 8, keep waiting.

Really, ever since Windows 8 was released last October, many have wondered when Microsoft—or Facebook—would release an app supporting the over 1 billion users who use the Facebook service.

While many apps—such as Pandora, for example— still haven’t made the transition over to the Windows 8 platform, Facebook seems like a significant omission.

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Patent-licensing firm files second lawsuit against Motorola Mobility

June 19, 2013 - 1:50pm

Intellectual Ventures, a large patent-licensing firm, has filed a second patent-infringement lawsuit against Motorola Mobility while its first patent lawsuit is still pending in a Delaware count.

The patent-licensing firm filed its second lawsuit against Motorola in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the company announced Wednesday. The second lawsuit alleges that Motorola, owned by Google, has infringed seven different patents than the six named in the Delaware lawsuit.

Intellectual Ventures "has been unable to reach an agreement with Motorola" in the Delaware case, the company said in a statement.

The company also filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against banking firm Capital One in Virginia, Intellectual Ventures aid.

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Where are our wirelessly charging Ultrabooks, Intel?

June 19, 2013 - 1:48pm

Intel said Wednesday that is has joined the board of directors of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), a consortium developing technology for wirelessly charging electronic devices. However, Intel said last year that Ultrabooks capable of wireless charging would arrive in 2013—a promise the company has yet to make good on.

Virtually all of the major chipmakers have now joined A4WP, a spokesman for the group said, including Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Samsung, among others. A4WP uses near-field magnetic resonance technology to charge a nearby device, like a cell phone, if both the power source and the target device support the technology.

“Intel believes the A4WP specification, particularly the use of near-field magnetic resonance technology, can provide a compelling consumer experience and enable new usage models that make device charging almost automatic,” said Navin Shenoy, vice president, PC client group and general manager, mobile client platform division at Intel, in a statement. “In joining A4WP, we look forward to working alongside other member companies and contributing to standards that help fuel an ecosystem of innovative solutions capable of simultaneously charging a range of devices, from low-power accessories to smartphones, tablets, and Ultrabooks.”

At its Intel Developer Forum last year, the company said that it would add wireless charging capabilities to its Ultrabook platform sometime this year.

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Google Glass apps for enterprises coming by early 2014

June 19, 2013 - 1:15pm

A company that specializes in Google apps is developing a series of enterprise applications for Google Glass that should be available late this year or early 2014.

"We're in the early stages of developing for Google Glass," said Dan McNelis, co-founder of Dito, a company that provides services for Google applications.

Google Glass is the wearable device that the search giant announced in 2012. Since then the system has been in beta with developers and will likely be released to the public in late 2013 or early 2014.

McNelis said Dito is developing both "Glassware" or the apps on top of Google's API (application programming interface), and figuring out specific use cases to develop custom apps for Glass.

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FBI director defends phone surveillance program

June 19, 2013 - 1:15pm

A telephone records surveillance program run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency raises serious privacy concerns and should be reined in, some U.S. senators said Wednesday.

Some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed for changes to the surveillance program that allows the two agencies to broadly collect telephone call records from U.S. carriers, with some lawmakers calling for the records to remain with carriers until the agencies have a suspicion of a telephone number’s ties to terrorist activity.

“I remain concerned that, as a country, we’ve yet to strike the right balance between intelligence gathering into the FBI and the civil liberties and privacy rights of Americans,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, during a hearing on oversight of the FBI. “The American people deserve to know how broad investigative laws ... are being interpreted and used to conduct electronic surveillance.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller defended the recently exposed phone records collection program, saying it was a critical piece of antiterrorism investigations. The phone records collection program authorized by the Patriot Act has been a key tool in disrupting 10 to 12 terrorist plots since Sept. 11, 2001, he told lawmakers. NSA officials said Tuesday that the two surveillance programs have helped disrupt more than 50 terrorist plots since then.

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Financial servies firm figures out how to do social safely

June 19, 2013 - 1:05pm

The freewheeling flow of information on public social media sites may cause many people in conservative, highly regulated industries such as financial services to shudder. But one Canadian firm has taken the plunge, believing its employees can use social tools in a safe and ultimately profitable way.

The benefits of using social media outweigh the regulatory overhead, said Silu Modi, vice president of digital marketing at Macquarie Private Wealth, during a session this week at the E2 conference in Boston. Benefits include the ability for Macquarie’s specialized brokers “to demonstrate they really know their industry” and achieve “thought leadership” through blog posts and Twitter messages, Modi said.

In other words, brokers that develop strong social personas can help raise Macquarie’s profile and bring in more business. To that end, Modi noted, 25 percent of LinkedIn users hold senior management titles or above and 41 percent earn six-figure salaries, he said. “If you’re a private wealth firm, that’s exactly what you’re looking for.”

But Macquarie faced some challenges in developing its social strategy. “The regulators put a nice little box around what you can do before you start a social media program,” he said. For one thing, all social media activity must be captured and maintained for years, and even user profile information has get the sign-off from the compliance department, he said.

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Researchers: Many companies are negligent about SAP security

June 19, 2013 - 12:45pm

SAP has significantly improved the security of its products over the past few years but many of its customers are negligent with their deployments, which exposes them to potential attacks that could cripple their businesses, according to security researchers.

The biggest issue is that companies expose insecure SAP services to the Internet—not only HTTP services, but also critical administrative interfaces, Alexander Polyakov, chief technology officer at ERPScan, a developer of security monitoring products for SAP systems, said Tuesday.

Between 5 percent and 10 percent of companies that use SAP products expose critical services to the Internet that shouldn’t be publicly accessible, Polyakov said. This happens because they want to enable remote management or because of improper configurations, he said.

Most of the services have vulnerabilities that can be easily attacked, Polyakov said.

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Today's workers demand flexibility, mobility—and Facebook

June 19, 2013 - 12:15pm

Technology has changed everything we know about the office. Now it is threatening to get rid of the office as we know it.

A series of surveys undertaken by Intelligent Office, a virtual office space provider, show just how profound this shift in attitudes toward traditional working environments has become. Chief Operating Officer Tom Camplese sums up the results simply, saying "We believe there is a paradigm shift happening in our culture as it relates to work style. The work culture of today is very different than it was even 10 years ago, and individuals are now aspiring to work differently and create not only their own work style, but their own work rules.”

intelligent office worker statisticsIntelligent OfficeWill you hire employees who think they're entitled to spend an hour or more of their workday visiting social media sites? 

Three thousand people, Americans and Canadians aged 18 and up, were surveyed over an 18-month period that ended this April. The results paint an interesting picture of a rapidly evolving modern work force.

The desire for unprecedented work flexibility is the key touchstone of the surveys. That flexibility is manifest in just about every facet of the work environment. Workers want to decide where they work (home, office, coffee shop), when they work ("9 to 5" is all but dead), and how they work (preferring to use their own equipment over corporate-issued machines). Already, 70 percent of workers say they work from an alternative location than the office on a regular basis, and 66 percent said they use or want to use a laptop or tablet to allow this kind of flexibility.

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Oracle, IBM to unwrap new Unix server processors at conference

June 19, 2013 - 12:10pm

Demand for mainframe and high-performance Unix servers is falling, but a new wave of SPARC and IBM Power chips for the servers will be unwrapped at the Hot Chips conference in late August.

IBM, Oracle and Fujitsu—the main suppliers of Unix server chips—will talk about their next-generation RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) chips at the conference, which will be held Stanford University from Aug. 25 to 28. The chips typically go into high-availability servers, which are falling out of favor to the inexpensive and flexible x86 servers.

IBM will talk about the "next-generation Power microprocessor," according to the conference agenda. The next set of SPARC processors will also be detailed: Oracle will talk about SPARC M6, described in the agenda as the company's "next generation processor for massively scalable symmetric multiprocessor data center servers," and Fujitsu will talk about SPARC64 X+, successor to the current 16-core SPARC64 X.

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Microsoft launches security bounty programs for Windows 8.1 and IE 11 preview

June 19, 2013 - 11:20am

Microsoft will pay security researchers for finding and reporting vulnerabilities in the preview version of its Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) browser, for finding novel techniques to bypass exploit mitigations present in Windows 8.1 or later versions, and for coming up with new ideas to defend against exploits.

The monetary rewards will be paid through three bounty programs the company launched Wednesday.

The payouts will range between $500 and $11,000 for vulnerabilities found in IE 11 Preview, depending on the type of vulnerability and quality of the report, and up to $100,000 for mitigation bypasses in Windows 8.1 and later versions.

IE 11

There is also a defense bonus of up to $50,000, the BlueHat Bonus for Defense. Participants must submit a technical paper that describes an idea that could be used to block an exploitation technique that bypasses the latest Windows platform mitigations. The reward will depend on the quality and uniqueness of the idea, Microsoft said in the program’s guidelines.

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Massive Java update won’t get Oracle out of attacker’s crosshairs

June 19, 2013 - 11:15am

Java continues to be Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to computer and network security. Oracle released a huge update for the virtually ubiquitous software, but attackers aren’t done exploiting Java as the weakest link in the security chain, and Oracle isn’t securing it fast enough.

The update released by Oracle yesterday addresses 40 vulnerabilities in Java. It also enables online certificate revocation in Java by default, to allow Java to verify in real time whether certificates used to sign Java code have been revoked to prevent execution of malware.

javaJava is an attacker's dream; it's virtually ubiquitous and full of holes.

The update is impressive in scope and scale, and it’s important for IT admins and users to apply it as soon as possible. Amol Sarwate, director of Qualys Vulnerability Labs, notes in a blog post, “All vulnerabilities except three can be exploited remotely by an attacker, and in most cases, the attacker can take complete control of the system.”

Lamar Bailey, director of security research and development for Tripwire, has dubbed 2013 “the year of the Java vulnerability.” Bailey points out that Java is widely used across multiple platforms, and that alone makes it a juicy target for attackers. “Java is squarely in the crosshairs of many hackers and security researchers and that’s not going to change in the short term.”

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Surface RT’s (still rumored) integration of Snapdragon 800 is welcome, but no cure-all

June 19, 2013 - 10:49am

It looks like we aren’t the only ones impressed by the potential in Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon 800 chip.

On the very same night that the company let us run a bevy of benchmark tests on that very processor, Bloomberg says that the speedy system-on-a-chip will power “some new versions” of Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet.

While the report seems innocuous enough at first glance, the one-line rumor actually intrigues on multiple levels—not the least of which is the allure of the first potential cellular-enabled Surface slate. Even so, beefed-up processors alone won’t cure what ails Windows RT.

“Some new versions”?

Before we get into that, though, the “some new versions” line—if accurate—suggests that Microsoft may release several different models of the Surface RT in the coming months.

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Social mapping does much more than just get you where you’re going

June 19, 2013 - 10:45am

Google acquiring Waze almost seems redundant. Google is already a recognized leader in mapping services, so why does it need to buy a mapping company? The answer is that maps aren’t just maps anymore, and Waze will help Google move from mapping to social mapping.

It might look at first glance like the Waze purchase is a predatory move. Google has deep pockets and it can afford to spend money to buy Waze simply to prevent rivals from doing so. It may not actually use or incorporate Waze, because the goal of buying Waze is purely a strategic move to keep competitors in the rearview mirror.

wazeWaze adds real-time data from its social network to help you navigate.

That’s not the case, though. Maps aren’t just maps any more. Maps are a search engine in and of themselves—a trove of information that helps people get from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible, and that helps them make smart choices about where to go and what to do once they arrive.

I’m dating myself, but once upon a time we relied on printed maps from AAA called TripTiks to navigate road trips. Then Mapquest came along, and we could just research our own routes and print our own maps. The advent of smartphones, and the rapid advances in mapping, and location-tracking services, however, combined with relevant, real-world information from social networks, has brought the concept of mapping to a whole new level.

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15 ways to protect your business's e-commerce site from hacking and fraud

June 19, 2013 - 10:30am

It seems you cannot go a day without hearing about someone or some group hacking a website or stealing credit card and other sensitive data from e-commerce sites.

So how do you protect your e-commerce site from being hacked and sensitive customer data from being stolen? CIO.com asked dozens of e-commerce and security experts to find out. Following are their top 15 tips for protecting your e-commerce site from hacking and fraud.

Choose a secure e-commerce platform

“Put your e-commerce site on a platform that uses a sophisticated object-orientated programming language,” says Shawn Hess, software development manager, VoIP Supply.

shopping

“We’ve used plenty of different open-source e-commerce platforms in the past, and the one we’re using now is by far the most secure,” Hess says. “Our administration panel is inaccessible to attackers because it’s only available on our internal network and completely removed from our public facing servers. Additionally, it has a secondary authentication that authenticates users with our internal Windows network.”

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Start-up readies network-optimized Linux for data centers

June 19, 2013 - 10:29am

Start-up Cumulus Networks this week has emerged with a Linux network operating system designed for programmable data centers like the ones Google and Facebook are building.

The company's Cumulus Linux OS operating system includes IPv4 and IPv6 routing, plus data center and network orchestration hooks. Much like OpenFlow for independent, software-defined control of network forwarding, Cumulus Linux is intended to run on commodity network hardware and bring open source extensibility to high capacity data centers.

Linux did the same for data center servers 15 years ago, Cumulus officials state, and ushered in widely-used innovations like virtualization. But networking has lagged the trend -- advancements like software-defined networking (SDN) and programmability are very recent, and strategies from the major vendors are typically tied tightly to their own OSes and hardware.

The Cisco ONE plan, for example, is tied to Cisco IOS, IOS-XR and NX-OS.

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Data wiped from 630 Megaupload servers

June 19, 2013 - 10:25am

LeaseWeb, one of Europe’s biggest hosting providers, has wiped 630 servers that contained Megaupload data and countered claims from the company that the file-sharing site wasn’t warned.

“This is the largest data massacre in the history of the Internet,” Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom said Wednesday on Twitter, where he criticized LeaseWeb for deleting the data.

LeaseWeb did not warn Megaupload that it was about to delete the servers, Dotcom claimed, adding that they were informed Wednesday that the servers were deleted on Feb. 1. He maintained that Megaupload’s lawyers repeatedly asked LeaseWeb not to delete Megaupload servers while court proceedings are pending in the U.S, Dotcom said.

LeaseWeb disputes Dotcom’s claims.

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CERN modernizes IT infrastructure with OpenStack and Puppet

June 19, 2013 - 10:10am

CERN is making the infrastructure that handles the data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) more flexible by upgrading it with OpenStack for virtualization and Puppet for configuration management.

The research organization’s objective is to change how it provides services to scientists working at the LHC, which runs in a 27-kilometer circular tunnel about 100 meters beneath the Swiss and French border at Geneva.

“One of the things we have to contend with is how to scale our infrastructure fairly significantly with a fixed staff and fixed costs. With a fixed budget you can buy more and more equipment, but you can’t provide more and more services with the same number of people,” said Ian Bird, LHC computing grid project leader.

But that may be possible if you change the way things are done. CERN’s goal is to become more efficient by moving in the direction of infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service with a private cloud. The goal is to be able to more dynamically change how the infrastructure is used. Right now the accelerator is shut down so the CERN data center has a different workload from last year when the LHC was running, according to Bird.

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