The Podiyan

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Install the Windows 7 Release Candidate - Step 04


The Windows 7 Release Candidate is designed to install the Ultimate edition of the operating system, even though Microsoft will probably release as many versions of Win7 as there were of Windows Vista. If you'd like, you can "unlock" the other versions of the operating system, which are hidden on the ISO you just downloaded. ZDNet's Ed Bott points out that to do so, you simply open the Sources folder, find the file Ei.cfg, and delete it.

Once you've fired up the installer, it asks whether you'd like to go online to download any updates, and then it goes and actually finds the updates—what a shock! Vista asks the same question—as did XP, if memory serves—but it never actually seems to download anything. Accept the license agreement and we're ready to rock.

The installer will reboot once or twice and ask you for information about your network, but the process is more or less unattended. Once you've finished, you're free to configure your desktop, set up your libraries, play songs anywhere with Play To, pin apps and documents to your jumplists, and explore all the other cool new features. Enjoy!

How to Install the Windows 7 Release Candidate - Step 03


ou can download the Release Candidate and get your own product key through July. To do so, head over to Microsoft's Windows 7 download page. Follow the download links, enter a Windows Live ID (or sign up for one), and the site will generate a new key especially for you. The key will activate Windows 7 on up to three PCs. I've knocked the last quintuplet off my key in the screenshot—get your own! And for once, Microsoft hasn't restricted the download site to IE users only; users of Firefox can get there as well.

The RC is a giant file, of course; the 32-bit version is called "7100.0.090421-1700_x86fre_client_en-us_retail_ultimate-grc1culfrer_en_dvd.iso," and it's 2.36GB. So to download it, Microsoft uses a Java-based download manager from Akamai Technologies. This is handy, because it means that if the download is interrupted, you'll find a "Start Download Manager.html" icon on your desktop. Click it to restart the download, and it will pick up where it left off.

Once you've downloaded the file, which comes as a disc image called an ISO, you'll need to turn it into a DVD. I'm a fan of ImgBurn, a lightweight, easy-to-use tool for turning disc images into actual discs. It's fairly self-explanatory software that should be part of everyone's standard utility toolkit. When you've finished burning the disc, fire up your PC and run the installer.
Alternatively, you can copy the files to a USB thumb drive and install the OS from there. This lets you circumvent the whole "burn a DVD" stage, and in theory, the installation from flash memory should be slightly quicker than installation from an optical disc.

But in our experience, the process is more complicated than necessary. After all, DVDs are quite inexpensive. Instead, burn a disc with the ISO file and copy the Windows 7 RC to your thumb drive straight off the optical media: It will have all the files necessary to let you boot from the flash drive and will work just as smoothly as a DVD.

How to Install the Windows 7 Release Candidate - Step 02


Download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Beta before doing anything else; it will check your hardware to ensure compatibility and let you know about any potential problems you may encounter. You'll have to accept a User Account Control prompt before installing (and running) the tool, of course; the Upgrade Advisor will suggest a path to Windows 7, be it an upgrade or a clean install, and will test your CPU, RAM, hard drive, and graphics card to make sure they meet the minimum system specs:

Windows 7 Minimum Requirements

CPU 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64)
RAM 1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
Storage 16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20GB (64-bit)
Graphics DirectX 9 GPU with WDDM 1.0 or later driver

I'm an enthusiast—and my PCs are backed up several ways—so I have no problem installing beta software. Even so, I'm leery of installing an unfinished operating system on my main PC—as should you be as well. For this reason, you'll probably find the Upgrade Advisor's section on "Programs" the most useful to you. Here's where you can see anything that may present problems for you; in my case, these consisted of Logitech's QuickCam software and an outdated copy of Corel's DVDCopy. If you see anything crucial, now's the time to think about replacing the software or figuring out some way to make it work.

If you're upgrading from Windows Vista or installing onto an older PC that you don't use often, I suggest you try out the Windows Easy Transfer Utility. It lets you migrate your files and system and app settings from that old PC to an external hard drive, network drive, or USB flash drive. Later on you can port all that data and customization back onto your new Windows 7 system. You can search for the Easy Transfer Utility on Vista's Start menu, or in XP find it under Accessories System Tools. The utility is pretty simple to muddle through, but for detailed directions, follow along with the step-by-step instructions on Microsoft TechNet.

How to Install the Windows 7 Release Candidate - Step 01

Tired of reading about the Windows 7 Release Candidate? Start using it instead! But first, take the time to read our complete guide for a safe, easy installation of the new OS.

With a smaller footprint, better performance, multitouch support, and even some eye candy, the Release Candidate of Windows 7 is garnering tons of praise. In my hands-on analysis of the OS (also referred to as build number 7100), I wrote "Quicker to install, more polished and customizable, and easier to use than earlier builds, the Windows 7 Release Candidate (build 7100) is a nice step towards finalization of the operating system."But enough talk! You're ready and eager to give it a try yourself! So how to get started? Let me walk you through the decisions you need to make before installing the new operating system, and the steps you need to take to ensure a seamless, trouble-free experience.


Before all else, make sure you know where you'll be installing the OS and how you plan to do so. There are three common scenarios: Installing fresh on an older PC, partitioning your hard drive and setting up dual-booting, or upgrading a Vista (or earlier Win7 beta) partition. Do you have an older PC that you want to play around with? Or will you be making space on your current PC? Let's look at each scenario.

Clean installation If you've got an older system, it's probably running Windows XP, and you're probably planning on erasing that system and starting from scratch. Good plan. A clean install is the most trouble-free option and should probably cause you the fewest problems.
Upgrade You can't upgrade an XP installation, only a PC running Windows Vista. And you can't upgrade an existing Windows partition if you boot from the Windows 7 disc. Instead, you'll boot and run the Windows disc from within your current partition, following the instructions in the auto-run app.

Partition To enable the partitioning features built into the Windows 7 Release Candidate installer, you need to boot from the disc. But be forewarned: You can't simply shrink your current partition using the tool (although you can partition from within Windows Vista). The Windows 7 partition tool is really designed to work with raw disk space, meaning it will let you delete and recreate partitions, not resize existing ones. Alternatively, you can use third-party software to resize a partition; I like Paragon Partition Manager, but there are several options available.

Stop to think about your time frame here as well. The Windows 7 Release Candidate will stop running on June 1, 2010, at which point you're going to be forced to buy the darn thing. But don't worry about writing that date down: Microsoft warns that "starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every 2 hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you'll need to install a non-expired version of Windows before March 1, 2010." Some people would label this "annoyingware." But can you really fault the company for giving you a full year of free usage?

Where Will the Energy Star Label End Up Next?

Now that the first-tier specification for energy-efficient enterprise servers is completed, the EPA is turning its focus to larger servers, blades and storage arrays. Energy Star director Andrew Fanara says that with the Tier 1 requirements in place, a key benchmark has been established that will help speed along future specification sets.

Two-and-a-half years and one far-ranging equipment specification later, the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program for data center equipment is now looking ahead to providing new levels of environmental guidance.

As of May 15, 2009, CTO/CIOs and data center managers evaluating various brands of servers for purchase have another important factor to consider: whether or not the server has passed the qualifications to wear the EPA's Energy Star label as being energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

The new specification for servers requires three main criteria to earn the label: accurate power-supply management capabilities, virtualization functionality, and energy-efficiency benchmarks and standards for measuring and reporting energy use.

Servers that earn the Energy Star will be, on average, 30 percent more energy efficient than standard servers, the EPA said. If all servers sold in the United States meet this new specification, energy cost savings would grow to $800 million per year and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from more than 1 million vehicles.

Having that little aqua-colored Energy Star label is a big deal. Last year, more than 35 percent of U.S. households sought out an Energy Star-labeled product [PCs, printers, refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.] to purchase, with 80 percent of buyers reporting they are likely to recommend those products to others.

IT managers and CTO/CIOs are expected to be looking for that star, just as consumers do. The reasons for doing so are many: immediate hard-dollar savings in operational expenses; reduction of overall power draw to help conserve energy; a lower carbon footprint to aid the environment; and simple good will for partners and customers.

Now that the smaller and mid-size servers specs are in place, Tier 2 is next up: big-hunk servers and powerful new blade servers. Storage arrays are next in line.

Fast track for Tier 2

"We've been trying to fast-track Tier 2," Fanara told eWEEK. "Hopefully, with luck, we'll be done with Tier 2 by the end of the year, which means by January or so.
"Then the hope is to transition, which is usually a six- to nine-month period of time to give manufacturers the opportunity to move towards implementing the second tier. Which is really more administrative than anything else."

Fanara believes the six- to nine-month window of time is more than sufficient for manufacturers to make adjustments in larger servers and blades based on the Tier 1 requirements. Many manufacturers, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, EMC, Sun Microsystems, Rackable, Pillar Data Systems, 3PAR, Blue Arc and Fujitsu are already making Energy Star-capable servers.
"They've [some manufacturers] got models which don't meet the second tier but only meet the first tier [requirements]," Fanara said. "They've also got to change their Web sites and make accommodations so that when the proposed second tier comes around [set for October 2010], the only products that can be marketed as Energy Star would be those that meet Tier 2. We don't allow 'grandfathering' in our programs."

Energy Star will be looking at some different benchmarks besides power efficiency, virtualization capability and performance monitoring during this next stage, Fanara said.
"We want to know how good something is at chewing through code, for one thing," Fanara said. "We need to figure that part out, too."

If a data center owner/manager wanted to modify a recent upgrade of hardware that isn't yet Energy Star-sanctioned, could modifications be made that would allow the qualification to be added? For example, changing out the power supplies to newer, more efficient ones made by Emerson, APC or Eaton would be one way to do it.

"That's definitely feasible and doable," Fanara said. "Hard to say it would be worth it in terms of time. But it's hard to say in each individual case. You'd have to have a pretty good handle on all the assets you have. It would be hard to know whether the product is Energy Star-quality or not.

"There's been no easy to track this stuff [in the past]. A couple of years we'll have tools in place to do all of this. I think what is more likely is that as we go forward, people will just say, 'Let's change our procurement policies to make sure we buy energy-efficient servers.' At least rationalize the policy and update it, instead of going retroactive and changing what's already there working for you."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10 Reasons Why Apple's iPhone Needs Verizon

In a May 5 research note from Citigroup Global Markets, analysts stated that the likelihood of Apple creating an iPhone for Verizon Wireless ultimately comes down to economics.
"After considering a number of factors, we believe Apple could offer its iPhone platform on additional carriers by 2011 to sustain solid unit volumes in the U.S. market, and we believe Verizon is a leading contender to offer its first iPhone between late-2010 and 2011," the analysts wrote in their report.

eWEEK has assembled a list of the Top 10 reasons why Apple should bring its iPhone to Verizon’s network and why AT&T’s exclusive relationship with Apple could come to an end within the next two years.
1.User Experience
"Apple will remain focused on full-featured devices with a uniform user experience," according to analysts. In looking for a new carrier partner, they suggest Apple is likely to stick to its key negotiating conditions, such as "no co-branded handsets; no custom start screen; no revenue share on content downloads; and all-you-can-eat data plans."

2. Growth
"U.S. postpaid industry growth is slowing dramatically," according to analysts. The analysts currently put this number at 1 to 3 percent. If Apple were to remain exclusive with AT&T, its growth opportunities would be limited to the AT&T base and replacement devices.

3.New Customers
"A sales opportunity for the iPhone to new users is limited until after AT&T’s exclusivity expires." AT&T’s iPhone penetration is about 12 percent of its postpaid users and is likely to reach nearly 18 percent by 2010, write the Citi analysts. The ceiling for device penetration is approximately 20-25 percent.

4.iPhone Replacement Sales
"The U.S. postpaid market is too large to ignore." Selling the iPhone through other carriers could lead to an incremental growth of 30 million new users, with replacement sales over time, according to Citi analysts. While Apple would have to accept a lower subsidy from carriers, these would be "more than offset" by new opportunities for growth.

5. 4G
"Moving to a 4G wireless technology such as LTE is not a pre-requisite to seeing the iPhone on other carriers’ networks." Because LTE will initially be a data-only technology, the analysts write, Apple will have to address Verizon’s CDMA technology for voice. A new chip set from Qualcomm should also help Apple.

6. Cost Cutting
"AT&T’s interest in extending the exclusivity may be limited by the growing opportunity cost Apple would want to pass through to AT&T to ignore the larger postpaid marketplace." Even if Apple were to extend its exclusivity agreement with AT&T for the short term, the arrangement would mean increased costs to AT&T.

7. Microsoft
"Verizon alone can contribute an incremental 10-20 million units over five years to support a non-exclusive relationship." Based on AT&T’s success rates, the analysts expect Verizon to ring up 15 million users. Analysts also still see no reason why Verizon shouldn’t also entertain talks with Microsoft about a Windows Mobile device.

8. Apple App Store
"More users broaden the strength of the applications store." One more reason to bring the iPhone to more carriers: more users to download apps from the Apple App Store.

9.BlackBerry and Pre
"A CDMA iPhone may be defensive." Perhaps looking to avoid direct competition with the AT&T iPhone, the Palm Pre and RIM BlackBerry Storm smartly went the CDMA route. A CDMA iPhone, however, would significantly heighten the competition.

10.Good Business Sense
"Ultimately, non-exclusivity makes financial sense for Apple." The Citi analysts estimate that by expanding to the Verizon Wireless network, Apple could sell nearly twice the number of iPhones in the United States, which would add approximately 6 percent to its free cash flow for fiscal year 2011.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Is IT Ready for a New Generation of Younger Workers?

New Generation of Workers Pose Challenges for IT, Analyst Says!

As baby boomers retire from the work force, they are being replaced by younger, more tech-savvy employees who have greater expectations for the technology they use for work, says Forrester analyst Ben Gray, who will address the issue at the upcoming Forrester IT Forum conference. Today's workers are more mobile and they are demanding greater choice in their technology, putting more strain on IT departments that are trying to keep up with those demands.IT organizations are facing the growing challenge of how to address the demands of increasing numbers of younger, tech-savvy and mobile workers, according to a Forrester Research analyst.

Analyst Benjamin Gray said these new employees, who are a growing presence in the work force as they replace the retiring baby boomers, expect more out of their work IT environments in terms of the technology they use and how that technology fits in with their more mobile lifestyles.

"It's going to be increasingly difficult [for IT departments] to support all those mobile workers," Gray said in an interview. "A lot of organizations will cater to their needs."
Supporting these "anytime, anywhere" workers will be the subject of a talk Gray will give at Forrester's IT Forum, which runs May 19 to 22 in Las Vegas.

Already, there are several emerging trends within larger enterprises that are occurring in reaction to the change within the work force, which Gray calls IT populism. The move toward desktop virtualization is one of these trends, he said.

"In a couple of years from now, it's going to be a lot less about the old computer box that IT hands out [to employees] and more about the image that IT is handing out to you," Gray said.
These more mobile workers are less interested in the system and more interested in being able to get their desktop images wherever they are. And technology vendors are pushing that idea.

One idea is to give workers greater freedom in picking what PCs they want to use, either by having the company buy a wider range of systems from multiple vendors and then letting employees pick, or by giving employees a stipend to find their own PC systems.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Google Chrome 2.0 Browser Brings More Web Security

Network Security & Hardware:

Google Chrome 2.0 Ups Security Chrome 2.0 includes protections against cross-site request forgery and clickjacking.

Google Chrome 2.0 browser includes some new security features with which to arm itself as it competes in a browser market still dominated by Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The new Chrome features include protections against cross-site request forgery and clickjacking.

UPDATE: Google Chrome 2.0 apparently beats the speed of other browsers in many test by anywhere from 20-32% in performance across multiple systems.

The latest update to Google Chrome came with a few new bells and whistles, and lots of talk about speed. But what about security?

Browser vendors have been struggling to keep pace with the growing Web threat landscape. Internet Explorer 8 added a number of security features. In the latest release of the browser, Google has included some new protections behind the scenes, including defenses against cross-site request forgery and clickjacking. CSRF is an attack whereby a user is forced to execute unwanted actions in a Web application the user is authenticated in. To guard against CSRF in Chrome 2.0, origin information is sent for POST requests for which the server might change state.

"If you're a bank, you would check the request to make sure that it came from your own site and not from the attacker's site," explained Adam Barth, a software engineer for Chrome. That, he said, is where the origin information would come in handy.

In addition to CSRF protection, Google also added HTML 5's PostMessage to help Website developers build more secure mashup applications.

"As we get into sites that try to do mashups and you take gadgets and interesting things from all over the place, so maybe there's a cool little gadget that shows a bunch of ponies dancing around, and people like ponies so they want ponies on their Web page," Chrome Product Manager Ian Fette said. "I might be fine with having ponies on my Web page, but I don't want to give that gadget permission to muck around with my password … so the PostMessage API allows me to communicate with the ponies gadget … but it doesn't actually give that gadget the ability to reach out and directly control the rest of my page."

Google also followed in the footsteps of IE 8 with clickjacking protections and the ability to remove thumbnails from the New Tab page for added privacy.

When the browser was first launched in September 2008, Google tried to make a big splash about its security features, touting Chrome's sandboxing of the rendering engine, for example. But the company also experienced a few challenges—the initial release of the browser used a vulnerable version of WebKit, and other vulnerabilities appeared as the security community took the browser for a test run.

Looking ahead, Google has said it has no immediate plans to add Website security zones as in Internet Explorer or to add the ability to disable JavaScript within the user interface. It is possible, however, to disable JavaScript through the command line if that seems to be a way to thwart attacks.

"Our approach with Google Chrome has been to make things as secure as possible by default without the user having to take any actions to go and configure settings," Fette said.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nikon's Amazing D5000!!!

CHECK PRICES$830 - $1097

eBay $829.95
Adorama $849.00
Amazon $849.95

The 12.3-megapixel Nikon D5000 is a terrific buy, offering the image quality of a more expensive D-SLR for a price of just $729.99 (direct, body only). Not only does this camera shoot beautiful images under any lighting conditions, but it can also capture 720p24 high-definition video, and its Live View LCD is mounted on a rotating, swiveling arm. Our minor complaints include the inability to autofocus in video mode, and a 2.7-inch LCD with a lower resolution than our newest Editors' Choice budget D-SLR, the $900 (with lens) Canon EOS Rebel T1i. Still, the Nikon D5000 is a top-notch shooter that should please all but the most finicky of photographers.
Although it's a bit smaller than a prosumer D-SLR, measuring 4.1 by 5 by 3.1 inches (HWD), the D5000 looks and feels professional, thanks to an expensive-looking spackled black body. It uses the same image sensor as the $1,000 (body only) Nikon D90, and from the back, the two look nearly identical. The feel of the camera's controls is comfortable, and the placement ergonomic: Its buttons are large, well-separated, and easy to press, since most of them are mounted at a slight angle pointing away from the LCD. Without a lens, the body weighs 1.3 pounds; with our 18-to-55mm test lens, it weighs 1.9 pounds.

Like the Canon T1i, the Nikon D5000 is also sold bundled with an 18-to-55mm VR lens for $899. If you can afford it, I recommend buying the body separately and spending a little more on a lens with a greater optical zoom; you can do better than this lens's 4.8X. The D5000 (like all Nikon D-SLRs) uses the "Nikon F bayonet" lens mount, so it's compatible with a wide range of Nikon lenses.

The 2.7-inch Live View LCD succeeds at being versatile, but otherwise, it's a bit of a letdown. First the good: Since it's mounted on an arm that folds down 90 degrees and rotates both left and right, you can easily see what you're shooting if you're holding the camera above your head. Also, you can flip the LCD around so it faces the camera and won't get scratched up when it's not in use. The problem with the screen is its resolution: Although the displays on the D90, the T1i, and the Canon EOS 50D are each packed with 920,000 pixels, the D5000's screen uses only 230,000. While photo previews, menu text, and icons don't look terrible, they're definitely sharper on the aforementioned cameras.

When it comes to speed, the D5000 outpaces Canon's T1i in some areas but lags behind in others. Both cameras are able to focus quickly. The D5000 powered up and captured its first shot in an average of 1.37 seconds; while the T1i averaged a quicker 0.68 second. The T1i can capture 3.4 frames per second at its maximum resolution (15.1 megapixels). The D5000 is a bit faster at 4 fps, although its resolution (12.3MP) is lower. The pricier Nikon D90 and the Canon 50D ($1,300, body only) are even speedier, shooting at 4.5 fps and 6.3 fps, respectively.

Image quality on the Nikon D5000 is impressive. In our photography lab, I use the Imatest suite to gauge image quality objectively, and test results indicated that the D5000 was comparable to both the Nikon D90 (which, again, uses the same sensor) and the T1i. The T1i offers particularly sharp images at lower ISOs (100, 200, and 400), respectively, capturing 2,102, 2,079, and 2,035 lines per picture height in well-lit conditions. The D5000 was close but not as sharp, capturing 1,778 lines at ISO 200 and 1,743 at ISO 400 (ISO 100 isn't available on the D5000). In lower-light conditions, at higher ISOs (1600 and 3200), images were a bit sharper than with the T1i: The 5000D captured an average of 1,361 and 1,352 lines, while the T1i averaged 1,248 and 1,165.

Shooting out of my apartment window on a rainy night in New York City, I got some beautiful images with the D5000. There wasn't much light, but that didn't stop the D5000 from capturing noiseless photos of puddles on the pavement that reflected the white light of the street lamps. HD Video that I recorded also turned out well: In playback mode you could clearly hear the pouring rain and blowing wind.

As mentioned above, the D5000 can produce fantastic-looking HD video—1,280 by 720 pixels (progressive) at 24 frames per second, aka 720p24—but operating the camera in video mode can be tricky. It can't lock onto a subject and keep it in focus, so if you want to refocus you have to switch the lens to manual focus mode and turn the focus ring by hand. To be fair, I haven't seen a D-SLR yet that has fully mastered video recording without quirks.
The T1i has an option for automatic refocus, but that takes a few seconds to kick in, and the recording captures the mechanical noise made by the lens. Also, neither camera offers a microphone input. Still, with some patience and practice, you can achieve high-quality video with the D5000.

A minor quibble: The USB port, used to connect the camera to a PC, is proprietary (though the cable is included), whereas the T1i uses a more easily replaced standard mini USB connector/cable. The USB port is located underneath a rubberized cover on the left side of the camera; next to it is an input for a GPS accessory (sold separately) for geotagging your photos. On the other side of the USB port is a mini HDMI out for a one-cable, digital A/V connection to let you view your photos on an HDTV.

Both the Nikon D5000 and the Canon EOS Rebel T1i are very solid cameras offering features galore, beautiful images, and HD video for less than $1,000. If you already own Nikon lenses, the D5000 is a no-brainer. But for those who don't have a brand allegiance or are just entering the D-SLR realm, I have to recommend the Canon EOS Rebel T1i, our Editors' Choice, over the D5000 for its higher 15.1-megapixel resolution, sharper LCD, and ability to autofocus when shooting video.

Nikon USA

Price as Tested: $729.95
List Type: D-SLR
Megapixels: 12.3 MP
Maximum Resolution: 4288 x 2848 pixels
Included Memory: Media Card
Media Format: Secure Digital, Secure Digital High Capacity V
ideo Record and Playback: Yes
Wireless Connectivity: No
Bluetooth: No

Could Apple Be Working on a Touch-Screen Mac Tablet?

Is Apple Developing a $700 Touch-Screen Tablet?

Apple is expected to leverage its multitouch patents and offer a 7- to 10-inch tablet device in the first half of 2010, according to analysts from research firm Piper Jaffrey. Pricing is expected to fill the gap between the Apple iPod Touch and the MacBook, at between $500 and $700. The analysts’ report dismissed any notion of an Apple netbook.

While there is no potential for an Apple netbook, the company does appear to be working on a 7- to 10-inch touch-screen tablet device for the first half of 2010, according to a new report. In a May 21 research note from firm Piper Jaffray, analysts write that Apple has said it’s not interested in a netbook, which would not distinguish it enough from the competition and would eat away at MacBook sales. Instead, they expect Apple to leverage its multi-touch patents and deliver a touch-screen tablet device. “We expect Apple to fill the gap between the iPod Touch and the MacBook with a new tablet device (not a netbook) priced at about $500-$700,” Gene Munster, the lead analyst, wrote in the report.

“We are anticipating a new category of Apple products with an operating system more robust than the iPhone’s but optimized for multitouch, unlike Mac OS X. The device’s OS could bear a close resemblance to Apple’s mobile OS and run App Store apps, or it could be a modified version of Mac OS X.”

The report emphasizes that Apple believes that software is the key to success in the mobile device category, as evidenced by the App Store being at the heart of its mobile operating system.
“With a larger tablet device in Apple’s lineup, the company could begin selling digital books on its iTunes Store, for use on the tablet as an eBook reader,” according to the report. “In this way, Apple could respond to the tangential competition from Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle DX.”
The report notes that Apple launched its first iPod three years after the first portable MP3 player arrived. Additionally, the iPhone hit the market five years after the first BlackBerry with e-mail and phone capabilities. Likewise, Munster writes, “We believe Apple is observing the netbook market in a similar way, and will eventually enter with a tablet, a premium mobile computing device.”
Apple, clearly, is familiar with subsidy pricing, through its iPhone arrangement with AT&T, and reported talks with Verizon. The report adds that Apple could “include an integrated mobile data feature such as 3Gwireless into the device and partner with AT&T or Verizon to subsidize the device together with a contract for a wireless data plan.”
A party with potential knowledge of the tablet is not being revealed, as the analysts at one point state: “We expect the development of such an OS to be underway currently, but its complexity, along with our conversations with a key company in the mobile space, leads us to believe it will not launch until CY10.”

Real Confusion!!! - Cartoon Strip

Ha... Ha... Ha.......!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Prevx 3.0 Detects More Malware

Prevx 3.0

Price as Tested: $29.95
Type: Business, Personal, Enterprise, Professional
OS Compatibility: Windows Vista, Windows XP
Notes: $29.95/year

Most modern antimalware utilities or suites include a large database of signatures to help them identify known malware. Some can't scan at all after installation, until they perform a lengthy signature update. The database keeps growing as new malware appears at an ever-increasing rate. And, of course, zero-day malware may slip through before a signature becomes available. The better signature-based tools supplement their scanning with behavior-based detection of new threats. Prevx 3.0 ($29.95/year direct) turns this concept on its head. It relies on behavior-based detection as its first line of defense, and it does a great job, too.

The Prevx Process

When download Prevx you may think something's gone wrong with the browser. It couldn't have finished that fast, could it? But in truth the download is a mere 800 KB. MalwareBytes' Anti-Malware is a significantly smaller download than most antimalware programs but it's still almost four times Prevx's size. You'd expect Panda Cloud Antivirus 0.9 to be a small download, since its intelligence lives in the cloud, but it weighs in at nearly 20 MB. Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 6 is well over 20 MB and Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware 6.0 just short of 40 MB. Prevx's minuscule download size is the first clue that we're looking at something really, really different.

Installation happens so fast you could miss it if you blink. A couple seconds after you accept the license agreement and click Next the installation is complete. Panda and Malwarebytes both install in a little over a minute; I used to think that was fast. Eight minutes to install Webroot and 18 minutes to install Spyware Doctor on an identical test system now seem positively glacial.

Immediately upon installation Prevx launches directly into a required "learning scan." During this scan, it checks the installed programs and other executables on your system against the Prevx online database, identifying known good programs and flagging any malware it finds. The learning scan just takes a minute or so.

If the learning scan finds low-risk adware, Prevx offers to clean it up for free. If it finds anything more serious than that, you have to purchase and enter a license key before it will perform a cleanup. After you enter the license key, Prevx starts its standard full scan, which is more thorough than the learning scan. On a malware-infested system, this scan sometimes took four or five minutes. On a clean system, it ran in less than two minutes.

Prevx relies entirely on its online database for malware identification, so it simply won't scan if it can't contact the database. This is slightly different from Cloud Antivirus, which procedes with the scan after warning the user that it won't be fully effective. On the other hand, Cloud Antivirus needed a full half-hour to scan my standard clean test system.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Microsoft Set to Deliver Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1

Microsoft is set to deliver the first beta of the next major version of its flagship tools suite, Visual Studio 2010. Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 will be available to core application developer customers on May 18.

Microsoft is set to deliver the first beta of the next major version of its flagship tools suite, Visual Studio 2010.

According to at least one Microsoft blogger, the company will release Beta 1 of Visual Studio 2010 to its core developer customers on May 18. Jihad Dannawi, a developer tools solution specialist for Microsoft Australia, said:

On Monday, May 18th, Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 (Professional, Suite and Team Foundation Server) will be available to MSDN [Microsoft Developer Network] Subscribers through MSDN Subscriber Downloads and to the general public on Wednesday, May 20th through Microsoft Downloads.

Microsoft is delivering a slew of new features in Visual Studio 2010, including tools for Windows 7 development; an "enhanced user experience"; SharePoint development inside Visual Studio; enhanced Web development capabilities such as a JavaScript IntelliSense engine, one-click deployment and support for Silverlight; cloud development support, with Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio; support for IBM DB2, Oracle and Microsoft's own SQL Server database; support for parallel programming; and enhanced support for ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) through Visual Studio Team System 2010.

In a May 12 blog post, Jason Zander, general manager for Visual Studio in Microsoft's Developer Division, wrote about Visual Studio 2010 enhancements that affect the user experience and performance of the product. For instance, in reaction to user feedback, Microsoft eliminated triangles from the outlining mode of the tool.

Said Zander:
You spoke loudly and clearly that you didn't like the triangle outline mode. Based on this feedback, the team actually changed this feature in mid-flight during Beta 1 to reflect your feedback: no more triangles!!

Regarding performance, Zander made a list of tasks typically part of daily use of the tool and admitted that performance of Visual Studio 2010 is not yet ideal. Zander wrote:
For Beta 1 we are making progress on performance but it is not yet where I want it to be. For example the VB/Windows Forms application is actually doing pretty well while the VB/ASP.NET application is slower than VS2008 (similar with C#).

In the same post, Zander said, "We are getting very close to releasing Beta 1. Stay tuned here for the formal announce[ment] of the release and keep sending us your feedback!"

Five Free Security Hacks!!!

Security software is still the lock on your PC's front door, but we have some tricks to make your front door a little less attractive to crooks.

Let's talk about security hacks—simple yet clever ways to protect yourself in the physical and cyber worlds that cost little or nothing.

The premise behind tricks like this is not that any one—or even all—of them is guaranteed to protect you thoroughly, but rather that each of them will make stealing your system or data difficult or unappealing. It should go without saying that neither one nor all of these can replace good, up-to-date antivirus and firewall protection.

The classic non-tech security trick is using motion detection spotlights or lights on a timer—even fake video cameras or surveillance warning signage—to give the impression that your home or business is occupied. No thief actually wants to be seen, and few want to chance confrontation. Along similar lines, there are easy and free ways to make your computer and data less available to thieves.

1. A surprisingly effective PC security trick is simply to remove the keyboard and mouse. I discovered this when the keyboard on my laptop died and I had to use an external keyboard for a while. It's highly unlikely that a snoop will carry an extra keyboard and mouse with him. This will slow someone down but is far from foolproof, and it should go without saying that every computer should be physically locked to a sturdy object and secured behind a strong password.

2. To protect from podslurping (the connecting of an unauthorized USB device and its use to steal data), disable your USB ports. Or—and we borrowed this one directly from the U.S. military—epoxy over the USB ports. Too permanent? A slightly more elegant solution is to open the PC case and disconnect (or cut) the wires running from the motherboard to the USB ports.

3. Traveling with a laptop? Try not to advertise that you're carrying a valuable piece of equipment: Use a computer bag that doesn't look like a computer bag, or use a neoprene sleeve inside a regular backpack. If you nap at the airport, wrap the shoulder strap around your arm or leg so you'll be alerted if someone tries to walk away with your bag.

4. Here's an easy way to hide your Windows PC on a network while maintaining access to network resources. (This also works when you want stealth but still want to let others access your shared resources.) At the command prompt, type Net config server /hidden:yes. Now you're still a member of your network neighborhood but your PC won't show up when others browse for it. Make sure your software firewall is turned on, and block incoming ICMP traffic. This will prevent a network intruder from scanning for your PC using a ping sweep.

Once you are hidden on the network, you can spend some time trying to figure out who—if anyone—is connecting to your PC and to whom your PC is connecting. To accomplish this, you'll use the command-line tool Netstat and the Task Manager. Get to the command prompt and type netstat –ao. A bunch of info will flash by on your screen listing the type of connection, the IP addresses of remote hosts, the protocols, and the process identifier, or PID. If there's something here you don't recognize, write down the PID. Now, open the Task Manager and add the PID column by opening the View menu and clicking on Select Columns. Check the box next to PID. Now match the PID from Netstat and the PID from Task Manager to learn which applications are holding which ports open. A well-secured machine should have ports open only for authorized apps.

5. One last idea: Enabling secure log-on in Windows XP and Vista will protect your system from malware that attempts to impersonate a log-on screen to steal system passwords. This forces anyone trying to log on to press Ctrl-Alt-Del first. In Windows Vista, open the Run command, type netplwiz, and click Continue when prompted by User Account Control. In the Advanced User Account window, click the Advanced tab, then select the box that says Require users to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete. In Windows XP, go to the Control Panel's User Accounts applet. In the Advanced User Account window, click the Advanced tab, then select the box that says Require users to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Facebook Hit with Another Phishing Scam!!!


Facebook Hit with Another Phishing Scam!!!

For the fourth time in two weeks social networking powerhouse Facebook is the target of a phishing scam designed to fool Facebook users into visiting unsafe Web pages.

For the fourth time in two weeks social networking powerhouse Facebook is the target of a phishing scam designed to fool Facebook users into visiting unsafe Web pages.

The popular social networking site Facebook has been targeted with yet another phishing scam, Reuters reports. Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told the news service that hackers broke into the site and began gathering passwords from users’ accounts but the company was working to block affected accounts.

A Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times the damage “is not widespread and is only impacting a small fraction of a percent of users.” This time the scam appears to be targeting the personal information found on Facebook users’ account in order to aid identity theft.

Michael Argast, an analyst with Boston-based security software maker Sophos, told the Times there has been a definite increase in attacks on the site in the last month. “As the user community grows, the criminal community sees an opportunity to make money,” Argast told the paper.

Facebook posted a blog post written by an incident response manager on the security team at Facebook alerting users to the problem and offering help on how to avoid the scam, which tricks users into visiting a fake Web page designed to look like Facebook pages.

Reuters reported the fake domains include, and

Recommendations include using up-to-date browser like Firefox 3.0.10 or Internet Explorer 8 that feature an anti-phishing black lists, using unique logins and passwords for each of the websites users visit, checking to see that users are logging in from a legitimate Facebook page and being cautious of any message, post or link you find on Facebook that looks suspicious or requires an additional login.

On Thursday, software security specialist PandaLabs reported the discovery of Boface worm variant No. 56, called the Boface.BJ.worm, which tricks users into purchasing a fake anti-virus application after convincing them to download and install malware via Facebook. Some 1 percent of all computers scanned by the Panda ActiveScan online scanner have been infected with Boface since August 2008.

Earlier in May, Facebook was the target of two phishing scams, but the company was able to shut down the two malicious links at the core of the attack. Facebook, which claims 200 million users, said the phishing scam tricked users into clicking on a link in the messages inbox that took them to a false Facebook Website here cyber-criminals were able to access their login information.

In the wake of the attacks, Facebook and brand protection firm MarkMonitor announced that Facebook is using MarkMonitor’s AntiFraud Solutions to supplement Facebook’s own in-house security efforts in protecting users against malware attacks. Facebook, which already uses MarkMonitor AntiFraud Solutions to help combat phishing attacks, is expanding its use of MarkMonitor to further protect Facebook and its users from ongoing malware attacks.

According to MarkMonitor, social networking powerhouses like Facebook are often prime targets for malware attacks due to the brand’s strong appeal, which can be used to trick users into being infected and offers the ability to use the communication platform as a distribution channel.


Organic food - Is organic food really better for us or is it just a con? We take a closer look behind the label.

Is organic food really better for us or is it just a con? We take a closer look behind the label?
What is organic?
Organic agriculture is defined as a system of farming based on principles of human, animal and environmental health. At its core, organic farming is about avoiding the use of agro-chemicals to minimise damage to the environment and wildlife. But the jury's still out on whether it does the climate any good.
The concept of organic has been around for more than half a century - Walter Northbourne coined the term in Look to the Land, published in 1940. During the early to mid 1990s, the organic market really took off in the UK.
The global organic market is now worth more than £17 billion and supplied by more than 300,000 square km of certified agricultural land - an area roughly the size of Italy.

Organic certification
All foods sold as organic must originate from farms, processors and importers that have been approved by an official certification body. In the case of processed foods, at least 95% of the agricultural ingredients (ie excluding water and salt) must be certified organic. The rest can be non-organic, though only in the case of certain approved ingredients.
In the UK, there are ten organic certification bodies, each of which inspects farms and factories to ensure they meet EU standards. They can also choose to impose extra requirements of their own.

The largest organic certification body in the UK is the Soil Association, which claims to have "the highest and most comprehensive standards for organic production and processing in the world".
How do you get organic certification?
The complete list of minimum organic standards runs to 104 pages. However, most of the regulations relate to these four areas:

Fertilisers Most synthetic fertilisers are ruled out. Instead, the soil is kept fertile with manure and crop rotation (alternating regular crops with others planted specifically to add nutrients to the soil). Fertilisers are also a major source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas almost 300 times more potent than CO2Pesticides Most herbicides, insecticides and fungicides are prohibited. Instead, pests are controlled primarily by predatory insects, weeding and the co-planting of crops that deter each other's pests. A few non-synthetic pesticides are allowed as a last resortAnimal welfare Animals must have adequate space and access to free-range areas, and their feed must be organic. Minimum slaughter ages are specified and practices such as docking tails and cutting teeth are only allowed in certain circumstancesAdditives Most colourings, preservatives and other additives - including aspartame, hydrogenated fat and monosodium glutamate - are prohibited. Only 36 additives are permitted, out of a total of at least 500. The Soil Association limits this further to 30Besides rules and regulations, organic bodies encourage producers to abide by wider principles relating to health, ecology, fairness and care.

The pros and cons of organic
A 2003 government review concluded that organic agriculture can bring environmental benefits by increasing farmland wildlife and soil quality while reducing energy use, carbon emissions, pesticide and nitrate pollution.

But the science is a long way off from saying for sure whether organic food does the climate any good. For example, beef has a large carbon footprint no matter how it is farmed. And, like regular food, organic produce may be flown long distances or heavily packaged.
In addition, organic systems often produce lower yields than conventional systems. People argue that widespread organic agriculture might increase the total area of farmland needed to feed the world. This in turn might encourage the clearing of rainforests and produce more CO2 than conventional farming.

Health benefits
Organic groups claim that organic food offers more nutrients and fewer pesticide residues. "More of the good stuff we need and less of the bad stuff that we don't need", as the Soil Association puts it.

A number of scientific studies have added weight to this view, though others have found no significant difference between organic and non-organic food. The Food Standards Agency warns that "to reach a robust conclusion it is necessary to evaluate the weight of evidence across a range of published papers. Care should be taken over reliance on single papers."
Future research may clarify the question of health benefits. In the meantime, sales of organic products continue to rise steeply. In 2006 alone, UK sales were up by more than a fifth.
These guides have been reproduced from BBC Green, part of BBC Worldwide.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keep Your Child Safe Online

How to Buy Parental-Control Software

These six apps can help you keep an eye on what your kids are up to—for their safety and your peace of mind.

You can't always be there looking over your kids' shoulders when they're online. Here are six apps that can help you keep an eye on what your kids are up to—for their safety and your peace of mind.

The Internet is an integral part of life for modern kids. They use it for schoolwork, communication, watching videos, playing games—everything! And they're probably more adept at navigating its sea of content than their parents are. Yet parents feel the need to keep an eye on their children's online life to ensure that the children don't make bad decisions. Parental-control software helps parents stay in the loop, and several of the best programs cover a lot of the same ground. Here are the top features that you'll want to consider before purchasing your software.

Customized SettingsPer-user configuration is essential: Your teen doesn't need the same settings as your toddler. All six products discussed here can associate configuration settings with Windows accounts. All but OnlineFamily.Norton and Bsafe Online can optionally use program-defined profiles within the same Windows account.

Web-Site FilteringKeeping kids from accidentally or deliberately visiting inappropriate Web sites is a key element in parental-control software. All these products can block Web sites matching specific categories. CyberPatrol Parental Controls 7.7 and Net Nanny 6.0 will also evaluate the content of individual Web pages in real time for finer control. Net Nanny and Norton offer the option of warning the child that a site isn't appropriate without completely blocking it (naturally, the parent gets a report if the child ignores the warning).

Access ControlControlling how long the kids spend on the computer is another important feature. All of these products can prohibit access at specific times, and all but Bsafe can set a daily or weekly maximum. Norton schedules overall computer use, while the rest schedule Internet use, specifically. Webroot Parental Controls will schedule use of the Internet, the computer, or specific programs. Safe Eyes 5.0 and Norton can track the daily or weekly usage cap across multiple computers; the others can't.

Remote NotificationOne big reason parents want this type of software is that they're not always around when the kids are using the home computer. All of these products except CyberPatrol can send an e-mail notification when, for example, a child tries to access a banned site or request a time extension. Safe Eyes alone also offers SMS or phone notification. And all but CyberPatrol let the parent make configuration changes remotely.

Watching OpenlyThere are parental-control products that install secretly, so you can monitor kids without their knowledge. These top products don't include that sneaky feature. Norton in particular emphasizes working with the kids to agree on acceptable "house rules" rather than imposing restrictions without discussion.

The above are the most important considerations when it comes to buying a parental-control application.


Will Windows 7 Overcome Anti-Virus Fear and Loathing?

Anti-virus systems: can't live with them, can't live without them. But that may all change with Windows 7, which improves on and streamlines security measures already baked into Windows operating systems.

I hate anti-virus.

There, I said it. And it felt good.

For many years, I chose not to use AV on my personal systems, choosing vigilance about my downloads, e-mail attachments, and application and OS updates over relying on a third-party solution to keep me free from infection.

However, once drive-by-downloads and hijacked Websites became more prevalent, I lost faith in my ability to avoid such covert trouble. I caved in and installed AV on most of my systems, and began a journey of frustration and lost productivity.

We all know that security solutions are typically major resource hogs. I suspect that, with the exception of desktop virtualization software, security suites have been the biggest beneficiary of the rapid increase of CPU cores and available memory on the average recent-model computer. I’m somewhat surprised that some software suite hasn’t tried to reserve an entire CPU core for its own use yet.

But beyond that obvious complaint, over and over, I find that security suites are the buggiest, most troublesome applications on my systems. I’ve spent innumerable hours nursing these “solutions” along, working around them, fixing them, reinstalling them.

The problems are still fresh in my mind: There was that time a Panda signature update killed my network connection until I uninstalled the software. And that other time when Trend Micro’s software kept telling me to get my parents’ permission to view every single Website I went to, even though parental controls were turned off. Kaspersky’s suite caused downloads that should only take 2 minutes to take 20 instead, and BitDefender would not let TiVo Desktop download from my DVR. And don’t even get me started on the time a Symantec vulnerability opened the door for a crippling worm to get into the network.

Ah, good times.

I’m leaning toward forging ahead without AV again once Windows 7 comes out. Win 7 improves on and streamlines security measures already baked into Windows operating systems.
With Vista, I operate my desktop under the principle of least privilege, which requires me to input my administrator credentials when making any changes to the system. I feel pretty good already about the security that measure affords, particularly when I read things like this Beyond Trust white paper, which states that 92 percent of Microsoft vulnerabilities can be mitigated by running with reduced privileges. In essence, most malware operates with the rights of the user; if the user can’t write to %System% or %Program Files% directories, then neither can the malware, blunting its ability to stay resident after a reboot.

Of course, that still leaves 8 percent. But that's better than 58 percent—the percentage of malware detections ScanSafe claims are zero-day threats that would be missed by signature-based security detections—but still not perfect. Under least privilege, there remains the chance for malware to run in user space and perform some privilege escalating attack.

Thankfully, some Windows 7 SKUs—Enterprise and Ultimate—include a complementary technology called application whitelisting. Known as AppLocker in Windows parlance, application whitelisting takes the opposite approach of signature-based malware detections. Instead of blocking bad code from running, whitelisting allows only known (presumably good) code to run. If not explicitly permitted, code shouldn’t run at all.

I’ve been using AppLocker on my main Windows 7 desktop in the lab since the RC launched a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I usually can’t even tell the difference (which is a good thing). I set the feature with the stock default rules—Users can run only applications housed in the Windows or Program Files directories, while Administrators can run anything from anywhere—and applied these rules to executables, installers and scripts.

Since my limited rights user account already cannot write to either of those directories without entering an administrator's credentials (due to least privilege), I find I haven’t needed to change my computing habits very much at all. Sure, instead of double-clicking on a downloaded application and entering my admin credentials in a UAC pop-up box to install something, I now need to right-click the package to Run As Admin instead. But that’s really a different avenue to the same end result.

Whenever I am on hold, I like to randomly click on downloaded packages, just to see if they somehow escape AppLocker’s control. To date, I’ve found only one executable that would launch from a nonauthorized location in the file system. That executable—the update engine for an Award BIOS—escapes AppLocker protection, and I’m not sure why. So I know this solution isn’t perfect, but what is?

As I get more comfortable with AppLocker, I expect I will fine-tune the rules further down the road, taking advantage of Windows 7’s ability to approve code based on hash or application signing certificates. This hopefully will tighten things up further without getting too onerous.
Of course, I also recently bought a MacBook, so maybe by the time Windows 7 comes out, none of this will matter to me.