Posted tagged ‘InformationWeek’

Palm Pre Hits June 6

May 19, 2009

Looks like the Palm Pre will be available June 6 for about $200. This comes with a new two-year contract from Sprint.

Check out the story from Marin Perez at InformationWeek for more information!

From InformationWeek:

Once the undisputed U.S. leader of the smartphone market, Palm has been thoroughly outpaced by the likes of Apple and Research In Motion (NSDQ: RIMM). The Pre, which was introduced at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, was well-received by the press, and Palm is looking to use it as a springboard for a comeback.

With a large capacitive touch screen, Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS, 8 GB of storage, and Bluetooth, the Pre stacks up well against rivals like the iPhone 3G, BlackBerry Storm, and the T-Mobile (Android) G1. One of the most appealing features of the Pre is webOS, the operating system that combines a variety of online services into a finger-friendly user interface.

Millions of PCs Hit By ‘Downandup’ Worm

January 16, 2009

network worm known as “Downandup”, has been spreading rapidly across the Internet over the past week, despite a warning from Microsoft back in October.

From InformationWeek:

In October, Microsoft took the unusual step of issuing an out-of-band Security Bulletin, MS08-067, for a vulnerability affecting its Server service.

“Because the vulnerability is potentially wormable on those older versions of Windows [XP and earlier], we’re encouraging customers to test and deploy the update as soon as possible,” said Christopher Budd, a Microsoft Security Response Center security program manager, in a blog post. Microsoft’s concerns have proven to be well founded. The MS08-067 Worm, also known as “Downadup” and “Conflicker,” has been spreading like the plague.

“The number of Downandup infections are skyrocketing based on our calculations,” F-Secure’s Toni Kovunen said in a blog post Friday. “From an estimated 2.4 million infected machines to over 8.9 million during the last four days. That’s just amazing.”

“The situation with Downandup is not getting better,” he added. “It’s getting worse.”

Strictly speaking, Downandup isn’t just one worm — it’s a bunch of variants. Modern malware changes itself, or is changed by its authors, to prevent signature-based detection.

F-Secure began receiving reports about the Downandup worm in early January. The company’s researchers observed that it used server-side polymorphism — mutating code — and ACL (access control list) modification to make network disinfection more difficult.

Plenty of malware makes use of local polymorphism, by randomizing the names of malicious files, for example. But Downandup uses randomized network paths for its command-and-control servers, making its control mechanism harder to shut down.

“This one is really an innovative one where it randomly generates these control channels and tries them out,” said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys.

The worm also takes steps to defend itself by disabling various Windows security, updating, and networking features. It blocks access to security-related domains on the Internet. And it modifies networking settings to speed up its ability to copy itself to other computers.

Steve Jobs Taking Leave of Absence From Apple

January 14, 2009

According to numerous news sources, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said today that he will be taking a leave of absence because of health issues. The leave of absence is expected to last until at least June.

“My health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” he said in a letter to employees which has been published by the New York Times.

From the statement:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

From CNET:

Apple has confirmed that CEO Steve Jobs will step down from his CEO post while recuperating from a hormone imbalance. His absence will stretch until the end of June.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, will run the company during Jobs’ absence, according an e-mail Jobs sent to Apple employees that was released to the media.

Jobs, 53, has been the subject of heated speculation regarding his health since last June’s Worldwide Developers Conference, when he appeared to have lost a great deal of weight. At the time, Apple insisted Jobs’ health was a private matter, but revealed in early January that Jobs was suffering from a hormone imbalance that was impeding his body’s ability to absorb certain proteins.

In August 2004 Jobs underwent successful surgery to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which sidelined him until September of that year. Much of the speculation over the past year has been over whether or not that cancer has returned, which was not clear from the e-mail written by Jobs, an intensely private man.

Since his return to Apple in 1997, the mercurial founder has resurrected Apple from the depths, reviving the Mac, changing the music industry with the introduction of the iPod and iTunes, and turning the mobile phone industry on its head with the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. He is considered to be one of the single-most influential executives in the technology industry, if not U.S. business itself.

Apple has been criticized over the past few years for seeming to lack a succession plan for Jobs, who some feel can truly never be replaced. But it has never been clear whether the company was just playing its cards close to its vest regarding that plan, or whether it actually didn’t have a plan. Cook has been regarded as the short-term solution for a long time, having run the company during Jobs’ absence in 2004 and respected as a detail-oriented manager who can keep the ship on course.

From CNN:

Jobs, who announced last week that he suffered from a hormone imbalance that was caused him to lose weight, said he will be away from the job until the end of June.

“In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June,” Jobs said in a statement.

Tim Cook, the company’s chief operating officer, will be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, according to the statement.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) shares closed down $2.38 to $85.33 in Wednesday trading. They were halted after hours pending the announcement.

From InformationWeek:

Apple seems to have learned from Bill Clinton. Like our randy former chief executive being questioned about his sex life, Apple handled Steve Jobs’ ongoing health problems by making statements that were literally true, but ultimately misleading. That’s going to have Apple watchers taking a microscope to every statement and action by Apple to find out what the company really means. But Apple watchers already are doing that, so Apple doesn’t lose out.

Ever since Jobs made a gaunt appearance at the launch of the iPhone 3G this summer, Apple has been stonewalling about the founder and CEO’s health, while rumors flew about the recurrence of the cancer he was treated for in 2004. The rumors went into hyperdrive in December, when Apple announced abruptly that it was pulling out of Macworld and Jobs wasn’t speaking.

Finally, Jobs posted a statement on the Apple site last week. He acknowledged he had a “hormone imbalance” that caused him to lose weight throughout 2008. He says it’s being treated, and that he expects to regain his lost weight by spring.

That contrasts with Apple’s earlier statement, on Dec. 16, announcing that this year would be Apple’s last Macworld, and Jobs would not deliver his traditional keynote. At the time, Apple cited only business reasons for the withdrawal, saying trade shows have become a “very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers.”

The statement didn’t mention Jobs’ health. As a matter of fact, it didn’t mention Jobs at all — it just said that Philip Schiller, Apple senior VP of worldwide product marketing, will deliver the keynote, a job which has been Jobs’ for a decade.

Is Jobs’ health anyone’s business? Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, and other Apple defenders, say no, it’s a private matter. I disagree. Jobs’ health is relevant as long as he has chosen to make himself a public figure. He is the face and spokesman for Apple, credited with its current success, and the company has no visible plan for succession. Investors identify Apple’s success with Jobs, and they’re afraid every time they think Jobs might become incapable of running the company. We see those fears when Apple’s stock drops every time Jobs sneezes or stubs a toe.

If you are the CEO of a publicly traded company, anything that might affect your abilities to perform your duties is a matter of public record. That most emphatically includes your health. Don’t like those rules? Retire. Take the company private.

And Jobs isn’t just any CEO of any public company. Jobs has chosen to make himself the public face of Apple. He has worked to build a mystique around Apple, and focused that mystique on himself as its charismatic leader. If Jobs wants to take a piece of his privacy back, the company needs to be more communicative, and put other people in front of the cameras and microphone more frequently. (Indeed, this may be one of the motivations for Schiller taking over the Macworld keynote.) Until then, Jobs’ health is going to continue to be a matter of public concern.

Windows 7 Beta Now Available

January 9, 2009

Yesterday at CES, Microsoft announced that its upcoming Windows 7 OS will allow users to link their PCs to their other devices, as well as to others, in just three steps using a feature called Home Group.

From Ars Technica:

As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised at CES 2009 during his preshow keynote, the Windows 7 beta is now available to the public for download. It is only available to the first 2.5 million people who download it, so make sure to get your hands on it as soon as you can!

The beta is available in English (32-bit and 64-bit), German (32-bit and 64-bit), Japanese (32-bit and 64-bit), Arabic (32-bit and 64-bit), and Hindi (32-bit). Once you have the .iso image downloaded, I recommend you use IMGBurn to burn it to a DVD. The beta supports clean installs and Windows Vista SP1 to Windows 7 upgrades. You can only install the Ultimate edition. You should receive a beta key by e-mail sometime after you download the build. Microsoft gives the following minimum hardware recommendations for the Windows 7 Beta (and notes that they can change before the final):

  • Processor: 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
  • Memory: 1 GB of system memory
  • Hard drive: 16 GB of available disk space
  • Video card: Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
  • Drive: DVD-R/W drive
  • Internet connection (to download the Beta and get updates)

Two days ago, Microsoft gave the beta to its testers on Microsoft Connect, as well as to its MSDN and TechNet subscribers, although there was some trouble with beta keys.

From BusinessWeek:

If Microsoft has one message they want people to take away from the annual Consumer Electronics Show, it’s “we’re listening.” While the software giant didn’t reveal any major surprises during the opening keynote last night with CEO Steve Ballmer, the company’s announcement that Windows 7 would be released to 2.5 million or so beta users beginning tomorrow has been billed as a watershed moment for the company.

After its disastrous Windows Vista operating system was panned near-universally, the company has spent many months and hours talking to businesses and consumers about what they’d like in the new operating system. There certainly are a lot of nifty new features, including the ability to perform touch-based tasks. And the new OS will be a kindler, gentler force to your PC, taking up less resources after Microsoft engineers jettisoned legacy code and rebuilt the OS as a much cleaner piece of software.

Now it will spend several months getting feedback for Windows 7 from the beta users. What does it all mean? PC users will finally get an OS that works quite well late this year. Meantime, Apple is likely to continue to sign up a bunch of new converts to the Mac platform. The real comparisons will come when Apple announces new additionals for its update in coming months.

From InformationWeek:

“For most consumers, setting up a home network is way too complicated,” said product manager Charlotte Jones, during Microsoft’s CES keynote presentation. “But, in Windows 7, there’s a feature called Home Group, and it sets up a home network very easily.”

Windows 7 automatically networks with Internet-connected devices added to a user’s Home Group, Jones said. In a live demonstration at CES, Jones added her husband’s PC to her network so she could access his music files.

“My husband has the best music on his PC, so I can navigate to his PC just like it’s my own hard drive and pick some music,” said Jones. After tapping the files, users could play the music on their own computer or export it to a third-party device, such as an Xbox. “It’s way cool,” she said.

“I set up a home network, and it didn’t take me a whole Saturday to do it. In three steps and two minutes I was accessing my other PCs and devices,” Jones said.

Earlier, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his opening keynote address to pitch some of Windows 7’s other benefits, which Microsoft hopes will erase memories of the widely maligned Vista.

“We are on track to deliver the best version of Windows ever. We’re putting in all the right ingredients — simplicity, reliability, and speed, and working hard to get it right, and to get it ready,” said Ballmer.

Google, Yahoo Deal Coming Soon?

November 4, 2008

Google and Yahoo have offered to greatly narrow the scope of their planned advertising partnership in a last-minute effort to win the approval of the Justice Department.

From the New York Times:

The advertising deal calls for Google to place ads next to some Web search results on Yahoo, lifting Yahoo’s revenue. Under the revised terms, the deal would be shortened to 2 years, from as many as 10, said the person, who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because the discussions remained confidential.

In addition, the amount that Yahoo could earn from ads placed by Google would be capped at 25 percent of Yahoo’s search advertising revenue, the person said. Previously, Yahoo had the discretion to decide how much of its search ads to turn over to Google.

Google and Yahoo submitted the new proposal to the Justice Department over the weekend. It is not clear whether the limitations will be enough to satisfy antitrust investigators, who have raised objections to the planned partnership.

Representatives for Yahoo and Google declined to comment on the new proposal, but said that discussions with the Justice Department were continuing. Gina Talamona, a department spokeswoman, said the matter was pending but declined to comment further.

The proposed limits on the partnership, if accepted by regulators, would most likely reduce the financial benefits of the deal for Yahoo, which has been struggling to accelerate its growth in the wake of failed merger talks with Microsoft. The company has said it hopes to receive $250 million to $450 million in additional operating cash flow from the agreement in its first year.

From InformationWeek:

Citing unnamed persons with knowledge of the negotiations, the two newspapers report that two companies now propose that their deal last two years rather than 10 and that Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) can only generate 25% of its search advertising revenue from the arrangement. Yahoo previously estimated that the deal could bring in as much as $800 million in revenue.

The advertising deal was supposed to begin in October, but the two companies delayed it to discuss the matter with the Department of Justice.

Since Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo announced the deal in June, Microsoft, various advertising and publishing industry groups, and assorted politicians have come out against it.

In July, Brad Smith, SVP and general counsel at Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) presented prepared remarks at a congressional hearing that warned against the deal. “If permitted to proceed, we believe the Google/Yahoo agreement would effectively create a monopoly in search advertising — to the extent one does not already exist — and further reduce competition,” he said.

In September, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), an ad industry trade group representing the likes of Proctor & Gamble and Wal-Mart, on Thursday sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that the partnership Google and Yahoo will limit competition and advertiser choice, concentrate market power, and raise ad prices.

Google Earth Hits the iPhone and iPod

October 28, 2008

Yesterday, Google made Google Earth available for the iPhone and iPod Touch through Apple’s iTunes Store.

From the New York Times:

Google just released an iPhone version (iTunes link) of its popular Google Earth desktop mapping application. We have seen a wide range of interesting iPhone applications lately, but few have been as impressive as Google Earth on the iPhone. Google has taken the basics of the Google Earth interface and brought them to the iPhone. The app feels highly responsive and effectively mimics the desktop application on the iPhone.

The Good

There is no denying it, Google Earth on the iPhone is a gorgeous application and thanks to the multi-touch interface, it’s extremely easy to use. Besides bringing the basic Google Earth features to the phone, the iPhone app also displays links to Wikipedia articles and photos from Panoramio. Because Google integrated a browser into the app, you can seamlessly jump back and forth between the app and the web content.

Of course, the app also makes use of the iPhone’s GPS, though the lack of street names on the satellite images still gives the standard Google Maps application an edge over Google Earth for navigation.

The Bad

Somehow, Google thought that it would be a good idea for the app to zoom in from space to your last location every time you start the app. This gets old pretty quickly and takes up unnecessary time whenever you start the program.

Also, while Google Earth on the desktop allows you to add various layers with information, the iPhone app doesn’t even have the ability to show a layer with street names. To be fair, this is probably due to the limits of the phone’s processing power and memory, but it does reduce the usefulness of the app considerably.

Google Earth uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to tilt the screen. As long as you are sitting at your desk, this works great, but once you hand your phone to somebody else, the screen will inevitably tilt and move the focus, which can be quite annoying. You can, however, turn this auto-tilt feature off in the settings.

Verdict

Google Earth on the iPhone is a clear winner. Graphically, it’s already a stunning application, and Google will surely add more functionality – like street names – to it in the next few iterations. Of course, just like the desktop application, it is also a great application to just play with when you have a few extra minutes to spare.

From TechCrunch:

You’re able to tilt the device to adjust your view when browsing mountainous terrain, use the ‘My Location’ feature to jump right to where you are in the blink of an eye, and use Google’s local search engine to look for information on cities, places and businesses. Google has also added additional layers to the application, namely Panoramio and Wikipedia, for geo-located high-quality photos and informative articles respectively.

This marks the main differentiator between the official Google Earth app and the one Earthscape releaseddropped its price from $10 to free, but will most likely be trumped by the official app now. last May. More recently, the Earthscape application

As CNET points out, Google Earth for iPhone has a small Webkit-based browser to show the specific information users click on, and includes a link to the Safari browser Apple builds into the iPhone. When you click the address of a business using the local search engine, the iPhone will intercept the command and show it on the Google Maps application, enabling you to get directions instantly.

From InformationWeek:

It’s free, like Google Earth for desktop computers, but it’s not entirely free of issues. It requires network access to load satellite imagery, so using Google Earth on parts of the Earth where one is subject to data roaming charges could be a costly proposition.

Google Earth on the iPhone can be used in airplane mode, which is to say without network access, but one’s ability to zoom in on an area while offline depends upon whether or not the requested map data has been previously cached.

The app’s responsiveness also isn’t perfect, at least on a first-generation iPhone: At times, Google Earth does not rotate with a finger flick, as it usually does. It’s not quite as graphically fluid as some of the iPhone games.

Also, the Google Earth auto-location function appears to be less accurate than the Google Maps for iPhone auto-location function. The former missed InformationWeek’s San Francisco office by a city block, while the latter identified it correctly.

This may just have been an anomaly, however. According to a Google spokesperson, “Google Earth for iPhone and Google Maps for mobile both use Google’s database of cell tower information to power the My Location feature.” In any event, the Google Earth “search near me” feature certainly works well enough to find a nearby coffeehouse.


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