You may have heard people talking/blogging/twittering about SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act. The recent SOPA-related boycott of GoDaddy was all over the news, with many people expressing their outrage over the possibilities of SOPA, but when I ask people about SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate, PIPA (Protect IP Act), many don’t really know what the bills propose, or what we stand to lose.
Obviously and it is no secret, that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other pro-copyright groups, lobby politicians and law enforcers for this and continue pushing very hard. It seems to me, that the industries distribution model is not working anymore, or perhaps the movies they are making are just crap? I have not been to the theater in six years, I find the cost to exorbitant in my opinion. (more…)
In the growing battle for the future of the Web, some of the biggest sites online – Google, Facebook, and other tech stalwarts — are considering a coordinated blackout of their sites, some of the web’s most popular destinations. Sites such as Google, Amazon and Facebook could temporarily replace their usual homepage with a black screen and a message asking users to contact politicians and urge them to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act. The move could come as early as January 24, when the bill is due to be debated in the House of Representatives.
No Google searches. No Facebook updates. No Tweets. No Amazon.com shopping. Nothing. (more…)
Will 2012 see the end of the internet as we know it? The House Judiciary committee tried to finalize the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) before Christmas for a vote early next year. But fierce opposition – much of it online – seems to have given pause to the bill’s main author, Lamar Smith. He is now expected to hear from expert witnesses early next year before the bill goes to Congress.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Now before the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the Protect IP Act. (more…)
Best Buy is completely dropping the ball this holiday season. We’re hearing reports that customers who bought items on BestBuy.com on Black Friday (yes, nearly a month ago) will not be receiving their orders this year, with some of them even being cancelled right before Christmas.
Best Buy’s official statement on the matter, as relayed to FOX 9 is this:
“Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and we have notified the affected customers.” (more…)
Wi-Fi gives us freedom from wires, but it’s not secure by default. Data is transmitted through the air, and anyone nearby can easily capture it with the right tools. As discussed below, whether you have your own Wi-Fi network or use someone else’s, employing security measures is necessary to protect company files, online accounts, and user privacy.
Why Protect Your Wi-Fi Network?
By default, Wi-Fi routers and access points aren’t secure when you purchase them. Unless you enable encryption, people nearby can easily connect to your network. At best, they just use the free wireless Internet for browsing and downloading, possibly slowing down your connections. However, if they wanted to, they could possibly access your PCs and files. They also could easily capture your passwords or hijack your accounts for websites and services that don’t use SSL encryption, such as some Web-based email clients, Facebook, and Twitter. (more…)
This trend has been brought about through advances in network protection and tighter regulation both of which have conspired to make it more difficult for hackers to compromise systems and create widespread disruption.
Traditional techniques such as SQL injection, web app hijacking and unauthorised server access are now being bypassed in favour of more rewarding social engineering practices which yield the data necessary to carry out highly organised systematic attacks.
Five influential security trends to watch in 2012 are: (more…)
Steve Jobs’ legacy at Apple Inc. goes well beyond cool gadgets, a thriving retail chain and a music empire. He also launched the company’s all-out legal war on Google Inc.
In the last months of Jobs’ life, Apple unleashed a patent-suit blitzkrieg on its Silicon Valley rival, filing 10 lawsuits in six countries that accuse the Internet search giant of stealing its smartphone and tablet computer technology.
The campaign is rooted in Jobs’ belief that Google and mobile device manufacturers that use its Android software copied key design and technology features from Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
“I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this,” Jobs told author Walter Isaacson for his recently released biography. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”
He then vowed to battle Google until “my last dying breath.”
Google and manufacturers using Android are vigorously contesting Apple’s claims, which could take years to play out in court. But one thing is certain: There is a lot at stake for the company Jobs built. If it is unable to protect the iPhone’s distinctive look and feel, lower-cost competitors imitating its technology could threaten the future of its most profitable products, analysts say.
“Unless they can keep Android at bay, they cannot sustain their incredibly high margins,” said Florian Mueller, a patent specialist who has been closely following the disputes. “They’ll have to compete with much lower-priced devices with essentially the same features coming out of China and other places.”
Alternatively, victories by Apple would enable it to extract hefty ransoms from any phone maker that uses Apple-like technology, or even force its rivals to water down or remove popular features from their smartphones, including screens that respond to multiple finger touches, the graphical display of text messages, and the way users send email and browse the Internet.
That type of technological rollback, analysts and patent attorneys say, could demolish much of Google’s recent success in the $160 billion smartphone market, and gain Apple an unparalleled advantage in the industry. The market is growing rapidly as many consumers dump simpler cellphones for the more powerful and versatile smartphones.
“Some of the revelations from the Jobs biography suggest that this is almost a religious war,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Co. The question is whether Apple’s battle is based on a rigorous legal analysis of company’s patent holdings or part of a personal vendetta by the company’s late co-founder, he said.
Apple’s aggressive legal attack comes as it is losing ground to its rivals in the smartphone industry. Samsung Corp., whose devices run Google’s Android software, dethroned Apple in the most recent quarter to become the world’s largest vendor of smartphones, accounting for nearly a quarter of handsets sold last quarter, compared with about 1 in 7 for Apple, according to data from Britain-based Strategy Analytics.
Apple has hired some of the nation’s top patent lawyers, including William F. Lee of WilmerHale, who helped win networking chip maker Broadcom Corp. an $891 million infringement settlement against rival Qualcomm Inc., and Harold McElhinny of Morrison & Foerster, who led Pioneer Corp. to a $59 million judgment against Samsung.
In recent weeks, Apple has been successful in temporarily banning sales of Android-powered tablets in Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. The company is now involved in lawsuits covering dozens of patents, some of which date to the technology created for 1990s-era personal computers designed a decade before smartphones were invented.
But what may look like a shotgun approach may actually be a carefully crafted battle plan. Apple is using its initial round of lawsuits to see which of its many patent claims can survive intense legal scrutiny, analysts said. The ones that are successful will become the spearhead of Apple’s litigation strategy.
“Once they’ve found the battle-tested patents that can survive challenges,” Mueller said, “they’re going to assemble all of them, put the winning team together and enforce them against everyone.”
Although Apple’s patent war stretches around the globe, the heaviest assault is in the U.S. The company is currently locking horns with Samsung in separate federal lawsuits in Washington, Delaware and Northern California, where Apple’s attorneys have demanded court orders preventing Samsung from selling its smartphones and tablets in the U.S.
“This kind of blatant copying is wrong,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement. “We need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas.”
Google has called the patent attacks “bogus,” but in August it made a major move to defend itself, announcing the largest acquisition in its 13-year history by paying $12.5 billion in cash for Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., one of the leading Android manufacturers and the holder of 17,000 technology patents that Google could use as ammunition to fend off the lawsuits.
Google allies Samsung and HTC Corp., two major device makers, are also striking back against Apple, filing countersuits that ask courts around the world to ban Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Each patent case can cost upward of $8 million, according to attorneys and analysts said.
So far, Samsung has had mixed results with its legal fusillade against Apple, with courts in Italy and the Netherlands initially denying its motions to bar sales of Apple’s recently released iPhone 4S.
Samsung has denied that its phones infringe Apple’s patents, and has instead accused Apple of illicitly using Samsung communications technology in multiple iPhone, iPod and iPad models. The company said it has spent tens of billions developing its own digital technology in recent years, and has amassed nearly 30,000 patents in the U.S. alone.
Apple “continues to violate our intellectual property rights by selling these products,” Kim Titus, director of public relations for Samsung Telecommunications America, said in a statement. “The courts will find Apple has indeed been free-riding on our technology.”
But many of the technologies that these patents protect are so abstruse or vague that companies may end up running afoul of the law without even knowing it, said Bijal V. Vakil, a partner at law firm White & Case in Palo Alto, Calif.
“It’s become a virtually unmanageable task to go and see if you have the freedom to operate,” he said. “Procedurally it would be impossible to check all of (the valid patents) – even large companies can’t afford to do that.”
Many organizations around the world fear competition. They are scared that another bigger badder organization is going to come along that can offer the same features and benefits but will offer them: quicker, cheaper, with more customization, with better customer service, etc. Competition is actually a good thing, in fact it’s a great thing.
Without competition Apple would have never created their Ipod, Microsoft would have never created Windows, and Google would probably be non-existent. Competition is essential because it leads to one very important thing, innovation.
People are always looking for products with more features and capabilities, products that cost less but can do more, and products that just plain solve their needs/wants better than any other product can. When companies compete, consumers get what they want.
Competition pushes you to be more creative and innovate, and to truly master your skill set. A lack of competition may lead to your skills getting stale or hitting a plateau. Competition sharpens your skills and ultimately helps you achieve long-term success.
The flooding in Thailand hasn’t just caused hard drive prices to go up. According to Reuters, it’s also putting the squeeze on PC makers like Asus. The news agency reports that Asus only has enough mechanical hard drives in its inventory to last through this month.
I mentioned the other day: http://jet-computing.com/drive-availability-decreases-30/ Asus added that it has hard disk drive (HDD) inventory until the end of November.”Substitutes for HHD are very few, so if the situation persists, not only notebook production will be affected but also desktops, and other component shipments will also drop,” Asustek CFO David Chang told Reuters.
Not surprisingly, Asus intends to revise its fourth-quarter financial projections this week to account for the developments in the hard-drive market. Reuters quotes Chang as saying some hard-drive prices are “surging 20-40 percent.”
We’re seeing even greater increases in retail listings. At Amazon, for example, Western Digital’s 1TB Caviar Black has skyrocketed to $199.99, up from around $90 less than a month ago.
Hard drives are actually cheaper at Best Buy than they are at e-tailers like Newegg and TigerDirect curently, because Best Buy hasn’t raised their prices yet. I guess the creaky bureaucracy at a large national retailer takes longer to react to stuff like this. Either that, or they’ve been sitting on warehouses full of surplus hard drives they figure they can unload now that everyone else is charging more… $79.99 Western Digital 2TB green last week, $75 Seagate 2TB LP this week.
So does rising hard-drive prices mean you should buy a solid-state drive (SSD) now?
I would say no, in my opinion SSDs are not stable enough to suit my taste. The only models that seem to be worth anything are the Intels, various other models namely the OCZ seem to suffer from a high failure rate. I will be writing an article on SSD’s soon so be on the look out for it.
If you really need a new drive now, you can use a site like Camelcamelcamel, which tracks Amazon prices, to check price changes and see if the HDD price you find is a good deal or not. (The Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB Desktop Hard Drive, having jumped from a low of $69.99 to $149.99 since October 11, is not a great deal on Amazon now, for example, but you might be able to find it cheaper elsewhere with some effort.)
The massive flooding in Thailand is disrupting supplies of hard disk drives (HDDs) for the world’s personal computer makers, according to companies and market intelligence firms. Partially-submerged factories in Pathum Thani, outskirts of Bangkok, will effect future demand for the rest of the world.
Around 40 percent of all hard disk drives worldwide are produced in Thailand, making it the second-largest exporter of HDDs after China, it is estimated that factories in Thailand currently affected by flooding account for some 25 percent of worldwide HDD production.
There’s definitely going to be an impact on HDD customers this quarter and next quarter,” Rydning told AFP on Friday. “It’s going to take several months for the HDD industry to recover.”
Apple chief executive Tim Cook told financial analysts last week he was “virtually certain” that the flooding in Thailand would lead to an overall industry shortage of hard disk drives.
“Like many others, we source many components from Thailand,” Cook said during the quarterly earnings call for the manufacturer of the Macintosh computer line.
“There are several factories that are currently not operable and the recovery timeline for these factories is not known at this point,” he said.
“It is something that I’m concerned about,” Cook said. “How it affects Apple, I’m not sure.”
Fang Zhang, an analyst for storage systems at market intelligence and technology consultant IHS iSuppli Corp., said the flooding could cause a 30 percent drop in HDD production in the fourth quarter of the year. Fang said in a statement that the floods could potentially lead to an HDD supply shortage this quarter that may last into the first quarter of next year. Before the disaster, IHS iSuppli had forecast production of 176.2 million hard drives during the fourth quarter.
IDC’s John Rydning has stressed that not all of the HDD production in Thailand is being affected by the flooding and said the impact “is mitigated somewhat by HDD inventory that existed entering the flood period.
“Those inventories will help to satisfy some of the HDD requirements of major customers,” he said. “But we expect that any inventory available will be depleted, probably in the month of November.”
The three-month crisis triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains has left at least 377 people dead and damaged millions of homes and livelihoods, mostly in northern and central Thailand. Floodwaters are now approaching Bangkok.
Rydning noted that the flooding in Thailand was the second major natural disaster to hit the HDD industry this year, coming on the heels of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March.
“But it’s a very resilient industry,” he said. “It really came out of the third quarter in pretty good shape, not only in terms of meeting demand but having inventories back at levels they were at prior to the earthquake and tsunami.”
Apple is just one of the world’s computer manufacturers expected to be affected by the tightening of supply of hard drives.
“Amongst all of the PC vendors the pain is going to be felt by everyone — more so by some of the smaller PC vendors than the bigger ones,” Rydning said.
Major PC manufacturers will be better able to weather the crisis because of their access to inventory and their ability to negotiate more strategic supply agreements, he said. Rydning said the two HDD assembly companies the most heavily impacted by the flooding are Western Digital and Toshiba.
“They’re the two companies that have assembly factories in the flood zone,” he said. More than a dozen HDD component suppliers were also affected because “they’re congregated and clustered in that same region,” he said.
“But it’s important to realize that these component suppliers are extremely nimble,” he said. “They have factories in other countries as well, in China and the Philippines and Malaysia.
“As quickly as they can they’ll transfer production to those factories and try to make up any capacity that’s lost due to flooding in Thailand,” he said. “They will be very helpful to the HDD vendors to help them recover.”
One effect will be that the world output of magnetic hard drives could fall as much as 30% in the final three months of 2011 – and manufacturers who need them are now scrambling to snap up existing inventories, market research firm IHS iSuppli says.
For Asia’s PC makers, already grappling with the prospect of subdued year-end holiday season consumer demand, that could mean a further slowdown in the lunar new year sales season, and lead to weak sales in the first quarter of 2012, hurting the one regional growth area of an industry already facing a challenge from smartphones and tablets, and from slowing corporate spending on technology hardware. Alternatively, it might briefly push up prices on those which are available.
“From the Asia context, of course the impact will be on the Taiwanese PC manufacturers – companies like Acer and Asustek Computer,” said Satish Lele, vice president, consulting, Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan in Singapore.
Thailand is the world’s second largest maker of hard disk drives (HDD) after China, and makes about half of global output taking place there. The damage caused by flooding could keep factories closed or hobbled for months, analysts and executives reckon.
Analysts have highlighted Japan’s Nidec Corp, which controls about 80% of the world’s output of a key HDD component – the motor – as the major potential bottleneck for supplies of drives, used to store data in computers.
Nidec has closed some plants in Thailand, as has disk parts maker Minebea.
The total demand for HDDs is presently around 660m units annually, with Western Digital and Seagate having just over 30% share. Hitachi makes about 16% of world supply, followed by Toshiba (11%) and Samsung (10%).
Lele said PC makers will have four to six weeks on average of inventory, but will feel the effects after that is gone. “From that context, the issue will start hitting these companies sometimes towards end of November and December, which for them are also key months because of the holiday season.”
Acer declined to comment and Lenovo Group, the Chinese company that is the world’s No.2 PC maker in the third quarter, had no immediate comment.
Pegatron, the Taiwanese company that is the main contract manufacturer for Asustek Computer , doesn’t see a problem for six to eight weeks as makers have inventory, but after that it would depend on how fast things return to normal in Thailand.
Pegatron Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin said there was one big difference between the Thailand situation and the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake in March, which also disrupted supplies of components across a number of technology industries, including smartphones.
“The concentration of some component manufacturing [in Japan] was very high, but Thailand only makes up about a quarter of global hard disk production, so if plants elsewhere can ramp up, the effect this time may be less than that after the Japan quake,” he said.
Nick Wu, head of investor relations at Asustek, said the company’s inventory and supply chain was enough to last until the end of the fourth quarter. But after that if the situation continued then there could be an impact.
Asked about the effects on Apple, chief executive Tim Cook said in the company’s recent earnings call that “we source many components from Thailand, from many factories. The recovery timeline for these factories isn’t known. The weather really hasn’t allowed an assessment… It is something that I’m concerned about.” He added that “our hearts go out to all the people in Thailand who have experienced these devastating losses of life and property as a result of the monsoons and the flooding.” Apple sold its largest-ever number of PCs in the third quarter, but future sales could be affected by the slowdown in supplies.
Western Digital and Seagate both have factories in Thailand. Western Digital’s factories are closed, and Seagate warned it could face parts shortages even though its plants are running.
“With such a tight supply chain, it’s very unlikely that people have a lot of stock to cover themselves,” said Lillian Tay, analyst at Gartner in Singapore. “But from what we see, the major impact will come in Q1 because it’s a 50-50 (situation). Some of them may not get what they want in Q4 , but I think Q1 [of 2012] is really going to be the quarter that the most impact will be felt.”
Nanya Technology, Taiwan’s second-biggest DRAM memory chip maker, expects some impact from a shortage of hard disks.
“Because notebooks all need hard disks, there will be an impact on the whole IT industry in November, December and into January, and this is a negative factor for DRAMs,” Nanya Vice President Pei Lin Pai told reporters when the firm reported earnings last week.
Taiwan’s Quanta Computer Inc , the world’s top contract laptop PC maker, and the next biggest, Compal Electronics, said hard disks are “confined components”, meaning clients and not the contract makers procure them themselves. Both said they had not received any updates from clients.
South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor Inc, the world’s second largest computer memory chip maker, said the flood had not had a major impact on it, given the current inventory levels at HDD makers and PC vendors.
Other products have already been affected by the flooding, with Sony delaying the launches of several new cameras, lens kits and headphones after production was halted.
Frost & Sullivan’s Lele said PC makers will also take a hit as they will have to bear the costs of the shortage.
“It will be more for the PC makers to absorb the costs, because it is highly unlikely that they can pass it on to the customer. They will be under tremendous pressure to absorb the additional costs.”
Microsoft on Tuesday released 16 software updates to fix at least 34 security vulnerabilities in its Windows operating systems and other software. More than half of the updates address flaws Microsoft rates “critical,” meaning the bugs can be exploited with little to no user interaction.
Only 9 of the 16 updates will be marked ‘critical’, which is the highest threat level in Microsoft’s scoring system. The rest of the updates will be marked ‘important’, which is the second highest level. This month’s Patch Tuesday has the second highest number of bugs compared to April, when Microsoft squashed 64 flaws.
Internet Explorer 9 will feature its first update since the browser debuted in mid-March and the update is marked as ‘critical.’ “So, basically it had a critical bug the day it shipped,” said Andrew Storms.
One of the updates will also fix the “cookiejacking” issue in Internet Explorer, a flaw that could enable hackers to steal cookies from a user’s PC and then use those cookies to log onto password-protected websites.
Windows 7 will be featured in several of the updates. Windows 7 now accounts for 26% of all operating systems in use, according to web metrics company Net Applications. We are expecting to see updates for Silverlight, .Net, and Visual Studio to fix a few GDI vulnerabilities.
This month’s security updates target a total of 10 different vulnerabilities, eight of which directly affect Windows 7. The number of fixes for Windows 7 aren’t surprising, however. A lot more people are moving to Windows 7, and the bugs are going to follow the user base.
All Versions of Windows are Affected by this Patch Release
The focus on Windows 7 doesn’t mean Vista and XP users are immune: the updates affect all three Windows operating systems. Surprisingly, this isn’t the largest Patch Tuesday this year. Back in April the company addressed 64 flaws in its various products.
For organizations that need to test patches before deploying them, Microsoft said four of the updates deserve priority:
MS11-042 (DFS). This bulletin resolves two privately reported issues affecting all versions of Windows.
MS11-043 (SMB Client). This bulletin resolves one privately reported issue affecting all versions of SMB Client on Windows.
MS11-050 (Internet Explorer). This security bulletin resolves 11 privately reported issues in Internet Explorer.
MS11-052 (Windows). This bulletin resolves one privately reported issue in Windows and is also Critical.
Another update, labeled “important,” fixes at least eight security problems in all versions of Microsoft Excel, including Office for Mac.
More information on this week’s updates is available at this summary. Updates are available from Windows Update and via Automatic Updates. You may want to set aside some time for this update package.
Due to a past blue-screen-lockup during the reboot/installation phase, I use to manually install updates, one at a time. That way, if something goes wrong, only one update needs to be uninstalled, increasing the chances of a successful recovery and to ensure everything is smooth and preventing BSOD. However, I ignored this due to the time for my computer to create a restore point was taking too long and as I DO NOT use Windows anymore. The list of patches got to be so long, that it was taking forever for me to completely update Windows.