Friday, August 14, 2009

Netscape founder backs browser startup RockMelt

After a successful run in the early to mid 1990s, which came to an end a few years later with the arrival of Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 4, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen is reportedly looking to get back into the browser game. Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times claims Andreessen and some of his former colleagues are investing in a new browser venture known as RockMelt.

This might give an interesting twist to the current browser wars, but do we really need another contender? Now that Firefox has prompted a new wave of competition in the market, things are started to feel a bit crowded with Chrome, Safari, Opera, and of course a renewed Internet Explorer. But Andreessen believes its new browser would be different from the rest, saying that most other browsers had not kept pace with the evolution of the web – pretty much what every other competitor claims about their rivals.

Little is known about RockMelt, but the Times suggests the browser is intended to be coupled with Facebook and ReadWriteWeb backs that notion claiming to have caught a glimpse at an early build. Considering Andreessen’s presence on the board of Facebook that doesn't seem too far-fetched. RockMelt could be a way to browse the web with a focus on Facebook (and the growing number of Facebook Connect partner sites) or just social networking in general – something Flock has tried to do with very limited success.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Corsair debuts speedy 128GB flash drive

lthough Corsair isn't the first to offer a 128GB USB flash drive, they are claiming that their Flash Voyager is the world's fastest. They boast that their new drive makes use of a "revolutionary design that employs a unique controller architecture" and that it achieves SLC performance using MLC NAND flash memory.

Corsair says that the drive is able to achieve read speeds of 32MB/s and write speeds of 25.6MB/s with the limiting factor being the speed of the USB 2.0 interface and operating system overhead. It is encased in red water-resistant rubber to protect it from the accident prone. *Note that there are separate write speeds listed in the press release and on the product page (25.6MB/s and 28.8MB/s), we've contacted Corsair and are awaiting clarification.

The 128GB Flash Voyager GT is available immediately for $399.99 via authorized Corsair distributors and resellers around the globe and ships with a 10-year limited warranty. Though, for that price you can pick up a much faster 2.5" SSD drive, minus the extra portability mind you.


Opera 10 moves into third beta

enerally, any attention on browsers these days is aimed at the big names, Firefox and Internet Explorer, with a sprinkling of affection for Safari every now and then. We can't forget the little guys in that, however, and the long-lived Opera remains in this category. Today Opera has pushed out a new beta of their upcoming version 10 browser, after a successful round of tests and user feedback that enabled them to move forward with the next stage of development.

Beta 3 introduces a handful of new features, with a lot of attention on the user interface and mechanical functionality of the browser. They're also citing stability improvements, something anyone can appreciate. One feature intentionally left out is Opera Unite, a relatively quiet technology that is intended to provide for “inter-browser” communication, an extension of social networking.

If you're an Opera fan or like to try out new browsers, check Opera 10 Beta 3 out yourself at their site.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mozilla Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1 available now

Mozilla recently introduced the first alpha release for the upcoming build of their popular browser, Firefox 3.6. Codenamed "Namoroka" Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1 is intended for developers only, and offers quite a long list of bug fixes as well as some performance tweaks.

Among the changes worth mentioning is an updated version of the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine, introduced in Firefox 3.5. Mozilla has also presented several new CSS3 properties like background size and gradients for background images.

Given its unfinished nature, Mozilla recommends that that only developers and testers install Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1. That said, if you are the daring type versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux are readily available. Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments!


Microsoft: Dropping IE6 support not an option

Despite enthusiastic efforts around the world to move on to something better, IE6 is unlikely to go anywhere for a long time. Numerous alternatives exist, from Microsoft themselves, Mozilla and others, but while the software giant would like to see IE6 gone as much as anyone else it's still up to users to make the final decision to upgrade.

A post on the IEBlog touched on this topic recently and basically concludes that dropping IE6 support is simply not an option, for a variety of reasons. One of these includes the substantial user base that clings to the old browser, which still represents millions of web-connected users. Another and arguably more important reason is the commitment level Microsoft has to maintain.

They are stuck with the fact Windows XP shipped stock with IE6, and they have an obligation to continue supporting it for the lifetime of the product. That's a problem for Microsoft since extended support for Windows XP – and thereby IE6 – continues for another five years.

We're talking just Microsoft here, of course. Any other company around the world can choose to support whomever they wish – YouTube will soon drop support for IE6, most web developers cater exclusively to IE7 or higher and many other sites are urging users to upgrade as well. Ultimately, IE6 will die, but it is clear that Redmond expects that death to be slow and painful.


Microsoft permanently barred from selling Word

icrosoft has been ordered by a US District Court to halt sales of its popular word processing application, Word. Judge Leonard Davis has ruled that the software-giant is guilty of patent infringement and has prohibited it from selling, importing, testing, demonstrating or marketing any Microsoft Word products able to open XML, DOCX, or DOCM files (XML) files containing custom XML.

Plaintiff i4i sued Microsoft in March 2007 claiming that it violated a 1998 software patent (number 5,787,449) for a document system that eliminated the need for manually embedded formatting codes. One of the fundamental features of the markup language XML is that it is readable by both people and machines. XML allows developers and users to define their own tags for data - unlike other markup languages like HTML which have predefined tags.

Microsoft has already paid $200 million after a federal jury ruled that the XML properties of Word 2003 and Word 2007 infringed on i4i's patent. Redmond accumulated another $77 million in fees after the most recent ruling, $40 million for willful patent infringement and $37 million in prejudgment interest. The company must comply within 60 days and is planning to appeal the verdict.


Symantec Fail on Virus Buletin Test....???

Virus Bulletin has released its August 2009 test results for Windows Vista SP2 Business. The company examined 35 anti-malware products and put them through their paces. In order to pass the basic requirements of the test, applications must detect all malware known to be "In the Wild" while not presenting any false positives. The products are tested in their default settings and must succeed in both on-demand and on-access detections.

Virus Bulletin threw the programs in a ring with around 3,000 unique samples of malware spread across four categories: Polymorphic viruses, Trojans, WildList viruses and Worms/bots. Of the 35 tested, only 23 passed, meaning about a third of the products fell to the tests. Among the more known solutions is Symantec's Endpoint Protection, which missed two infections on the Wildlist.

Symantec was quick to defend itself in response to Ars Technicia's original coverage of the Virus Bulletin tests. A company spokesperson said that "In the past ten years, Symantec has earned 44 consecutive VB100 awards, something no other vendor has come close to matching." They went on to add that the missed malware is an "extremely rare replicant of a highly polymorphic file infecting virus" and that they have since fixed the issue in their signatures.

You can check out the test in full on Virus Bulletin's website, although I believe you need a subscription. Ars Technica has created a condensed list of the results which you can view after the jump.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Microsoft working on pressure-sensitive keyboard

icrosoft has unveiled a prototype of a pressure-sensitive keyboard. In a description, Redmond said the device's potential use is limitless. The company has reportedly tested several possible applications for the technology, such as pressing a key harder to produce a capital letter or a larger font size.

This prototype is one of Microsoft's many projects focused on natural user interfaces. Project Natal is planned to launch for the Xbox 360 and could make its way to PCs - which would make for quite the experience when paired with Windows 7's multi-touch capabilities.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has no (disclosed) plans to go live with their new keyboard, but it is expected be the subject of a student competition at the User Face and Software Technology Conference in October. Participants will be challenged to create new ways of using the prototype with computers.


Microsoft readies five critical fixes for Patch Tuesday

icrosoft is lining up nine updates for next Tuesday as part of its monthly patch cycle – five of them are deemed critical and the remaining four marked as important. Affected software includes various Windows and Microsoft Office versions as well as the .NET Framework, Visual Studio, Microsoft ISA Server, Microsoft BizTalk Server, and Windows Client for Mac.

This particular security update will likely raise a few eyebrows among IT professionals, since Microsoft recently issued fixes for Visual Studio and ISA Server – the first as part of an out-of-bound patch last week and the latter in last month’s update. The advance notification is light on details, as usual, but warns that the flaws could lead to remote code execution, elevation-of-privilege and denial-of-service attacks.


Facebook/Twitter/LiveJournal Service Attack Targeted at Georgian Blogger

ll day Thursday three social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, and LiveJournal, were victims of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS). It first started with Twitter and then moved to the others. Facebook initially didn’t say it was hit by a DDoS in its first press release but then later said: “Earlier this morning, Facebook encountered network issues related to an apparent distributed denial of service attack, that resulted in degraded service for some users [...] No user data was at risk and we have restored full access to the site for most users. We’re continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that users have the fast and reliable experience they’ve come to expect from Facebook.” Users on Facebook earlier in the morning, including myself, noticed pop-up error messages while doing simple tasks like viewing photos and commenting.

Twitter also released a statement saying, “As we recover, users will experience some longer load times and slowness.” As of this morning, Twitter seems to be back up and running as usual with only slight hiccups.

It may not be a coincidence that all three social media sites were attacked at almost the same time, but hopefully we’ll find out more soon.


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