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Mozilla Firefox in 2012

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Monday 31 December 2012 7:01 pm

firefoxFrom the ‘Open Source Browser Goodness’ files:

2012 was one of the busiest year’s ever for the Mozilla’s Firefox project. This is the first full year for Mozilla’s rapid release cycle which debuted in 2011. I have to admit that last year I was among those that didn’t think that the new cycle would work, but after 2012 it’s clear that the rapid release system can work extremely well.

During 2012 Mozilla landed a staggering 7 major version releases of Firefox.

Firefox 10

The first Firefox release of 2012 was Firefox 10, which debuted at the end of January. From my perspective, the most interesting addition in that release was the Inspect Tool which in my daily usage has now replaced my usage of ‘view source’.

Firefox 10 was also an important release as it is the basis for Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release), which is what enterprises can rely on for stability. Over the course of 2012 Firefox 10 ESR issued multiple security point updates, but nothing that broke any compatability.

Firefox 11

Firefox 11 came out in March and once again provided a pile of developer focused features. The one that still amazes me is the 3D Tool view.

Firefox 12

The Firefox 12 releasein April, marked the beginning of a new era for Firefox. Firefox 12 is the first to include silent updating, enabling browser updates without user interaction (if the user so chooses).

Firefox 13

Firefox 13 was released in June and finally provided a new tab page. So instead of simply getting a blank page, from Firefox 13 onwards, Mozilla users now get a new tab page that show most frequently accessed pages. Firefox 13 also provides support for the SPDY protocol, enabling faster web connections.

 

 

Firefox 14

In July, Firefox 14 was released, providing users with secure SSL encrypted HTTPS connections for Google searches.

SSL overall got a boost with this release by way of the improved Site Identity Indicator. With the indicator, Mozilla made it easier for users to know if a site is using SSL or not.

Firefox 15

Firefox 15 was releasedin August, with the core aim of improving browser performance.

At the time of release, Mozilla developers claimed that Firefox 15 was a 4.8x memory improvement over Firefox 14.

Firefox 16

Firefox 16in October turned the focus back on developer tools with a new developer toobar.

Firefox 17

The final Firefox release of the year was Firefox 17 in November. This release, perhaps more than any other during the calendar year, provided end-users with noticeable new features. Among them is the Social API and the direct integration of Facebook Messenger.

So yeah, that’s a lot of release. Sure, in the old days (pre-2011) all of that would have been wrapped up in to one or two releases, but the incremental performance, standards and developer gains of the rapid release cycle are more than worth the trouble right?

Looking out to 2013, Mozilla has Firefox 18 scheduled for the first week of the year, so there is clearly no slowing down this train.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Reddit’s visitors skyrocket in 2012 with 37 billion page views

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Monday 31 December 2012 12:33 pm

Whether readers want to learn the complexities of how the Mars Curiosity rover was able to enter the Red Planet’s atmosphere or just see photos of cats being weird, they can go to Reddit. The social news site announced today its end-of-year stats and it appears that users are frequenting the site at an ever-increasing rate.

Reddit revealed that in 2012 it received 37 billion page views, 400 million unique visitors, and 30 million posts — not bad for one of the most simple Web sites on the Internet.

The site’s user population has skyrocketed since its inception. According to The Next Web, Reddit achieved 1 billion monthly page views in February 2011 and by December of that year it more than doubled that number. By October 2012, the site recorded more than 3.8 billion monthly page views and more than 46 million unique visitors.

The huge increase in traffic means Reddit has had to add more servers and other equipment and bring in more staff to maintain its site. This growth has forced it to spend money to keep up with the flow, while also promoting paid subscriptions and advertising.

One of the ways Reddit has driven more traffic to its site this past year is by hosting high-level AMAs, or “ask me anything” sessions. In August, Reddit hosted President Barack Obama, whose impromptu hour-long interview crippled the site’s servers. Reddit has also done AMAs with the Mars Curiosity rover team, Gangnam Style’s PSY, and U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren who asked users for ideas on a bill to protect Web sites accused of copyright violations.

Here are Reddit’s top 10 posts of 2012 by page view:

  1. I am Barack Obama, President of the United States — AMA (5,598,171 page views)
  2. What’s your “picture you can’t see without laughing”? (2,450,140 page views)
  3. What’s your favorite picture on the whole Internet? (2,148,400 page views)
  4. Reddit, what do you look like before and after makeup? Is there a real difference? (2,142,071 page views)
  5. Today, a homeless looking man handed me $50 and this note. Do any of you have any idea what it means? (1,756,748 page views)
  6. What GIF makes you laugh every single time? (1,749,185 page views)
  7. I’ve been playing the same game of Civilization II for almost 10 years. This is the result. (1,651,956 page views)
  8. I am South Korean Singer, Rapper, Composer, Dancer and Creator of Gangnam Style PSY. AMA (1,514,034 page views)
  9. What’s your secret that could literally ruin your life if it came out? (1,482,935 page views)
  10. I’m Snoop Lion! Ask me anything!! (1,467,071 page views)

Top Web Series of 2012 Set New Bar For Quality

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Monday 31 December 2012 6:29 am
Top Web Series of 2012 Set New Bar For Quality

2012 saw a lot of great new web series from surprising new sources. For what seemed like the first time, tech companies invested big money – and pulled big names –  into original online video programming.

In this digital programming horse race there was one clear, seemingly from left field, winner:  Yahoo. Specifically Yahoo! Screen, the company’s version of Google’s original programming initiative.

Yahoo! Screen’s web series had high production values, famous names and compelling, relevant writing. In an interview with USA Today back in July, Vice President and Head of Video for Yahoo Erin McPherson called the digital projects “online digital blockbusters.”

The “online digital blockbusters” however, failed to get the same marketing push most Hollywood blockbuster movies receive, so chances are you’ve probably never heard of them. This is not a problem unique to Yahoo; YouTube, Hulu and Crackle have also all failed to get the word out on their great web shows. (It is also possible one factor limiting the spread of Yahoo’s original programming is the inability to embed their videos anywhere.) Regardless, this list is the best of the best, the true hidden gems of Internet content.  

Electric City (Yahoo Screen)

Created by Tom Hanks, who also stars as the leading man (and deadly assassin), this animated post-apocalyptic sci-fi series is thoroughly entertaining and ambitious.  Like most web series these days, there was also an interactive component, and like modern society, everyone is obsessed with electricity – except in this world, it is scarce. Also, the series is not really for little kids: Hank’s character snaps a criminal’s neck in the first episode, after said criminal beat his wife.  Nominated for a 2012 Streamy Award as “Best Animated Series.”  

Cybergeddon (Yahoo Screen)

Anthony E. Zuiker, the same guy who created the hit TV show CSI, has tried his hand at a web series, and it’s good. Cybergeddon is a pertinent, fast and fun cyber-terrorism thriller the New York Times called “better than your average TV-movie.”  (I’d say it is way better.) The series is again not for children, and is a sly advert for Norton Internet Security. Nominated for four 2012 Streamy Awards; Best Male and Female Performance in a Drama, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Branded Entertainment series. 

Burning Love (Yahoo Screen)

Ken Marino stars in this “Bachelor” parody, meaning he lives in a house with a bunch of women and tries to narrow down who his contractually obligated bride will be based on superficial – sometimes absurd- criteria. The series was just signed for a second and third season, so you know it found an audience, despite Yahoo’s marketing shortcomings. Not for kids. Nominated for five Streamy Awards, including Best Male and Female Performance, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Comedy.

Battleground (Hulu)

Hulu’s first foray into scripted television is a mockumentary, in the style of The Office, about a dark horse political campaign for a Democrat in Wisconsin with a corrupt past. The comparisons to The Office stop there, however, and the film crew actually plays a pivotal role in the series by driving a major plot point. Not for kids, either. Nominated for two Streamy Awards, for Best Male and Female Performance in a Drama

Video Game High School (YouTube)

Created by Freddie Wong and Co (Rocket Jump), this web series was actually not part of Google’s original programming initiative – with Wong raising funds successfully through Kickstarter. The series is a first for the seemingly self-taught film-maker, and comes close to being a romantic comedy. The action-packed series takes place in an alternative reality where video games are treated as a mainstream sport complete with TV commentators, and students are recruited to top schools based off their gaming skills. (So yes, this series is for a younger crowd.) Nominated for two Streamy Awards; Best Ensemble Cast and Best Production Design. 

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (YouTube)

This re-adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has gotten favorable reviews from outlets like Wired, Gigaom and USA Today and the cast was a hit at last year’s VidCon, but the series has struggled to break more than a million views on its first episode. (The series is rather niche in its appeal, after all.) Cast members also behave like real Internet citizens, with their own Tumblr, Lookbook and Twitter accounts, giving the audience that transmedia interactive experience that is so hot right now.  Created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, the duo hasn’t ruled out adapting other classics for YouTube in the future. Nominated for five Streamy Awards including Best Writing; Comedy and Best Interactive Program.

Seven Minutes in Heaven (Yahoo Screen)/Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Crackle)

Both series are interview shows; SNL Host Mike O’Brien interviews various celebrities in a small closet and then tries to kiss them leading to a hilariously awkward exchange, and Jerry Seinfeld drives around in classic or unusual cars interviewing various comedians on a coffee run.  

Geek and Sundry/Nerdist (YouTube)

Both Felicia Day (Geek and Sundry) and Chris Hardwick (Nerdist) were funding recipients in  Google’s original content investment, and the King and Queen of geek culture have diversified their channels offerings to include something for well, every nerd. Both Geek and Sundry and Nerdist offer a variety of shows for every day of the week: Geek and Sundry has Day vlogging on Monday and Space Janitors on Tuesday for example, while Hardwick has shows like All Star Celebrity Bowling, Neil Patrick Harris’ Puppet Dreams and Star Talk with Neil Degrasse Tyson.   

MyMusic (YouTube)

This quirky mockumentary about the music industry was created by YouTube community favorites the Fine Brothers, and features a heavy set of Internet celebrities as well as pop culture and Internet references  – one character is based off 4chan phenom Boxxy, for instance – and has a bit of a Portlandia feel. The show also has various components including a regular music news component, and all characters have associated online Twitter profiles much in the way of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Nominated for nine Streamy Awards, including Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Comedy Series.

Lead image courtesy of YouTube.

Red Hat Grows 3Q13 Revenue by 18 Percent

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Monday 31 December 2012 12:27 am

Red Hat reported third quarter fiscal 2013 revenues last week, with revenues rising 18 percent year-over-year to $344 million. Net income was reported at $34.8 million, or $0.18 per share.

Red Hat is growing its business in no small part thanks to a loyal customer base.

“I’m pleased to report that all of our top 25 deals that were up for renewal this quarter not only renewed but did sell with a value of well over 120 percent of the original value,” Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said during his company’s earnings call. “These results are a great endorsement of our customers for our reliable, open source solutions that enable ROI and investment in the data center.”

Red Hat CFO Charlie Peters noted that the company’s top 30 deals are spread across multiple global industry verticals. He added that all of the top 30 deals during the third quarter exceeded $1 million, including five deals that were in excess of $5 million and one that was over $10 million.

Read the full story at ServerWatch:
Red Hat Grows Top Deals as Private Cloud Management Enters Batting Practice

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Web technology: 5 things to watch in 2013

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Sunday 30 December 2012 6:05 pm

Chrome on iOS icon

Chrome on iOS has a chance to shake up the OS-browser alignment in the mobile market.

The evolution of the Web is a messy process.

We do so much with the Web today that it’s easy to take it for granted. Banking, social networking, word processing, travel planning, education, shopping — the Web is reaching to new domains and tightening its grip where it’s already used. To match that expansion, the Web is evolving.

But the Web is built by countless individuals — browser engineers who enable new technology, Web developers who bring that technology online, and standards group members who iron out compatibility wrinkles. With so many constituents, it’s no wonder there’s so much craziness in charting the Web’s future.

The new year will bring new chaos on the Web, and things will be sorted out in only some areas. Here’s a look at what’ll settle down in 2013 — and what won’t.

Alternabrowsers
iOS comes with
Safari. Windows Phone comes with Internet Explorer.
Android comes with its own browser and, for Android 4.x users, Chrome. It’s a very different way of doing things compared to the browser free-for-all in the PC market.

In 2013, though, there’s a chance people will exercise choice where they can and reject a future where browsers end up being effectively locked to the mobile OS.

The forces for lock-in are strong, if for no other reason that it’s just simpler to use a smartphone’s built-in browser. But don’t forget — there was a day when IE ruled the desktop browser world. In 2012, programmers laid the groundwork for big-name alternabrowsers.

Today, the companies that control the mobile operating systems -- Apple and Google -- lead the race for mobile browser usage.

Today, the companies that control the mobile operating systems — Apple and Google — lead the race for mobile browser usage.


(Credit:
data from Net Applications; chart by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

We saw the arrival of Chrome on iOS and the reboot of Firefox on Android. iOS and Windows Phone place restrictions on third-party browsers, but Android is open, and other browsers there include Dolphin, Opera Mini, Opera Mobile, and UC Browser.

The restriction on iOS is that third-party browsers must use an Apple-supplied version of the WebKit browser engine that’s more secure but slower than the version Safari uses. Windows Phone and Windows RT have related restrictions.

On personal computers, it’s completely ordinary to switch to other browsers depending on security, performance, features. In the mobile world, that’s not the case.

But the alternative browsers — especially when companies like Google put marketing muscle and brand equity behind them — could convince people that maybe they should venture farther afield. With Android spreading into more hands than iOS, it’s possible the openness of the PC industry could

Oh, one more thing — don’t be surprised to see a Mozilla browser on iOS, too.

Firefox OS makes a peep
Mozilla announced some early progress with
Firefox OS in 2012 — though it failed to deliver it during the year as it had planned. Expect the browser-based operating system, which runs Web apps and is geared for budget smartphones, in early 2013.

Firefox is barred from iOS and Windows RT, and it is a rarity on Android. Without a presence in the mobile market, Mozilla can’t use its browser as leverage to pursue its goal of an open Internet. Firefox OS, geared for smartphones and running browser-based apps, is Mozilla’s answer. With it, Mozilla hopes to break the ecosystem lock that is settling people into the phone-OS-app store-cloud service silos from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

The first big Firefox OS partner is Telefonica, which plans to offer phones in Latin America with the operating system as a cheaper smartphones alternative.

“Mozilla’s prediction is that in 2013, the Web will emerge as a viable mobile platform and a third, alternative option to closed, proprietary walled gardens,” said Jay Sullivan, Mozilla’s vice president of products. Firefox and Firefox OS obviously are key parts of Mozilla’s effort to make that happen

Firefox OS won’t be an easy sell since inexpensive Android phones are common and iPhones continue to spread. But carriers can’t be happy ceding power to Google and Apple. And Mozilla doesn’t need to have 40 percent market share to claim victory: as long as its foothold is big enough to keep Web programmers from coding mobile sites only for the big boys.

Web standards divisiveness persists
Those hoping the end of a rift in Web standards governance most likely will have to keep on waiting.

The new frontier of emerging Web standards is populated by a hodge-podge of acronyms.

The new frontier of emerging Web standards is populated by a hodge-podge of acronyms.


(Credit:
Bruce Lawson)

The World Wide Web Consortium long has played a central role in revising the standards out of which the Web is built, but a decade ago it chose to push a standard called XHTML that wasn’t compatible with HTML. The browser makers, it turned out, had veto power, and largely ignored XHTML in favor of advancing HTML on their own through a group called WHATWG. This split persists — and it’s not going away.

The W3C is enthusiastic about HTML and related Web standards such as CSS for formatting. But even as it’s ramped up its efforts, with plans to finish HTML5 standardization in 2014, the WHATWG has moved to a “living document” model that constantly updates HTML.

W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe has been trying to speed up Web standardization, with some success, and the W3C has remained relevant when it comes to CSS and some other work. But it has yet to fully regain its status with HTML itself, despite new members, new editors, and new energy. In fact, the cultural gulf in some ways appears to be widening. Even as the W3C’s formal committee machinations expand with new members, the WHATWG’s HTML editor, Ian Hickson, is moving the other direction. He said in a Google+ post:

Consensus (also known as “design by committee”) is a terrible way to design a language or platform. Committee design dilutes responsibility and blame (everyone just starts saying things like “yeah, I didn’t like it, but we had to do that to get consensus”) while letting everyone take credit for everything (since their ok is necessary to get consensus), which makes it an attractive proposition for people who want to further their careers without really doing any work…

You end up with a technology that doesn’t know what it is and doesn’t do anything well.

Web standards continue to evolve, but at least regarding HTML itself, it doesn’t look like either side will agree the other has the superior process.

High-res images on the Web
Apple’s Retina displays — the high-resolution screens used in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks — enable a new level of crispness and clarity in images and text. Software makers have been gradually updating their programs with new icons, graphic elements, and abilities to take advantage of the displays. It’s been work, but not exactly a major re-engineering effort.

The W3Cs new HTML5 logo stands for more than just the HTML5 standard.

The W3C’s new HTML5 logo stands for more than just the HTML5 standard.


(Credit:
W3C)

But Retina on the Web is a very different matter. First of all, nobody likes slow-loading pages, and Retina imagery has four times the pixels as conventional imagery. Worse, more of the Web is moving toward mobile devices that have an even harder time managing big images and whose data usage is pricey, and you especially don’t want mobile users downloading multiple versions of the same image when they don’t need to.

At the same time, mobile devices are often held closer to the eye than PCs but using physically smaller screens with higher pixel densities. That means old assumptions no longer are valid about how many pixels wide a graphic should be. The technology to fix this has the label “responsive images.”

Standards to the rescue! But uh-oh: Two camps each favor their own approach — one called the srcset attribute, the other known as the picture element.

Resolution probably will come in 2013, though.

There have been emotional differences of opinion, but Robin Berjon, one of the five new HTML editors at the W3C, sees discussions as fruitful now. He said in a blog post:

We have two proposals for responsive images, the srcset attribute and the picture element. Both have now reached the level of maturity at which they can be most usefully compared, and this discussion is about to go through a new chapter.

Browser makers and Web developers are actively moving to high-resolution graphics and videos on Retina-capable devices, so regardless of what happens in standards groups, the responsive images issue will be fixed. After all, high-resolution displays are increasingly common, mobile devices are increasingly important, and nobody likes looking at pixelated, mushy images when they don’t have to.

Web bloat
The good news is the Web is getting steadily more sophisticated, powerful, and useful. The bad news is there’s a price to pay for those advantages. Unfortunately for those who have capped data plans or who live in rural areas with subpar broadband, that increase in Web sophistication means Web pages get bigger and take longer to fetch.

The HTTP Archives records show a steady increase in the size of Web pages over the last two years.

The HTTP Archive’s records show a steady increase in the size of Web pages over the last two years.


(Credit:
HTTP Archive)

There’s an old adage in the computing industry that the new horsepower that chips deliver is immediately squandered by new software features, so computers don’t actually appear to get faster. There’s a corollary in the Web world: As broadband spreads and speeds up, as faster LTE supplants 3G, so Web pages sponge up the extra network capacity.

The HTTP archive keeps tabs on the state of the Web, and it shows just how things are ballooning in its sample of tens of thousands of Web pages.

From December 16, 2010 to December 15, 2012, the average Web page increased in size from 726KB to 1,286KB. The amount of JavaScript increased from 115KB to 211KB. And the images ballooned from 430KB to 793KB.

An optimist can find good news here, too. Google has an entire team devoted to making the Web faster, introducing new technology such as SPDY to speed up servers and browsers. Browser makers obsessively best new versions to try to catch any regressions that would slow things down. New standards make it easier for Web developers to time exactly how fast their pages actually load.

And don’t forget the bloat is there for a reason. Do you really want to dial the Web back to 1997?

FISA Fail: Senate To Keep Spying On Citizens

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Sunday 30 December 2012 11:47 am
FISA Fail: Senate To Keep Spying On Citizens

In a blow to civil rights, and seemingly the Fourth Amendment, the Senate this morning voted to approve a bill that reauthorizes a foreign surveillance program that keeps tabs on peoples’ emails and phone conversations, all without a warrant. While the whole country waits on pins and needles for the Fiscal Cliff to fall out from under us, this could be even more important, as our freedom of liberty is truly threatened, all in the name of national security. 

It’s called FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it’s set up to allow the monitoring of U.S. citizens who speak with foreigners. The vote extends the life of the bill for the next five years. Since the House already gave the bill the thumbs up, it now goes to the President to get his seal of approval, which he is expected to sign. 

The problem is this basically gives the U.S. government carte blanche in spy-mode when it comes to eavesdropping on the communications of suspected terrorists. They don’t need court approval now. They can just listen on the pretense that it makes our country safer from a possible terrorist attack. Of course, determining just who is a foreigner and figuring out their real or perceived “threat” to America is another problem in and of itself. On top of that, it’s a lot of leeway and freedom for law enforcement and the government to listen in on the often mundane conversations between its citizens. 

Road Blocks And Detours

There’s been some very real criticism of FISA, and it’s even crossed normally staunch party lines.

The biggest detractors to the bill were Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), all of whom wanted to protect the rights of people being unfairly monitored.

During the discussion session, Wyden point-blank asked if any U.S.-based email or phone communications were picked up by the government during surveillance of foreign targets to which Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) replied that those incidences were “few” and “inadvertent.” In other words, yes, it has happened.

They proposed amendments to extend the bill for three years instead of five, declassify FISA court opinions, and clarify that the Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from intelligence-related searches done overseas. All three amendments were shot down.

Here’s a full video of Wyden’s impassioned yet failed attempt to sway the Senate:

Now What

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, (EPIC), calls this a missed opportunity by the Senate to establish safeguards to Fourth Amendment rights and create much needed government accountability. Earlier this year, Rotenberg testified before a House judiciary Committee on this very issue. Yet the House didn’t heed his words and voted the same way the Senate did today.

With the heavy risk of misuse and abuse, Rotenberg calls FISA one of the biggest failures of Internet security, right there with the Patriot Act.

“It’s a very broad authority,” he said. “Our view has been when you create broad authority for the government, you need to create counter oversight.” 

Jim Fenton, the chief security officer at the digital identity company OneID, has worked with intelligence agencies before. He says his experience included professionalism and good intentions, but warned that a lack of transparency with FISA, and rules that legislatures are confused with does not bode well for public perception of those groups.

“The government’s lack of transparency about surveillance doesn’t inspire trust,” he said. “We should be working to differentiate ourselves from countries who aren’t as free in terms of surveillance of its citizens.”

That sentiment is shared online. In a post today by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Trevor Timm called Congress disgraceful.

“This vote was nothing less than abdication by Congress as its role as watchdog over Executive power, and a failure of its indepedent obligation to protect the Bill of Rights,” Timm wrote. “The FISA Amendments Act and the ongoing warrantless spying on Americans has been, and will continue to be, a blight on our nation and our Constitution. 

So, where does this leave us now? 

With the battle in Congress over, and the President expected to sign, the spotlight turns to the Supreme Court. In the next few months, the highest court in the land will pen an opinion on a case that highlights the problems with FISA: Clapper Vs. Amnesty International, the ACLU’s challenge to FISA, which will determine whether citizens will have the ability to sue the government in cases of unlawful surveillance under FISA. The opinion is expected by summer 2013 and will set a precedent if people can go to court to bring these challenges.

“We’ve got out fingers crossed,” Rotenberg said. “There has to be more public accountability.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Microsoft Security in 2012

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Sunday 30 December 2012 5:44 am

In 2011, Microsoft released a total of 100 security updates. In contrast, for 2012 Microsoft was able to reduce that number to 83.

Microsoft’s vulnerability improvement in 2012 isn’t just about lowering the security bulletin count, according to Rapid7 CISO and Metasploit founder HD Moore.

“It seems like the market for Windows vulnerabilities has burned up most of the easy-to-find bugs, and the folks who would normally report the big ones are keeping them private,” Moore told eSecurity Planet.

Read the full story at eSecurity Planet:
Did Microsoft Improve Security in 2012?

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Windows 8 wrestles with PC’s legacy

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Saturday 29 December 2012 11:38 pm

I spend precious little time in Metro when using a traditional laptop.

I spend precious little time in Metro when using a traditional laptop.


(Credit:
Microsoft)

I’m by no means the first one to say this but
Windows 8 and older PCs make an odd couple.

But let me back up for a second. Before the release of Windows 8 on October 26, I tested Windows 8 on
tablets only, such as the Intel-based Samsung slate that Microsoft sold in its stores. And I was impressed with Metro.

That was then. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit is now installed on my Dell Adamo laptop. And I rarely venture into the Metro UI unless if I’m forced to.

Of course if you’re one of the relative few who have a tablet like the Samsung slate or Microsoft’s Surface or a touch-screen laptop like Acer’s Aspire S7, yeah, then Metro is front and center, as it should be.

But on a traditional laptop it’s problematic. That’s why Apple, probably the biggest single force behind the rise of the touch interface, hasn’t done something similar with its OSes.

Making iOS the launch point and default interface on Macs would not go over well, Steve Job’s edict nixing the idea of touch on laptops notwithstanding.

So, Microsoft is going where Apple won’t. Intel — still Microsoft’s single most important hardware partner — is going there too, by the way. The chipmaker said recently that it has chosen Windows 8 “as the standard operating system for Ultrabooks and tablets in our enterprise environment.”

But I don’t think — despite Microsoft’s upbeat announcement about Windows 8 licenses — the hundreds of millions of users out there with plain old PCs will warm to the concept of a touch-based launch UI.

Acer’s president, Jim Wong, stated this concern rather bluntly to Digitimes this week. The Windows 8 interface could “dramatically delay adoption by consumers,” he said.

I’ll expand on that by saying that until touch-based laptops and hybrids are both plentiful and cheap, Windows 8 may not gain much traction. And that may take a while.

Let me close on a positive note, though. I like Windows 8. It’s faster than
Windows 7 on my Dell and more stable. That’s good enough for me.

And Microsoft should spend more time pitching these straightforward Windows 8 merits until touch becomes mainstream.

64-bit Windows 8 Pro on my Dell Adamo.

64-bit Windows 8 Pro on my Dell Adamo.


(Credit:
Brooke Crothers)

HP Gets Feds To Investigate Autonomy Deal

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Saturday 29 December 2012 5:35 pm
HP Gets Feds To Investigate Autonomy Deal

Hewlett-Packard has made if official. The Justice Department is indeed investigating HP’s allegations that Autonomy execs tricked the troubled technology giant into paying way too much for the British software maker. In disclosing the probe in its annual regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, HP has started the next chapter in its ongoing feud with Autonomy founder Mike Lynch – who denies duping HP.

Probe Expected

The probe was expected, given that HP announced last month it had proof that it had been conned in last year’s $10.3 billion acquisition-turned-fiasco. At the time, HP said it had turned over the evidence to the Justice Department, the SEC and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office. “On November 21, 2012, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice advised HP that they had opened an investigation relating to Autonomy,” the company reported to the SEC Thursday.

HP claims Autonomy executives inflated the company’s value by reporting some revenue prematurely or improperly. The alleged bogus reporting accounts for almost 60%  of the $8.8 billion write down HP booked last month on the Autonomy deal.

Ex-Autonomy Chief Executive Lynch responded to the investigation Friday by continuing to deny any wrongdoing. On a website Lynch set up to counter HP’s allegations, he reiterated his complaint that HP has yet to release any details of the alleged scam. “Simply put, these allegations are false, and in the absence of further detail we cannot understand what HP believes to be the basis for them,” Lynch wrote.

Details Still Hidden

HP is still keeping the details of the allegations confidential among itself, prosecutors and regulators. Thursday’s filing did not provide any new details. Nevertheless, Lynch is ready to tell his side of the story. “We will co-operate with any investigation and look forward to the opportunity to explain our position,” he wrote.

Throughout the claims and counterclaims, HP stock continues to get hammered. From the beginning of 2012 to Thursday, the price has fallen 45%.

Officially, the Federal Bureau of Investigation won’t discuss whether or not it is involved in the case. However, an unidentified source told Bloomberg that the agency is assisting the SEC in its investigation.

While Autonomy execs are under the investigatory microscope, shareholders are blaming HP for the deal that ended up wasting billions of dollars. In the SEC filing, HP lists 10 lawsuits, including four class-action suits.

Apotheker Still Blamed

HP CEO Leo Apotheker, who was fired in September 2011, led the Autonomy deal as part of a plan to get HP deeper into the high-margin enterprise software business, while reducing its dependence on selling low-margin PCs. Autonomy software searches, organizes and manages data within large companies.

Apotheker sealed the end of his short career with HP when he announced he was considering the sale of its PC business. Because he had no buyer, Apotheker’s disclosure sent Wall Street analysts into a tizzy. To them, Apotheker appeared to lack a clear vision or roadmap for saving HP from its years of bad deals, management turmoil and strategic blunders.

Current HP CEO Meg Whitman was on the company’s board when it signed off on the Autonomy deal. Nevertheless, she has distanced herself and other board members from the debacle by laying the blame on Apotheker and then mergers and acquisitions head Shane Robinson, who also left the company in 2011.

History aside, now that federal prosecutors are officially involved, the repetitive claims and counterclaims being tossed back and forth between HP and Lynch won’t matter much. The companies, their customers and shareholders now have to hope for clarity in the courts, especially if charges are filed.

Image courtesy of drserg / Shutterstock.

Ixia Scales Troubleshooting with IxNetwork 7

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Saturday 29 December 2012 11:27 am

Monitoring and troubleshooting networks is a task that is becoming increasingly difficult as speed, bandwidth and new protocols continue to emerge. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, Ixia has released its IxNetwork 7 solution providing increased scalability.

Usually when you give a person to scale more, you lose the ability to drill down,” Asim Rasheed, Technical Marketing Engineer at Ixia explained to EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.

For example, if an enterprise network has 100,000 sessions, if one of those sessions is down the network administrator has to dig through all that data to find the one particular session that has trouble.

“In the real world, you need to be able to figure out where the problems are very quickly,” Rasheed said. “So when large networks deploy they need to emulate real world scenarios.”

IxNetwork has the concept of scenario testing that lets an administrator see an entire network footprint which can be helpful for network configuration. There is also a new component know as the Next Generation Protocol Framework which provides the ability to drill down into per session level information.

Read the full story at Enterprise Networking Planet:
Ixia IxNetwork 7 Aims to Improve Network Troubleshooting

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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