Technology News Headlines and Software

January 14, 2010, 5:09 PM

Eight days later, Google acknowledges 3G problems on Nexus One

Longer than it took the company to report that China's been peeking into its servers, an employee told disgruntled customers, "We're here listening."

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Verizon Wireless demands data plans for non-smartphones

By Tim Conneally on January 15, 2010, 1:24 PM

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Mobile telephony used to be about voice communications first and foremost, but not any more.

As we head toward the 4G era, and smartphones take the leading share of mobile phones sold, data plans will ultimately take precedence over voice plans.

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Amazon opens DIY Kindle publishing to world, but does not improve language support

By Tim Conneally on January 15, 2010, 11:22 AM

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Amazon Kindle may be the go-to brand when someone considers buying a new e-reader in the U.S., but the popular device line is still only just getting its feet wet in the international market.

Last October, Amazon released a version of the Kindle 2 that is compatible with the wireless networks in more than 100 countries, but the content available in the Kindle Store is still mostly aimed at English speakers.

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Hybrid cellular companies could enhance AT&T with satellite service this year

By Tim Conneally on January 14, 2010, 6:18 PM


In July, I wrote an article called "Hybrid satellite cell phones aren't far off," in which I talked about Terrestar Networks and SkyTerra Communications, two companies that have reached the point of satellite launch in their hybrid MSS/cellular networks.

It looks like those launches could be even closer to becoming a reality.

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Droids, iPhones, and RFID to drive new mobile shopping and transit apps in 2010

By Jacqueline Emigh on January 14, 2010, 6:15 PM


An offshoot of RFID known as near field communication (NFC), along with the latest Android phones and Apple's iPhone, are now helping the US to catch up to Europe and Asia in mobile shopping and mass transit applications, said analysts and other experts at this week's National Retail Federation (NRF) conference in New York City.

Among the ever escalating numbers of smartphones available in the US, Apple's iPhone still leads the way in those as well as other mobile application areas, noted David Dorf, director of retail technology at Oracle.

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The Google attack: Human rights threat or IE browser exploit?

By Scott M. Fulton, III on January 14, 2010, 6:03 PM


On Tuesday, Google described an alleged series of attacks on its servers and others' as an apparent effort by an unknown China-based source to gain access to private information about human rights activists in that country. No less than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged her staff being briefed by Google on the matter -- this after almost five years of apparent silence toward government officials from Google regarding its business arrangement with the government of China.

But in a blog post today which officially dubbed the alleged attack "Operation Aurora," McAfee CTO George Kurtz, in revealing his company worked with Google in investigating the attack, suggested a completely different motive. Specifically, Kurtz alleged that a new and heretofore unseen malware turned up during his investigation, appeared to be designed to search for a specific type of company intellectual property.

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Google Nexus One owners share their likes and gripes

By Joe Wilcox on January 14, 2010, 5:44 PM


Earlier this week, I asked Betanews readers who had purchased Google's so-called "superphone" to offer up early impressions. You responded in comments and by e-mail. Thank-you. I apologize for taking so long getting your responses posted. For anyone with a Nexus One, in most states the return policy is 14 days (30 days here in California). Others' opinions could weigh heavily in your decision to keep the device. Then there are those of you considering plunking down a budget-busting $529 for the unlocked device. Ouch! I did!

I am generally satisfied with the Nexus One -- in part because of how Google has extended Android 2.1 to cloud services. While I find value in the hardware, software and services are where I find the greater reward, and it's why I have switched from the Nokia N900, which also runs on T-Mobile's 3G network.

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Texas Instruments networks its calculators

By Tim Conneally on January 14, 2010, 12:00 PM


Anyone who has taken a calculus class in the last 20 years is sure to also have a great deal of experience plugging figures into a TI-8X graphic calculator, and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a certain pang of geeky nostalgia for the TI-85, a standard-issue tool for high school kids in the 1990's.

Technology has come a long way since the 6 MHz Zilog Z80 processor, but Texas Instruments isn't retiring the popular calculators just yet. Instead, it has moved a significant number of those old devices into the wireless age.

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Towards a single, reliable system for identity management

By Thomas J. Smedinghoff, E-Commerce Times on January 14, 2010, 11:14 AM


In this age of phishing, hacking, identity fraud, and other forms of cybercrime, answering two simple questions -- "Who are you?" and "How can you prove it?" -- is fast becoming a critical requirement for all online business activities.

Moreover, solving this "identity management" challenge has become quite complex as the increasing need for cross-organization collaboration, concerns about security, and the problem of user password management suggest that the traditional company-issued username and password approach is no longer adequate. As a consequence, federated identity management, in which a third-party identity provider plays a key role, is rapidly emerging as a preferred approach.

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Now, the great Facebook security giveaway ...literally

By Carmi Levy on January 14, 2010, 10:58 AM


Facebook wants to be your new security maven.

Go ahead. Have a good laugh. I certainly did, after I first learned about Facebook's plan to partner with security provider McAfee to boost end-user security on the often-attacked social media platform.

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Kodak sues Apple and RIM over iPhone and BlackBerry cameras

By Tim Conneally on January 14, 2010, 10:44 AM


Today, Eastman Kodak filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission and a suit in the Western District Court of New York that claims Apple's iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices both violate Kodak's digital imaging patents.

Equipped with a fresh legal precedent from the suit it won against Samsung last month, Kodak spokesmen say the company isn't trying to disrupt sales of the iPhone or BlackBerry devices, but rather, it's seeking compensation for use of Kodak's patented technology.

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On second thought, maybe the RIAA did conspire to fix prices, appeals court finds

By Scott M. Fulton, III on January 13, 2010, 6:15 PM


Did the United States' major record labels, as early as 2001, conspire to establish a system for the distribution and sale of digital music that would have seen subscribers paying up to $240 per year for the right to download up to two songs per artist per month, even then at a retail price indexed at the wholesale cost of $0.70 per song, with restrictive and unwanted DRM schemes attached? That was the assertion of a group of former customers of two music services that launched in 2001. Now, a US appeals court has ruled that the dismissal of their case in 2007 was in error, and that the entire recording industry can indeed be brought to court on antitrust charges.

The original case involved two of the music industry's first "legal download" services, created just months after the founding of iTunes. One was called MusicNet, the original music publishing service from RealNetworks, years before it first started Rhapsody. MusicNet was the culmination of a joint agreement between Real and three of the nation's five major music publishers: EMI Group, Warner Music (then part of AOL Time Warner), and Bertelsmann (now Sony Music). The other was Pressplay, formed by the other two publishers: Universal Music Group (formerly MCA) and the original Sony Music Entertainment.

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Google's change of heart on China draws attention from Congress

By Scott M. Fulton, III on January 13, 2010, 5:00 PM


Yesterday afternoon, citing what it described as "cyber attacks" -- incursions into its own systems it said originated from China -- Google said it would review its business arrangement with the government of China that enables it to operate a search engine under the domain name The company said it believes the alleged attackers were searching for information on Chinese human rights activists.

This morning, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Google had briefed the State Dept. on these attacks, prior to yesterday's announcement. Though the extent of those briefings were not divulged, they could represent a break of the unofficial embargo the company has imposed on any news of its business dealings with the Chinese government, since their initial agreement was reached in late 2005. Now, Rep. Tim Ryan (D - Ohio), one of the congressmen who had led the unsuccessful effort to compel Google -- along with other American Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, and Cisco -- to explain the nature of its business arrangements with China, tells Betanews this afternoon that Google may have had this coming.

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The next entry in the 'Guitar Hero' genre promises to teach real guitar

By Tim Conneally on January 13, 2010, 3:30 PM


Video games that are popular among kids sometimes get an unfortunate makeover into educational software, and while not all conversions result in terrible rip-offs, there have been a number of exceptionally bad action-to-educational conversions. Some examples that come to mind are Sega's zombie shooting game House of the Dead, which was mashed up into a typing tutor; and Nintendo's I am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater, which turned a kid's Famicom into a textile design machine with the aid of the company's mustachioed mascot.

But certain types of games are instructional without being aggressively labeled as such, and have been teaching kids for the last few years. Music simulators such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, for example, have helped many kids become proficient drummers before they're even enrolled in primary school.

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Is Google Nexus One a bomb, or the bomb?

By Joe Wilcox on January 13, 2010, 2:06 PM


Silicon Alley Insider claims that Google's so-called "superphone" is a bomb, based on the first week of sales; Nexus One has no superpowers, whatsoever. I totally disagree. Nexus is the bomb. It's simply better than iPhone 3Gs or Nokia's flagship N900. Nexus One is smokin'. First week sales figures are to be expected, and Google showed real finesse by wisely taking a low-key approach to the device's launch.

Jay Yarow's headline seemingly says it all: "The Nexus One Bombs: Only 20,000 Sold In First Week." But there's more. He writes in the text that "these estimates are bad for Google. The company had plenty of hype gearing up for the launch of the phone. It put an ad on its homepage, and it sprayed its ads all over the web. Given all the hype, these sales numbers are pathetic."

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Adobe Reader 9.3 patch addresses critical JavaScript security issue

By Scott M. Fulton, III on January 13, 2010, 1:01 PM

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Download Adobe Reader 9.3 for Windows from Fileforum now.

Usually on a Patch Tuesday, the discussion turns to Microsoft; but amid a very light round of Windows fixes, it's Adobe in the spotlight today. Last month, a serious and potentially easily exploitable vulnerability was found in a JavaScript API call, DocMedia.NewPlayer -- a situation where an intentionally crafted PDF file could invoke the call, deallocate the memory allocated when the media player is generated, and then execute the code in that de-allocated memory, without need for privilege.

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Google does the right thing in China, but is it for the right reasons?

By Joe Wilcox on January 13, 2010, 1:07 AM


Four years ago this month, Google controversially started censoring search queries in China at the local government's request. Microsoft and Yahoo soon followed. Today, in a stunning blog post, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond writes: "We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China."

Google's seemingly altruistic gesture is as much about business priorities as was the original decision to censor search results in China. Otherwise Google wouldn't have given in to Chinese government demands four years ago.

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Google upgrades Docs, cross-promotes Memeo Connect to pull in Office users

By Tim Conneally on January 12, 2010, 6:41 PM


Often, when a big company releases a new piece of hardware or software, smaller companies will launch their own products that ride in the bigger product's proverbial draft. But this time, One big launch has rolled another smaller launch in with it.

Today, Google announced it will be expanding the storage capacity of Google Docs to 1GB, and allow single files up to 250 MB to be uploaded, which opens up the ability to upload other file types such as raw graphics files or zipped archives. Word documents are limited to 500 KB in size, and PowerPoint presentations are limited to 10MB, but the general limit is still many multiples higher than the maximum Gmail attachment size.

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Microsoft will not deny report of Windows Mobile 7 delay to 2011

By Scott M. Fulton, III on January 12, 2010, 4:48 PM


Last Sunday, former Tom's Hardware correspondent Theo Valich, now editor-in-chief of Bright Side of News, referred to sources from at least five smartphone manufacturers plus Microsoft itself as telling him that Windows Mobile 7 would not be made generally available until 2011 -- what those manufacturers would perceive as a delay. This despite indications from CEO Steve Ballmer last Wednesday at CES that an announcement of a forthcoming product would come at Mobile World Congress next month, and a preview of coming attractions given to Betanews' Tim Conneally by Windows Mobile Senior Product Manager Greg Sullivan at CES the following Friday.

Given multiple opportunities to clarify Valich's report, and to deny that any delay was in the works, Microsoft spokespersons would not provide Betanews with information that shed any light on the timeframe, or that would refute the information from vendors cited in that report. The company appears to be taking the position that, since it has never set a firm timetable on WM7's release, whatever date it announces, however far in the future that might be, is not a delay.

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iTunes pricing is out of control

By Joe Wilcox on January 12, 2010, 3:35 PM


Succinctly stated: You pay more.

Apple has a reputation for charging more for most everything, while often delivering less than competitors. Any Windows PC-to-Mac laptop pricing comparison is example enough. The Windows computer typically comes with higher-resolution display, more system memory and beefier storage than comparatively-priced Mac portable.

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Pattern emerges for Nexus One 3G problems, points to baseband firmware

By Scott M. Fulton, III on January 12, 2010, 2:51 PM


In an effort to minimize the apparent scope of the problem faced by at least a sizable plurality of Nexus One customers this week, Google has issued a statement to the press. It essentially acknowledges what we've all seen with our eyes, that users are experiencing widespread 3G connectivity issues, but it offers no information as to what measures are being taken to address those concerns.

"We are aware of the issues that have affected a small number of users, and are working quickly to fix any problems," reads the statement from Google to Betanews this afternoon. "We hope to have more information soon. When we do, we will post it to the user forum."

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