Being one of the most common web browsers in the world does mean problems will arise. However, the latest security bug that Microsoft has uncovered is not targeted at its latest browser, but in fact will affect all versions of Internet Explorer (IE). The security vulnerability is so severe that if exploited by a booby-trapped webpage the bug would allow attackers to take control of an unprotected computer.A temporary fix has already been published whilst Microsoft works on a permanent fix, and the company has said it had no evidence it was currently being used by hi-tech criminals. The bug seems to exploit the way IE manages a computer’s memory when processing CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) which as most tech heads will know is widely used within web pages to control the look and feel of a website.AdChoices广告In a statement Microsoft comments:We are investigating the bug and working on a permanent fix. In the meantime we recommend those concerned to use a protection system known as the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit. Mind you, installing and applying the toolkit could require Windows XP users to update to the latest service pack, and even then some of the protection it provides for Windows 7 and Vista users will not be available.Read more at the BBC
Having grown up playing first-person shooters on a PC, any attempt I make to play such games on a console has been met with me thinking “this would be so much better with a keyboard and mouse”.Unless the game is terrible, I keep playing and make do with the joypad as a controller. But if I had the option of plugging in a keyboard and mouse I would probably use it. Well, if you are a 360 gamer that option now exists thanks to the XIM3 adaptor.AdChoices广告The XIM3 consists of a small LCD display and 4 USB ports. Each port allows for a connection to your Xbox 360, keyboard, mouse, and 360 joypad, all of which need to be connected for the system to work. The joypad also allows for navigation of the XIM3 settings–you do not need a PC at any point.The most important feature of the XIM3 is the real-time command transfer, so there is no lag between your keyboard and mouse input and the game. As far as the 360 is concerned, you are using a joypad to input commands.Configuration controls are included on the XIM3 to allow you to configure on a per game basis. There’s also 10 Smart Transitions specifically for setting up mouse precision and overcoming dead zones which can differ depending on the game being played. Watch the video below for more information on this:If you want mouse and keyboard control on your 360, then this does look to be the best option at the moment. However, it’s not cheap and you can expect to pay $149.99.Read more at XIM3, via HotHardwareMatthew’s OpinionI’m sure a lot of 360 gamers will have an issue with this and its potential to improve a user’s performance in multiplayer on games like Modern Warfare 2. It’s true that keyboard and mouse do allow for more accurate movement, but a seasoned joypad user should be able to match a XIM3 player. It’s when you put two new players in a room that you’ll probably see the XIM3 give an advantage.This video of the XIM3 being used with Halo 3 shows accelerated turning while allowing for accurate aiming. So yes, it does offer an advantage if such settings are used.At $149.99, I doubt you will see many players making the investment. But for some, the draw of being able to use keyboard and mouse input will be enough to warrant the investment.
I did not know this, but last Friday was supposed to be a Facebook Defriend Day. This was a day when you were meant to clean up your list of friends, i.e. remove those who are no longer your friends or you feel have mistreated you in some way.So if you log into Facebook today and notice that half of your friends are missing you will no why. However, it could take some time tracking down which friends have left, especially if you have hundreds of them. The reason being that Facebook does not have an email facility in place which informs you when a friend leaves and nor would they, as Facebook does not want to advertise that somebody has left the service, after all it’s bad for publicity.AdChoices广告A solution does exist, though, and takes the shape of 3rd party plug-in’s. One such example is the aptly named Defriend Alert which is no doubt trying to cash in on the above. It was developed by Seattle based Nick Patrick who has previously worked on iPhone apps, Reminders and Alarm System.There is nothing more to note about Defriend Alert, other than that once you grant it access to your Facebook account it will monitor your friends list and send out an email alerting you when one of your friends has decided to ditch you.Read more at Defriend Alert Brett’s OpinionI can see this being useful for business users, after all if one of your key customers ditches you it would be interesting to find out the reasons why. But for personal use I cannot see the point and I have a mis-trust for any application(s) that wants to gain access to my account. Besides, I have had friends defriend me on Facebook in the past and then a week later come back on-board, so if an app is emailing you every time a friend leaves it could lead to the wrong conclusions and invoke a ton of spam in your inbox to boot.For hundreds of friends it may be more useful, but I know some people who have friends on their list that they can’t remember who they are anyway, so being alerted to the fact they have gone doesn’t really seem like such a problem.
Just as Japan was starting to come to terms with the loss and rebuild after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the country has been hit again by a very strong aftershock.The USGS website is reporting a 7.4 magnitude earthquake near the coast of Honshu, Japan. That’s the same northeastern coast that suffered the 8.9 magnitude quake last month. Again, it hit off the coast meaning the chance of a tsunami is there and predicted to be 3.2 feet in height.Even though this aftershock is not as big as the first, it’s still up there and managed to shake buildings in Tokyo some 205 miles away. The troubled Fukushima nuclear plant was only 90 miles away, but has not been further affected by this.The only good news is, if a tsunami does happen the area it will strike is already mostly deserted as rebuilding work happens. The Japanese people will also be on much higher alert this time with relief efforts already in place.We hope this is the last aftershock Japan has to endure and no further earthquakes happen for the foreseeable future and that a feared second tsunami never appears.via MSNBC
Vodafone has just released a new advert in the UK, and used some cutting-edge 3D Projection Mapping techniques to show off the evolution of the cell phone in a different way.Most of you will have seen projection mapping before in those videos of buildings being seemingly destroyed or manipulated at night. Here’s a good example:AdChoices广告Vodafone look to have perfected the effect yet further, though, with this great evolution video. It starts with the old Motorola brick phone we’re all glad has now disappeared. That then morphs into a smaller Nokia 1G phone with a little help from a hidden hand replacing the device on the table.The text message, first popular game (Snake), color screens, GPS, and Android are all highlighted. In fact, Vodafone show the HTC Desire S last, meaning they think it is currently the most evolved. But they also ask the question “what’s next?”via Android Central
It’s safe to say that most people are, to some extent, bargain hunters. Why pay for a product when there’s a cheaper, possibly free, but equally as good product elsewhere? Sounds logical. What happens when you direct people to the cheaper version? In the case of Hilbrand Edskes, you get sued by RealNetworks.The court case concerns a hyperlink to freeware that Edskes had on his website, Codepack.nl. His website hosts links to a number of freeware programs with one of them being Real Alternative, a competitor to RealNetworks’ RealPlayer. RealNetworks alleges that Edskes hosted certain software. This isn’t the case–Edskes only linked to the software in question. Edskes’ computers were confiscated as a result.RealNetworks claims that Edskes failed to remove the link from the site and the company alleges that the reference in the DNS directories existed after February 12, 2010. Yet, the company that confiscated Edskes’ computers confirmed the link’s removal, as did the hosting provider. Despite this confirmation, RealNetworks maintains that the link stayed up for 43 days which translates to €210,000, roughtly $302,000 in damages.Edskes has already racked up €66,000 ($95,000) in legal fees. Should he lose, he will also be required to cover RealNetwork’s legal fees which currently total €75,000, or roughly $102,000. Edskes asserts that DNS caching, which takes a long time, is the reason for the delay.RealNetworks’ decision to pursue Edskes instead of the people behind Real Alternative is deeply concerning. Edskes didn’t make the software, nor did he actually host the software. He only held up an arrow sign to where the freeware actually lived. There’s no real harm in linking to the freeware because the software is available on a number of sites. Edskes is not to blame and most would agree that RealNetworks has the wrong guy.This case has a serious financial burden for Edskes as it has prevented him buying a house. What do you think? Is hosting a link to freeware a crime?via PC Advisor
A cool new battery case from NTT DoCoMo can charge in just ten minutes. The case then passes on its power to the phone at regular-charge speed whilst on the move.The prototype case, debuted at Ceatec 2011 in Japan, employs lithium-tintanate battery technology – a modified form of the more standard lithium-ion battery – to achieve super-fast recharge speeds.The case itself seems a bit bulky and is designed to fit over a regular phone as a sort of backup power system for those times when you forget to charge it. The fact that NTT DoCoMo is not simply incorporating the lithium-tintanate technology directly into the regular phone battery suggests that it is not ready for mainstream adoption, possibly due to the bulky nature of the current batteries compare to their lithium-ion counterparts.There is no indication from NTT DoCoMo about pricing, or when the super-charge case might see a release; something not uncommon for trade-show previews of next-gen technology. we don’t even know yet what phones will be supported as every handset is different. Surely some modular battery and casing will be required for cater for lots of phones?The battery in the case has some similarities to the Super-Charge Battery from Toshiba, which can charge to 90 percent capacity in five minutes and is touted as a ‘super safe’ battery, capable of withstanding ruptures and functioning in extremely low temperatures (though there is no evidence that the same applies to the NTT DoCoMo version).Backup batteries that allow users to charge their phone when not near a power outlet are nothing new; solutions exist for the iPhone and most other mobile devices. What sets the NTT DoCoMo solution apart is the combination of a charging case and the super-fast re-charge speeds promised.Read more at CNET
Microsoft has been enjoying a growing amount of income from the Android platform purely through license deals and royalty payments from companies who actually use the mobile operating system.In fact, it seems to have become a bit too easy for Microsoft of late. They wait for a hardware manufacturer to release an Android device, get in touch and point out the patents being violated, show them a list of other high profile companies that already pay them for using Android, and wait for the signature and new revenue stream.That Android cash cow could be about to get shot for being lame, though. Barnes & Noble, who offer the Nook and Nook Tablet, has decided Microsoft’s advances for Android royalties aren’t valid and will fight them in court. The problem for Microsoft is, they seem to have a pretty rock solid case against them.The two arguments B&N are using include the fact it believes Microsoft is extending the patents beyond their reasonable scope in order to catch Android in their net. And secondly, B&N has provided over 100 examples of prior art, which the company believes invalidates Microsoft’s patents for Android.Producing a couple of examples or prior art may put the argument on shaky ground, but over 100 makes it look like there is something seriously amiss with the patents Microsoft is relying upon for its royalties. It also helps that the prior art claims don’t just relate to one of Microsoft’s patents, they relate to five, including:Remote retrieval and display management of electronic documentSystem provided child window controlsLoading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display areaSelection handles in editing electronic documentsMethod and apparatus for capturing and rendering annotationsB&N is sure to win some influential fans by taking this stand, in particular Google will be watching this fight closely. We just have to wait and see what the judge in the case decides, and whether Microsoft has another set of patents kept in reserve in case this ever happened and they lose a case.Read more at InfoWorld and the B&N Supplemental Notice of Prior Art (PDF)
In a world where many of us live large chunks of our personal and professional lives in a web browser, there should be nothing more important than the security of our online information. We broadcast our locations, our shopping habits, our innermost thoughts through a browser to the services we trust to keep that information safe. While we can hold the keepers of our information responsible for any vulnerabilities on their end, we own the keys to the front door. It is the responsibility of the user to keep themselves secure, and there are plenty of tools out there to help you do exactly that.Choosing a great passwordSomewhere along the way we got confused about what a good password is. We listen to these security experts that tell us we should have four capital letters, two numbers, and a handful of special characters. I am immediately reminded of XKCD cartoonist Randall Monroe’s comic on password strength, which demonstrates the two sided problem with making your password a ridiculous array of randomness. Larger than this problem, however, are the users whose passwords are single dictionary words or dates that coincide with events that are easy to figure out.Even today three of the top 10 passwords are “password”, “1234567”, and “qwerty”, and while a complicated jumble of letters and numbers are much more secure than those, you can still do better.It never hurts to test your password. There are a handful of services out there that will tell you how secure you password is, but my personal favorite is howsecureismypassword.net. This service is free, easy to use, and gives you some base guidelines on making your password more secure. The best way to use a service like this is to come up with a password similar to the one you want to use, and enter it on the website — it’s probably not the smartest thing in the world to use your actual password.This service will give you a good starting point, and a clear idea of what a strong password will look like. Once you have a great password, you will already be safer than most but there’s still more you can do.Two-factor authenticationPasswords can be guessed, leaked, or they can be accidentally given out. There are still plenty of people out there that tape their password to the underside of their keyboard or on a sticky note in their desk. While this can be avoided, there are other ways to keep yourself secure. PayPal, Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox are the leaders of a list that use an additional security layer called two-factor authentication (often seen as TFA or 2FA).What TFA does is allow you to have a secondary password that you enter when you sign in to the service. The second password is usually generated fresh ever 30 (or so) seconds) and is handled though a smartphone app or small device. The generated password is usually just a few numbers, which is fine because it is usable for just long enough for you to sign in to the service, and then it changes.Paypal, Battle.Net, and your bank account provide you with a keyfob that generates the key, as long as you are willing to pay for it (about $30 generally). The keyfobs only work for one service, so by the end of the day your keychain isn’t likely to fit in your pocket. The most common form of two-factor authentication is to just send the code to your phone. Facebook, for example, will send you a text message with the secondary password, which is only good for a few seconds. Google has a public service that any company can use to add TFA to their service, and the Google Authentication app dispenses the passwords from your phone. Dropbox is one such company that uses the Google Authenticator when you setup authentication on their service.This adds a great layer of security to your services, but hinges on your ability to not lose your phone or a small thumb device. While it is less likely that your phone will be stolen to gain access to your services, it’s not impossible. More likely, however, is that your phone simply not be able to deliver the information to you. If your phone breaks, or you have exhausted the battery after a long day, you are no longer able to access your online services that you aren’t already signed in to.Secure password storageThe truth is that two-factor authentication is exhausting, and the recovery process if anything happens to your phone is painfully tedious. It’s very secure, but really not something that I think the average user would put themselves through. Let’s face it, most people really doesn’t even like passwords. In a perfect world, the computer would just log them in to everything and no one would ever have to think about passwords because all of the security would just be done for them. This isn’t so much fantasy as an actual way to secure your digital services by allowing a program to generate your login credentials for all of the services you use.The greatest example of this is LastPass. Lastpass is a quick install onto your computer and an add-on to your web browser. Every time you want to go to a website, LastPass will generate a secure password for that service and store it for you securely. It’s so secure that even you don’t know what it is, unless you write it down or memorize the randomly generated key.After that, you can access the information from your LastPass vault, but typically you would only access that to add or remove security features or auto-fill information for specific websites. The whole idea is that you aren’t responsible for your security online, LastPass is. If you pay for the premium service, you can use the LastPass app to help keep yourself secure when not at the PC.Just as your password is only as secure as you are, your LastPass account is guarded by a login that you control. While it is convenient to have one password to a system that authorizes secure passwords for everything, there’s not really a lot of benefit if someone gains access to your LastPass account. In the end, it all comes back to how secure you are with that one password. Unless, of course, you decided to take things one step further and add two factor authentication to your LastPass.LastPass is a popular password manager, but it’s far from alone. There is also 1Password, RoboForm, KeePass, and others.YubikeyAs a standalone device, a Yubikey is a fantastic tool for any security conscious individual. This product allows a physical USB key to be your password for certain things. It can be setup, for example, so that your computer only unlocks when the Yubikey is inserted and the password from the Yubikey is offered. In most versions of the Yubikey there’s a button on board that transmits the password when you press it. As long as the private key from the Yubikey matches the one stored on your PC, the password generated by the Yubikey will unlock the device. There are variations of these devices that can even fit entirely inside the USB port, or run on NFC instead of having a physical button. These devices start at about $25.When you use the Yubikey in conjunction with another security service, such as LastPass or Symantec VIP, Yubikey becomes a new kind of two-factor authentication. Instead of relying on keyfobs, apps, or SMS to receive what you need to login to your account, the Yupikey itself generates the key needed to access these services. This removes the potential threats generated by someone getting a hold of your phone or a malicious app on your phone intercepting the SMS.Final thoughtsThere’s no such thing as being 100% secure, unless you live your digital life on a airgap network and don’t use any of the online services available today. For the most part, however, people are a secure as they want to be. There’s no shortage of tools out there to improve that security, and especially in a world where the services we use are routinely under attack, it makes good sense to consider additional security options.
We know what it takes for planets to form — the right mix of cosmic elements all coming together at the right time, and in the right place. However, we have never really gotten a good look at a planet that is currently in its formation stage. Now, though, astronomers using the European Space Agency’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have observed what appears to be a planet forming in the middle of a disc of gas and dust. If confirmed, this would be the first time a forming planet has been directly observed.The (probably) forming planet is located just 335 lightyears from Earth — relatively close in a galactic sense — and looks like it would end up forming as a gas giant. The forming planet is estimated to be located around 70 times farther from its star — HD 100546 — than the Earth is from the Sun. Normally, gas giants aren’t located so far from their stars, so if this forming planet is indeed a gas giant, it would’ve either had to be moved out that distance due to something like a gravitational effect, or astronomers just learned something new about gas giants.In the above image, the left half shows the light from the forming planet’s star. When that light is blocked out, the right half of the image — the red blob — became visible, which is the disc of gas and dust surrounding the planet. It is, however, possible that the light that is thought to be a forming planet is actually light from another, unidentified source further away, but astronomers say that is unlikely, though technically possible.If we already know how a planet forms, why would observing the process matter? Well, for one, we’ve never done that before — you can learn a lot about seeing something actually happen, rather than hearing or hypothesizing about it. Secondly, it would prove that the formation process can happen with a significantly large empty gap between the planet and star.While astronomers say the red blob is likely a forming planet, further observations are necessary to confirm. Until then, we can just sit back and be amazed that new planets are forming all over the universe. That’s a thing that is happening right now.