Haruka's Tech Blog
Injuration: 2008

Facebook gets hit with a virus

Facebook has been hit with a virus that could spread to its 120 million users. The virus has been dubbed "knobface", which tries to gather personal information from users computers such as credit card numbers.

The virus dubbed "knobface" sends a message to all the friends of the infected titled "You look just awesome in this new movie". Users who opened the messaged where asked to download a fake update for Adobe flash player, which was actually the virus itself being downloaded and installed onto victims computers. If users attempted to use any of the major three search engines such as Yahoo, Google, or Live search, users would be taken to contaminated sites.

All users are being asked to run their updated anti-virus scanners to check for potential contamination. Facebook has also posted a response to help users clean infected machines on their security web site.

The "knobface" hit MySpace in August, where users had a similar situation where the virus took over their computer. Researchers believe that this is not the last of the "knobface" virus we will see, but the hacker or hackers are improving it.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Saturday, December 6, 2008

Windows Live Wave 3 rolled out

Earlier this week Microsoft updated their Hotmail service to the new Windows Live Wave 3. Though Home and Spaces remained the same. Yesterday however, those were also updated with new features and gadgets.

The New Live Wave 3 which seems to have been rolled out feaures Dynamic themes, updated Weather forecasts, and the ability to add pictures. The page itself also integrates a number of services. All your messenger contact info is sent to Windows Live Home, additionally, Office Workspaces has also been integrated to show all files and folders added.

Now let's talk about SkyDrive. SkyDrive got a major boost. Last week you were able to store up to 5GB, now it has been boosted to 25GB. Folders have also been neatly organized, however, the ability to view friends SkyDrive's seems to have been removed.

Downloads have also been included. These Downloads are the new Live Wave 3 Programs which include WLM 9.0, WLMD (Windows Live Mail Desktop), WLMM (Windows Live Movie Maker), WLW (Windows Live Writer) etc, however they are ALL BETA and will not be released until Feb, 09. Finally, Spaces. Spaces seems to be out of service at the moment unfortunately, this has been confirmed by a number of people.

To check this out and more, go to: http://home.live.com

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mozilla to end Firefox 2.x support in mid-December

Mozilla announced on 18 November that they are continuing their EOL (end of life) policy with their products by ending support for Firefox version 2 even though version 3 itself has its own problems. The EOL policy is a system Mozilla set up to allow the developers to end their work on a previous version so they can work on the future versions. The EOL for the previous product kicks in after 6 months of release of a new product. If you are using version 2 of Firefox you may not be able to get any security updates or patches for flaws that could occur from now on.

It's not just Firefox that will soon be unsupported, the Gecko engine version 1.8 that is a key factor of Thunderbird 2 will also be ended and it in turn could stall the production of Seamonkey, Camino and Galeon. Despite this move Michael Connor from Mozilla announced "Mozilla (in some form) will provide support for Thunderbird based on the official lifecycle policy."

Despite there being no support for Seamonkey or any other 3rd party application using Gecko 1.8 Mozilla said the developers making those applications can still release their own updates but the system its self will not updated.

Mozilla will now set focus on improving Firefox 3. Many people have had problems with Firefox 3 crashing or stalling at various times something that the previous version didn't do that often. Other problems with Firefox that have been noted is the amount of memory the browser uses during a good few hours usage.

Firefox 3 set a world record when it was downloaded more then 8 million times when it was unleashed to the world this past June.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Windows 7" has been confirmed as the final name

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 7 will be the final name for the next generation operating system.

In a blog, Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Management confirmed the news.

"Since we began development of the next version of the Windows client operating system we have been referring to it by a codename, "Windows 7." But now is a good time to announce that we've decided to officially call the next version of Windows, "Windows 7" Nash said.

This is the first time a Windows OS has been named by its codename. The decision was made for simplicity. Nash added "this is the seventh release of Windows, so therefore "Windows 7" just makes sense."

Microsoft is set to reveal a lot more about Windows 7 at its professional developers conference which starts on the 27th October. Neowin will be live all week so look out for some great information about the future of Windows right here.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Google launches internet browser

Google is launching an open source web browser to compete with Internet Explorer and Firefox.

The browser is designed to be lightweight and fast, and to cope with the next generation of web applications that rely on graphics and multimedia. Called Chrome, it will launch as a beta for Windows machines in 100 countries, with Mac and Linux versions to come.

"We realised... we needed to completely rethink the browser," said Google's Sundar Pichai in a blog post.

The new browser will help Google take advantage of developments it is pushing online in rich web applications that are challenging traditional desktop programs.

Google has a suite of web apps, such as Documents, Picasa and Maps which offer functionality that is beginning to replace offline software.

View: BBC news

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Apple twice the price of PCs

Research by analyst house NPD has shown that, on average, Apple users pay twice as much in the shops as PC users. Retail data showed that in June the average cost of a Windows laptop was $700, compared to $1,515 for an Apple machine. The difference was even more stark with desktop models, with the average Windows machine going for $550, compared to $1,543 for an Apple.

"There are plenty of Windows PCs you can buy at high prices," Stephen Baker, NPD’s vice president of industry analysis told vnunet.com. "But if you want to buy an Apple you don’t have any choice, you’ll have to pay more." He said that in his opinion it was just a choice Apple had made and the company could argue that the value of the software and brand made up for the price differential.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

637 million browser users at risk

A group of researches on Tuesday said 637 million Web users are surfing with outdated Internet browsers and therefore at greater risk of Web-based attacks.Using data collected from Google Web searches and security firm Secunia, the researchers, Stefan Frei (of ETH, Zurich), Thomas Dübendorfer (Google), Gunter Ollmann (IBM ISS), and Martin May (ETH, Zurich), analyzed the browsers used in a new report. They did so in an effort to understand why so many recent attacks by criminal hackers have been aimed at the browser, and why those attacks have been so successful.Overall the authors found that roughly 40 percent of users were using insecure versions of Web browsers. Among the least compliant were users of Internet Explorer, which currently dominates the Internet browser market.The data was collected in mid-June 2008. The users were scattered among 78 percent Internet Explorer users, 16 percent Firefox, 3 percent Safari, and 0.8 percent for Opera. Of these, 52 percent were running the latest version of Internet Explorer, 92 percent for Firefox, 70 percent for Apple, and 90 percent for Opera.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Sunday, July 6, 2008

MySpace to undergo major redesign

MySpace will unveil next week a large-scale redesign that will alter major components of the social-networking site, like its home page, navigation scheme, search engine and video player.

On Wednesday, MySpace users will see the first phase of the redesign, which has been in the works for the past six months, according to the company.

MySpace, the world's most popular social-networking site, expects the changes to boost user engagement by making the site easier to navigate.

MySpace is routinely criticized by users and observers for a layout that many consider visually strident and messy. Its members have many options to alter their profile pages, such as changing their background color, adding hyperactive animations, using fonts of many sizes and colors and plastering them with videos and photo slideshows.

On the other hand, rival Facebook is much more conservative in its design, aiming for a cleaner and more organized look, and gives its members fewer liberties to adorn their profile pages. In fact, layout and design is one of the key areas of differentiation between the two sites, and people often choose one or the other based on this issue.

As part of the redesign plans, MySpace has conducted surveys, performed usability tests and gathered focus groups.

In addition to revamping the home page, MySpace is also changing the profile editor to make it easier for members to design and decorate their profile pages. The profile pages will also undergo renovations.

Meanwhile, the search engine interface is getting a more streamlined layout, an enhanced relevancy algorithm and a tabbed results page including categories like people, MySpace site, Web, music and video.

In addition, the video player is gaining new controls and support for Flash 9 full-screen mode.

Facebook is also busy these days toiling away at a major redesign of its member profile pages, which it has previewed and which it hopes to roll out at some point this month.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Saturday, June 14, 2008

10 June Fixes for Windows XP/Vista & Server

If you were wondering what were the updates you saw on 10-11 June when shutting down your PC or in the notification area were, here it is:

Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP/Vista/2000/Server 2003/Server 2008 (KB950759)
Security issues have been identified that could allow an attacker to compromise a system that is running Microsoft Internet Explorer and gain control over it. You can help protect your system by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Security Update for Windows XP/Vista/Server 2003 (KB951376)
A security issue has been identified that could allow an unauthenticated remote attacker to compromise your Microsoft Windows-based system and gain control over it. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Security Update for Windows XP/Vista/Server 2003 (KB950762)
A security issue has been identified that could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to cause the affected system to stop responding. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Cumulative Security Update for ActiveX Killbits for Windows XP/Vista/2000/Server 2003/Server 2008 (KB950760)
Security issues have been identified in ActiveX controls that could allow an attacker to compromise a system that is running Microsoft Internet Explorer and gain control over it. You can help protect your system by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Security Update for Windows XP/Vista/2000/Server 2003/Server 2008 (KB951698)
A security issue has been identified in Microsoft DirectShow that could allow an attacker to compromise your Windows-based system and gain control over it. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool - June 2008 (KB890830)
After the download, this tool runs one time to check your computer for infection by specific, prevalent malicious software (including Blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom) and helps remove any infection that is found. If an infection is found, the tool will display a status report the next time that you start your computer. A new version of the tool will be offered every month. If you want to manually run the tool on your computer, you can download a copy from the Microsoft Download Center, or you can run an online version from microsoft.com. This tool is not a replacement for an antivirus product. To help protect your computer, you should use an antivirus product.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Thursday, June 12, 2008

USB 3.0 battle heats up

nVidia and AMD are looking to wrest control from Intel over the specification for USB 3.0.

USB 3.0 is the next-generation high-speed connection standard due out next year that is expected to offer 10 times the speed of USB 2.0.

At issue is that Intel is allegedly not giving the specification to competitors in the CPU or chipset markets. Intel responds that it is "working hard to get the complete spec" to the industry. One source close to Intel alleges that nVidia and Intel are seeking the "host controller "specification that Intel says is beyond the USB 3.0 specification.

View: CNET: nVidia, AMD vie with Intel over USB 3.0

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Sunday, June 8, 2008

Microsoft will not extend availability of XP

Microsoft announced yesterday the worldwide extension of the availability of Windows XP Home for an emerging, new class of mobile personal computers commonly known as ultra-low-cost PCs, or ULCPCs. Windows XP Home for ULCPCs will be available until the later of June 30, 2010, or one year after general availability of the next version of Windows.

That extension does not apply to other editions of Windows XP; such as Professional, Tablet and Media Edition.

PressPass: Will Microsoft extend sales of other editions of Windows XP?

Dix: No, there is no plan to extend sales of other editions of Windows XP beyond June 30, 2008. We are very proud of the progress that we have made with Windows Vista over the last sixteen months. Since its launch, Windows Vista has become the fastest-selling operating system in Microsoft history, and more than 100 million Windows Vista licenses have been sold worldwide.

Last fall, our OEM partners asked us to extend sales of Windows XP to give their customers more time to transition to Windows Vista while we worked with other software vendors to expand application compatibility. Today, more than 2,500 applications have received the Windows Vista logo (a ten-fold increase since launch) and more than 78,000 devices and components are supported by drivers either in-box or on Windows Update. On NPD’s list of the top 100 consumer applications selling at retail, 98 are now compatible—and the latest versions of the top free downloads (Adobe Reader, Shockwave and iTunes) are all compatible.

View: Full PressPass Article

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Saturday, April 5, 2008

Is Microsoft Playing Games With XP SP3?

It's a question that is burning up the blogosphere with some speculating that Microsoft has delayed XP SP3, a long awaited release that could boost the performance of XP, to get more users to adopt Vista, a potential cash cow for Microsoft and PC makers given the operating system's robust hardware refresh requirements.

With many in the blogosphere speculating that Microsoft could release the final version of XP SP3 this week, Microsoft late Tuesday snuffed out all hope that users would see the service pack, originally slated for release in 2006, any time soon.

Instead of a final XP SP 3 release, Microsoft announced late Tuesday a refresh to the XP SP3 Release Candidate 2 version it posted to its Download Center just last month. The software giant cited the need to elicit more feedback from testers, but some solution providers aren't buying it.

"I think Microsoft is withholding XP SP3 until all of the smoke has blown over with Vista SP1," said Patrick Derosier, co-owner of CPU Guys, a Hanson, Mass system builder. "They are dealing with a driver backlash from Vista SP1 which was released only last week."

Derosier said Microsoft is grappling with a raft of Vista driver issues that is hampering the adoption of the operating sytem. He said CPU Guys recommends users stick with XP rather than move to Vista.

Derosier said Vista is not ready for prime time yet. "Vista still needs a lot more hardware support in the form of drivers from major vendors before we can recommend it," he said. "You can tell there is a problem when a major Intel video driver on many chipsets has a problem."

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Apple keen to push Safari 3.1 on Windows users.

If you run iTunes or QuickTime or any Apple software on your Windows PC, but not Safari, you might have seen an uninvited guest show up in the Apple Software Update earlier this week. Yes, Apple thinks you need yet another browser. They tried to slip the new Safari 3.1 in for iTunes owners, a move that has some Windows users up in arms.

The program is usually used for updating Apple software, and so getting new software with the deal wasn't something a lot of users expected. And users who don't do anything but the default, are basically going to be getting software they didn't plan to have.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Released

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an update to Windows Vista that addresses feedback from our customers. In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability, performance, and compatibility issues; supporting new types of hardware; and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also will continue to make it easier for IT administrators to deploy and manage Windows Vista. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Five Language Standalone version can be installed on systems with any of the following language versions: English (US), French, German, Japanese, or Spanish (Traditional).

Download: Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista 32bit [434.5 MB]
Download: Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista 64bit [726.5 MB]
View: Vista SP1 overview

(For most people, you probably only need the 32bit version)

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Toshiba Officially Confirms Death of HD-DVD

Toshiba said on Tuesday it would stop promoting its HD DVD format for the next-generation DVD after losing the support of key studios and retailers to the Blu-ray technology backed by Sony.

The decision ends a war between rival consortiums led by Toshiba and Sony vying to set the standard for high-definition movies on DVDs. Toshiba said it would begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders and aim to end the business by the end of next month. The Blu-ray win means consumers no longer have to choose between rival incompatible formats and run the risk of being stuck with a 21st century equivalent of Betamax -- Sony's videotape technology that lost out to VHS in the 1980s.

Having one format should also help accelerate the shift to the new technology in the $24 billion home DVD market as shoppers faced with rival machines that played only one type of disc or the other, have previously held back.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Apple announces MacBook Air

Steve Jobs announced at the Macworld Conference & Expo to announce new products.

MacBook Air

The rumors were true. Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's latest portable, the $1,799 MacBook Air, which he called the "world's thinnest notebook." Dissing Sony's TX series, Jobs said that other subnotebook manufacturers inevitably compromise on the display, have mini-keyboards, and run too slowly due to heat issues.

  • 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 80GB 1.8" Hard Drive standard, optional 64GB solid-state drive
  • 19mm thick at thickest point, weighs 1kg.
  • 2GB RAM
  • 5 hours of battery life
  • US$1,799 for 1.6GHz, 80GB HD model; US$3,099 for 1.8GHz, 64GB SSD model
  • Full aluminum case
The MacBook Air is silver, weighs 1kg. and has a wedge-shaped profile that's 19mm thick at the fattest point and 4.1mm thick at its thinnest point. There's a full-size keyboard, a 13.3" widescreen display with LED backlighting, and a built-in iSight. The keyboard has an ambient light sensor similar to that of the MacBook Pro, and the trackpad supports multitouch gestures for panning, zooming, and rotating.

On the hardware side, the MacBook Air comes standard with an 80GB 1.8" hard drive, with a 64GB solid-state drive available. It's powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo running at 1.6GHz, with an option for a 1.8GHz model. According to Jobs, the Core 2 Duo in the MacBook Air is 60 percent smaller than standard C2D CPUs.

There's no optical drive or Ethernet port on the MacBook Air. The new laptop only includes built-in 802.11n, USB, DVI, and a headphone jack. Software installations can be done remotely using "Remote Disk," which allows the MacBook Air to access the optical drive of a networked Mac or PC.

Jobs also touted the environmentally-friendly nature of the MacBook Air. It has a full aluminum case, which he said is "highly desired by recyclers," a bromide- and PVC-free motherboard, and the retail packaging takes less than 50 percent of the volume of the previous packaging.

Written by Haruka Takahashi on Thursday, January 17, 2008