Google removes thousands of malware sites

On Monday, Sunbelt Software’s security blog revealed that thousands of malware redirects were showing up in search engine results. Network bots designed to post relevant keywords and spam links in various online forms (think forum posts or blog comments) helped attackers claim high-ranking search engine positions for various obscure and seemingly innocuous search terms. According to Sunbelt, two of the thousands of terms were “infinity” and “hospice.” Yeah, that’s cool. Search for hospice information for a sick friend or family member, potentially get your system infected with nasty malware.

On Tuesday, Sunbelt revealed more information about the ill-effects clicking on these fake links could have on a vulnerable system (as a reminder – ALWAYS keep your browser and Internet security tools up to date). Best case scenario – you might end up with one of those annoying toolbars and pop-up ads for fake security software. Worst case? Your computer could be used to generate false-clicks for the attacker’s pay-per click programs (so they infect your system so that you can make them money), or worse still, that bot could load other malware/worms/trojans onto the unprotected system. Further investigation also revealed that these SEO-poisoning attacks were targeted at Google, although other search engines may have also been victim to the attacks.

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Lawyers: Even Microsoft Confused Over Vista Marketing

A Microsoft product manager couldn’t correctly explain the “Vista Capable” marketing slogan, according to recent filings in a lawsuit that claims the company misled consumers with a prerelease Vista campaign last year.

A Microsoft Corp. product manager couldn’t correctly explain the “Vista Capable” marketing slogan, according to recent filings in a lawsuit that claims the company misled consumers with a prerelease Vista campaign last year.

The case, first filed in March by Washington state resident Diane Kelley, charged Microsoft with deceptive practices in letting PC makers slap a “Vista Capable” sticker on PCs, when “a large number” of the machines would be able to run only Vista Home Basic, the simplest version of the operating system.

About two weeks ago, lawyers for Kelley requested that the lawsuit be given class-action status, which would open the plaintiff list to all U.S. residents. Last week, Microsoft opposed that move in its own filing with the federal court in Seattle.

Microsoft argued that it spent considerable time and effort educating the public and providing information to its OEM hardware partners about the Vista Capable program, as well as a separate-but-related logo that labeled some PCs in late 2006 as “Premium Ready.” Both programs and their associated stickers were used by Microsoft and computer makers to sell Windows XP systems in the last quarter of the year because Vista’s retail release had been delayed until January, after the holiday sales season.

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Google Body: Users Find Asses with Both Hands

MOUNTAIN VIEW–Information search giant Google, Inc. announced Thursday the release of Google Body, a search service aiming to index the internal and external anatomy of every living creature on the planet. “Google has long been dedicated to making information both useful and universally accessible,” notes Google VP of Product Development Eric Hind. “We’re happy now to extend search to information about human bodies, mine and yours, inside and out, from the number of follicles on my head to the length of the President’s toenails.”

The project, known as Google Body, sees the company partnering with public transportation systems, libraries, and motor vehicle departments to place scanning equipment in high-traffic doorways and public thoroughfares. Though details of the agreements are scarce and reportedly subject participating city and state officials to strict non-disclosure terms, Google’s announcement confirmed that the project is active in several major U.S. population centers, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City, with agreements with at least 16 other cities in late-stage negotiation. “We’ve passed proof-of-concept at this point,” adds Hind, “and now our focus is scalability and rolling this thing out nationwide.”

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Facebook Users Complain Of Tracking

NEW YORK (AP) — Some users of the online hangout Facebook are complaining that its two-week-old marketing program is publicizing their purchases for friends to see.

Those users say they never noticed a small box that appears on a corner of their Web browsers following transactions at Fandango, Overstock and other online retailers. The box alerts users that information is about to be shared with Facebook unless they click on “No Thanks.” It disappears after about 20 seconds, after which consent is assumed.

Users are given a second notice the next time they log on to Facebook, but they can easily miss it if they quickly click away to visit a friend’s page or check e-mail.

“People should be given much more of a notice, much more of an alert,” said Matthew Helfgott, 20, a college student who discovered his girlfriend just bought him black leather gloves from Overstock for Hanukkah. “She said she had no idea (information would be shared). She said it invaded her privacy.”

The girlfriend was declining interviews, Helfgott said.

An Inc. spokesman said no one was immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Facebook has long prided itself on guarding its users’ privacy, but the walls have gradually lowered. In 2006, a “news feeds” feature allowing users to track changes friends make to profiles backfired when many users denounced it as stalking and threatened protests. Facebook quickly apologized and agreed to let users turn off the feature.

The new program lets companies tap ongoing conversations by alerting users about friends’ activities through the feeds. About 40 Web sites have decided to embed a free tool from Facebook, known as a Beacon, to enable the marketing feeds.

The idea is that if users see a friend buy or do something, they’d take that action as an endorsement for a movie, a band or a soft drink.

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Nokia N810: unboxing and first impressions

My shiny new Nokia N810 Internet Tablet was delivered yesterday. After fondling it for most of the day, I’m relatively impressed. The N810 is a bit smaller than the N800, which makes it more comfortable to use and easier to tote around in a pocket.

I took plenty of pictures, and below the gadget porn you’ll find my report on the device thus far. It’s impressive, but N800 owners should be aware of a few caveats. To the pictures…

The N810 box.

Inside the N810 box.

Deeper inside the N810 box.

All the goodies that come with the N810, including a car mount.

The N810, with the sliding keyboard out.

The N810, propped up on its stand.

The N810, turned on and displaying the home screen.

This one is for size comparison, showing N810 next to the N800 on top of an Asus Eee PC.

The built-in GPS hardware is a nice addition, but the free mapping software is disappointingly limited, and users who want voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation will have to pay more for the full version of WayFinder’s software, which is expected to be available by December.

The N810’s built-in keyboard also falls short of my expectations. The keys are very mushy, and it’s easy to hit multiple keys at once by accident. I was extremely frustrated with it at first, but after a day of typing I’ve gotten used to it and my accuracy has improved considerably. My current verdict on the keyboard is that it could be better, but it isn’t bad once you’re familiar with it.

I also tested my Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard with the N810, and it worked just fine. For writing articles and other serious work, I greatly prefer my external Bluetooth keyboard rather than the N810’s built-in thumb keyboard.

The N810 ships with Nokia’s OS2008 (which can also be installed on N800 devices), and it’s pretty darn good. The interface has been refined considerably and it improves performance and battery life. It comes bundled with most of the same applications as OS2007, but with a few additions. The terminal application, which provides access to a command-line with BusyBox, is now installed by default. An installer for Skype is also included in the menu by default, but attempting to activate it causes a dialog window to appear informing users that the Skype installer isn’t available for the N810 yet. Nokia’s support web site says that Skype will be available very soon. I hope that it supports video chat like the Skype 2.0 beta for Linux.

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Review: Rock Xtreme 770 T7800-8800

Gaming notebooks have always had a slightly awkward reputation, with plenty of people ready to cast a critical eye over the very concept. Why, people would ask, would you want to use a notebook for gaming when you could make a more powerful PC at a fraction of the price? It’s a reasonable argument in many respects, but the fact that so many manufacturers continue to produce expensive gaming laptops shows there must be a demand for them. Clearly, you either get them or you don’t.
Of late this argument would’ve garnered more credence due to the paucity of a genuine mobile gaming solution, with the 8700M GT a lacklustre and imperfect beast. Thankfully, mobile graphics technology has moved on because today we’re looking at a Rock machine powered by the latest mobile graphics solution, nVidia’s recently released GeForce 8800M.

As noted earlier in the week there are two cards in the 8800M range, the GTS and GTX – with the latter being the faster of the two. Excitingly, both are based on the 65nm G92 chip, which is the same process behind the superb GeForce 8800 GT that received an Editor’s Choice Award at the beginning of the month. Given that it was such a revelation, this new range of mobile cards has a lot to live up to. Our sample has come with the faster 8800M GTX, but before we come to discuss this we must take a closer look at the Rock machine that houses it.
The eagle eyed among you will probably recognise it as the same chassis as the X770-T7700 we reviewed in September, which received a creditable eight out of ten. This new-ish system uses the same Intel GM965 chipset, while all the essential features such as the 17in, 1,920 x 1,200 display remain intact. Also present is an HD DVD drive, which come as standard on all notebooks in this range.

In addition to all the usual features, this new model comes equipped with a 2.4GHz T7800 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, which sports an 800MHz front-side bus and 4MB L2 Cache. This is supported by 2GB 667MHz DRR2 RAM, with the option of upgrading to up to 4GB of RAM as well as memory with an 800MHz frequency.
This model also comes with a 200GB SATA hard disk, which may sound a bit stingy until you realise that it’s a faster 7,200rpm variety rather than the 5,400rpm disks found in most standard desktop notebooks. You can also select a 250GB drive but this is a 5,400rpm drive and with focus squarely on gaming performance, the faster drive is the way to go.

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Drupal 6.0 beta 3 released

With another month of active beta testing, our code is growing more stable by the day. Since Drupal 6 beta 2 was released, we have committed over 180 fixes to the Drupal 6.x code, so we are proud to announce the release of the third beta version of Drupal 6.x for your testing. This beta version includes usability improvements and lots of bug fixes for issues which the testers encountered. The first beta announcement provided a comprehensive list of high level improvements made since Drupal 5.x, so in this announcement we’ll concentrate on how you can help ensure that Drupal 6 is released as soon as possible and is as rock solid as the previous Drupal releases that you’ve grown to love!

Major changes made since the release of Drupal 6 beta 2 include several code and interface documentation fixes and improvements, HTML validity fixes, performance improvements and easier to use templating. The core system now also runs without table locks and temporary tables, making Drupal usable in more shared hosting environments, and also improving performance at the same time. Localization support in the installer is now complete, as well as error reporting and requirements management through the installation process. One of the major usability improvements in this beta release is the addition of drag and drop ordering support to the blocks, menus and filter formats administration interface.

So when does 6.0 get released?

We plan to advance to the last beta in around a week, and then the first Drupal 6 Release Candidate next, unless major bugs appear in the beta versions. Drupal 6.0 will be released after (a) there are no more critical bugs and (b) we’ve had at least one release without adding any more to the list. When will that be? Well, it depends entirely on how many people chip in and help out! The more people help, the faster we can find and fix bugs, and the faster 6.0 gets released. The faster 6.0 gets released, the faster we can start adding new features to Drupal 7.0. So help out where you can, and let’s make this the best and most solid release of Drupal yet! 🙂

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