Category: Other

The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon.
Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time.
The Home Office says the move is key to tackling crime and terrorism, but civil liberties groups have criticised it.
Tory MP David Davis called it “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people”.
Attempts by the last Labour government to take similar steps failed after huge opposition, including from the Tories.

‘Unprecedented step’

A new law – which may be announced in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech in May – would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant.
But it would enable intelligence officers to identify who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long. They would also be able to see which websites someone had visited.
In a statement, the Home Office said action was needed to “maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes”.
David DavisConservative MP and former shadow home secretary

“It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public,” a spokesman said.
“As set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review we will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows to ensure that the use of communications data is compatible with the government’s approach to civil liberties.”
But Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary David Davis said it would make it easier for the government “to eavesdrop on vast numbers of people”.
“What this is talking about doing is not focusing on terrorists or criminals, it’s absolutely everybody’s emails, phone calls, web access…” he told the BBC.
“All that’s got to be recorded for two years and the government will be able to get at it with no by or leave from anybody.”
He said that until now anyone wishing to monitor communications had been required to gain permission from a magistrate.
“You shouldn’t go beyond that in a decent civilised society, but that’s what’s being proposed.”

‘Attack on privacy’

Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, called the move “an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran”.
Shami ChakrabartiLiberty
“This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses,” he said.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, added: “This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. It is a pretty drastic step in a democracy.”
The Internet Service Providers Association said any change in the law much be “proportionate, respect freedom of expression and the privacy of users”.
The Sunday Times quoted an industry official who warned it would be “expensive, intrusive [and] a nightmare to run legally”.
Even if the move is announced in the Queen’s Speech, any new law would still have to make it through Parliament, potentially in the face of opposition in both the Commons and the Lords.
The previous Labour government attempted to introduce a central, government-run database of everyone’s phone calls and emails, but eventually dropped the bid after widespread anger.
The then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith did pursue efforts similar to those being revisited now, but the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats continued to voice their concerns.
The shadow home secretary at the time, Chris Grayling, said the government had “built a culture of surveillance which goes far beyond counter terrorism and serious crime”.
Chris Huhne, then the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said any legislation requiring communications providers to keep records of contact would need “strong safeguards on access”, and “a careful balance” would have to be struck “between investigative powers and the right to privacy”.

There’s plenty of hackers out there all over the world trying to crack big software companies like Google and Microsoft’s programs. Many of them fail, after all these software companies are amongst the wealthiest in the world and have invested incredible amounts of money into securing their programs. However from time to time, a new exploit rears its head before the companies can discover it. This isn’t great for the companies image, let alone for the consumer who is using their software.

So to try and avoid embarrassing situations like this from ever occurring in the first place, Google have being holding their very own compeition for hackers. The Pwnium contest invites security researchers to try and hack into the Chrome web browser. This week, Sergey Glazunov became the first researcher to be awarded the top prize of $60,000 for demonstrating a “full Chrome exploit” in a Chrome browser running on an up to date Windows 7 system.

The Pwnium contest has a prize pool of $1 million and is a much cheaper alternative for Google to find exploits in its programs instead of paying its employees to spend hours trying to find exploits. It also means that Google will know about the exploits before they go public so they’ll have a chance to fix them and preserve their public image.

Of course since this exploit has been discovered, Google have been hard at work to get a fix out as soon as possible. They’ve already pushed out a patch via their auto-update feature for Chrome. Version 17.0.963.78 for Windows,Mac OS X and Linux fixes this flaw as well as fixing a few issues with Adobe Flash.

So although Glazunov is lucky enough to be receiving the top price of $60,000, there is still an incredible $940,000 up for grabs in Google’s Pwnium competition.

Know Your Malware

If your antivirus truly did nothing but fight viruses, you’d be in big trouble. Fortunately, “antivirus” is a catch-all term for software that protects against all kinds of malicious software.

An antivirus program that only protects against viruses would be barely functional. In a review, I’d have to find some way to assign it a below-zero star rating. Computer viruses are one type of malicious software, but there are many, many other types. Understanding how the different types work and what they can do will give you a new appreciation for your hard-working security software and a better understanding of security in the news. Just refer to this glossary as needed.

Adware. As the name suggests, the purpose ofadware is to display ads. That doesn’t sound too awful, but some adware threats bombard you with so many ads you can hardly use the computer.

APT (Advanced Persistent Threat). The term APT refers to an elaborate attack likeDuqu or Stuxnet that’s backed by a government or other powerful group. You probably won’t get hit by an APT, but your bank or your business might.

Backdoor. Just as it sounds, a backdoor opens up your computer to hack attack. It allows full access to everything on the computer, bypassing the requirement to log in with a Windows password.

Bot. On its own, a bot isn’t harmful. The creator, or “bot herder,” works hard to get as many silent bot infestations as possible installed, then rents out the bot network to others. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are often managed by sending commands to a bot network that cause all the infested PCs to run an attack script.

Dialer. You’re not likely to suffer a dialer attack. This type of malware uses the computer’s modem to make calls to premium numbers, running up charges on the victim’s phone bill. But these days, with virtually everyone on broadband, dialers aren’t every effective.

Dropper. A dropper doesn’t harm your system itself. Instead, it installs other threats, or opens a channel through which the bad guys can push malware.

Exploit. Sometimes the bad guys discover a way to exploit a bug in the operating system or in a common program; typically the exploit lets them execute code opens the door to other malware. Legitimate vendors do their best to patch these holes, naturally.

Keylogger. Basically a form of spyware, a keylogger captures everything you type, including passwords and other sensitive information. Some keyloggers also capture screenshots, log your Web browsing history, record anything copied to the clipboard, and more.

Malware. The comprehensive term malware applies to any software whose purpose is malicious, including (but not limited to) all of the other types described here.

Ransomware. A ransomware threat encrypts your important documents, disables Windows logon, or otherwise makes your computer unusable until you pay the ransom demanded by its perpetrators. It’s a bit dodgy for the perps, since they might be tracked through the ransom payment.

RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Like all Trojans, a RAT masquerades as an innocent and useful program. Behind the scenes, though, it opens up a backdoor that gives its owner complete access to the affected computer.

Rootkit. Antivirus software can only remove threats that it can detect. Rootkit technology hides a threat’s file and Registry traces so that most programs can’t “see” them. Only specialized anti-malware technology can bring the hidden traces into view.

Scareware. A fake antivirus that pretends to find problems on your system and displays a big, frightening warning—that’s scareware. Naturally you must pay the registration before it will “fix” the made-up problems. In most cases there’s no actual malicious code, just a huge scam to con you into paying money for nothing.

Spyware. Spyware simply means malicious software that steals credit card numbers, passwords, and other sensitive personal information.

Trojan. Named for the Trojan Horse of legend, a Trojan is a seemingly benign program that does something nasty in secret. Trojans are the most common type of malware on the Android platform. While you play a Trojanized Android game, it may be sending your contacts to a server in Russia, or making $10/minute phone calls.

Virus. A computer virus spreads by injecting its code into other programs or, less commonly, into the boot sector of a disk. When you execute the infected program, the virus code runs too. It may simply infect more files, or it may perform a “payload” action like wiping out your hard drive.

Worm. Like a virus, a worm replicates itself within the computer or across the network. Unlike a virus, it doesn’t wait for you to launch an infected program. Network worms can spread around the world with alarming rapidity.

Mix and Match
These categories aren’t mutually exclusive. A Trojan could use keylogger technology to spy on you and steal passwords. A virus could hide from antivirus programs using rootkit technology. The most important point to remember is that your antivirus program should protect you against every type of malware, not just viruses.

There is something almost tangible about hearing of another upgrade to Nikon’s prosumer line. The D hundred line is designed to cater to the needs of consumers who want a serious “FX” Full frame sensor but do not want to take out a second mortgage to afford it.
As with any new prosumer camera from Nikon, there are many great features that make the new D800 DSLR a Nikon camera. Chief amongst these is of course the full frame sensor which in this new D800 is rated for a whopping 36.3 mega-pixels (15.4 in DX mode). Granted, more is not always better as it adds in more “noise” in low conditions. When dealing with a sensor 23.9 x 36mm in size (compared to usual 7.18 x 2.32mm found in a P&S camera), this is not an overly large concern. To counteract this issue the Nikon D800 is “limited” to a mere ISO 6400. This more than enough for most consumers.

The same can be said of the frames per second this camera boasts. 36.3 mega-pixels is a lot of data to store on a card so not only will you need an uber-fast card such as the 600X UDMA CF, you will be hit with a slight fps penalty compared to previous models’ 8fps. With its optional battery grip, the D800 can do 5fps before the internal RAM is full and things start to slow down. This too is a bit disappointing but is more than fast enough for most non-paparazzi consumers.

While internally it can transport 5 frames per second of massive 36.3 mexa-pixel images to the CompactFlash card, things would be downright grim if you were to transfer these files from the camera to your computer via USB 2.0. This has always been the weakness of many of Nikon’s cameras. Luckily, this camera is USB 3.0 equipped and will be able to transfer files at the speed of the CF card to your hard drive. All these feature of course do come at a price. With an asking price of $3000, this is not a cheap camera, but for the serious shutterbug, its great features more than make this a bargain.

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Lowell laugh in the face of Intel’s weedy handful of cores in its new CPU lineup: They’ve just squeezed over a thousand processor cores onto a single chip.
We’ve heard a lot about the potential for future desktop-sized supercomputers, but more than anything else this research proves that in the not-too-distant future it’s likely to be a reality. Interestingly enough, there’s also a green angle to this idea: FPGA chips can be more power efficient than their competitors, and if less computer time is needed to process complex tasks, then the overall power consumption of computers using the tech could be impressively low.
The advance was made by Dr. Wim Vanderbauwhede’s team, who programmed an advanced chip called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). FPGA systems have been around for a while, and their strength is that they can be programmed “in the field” to best suit whatever task they’re needed for, unlike the hard-coded silicon ship designs you’re probably imagining. The UM team’s innovation was in working out how to program the FPGA to act as mini processor cores, since the tech is typically difficult to work with. This has traditionally been a barrier to their use in desktop PCs, although small FPGAs are often found inside devices like LCD TVs.
Once the 1,000 individual CPU cores had been programmed onto the chip, the scientists took the necessary next step to prove how useful their innovation is: They ran an intensive algorithm through it to test how powerful it was, and they chose a tricky one too–at the core of motion MPEG video processing, used in many online video systems. The results speak for themselves. Using the kilo-core FPGA computer, the team was able to process 5 gigabytes per sec of movie files, which is about 20 times the rate that existing high-end computers can manage.


Looking forward to splurging for some tech decked out with Ivy Bridge? Well, you may have to wait a bit longer. Financial Times is reporting that Intel’s new 22nm processor has been pushed from April to June. The site caught up with executive VP and chairman of Intel China Sean Maloney who said that the manufacturing methods used to make the heir to Sandy Bridge was to blame for the change in schedule. Furthermore, a spokesperson for the component manufacturer communicated that the Q2 shipping plans for Ivy Bridge remain the same. You can rest assured we’ll be keeping a close watch on this one and what the delay could mean for upcoming laptop releases.

Created by German artist Tobias Leingruber and available via the hypothetical government agency theFB Bureau. Why wait until these become mandatory? Get yours now:

With more than 800 million users Facebook is the dominant identity system on the web. When signing-up for new services around the open web it’s quite common to use Facebook Connect instead of creating a new user account. People stop ranting on blog comments because they only allow comments connected to your “real name” aka “Facebook Identity” (till the end of time).

For the good or bad we are losing anonymity and Facebook Inc. is establishing order in this “world wild web” (for profit, not necessarily for the good of society). A future where a Facebook Identity becomes more important than any governments’ doesn’t seem unrealistic.

There’s crazy talk going on over at DigiTimes, as Max Liu, product marketing director of ViewSonic Asia Pacific, claims the company plans to launch a Windows 8-based tablet in the Taiwan market during the second quarter of 2012. That means a 10-inch tablet sporting Windows 8 will be launched sometime between April and June, and before Microsoft actually launches the new OS worldwide.

What’s likely to happen — and this is just speculation — is that ViewSonic will release a tablet with Windows 8 Consumer Preview pre-installed, making the device substantially cheaper because there’s no added cost for the OS. That, unfortunately, will come later when the Preview ends and customers must shell out money for the real deal. At this point there’s no telling what’s powering the device, but presumably an x86/64-based SoC.

In addition to the Windows 8 tablet in 2Q12, the company also plans to release two to three new tablets in the same timeframe, some of which will sport Google’s Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” OS. But before all of that, ViewSonic plans to roll out a 3G version of its ViewPad 10e tablet in March. The new models will join ViewSonic’s current tablet helping in Taiwan including the ViewPad 10 and the ViewPad 10e.

Liu said that ViewSonic shipped around 6,000 tablets per month in the Taiwan market during 2011, bolstering it to the #3 position. With the launch of new models in the first half of 2012, Liu sees ViewSonic’s tablet market share expanding even more in 2012.

According to a leak on a Russian website,, the next Windows Phone update, codenamed “Tango” will include some updates, features and changes for devices with lower specs. Just to catch up, the Tango update is said to help Microsoft bring Windows Phone to more countries and bring the platform to devices with lower specs, specifically devices with only 256MB of RAM (currently, devices have a min. of 512MB of RAM).

To summarize, the new update will be bringing a few new features with many directed toward low-end devices for users coming from a feature phone:

SIM contacts – Users will be able to manage (import and export) contacts from the SIM card.
Pre-installed Apps – Will be increased from a minimum of 16 to 40.
Roaming – Users will be able to deselect or switch to domestic or international.
Multimedia MMS – Users will be able to attach multiple media files (audio, picture and video) to a single MMS message.
The post also addresses features and changes which are coming specifically to the low-end (256MB) devices:

Users will be unable to uninstall certain apps from the device.
Certain app restrictions may apply (e.g. third-party live tiles not automatically updating).
Podcasts will not be manageable from the device.
Video streams lower than 4MB/s and H.264 v2 video encoding will only be supported.
Handsets with a minimum 3MP camera.
Feature to upload photos to SkyDrive automatically will be disabled.
These features and limitations have been leaked from a Russian Windows Phone website along with screenshots and have not been confirmed by Microsoft, so take everything as a plausible rumor until we hear more about Tango.

Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, died this afternoon. She was 48.
Publicist Kristen Foster said today that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unclear.
She died at the Beverly Hilton hotel. She was apparently found by her on-off boyfriend Ray J in her hotel room, though other reports dispute that account.
A spokesman for the local police department said that emergency services had been called to the hotel at 3.43 this afternoon, arriving minutes later.
Officials rushed to the room on the fourth floor where she was staying as a guest, where they found security staff and firemen attempting to revive her using CPR
Life-saving attempts proved unsuccessful after 20 minutes, and she was pronounced dead at 3.55pm.
Authorities are currently trying to determine a cause of death, according to the spokesman. It was initially unclear whether or not her death was drug-related, as has been speculated by some.
Celebrities, from singers and rappers to television personalities and business leaders, took to Twitter to express their sadness at the news.
Stars praised the singer’s unmatched talent and passed on their wishes to her bereaved family, while others expressed their shock at how the award-winning singer passed away at the age of just 48.
‘Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston,’ said Mariah Carey, who recorded the Oscar-winning song When You Believe with the late star in 1998.
‘My heartfelt condolences to Whitney’s family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.’
‘Shocked we’ve lost the immensely talented Whitney Houston!’ wrote fellow singer Gloria Estefan. ‘Sending prayers of peace & solace 2 her family, friends & fans! Such a loss! Such an amazing talent!’
Rihanna tweeted: ‘No words! Just tears. I honestly can’t think of anything else!!! Feels so strange being at the Grammy rehearsal right now!!’
But it was not just the music industry that felt the influence of Houston, with other celebrities expressing their condolences and thanks to the award-winning singer.
One high-profile figure to speak out was Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who said: ‘R.I.P. Whitney Houston. Thank you for the amazing music you brought into the world.’

Read more:

The Taung Kalat Temple

The Taung Kalat Temple near the Mount Popa volcano in central Burma is built on top of a volcanic plug – a rock formation creation by magma seeping from a volcanic vent.

As these amazing pictures show the temple is a Mecca for tourists and followers of the Buddhist faith.

The Taung Kalat Temple in central Burma is built on top of a volcanic rock formation.

A total of 777 steps take visitors and worshippers alike to the summit which enjoys stunning panoramic views.

It is said that these steps and the temple were once maintained by the hermit U Khandi and the temple is still home to monks today.

The amazing monastery is nearly 5,000 feet up in the air on top of an extinct volcano

Photographer Javier Suescun, 46, from Spain, visited the religious site and was awestruck by what he found.

He said: ‘Burma still remains very closed to the outside but this location has begun to open up to tourism.

It is said that the temple was once maintained by the hermit U Khandi and the temple is still home to monks today

‘The vision of the temple on Mount Popa from below is incredible, almost surreal.

‘There is a long and steep climb through stairs covered by a roof and on the sides of the stairs that go up to the top there are some merchants selling souvenirs and Buddhist objects of all kinds.

The entrance to the Taung Kalat Temple which is near the Mount Popa volcano in central Burma

‘The mount has an approximate height of 1,500 metres and is said to have a 777 steps.

‘Its hillsides are always covered with flowers and fruit trees and a legion of monkeys that also accompany you throughout the route.

‘Once at the top there is a spectacular view of the valley and the villages surrounding the monastery.

A new voluntary scheme is being proposed in the UK which would punish copyright infringing sites and boost links to websites that have licenses to sell music, film and TV content.

According to the Register, the site certification scheme is being put forward by the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), the Motion Pictures Association (MPA), the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), The Premier League and the Publishers Association.

In the proposal, titled ‘Responsible Practices for Search Engines in Reducing Online Infringement: Proposal for a Code of Practice’, which has fallen into the hands of the Open Rights Group, it states that search engines which sign up to the code should stop indexing illicit content, so that legitimate content is easier to find on the web.

“We propose that in order to further protect consumers and to encourage responsible behaviour among websites, the extent of illegal content on a website should become a factor influencing the ranking of that website in search results returned to consumers,” explained the proposal.

“In addition, where a site has been found by a court to be substantially infringing, it should no longer be crawled, indexed or linked at all.”

Responsible practices

It also wants certain search terms to redirect to legitimate content, with the proposal noting: “To use the example of music, we would propose that prioritisation be enabled for searches that contain any of the following key search terms: “mp3”, “flac”, “wma”, “aac”, “torrent”, “download”, “rip”, “stream” or “listen”, “free”, when combined with an artist name, song or album title contained on a list to be regularly updated and provided to a search engine by a recognised and properly mandated agency representing rights holders for a particular sector, such as BPI.”

The issue of piracy on the web has never been more prescient, but as we have seen with SOPA in the US, any scheme which messes with the openness of the internet is going to create a backlash – something the authors of this proposal, if it is ever accepted, will have to take into consideration.

You may rue the day that Facebook introduced song sharing (now we all know about your insatiable appetite for the High School Musical soundtrack), but Facebook’s pretty pleased with it, having racked up five billion song shares since f8 in September.

Speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes, Facebook’s Dan Rose didn’t elaborate much, so we don’t know how much of the five billion is down to Spotify and how many song shares have come from partnerships with other music services like Deezer.

Last we’d heard, Facebook reported 1.5 billion tracks had been shared using Spotify in November 2011; whichever way you look at it, 3.5 billion tracks in two months is good going.


Now that Facebook is rolling out Timeline to all its users, this kind of seamless social sharing is only set to grow.

Other companies have already come on board, with Netflix taking care of your movie-watching and Zeebox handling your TV habits and over sixty more new apps to keep your friends posted on everything from what gigs you’re at to what food you’re eating.

But with bite-sized song sharing overtaking the Facebook ticker, who knows whether we’ll even notice all that. Now, excuse us, we’re off to switch private listening on.

Solera Networks just announced that it has raised $20 million in Series D funding from Intel Capital (the chip-maker’s investment arm) and others.

The company says its DeepSee Platform can index and classify all network traffic, giving companies a comprehensive picture of their network security in real-time, either for spotting risks before a security breach or responding quickly once a breach has occurred. Both domestic and international sales supposedly grew more than 100 percent last year.

Previous investors Allegis Capital, Signal Peak Ventures, and Trident Capital also participated in the new round. Solera says it will use the money to expand global sales, marketing, and product development. It also notes that Intel’s expertise should help with future product improvements.

“With increasingly large amounts of data crossing corporate networks, organizations must balance advanced threat prevention with an aggressive and proactive response system to be fully prepared when an inevitable breach occurs,” said Intel Capital Investment Director Sean Cunningham in the funding press release. “We see companies continuing to realize that real-time, intelligent incident response is now an essential component of their security strategy. Solera Networks delivers a scalable, high-performance solution that addresses these challenges and is the only independent platform capable of broad integration.”

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