Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Facebook Uproar Will Transform Online and Offline Contracts,' Says Alan Siegel, Pioneer of the Plain English Movement and Chairman of Siegel+Gale

/PRNewswire/ -- "The uproar among Facebook users, fanned by management's decision to change the terms of their service agreement earlier this month, will lead to a transformation of turgid, impenetrable online contracts into readable documents," says Alan Siegel, one of the founders of the Plain English and Simplification movements and Chairman of brand consultancy Siegel+Gale. Co-author of WRITING CONTRACTS IN PLAIN ENGLISH (West Group), Mr. Siegel taught the first law school course in plain-language writing and has simplified complex legal documents for banks, businesses, and the federal government -- including the IRS.

"While hardly anyone outside the legal community doesn't yearn for simplicity, clarity, and functionality in contracts, consumers have continued to blindly agree to whatever is placed before them. They feel there is nothing they can do to force companies to transform loan agreements, insurance policies, mortgages, warranties, etc., into Plain English.

"At a time when there is a call for transparency and honesty in all sectors of society and business -- online and offline -- clearly Facebook showed an initial lack of sensitivity to the interests of their 175 million users when they changed the terms of the privacy provisions in their terms and conditions contract.

"While they put a note on the company blog that said the company 'simplified and clarified a lot of information that applies to you,' users were not asked to agree to the new terms or even alerted by e-mail about this rather significant change. Facebook merely added this line to their terms: 'Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms.'

"This generated such a strong negative reaction from Facebook users that Facebook announced they were reinstituting the terms of the original agreement.

"This about-face clearly demonstrates the power of the Internet that will force companies to communicate with clarity in their contracts with their customers. Companies will no longer be able to hide behind impenetrable contracts that provide unfair protections or conditions. It looks like the Internet and its legion of bloggers will be the stimulus for an upheaval in legal communications that is long overdue.

"This Facebook uproar will transform online -- and offline -- contracts. The days of consumers blindly signing whatever is placed before them are clearly over," Mr. Siegel concludes.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Georgia State Professor Studies New Approach to Cyber Defense

Georgia State University’s Raheem Beyah is exploring innovative ways to keep computer networks secure from potential attackers.

The assistant professor of computer science has received a five-year, $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program grant from the National Science Foundation to explore methods to better detect cyber activity that could do great harm to individuals, organizations, businesses and government.

There are two ways to approach intrusion detection — either on the computers themselves, such as antivirus and firewall software, or having a detection program on a network that observes intrusions.

Both have their benefits, but there are detractions for each method.

“The software itself on a computer can damage the device, or it can open up new avenues for attackers to access the system,” Beyah explained. “If you have intrusion detection on a network, this is mitigated, but it does not give you the same level of detail about intrusions compared with methods residing on the host.”

Attempting to find the intrusion could be as harmful as the intrusion itself, a situation Beyah compares to a biopsy in cancer patients.

“It would be really nice if they could use a non-intrusive tool to tell whether you have cancer without having to cut into the body,” he said.

“My goal is to do something to bridge between the two detection methods, and to give us the strengths of both while minimizing the weaknesses.”

In addition to security research, Beyah plans to reach out to underrepresented groups in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering subjects — including minorities and females — through a summer academy which will help teach students about computer architecture and networking.

The Acknowledge Academy at the Knowledge Is Power Program West Atlanta Young Scholars (KIPP WAYS) Academy, a preparatory charter school of the Atlanta Public Schools will give students hands-on experience in these abstract subjects by using popular electronics.

“We hope to use devices like the iPod Touch to let the students break them open to look at the processors and memory,” said Beyah, who is on the board of directors of KIPP WAYS.
“Hopefully, they'll learn that there's science behind all of this cool stuff they use.”

Previous Georgia State Computer Science CAREER recipients include assistant professors Yingshu Li and Xiaojun Cao. Li is researching routing problems in sensor networks, while Cao is investigating optical networking.

For more about computer science and research at Georgia State, visit www.cs.gsu.edu.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Walmart.com Makes Tens of Thousands of the Popular Nintendo DSi Available for Online Preorders Today

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Walmart.com is delighting video game fans by making tens of thousands of Nintendo DSi units available for preorder today online at http://www.walmart.com/. The Nintendo DSi, an overseas sensation in Japan that quickly became one of the fastest- selling handheld consoles in history, can be preordered at Walmart.com for $169, while supplies last. Customers who have been eagerly waiting for the unit to go on sale this spring now have an opportunity to preorder one of the most highly anticipated video game releases of the year at a great value.

"Walmart.com has made tens of thousands of Nintendo DSi units available for preorder, giving more customers the chance to enjoy one of the most sought-after handheld consoles in history," said Kelly Thompson, Walmart.com's chief merchant. "Customers continue to choose Walmart.com to find the best online selection and strongest values in video games, especially for popular releases like the Nintendo DSi."

Walmart.com offers the DSi in black and blue finishes. The new DSi allows users to take pictures, play music and download games. In addition to Nintendo DSi preorders, Walmart.com also offers additional values on popular Nintendo products, including the Nintendo Wii and Wii accessories. The following items are available online, while supplies last:

-- Nintendo DSi (preorder only) -- $169
-- Nintendo Wii accessories -- starting at $10
-- Nintendo Wii games -- 2 for $30 on select titles

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Georgia Tech Joins Industry Alliance to Help Build the Mobile Internet

True mobile Internet capability for wireless devices – including high-definition TV, movies and video-conferencing – has taken a step closer to reality.

The Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC) at Georgia Tech is allying with several major corporations and an international standards group to promote a new worldwide cognitive radio (CR) standard that would allow new levels of performance in portable devices such as cellular phones and computers.

The new alliance – called the Cognitive Networking Alliance (CogNeA)—is comprised of top players in the consumer electronics, personal computing, home entertainment, semiconductor and digital imaging fields.

CogNeA members include AT&T, Dell, ETRI, GEDC, HP, Motorola, Philips, Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Texas Instruments.

“CogNeA brings together a number of influential international companies and groups, in order to develop a wireless standard and platform for multimedia networking in the home as well as for broadband Internet access,” said CogNeA Chairman Kiran Challapali.

The new CR standard would utilize the ultra-high-frequency (UHF) band –so-called “white-space” – currently used for television broadcasting. Use of this white space for wireless applications could enable the broad bandwidth demanded by wireless video, while also providing extended range, improved coverage and superior penetration through walls.

The CogNeA standard is aimed at a broad range of applications, including Internet access for communities and in-home High Definition Multi-Media networking and distribution.

“GEDC is extremely pleased to be named the university-based member of this important alliance,” said Joy Laskar, director of GEDC. “We believe this effort can make an important contribution to the development of the mobile Internet.”

GEDC is an internationally known center at Georgia Tech dedicated to the design of mixed-signal chips as well as the education of analog electrical engineers. It has 13 faculty research leaders, more than150 graduate and undergraduate researchers and some 50 industry and government members and research partners. For more information visit www.gedcenter.org.

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Apple Announces Safari 4 - The World's Fastest & Most Innovative Browser

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Apple(R) today announced the public beta of Safari(R) 4, the world's fastest and most innovative web browser for Mac(R) and Windows PCs. The Nitro engine in Safari 4 runs JavaScript 4.2 times faster than Safari 3.* Innovative new features that make browsing more intuitive and enjoyable include Top Sites, for a stunning visual preview of frequently visited pages; Full History Search, to search through titles, web addresses and the complete text of recently viewed pages; Cover Flow(R), to easily flip through web history or bookmarks; and Tabs on Top, to make tabbed browsing easier and more intuitive.

"Apple created Safari to bring innovation, speed and open standards back into web browsers, and today it takes another big step forward," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Safari 4 is the fastest and most efficient browser for Mac and Windows, with great integration of HTML 5 and CSS 3 web standards that enables the next generation of interactive web applications."

Safari 4 is built on the world's most advanced browser technologies including the new Nitro JavaScript engine that executes JavaScript up to 30 times faster than IE 7 and more than three times faster than Firefox 3. Safari quickly loads HTML web pages three times faster than IE 7 and almost three times faster than Firefox 3.*

Apple is leading the industry in defining and implementing innovative web standards such as HTML 5 and CSS 3 for an entirely new class of web applications that feature rich media, graphics and fonts. Safari 4 includes HTML 5 support for offline technologies so web-based applications can store information locally without an Internet connection, and is the first browser to support advanced CSS Effects that enable highly polished web graphics using reflections, gradients and precision masks. Safari 4 is the first browser to pass the Web Standards Project's Acid3 test, which examines how well a browser adheres to CSS, JavaScript, XML and SVG web standards that are specifically designed for dynamic web applications.

Safari for Mac, Windows, iPhone(TM) and iPod(R) touch are all built on Apple's WebKit, the world's fastest and most advanced browser engine. Apple developed WebKit as an open source project to create the world's best browser engine and to advance the adoption of modern web standards. Most recently, WebKit led the introduction of HTML 5 and CSS 3 web standards and is known for its fast, modern code-base. The industry's newest browsers are based on WebKit including Google Chrome, the Google Android browser, the Nokia Series 60 browser and Palm webOS.

Innovative new features in Safari 4 include:
-- Top Sites, a display of frequently visited pages in a stunning wall of
previews so users can jump to their favorite sites with a single click;
-- Full History Search, where users search through titles, web addresses
and the complete text of recently viewed pages to easily return to
sites they've seen before;
-- Cover Flow, to make searching web history or bookmarks as fun and easy
as paging through album art in iTunes(R);
-- Tabs on Top, for better tabbed browsing with easy drag-and-drop tab
management tools and an intuitive button for opening new ones;
-- Smart Address Field, that automatically completes web addresses by
displaying an easy-to-read list of suggestions from Top Sites,
bookmarks and browsing history;
-- Smart Search Field, where users fine-tune searches with recommendations
from Google Suggest or a list of recent searches;
-- Full Page Zoom, for a closer look at any website without degrading the
quality of the site's layout and text;
-- built-in web developer tools to debug, tweak and optimize a website for
peak performance and compatibility; and
-- a new Windows-native look in Safari for Windows, that uses standard
Windows font rendering and native title bar, borders and toolbars so
Safari fits the look and feel of other Windows XP and Windows Vista
applications.


Pricing & Availability

Safari 4 is a public beta for both Mac OS(R) X and Windows and is available immediately as a free download at http://www.apple.com/safari.

Safari 4 for Mac OS X requires Mac OS X Leopard(R) version 10.5.6 and Security Update 2009-001 or Mac OS X Tiger(R) version 10.4.11, a minimum 256MB of memory, and is designed to run on any Intel-based Mac or a Mac with a PowerPC G5, G4 or G3 processor and built-in FireWire(R). Safari 4 for Windows requires Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista, a minimum 256MB of memory and a system with at least a 500 MHz Intel Pentium processor. Full system requirements and more information on Safari 4 can be found at http://www.apple.com/safari.

* Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection
and other factors. All testing conducted on an iMac(R) 2.8 GHz Intel
Core 2 Duo system running Windows Vista, with 2GB of RAM. JavaScript
benchmark based on the SunSpider JavaScript Performance test. HTML
benchmark based on VeriTest's iBench Version 5.0 using default settings.


(C) 2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, Safari, Cover Flow, iPhone, iPod, iTunes, Leopard, Tiger, FireWire and iMac are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

WEGENER(R) Receives U.S. Patent for 'Rotational Use of Memory to Minimize Erase and Rewrite Cycles on Flash Memory Devices'

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Wegener Corporation (NASDAQ:WGNR) , a leading provider of equipment for television, audio, and data distribution networks worldwide, today announced that WEGENER has been granted a U.S. patent for an innovative method that enables "Rotational Use of Memory to Minimize Erase and Rewrite Cycles on Flash Memory Devices."

This U.S. patent, awarded on January 20, 2009 as Patent No. 7,480,760, has already been implemented in several WEGENER(R) products, including the DTV 720 and DTV 742 Digital TV Processors. Video headends use these DTV products to receive and repackage off-air 8VSB, local HD, and ASI signals into IP Multicasts, and the Flash memory retains the channel assignments and programming identification data that operators enter.

To gain efficiencies in size and cost, these products have a scaled down 'small footprint' operating system embedded in them, rather than a full version. With this architecture, such small operating systems tend to prematurely 'wear out' non-volatile memory components (such as Flash) by reading and writing to the same location repetitively whenever a critical parameter is changed. WEGENER's invention overcomes this drawback by performing 'load leveling' of the Flash memory. Load leveling minimizes the number of times data is erased or rewritten within a certain block of Flash memory by automatically redistributing this activity across the entire Flash memory.

"Since Flash memory has a limited number of times it can be erased or rewritten, our patented process for load leveling, greatly extends the product's useful life," said Ned L. Mountain, president and chief operating officer of WEGENER. "Without this method, products might reach end-of-life prematurely due to excessive erase/write activity on Flash memory. By making more efficient use of Flash memory, our process benefits customers with a lower product cost by using less overall memory while extending the product's useful life."

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Comments in Digg.com Used to Distribute Malware, Says PandaLabs

/PRNewswire/ -- PandaLabs, Panda Security's malware analysis and detection laboratory, has just released research with evidence proving that Digg.com (www.digg.com), the popular news aggregation service, is being used by cyber-criminals to distribute VideoPlay adware. Criminals execute their attacks by leaving comments on news items related to celebrity videos. On a first analysis, PandaLabs has detected more than 50 profiles leaving these types of comments on Digg.com.

Examples of such comments include:
-- "Christian Bale freak out dubbed with video!"
-- "Jessica Simpson Hotel Sex Tape"
-- "Megan Fox naked NEW SEX TAPE"

These comments include a link claiming to redirect users to the video. Users that click the link are redirected to a page where they are asked to download a codec in order to see the video. If they do so, the adware VideoPlay will be downloaded onto their computers.

VideoPlay adware is in the same category of fake antivirus products. As with all such malware, VideoPlay is designed to run a fake scan of the computer as if it were an antivirus, convincing users that the system is infected with malware. To make its claims more believable, it prevents the system from operating correctly, furthering the impression that it is infected with several strains of malware. It then offers users the option to eliminate the malware using a pay version of the fake antivirus. The aim is obviously to profit from sales of this spoof security solution.

"The profiles used have probably been stolen from their owners, by stealing account passwords. This is another example of how cyber-crooks are using trusted Web 2.0 services to distribute malware", explains Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

PeoplePC Launches '25 Cents A Day' Internet Access

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- PeoplePC, a leading provider of high-quality, value-priced Internet service and a subsidiary of EarthLink, Inc. (NASDAQ:ELNK) , today announced "Connect for Less," an economy Internet access service designed to help consumers save money and maintain essential Internet connections during difficult economic times.

For $7.95 a month or about 25 cents a day, PeoplePC's "Connect for Less" offers unlimited dial-up Internet access at a price that is 20 percent less than competitors' current promotional prices. "Connect for Less" includes free customer support, unlike some other services on the market that charge for technical service after the first 30 days, and with "Connect for Less" there is no minimum commitment requirement.

"Staying connected to the Internet is very important, especially during these uncertain and challenging economic times. For a limited time, EarthLink will offer consumers a new, low-cost Internet access option," said Kevin Brand, EarthLink's senior vice president of product management. "Whether your job has been impacted and you need to search for employment or you surf the Web for bargains on household necessities, Internet dial access, with our Smart Dialer technology, continues to be an effective and inexpensive tool."

To celebrate this launch, the 795th person to sign up for "Connect for Less" will receive the $7.95 per month service FREE for one year. This offer will be replicated for each additional 795th person who signs up. Customers who qualify will be notified of their free service award post-sale.

PeoplePC "Connect for Less" customers will have access to more than 12,000 dial-up numbers nationwide, receive E-mail with spam controls and virus protection powered by Symantec(TM), two (2) Email addresses and Free Internet Call Waiting. In addition, new PeoplePC customers can automatically provide their new e-mail address to their contacts by using the PeoplePC e-mail change notification tool. For assistance in using these features, "Connect for Less" offers free, unlimited technical support.

PeoplePC "Connect for Less" is a limited time, online sign-up only offer. Consumers can sign-up for this special offer by visiting http://www.peoplepc.com/go/connect4less.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Online Scam Affecting E-card Recipients

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- An e-card scam that misleadingly directs recipients to inappropriate content continues to plague users. The issue was originally reported over the holiday season and has continued through the first of the year, affecting millions of consumers. With the scam becoming more prevalent, Egreetings.com, an online division of American Greetings Corp (NYSE:AM) , wants to help educate users on ensuring safe receipt of e-cards.

In this recent scam, users receive an email alerting them of an e-card they have received from a reputable site. Once they open the email they are referenced to follow a third party link in the message field of the e-card. After clicking on this link the recipient is led to another site with mature and inappropriate content.

"This issue is affecting many e-card sites, and our security team is working around the clock to help keep our users safe," said James Chou, CTO AG Interactive. "Due to the complex nature of this scam, and our desire to see it stopped as soon as possible, we have also contacted the authorities to assist us in our efforts. But until the issue is completely resolved, we want to be sure that our users know what to look for."

Chou notes that the very best advice to ensure your safety in retrieving legitimate e-cards is to never click on, or copy and paste in your browser, a link within the body of an e-card message. Most reputable sites suggest recipients go to their main page by directly typing in the site URL. Once there users can enter the code found in the original email to retrieve their greeting.

Other tips to ensure safe receipt of e-cards:

-- Always be sure that you recognize the sender. The name and/or email
address of the individual sending the card will always be in the
subject line. If you do not recognize the name or address, proceed
with caution or immediately delete the email.
-- Be especially cautious of any emails with "secret admirer" in the
"from" field, as many of those affected by the recent scam have noted
this.
-- If you receive an email stating that you have sent an e-card that you
do not recognize, please know that your email address and account were
not compromised through your membership.


For more information on ensuring safe receipt of your e-cards, visit the Egreetings.com protection resource center.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Webroot Threat Advisory: Phony Warnings from the Federal Reserve Bank Aim to Swindle Americans

/PRNewswire/ -- Webroot, a leading security provider for the consumer, enterprise and SMB markets, has detected a phishing scam exploiting the names of the Federal Reserve Bank and other federal entities to fool consumers into clicking Web links that infect their PCs with spyware.

A phony e-mail from the Federal Reserve Bank warns of a "large-scale phishing attack" on banks and credit unions that took place January 21. A link to "more detailed information about affected banks and U.S. Treasury restrictions" leads to a fake Web site that infects victims' computers with malware designed to harvest their Web site and POP3 e-mail account usernames and passwords.

Webroot has identified the malware as Trojan-Backdoor-Graypigeon deploying malware via drive-by download. The cyber criminals behind the scam have recycled the e-mail message a number of times; the FDIC reported a previous version of the e-mail January 20. But the domains linked in the message continually change and suggest the message's origin may be legitimate. All point to one PC on China Railcom's IP address space that was hijacked to carry out the phishing attacks.

"Webroot has uncovered a new twist on phishing for financial gain," said Mike Kronenberg, chief technology officer, Consumer Business, Webroot. "In this case, phishers are capitalizing on widespread concern over the current state of the U.S. finance industry. Over 3.5 million Americans fell victim to phishing in 2007 according to recent research, and we can expect scammers to continue launching attacks against unsuspecting people. PC users should protect themselves by always avoiding unfamiliar URLs and questionable e-mails, and by having proven antispyware, antivirus and firewall software in place."

The malware and some of the domains identified as part of this scam are now blocked by Webroot(R) Internet Security Essentials.

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Put Your Best Digital Footprint Forward: Career Expert Offers Seven Tips for Managing Online Reputation in the Job Hunt

/PRNewswire/ -- In a competitive job market, a polished professional reputation can make or break someone's chances of landing a coveted position. And since the word google became a verb, that reputation includes information that can be found online. This is particularly true for IT professionals who are evaluated on their technical savvy, noted Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology.

"As a growing number of employers search the Internet for information about job seekers, it's become more important for applicants to actively monitor and maintain their professional reputations online," said Willmer. "The current economic environment has made hiring managers increasingly cautious, and any information that raises a red flag can quickly take candidates out of consideration for a job."

Willmer offers the following seven tips for managing your digital imprint:

1. Take stock. Discover what information about you -- if any -- already is online by performing a search using popular search engines. If you discover an item that you wouldn't want hiring managers to see, ask the person who posted the information or website administrator to remove it. Similarly, untag any inappropriate photos of yourself.

2. Activate privacy settings. If you belong to social networking sites or have a personal blog, adjust your privacy settings so you control who has access.

3. Exercise discretion. When interacting online, be selective about which venues you participate in and who you allow into your personal and professional networks. If you regularly contribute to blogs or forums, give thought as to how your statements may be interpreted by those outside your community. Consider using a pseudonym if you wouldn't want a potential employer to see your posts. You can use BlogPulse or Technorati to track online conversations about you or your sites.

4. Network wisely. When using professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to look for job opportunities, behave graciously with everyone you encounter and follow posted protocols. Thank anyone who assists you, and be sure to return the favor when possible.

5. Stack the deck. Business information websites such as ZoomInfo allow users to post information about themselves, so consider including details about your professional involvement and qualifications on these types of forums.

6. Share your insights. Posting useful advice and commentary on industry forums and authoring online articles in your area of expertise can add to your credibility.

7. Monitor the conversation. Set alerts using Google or other tracking services under your name so you receive an e-mail notification every time something new is said about you online.

"Professionals should always post prudently -- not just when they're looking for work," said Willmer. "The business world is more transparent than ever, which means people need to be aware that what they say and do online can have both positive and negative consequences."

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