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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Google Chrome OS

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Google has just announced that it hopes that by the middle of next year (2010) it will have an operating system (Google Chrome OS) running on netbooks. The plan is that the operating system will be further developed so that it can at some stage in the near future also run on PCs.

This is a bold move, and represents the first real challenge to Microsoft’s dominance of operating systems for a long time. Microsoft currently has around 90% of the operating system market and dethroning them will be a tough nut to crack.

What Google has said is that all of the operating systems around today started life before the world wide web, and as such were never designed for the way we use computers today. Google hopes that by developing an operating system that is designed purely for the web, it will remove such problems as viruses. 

Google does of course already have an operating system for mobile phones called Android, so they do have some experience in the market. They also have a range of web-based applications, which they claim are being used by 1.75 million companies.

Stephen Shankland at CNET said the move had widespread implications.

“One is that it shows just how serious Google is about making the web into a foundation not just for static pages but for active applications, notably its own such as Google Docs and G-mail.”

“Another: it opens new competition with Microsoft and, potentially, a new reason for anti-trust regulators to pay close attention to Google’s moves.”

Some commentators said Google’s motivation in all this was pretty clear.

“One of Google’s major goals is to take Microsoft out, to systematically destroy their hold on the market,” said Mr Enderle.

“Google wants to eliminate Microsoft and it’s a unique battle. The strategy is good. The big question is, will it work?”

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The curtain finally closes on Windows 3.x

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

For many of us 40-somethings, Windows 3.x gave us our first real taste of the, dare I say it, iconic Windows-based graphical user interface (GUI). However, and sadly in my opinion, after 18 and a bit years, the curtain has finally been drawn on Windows 3.x. On 1 November, Microsoft stopped issuing licences for the software that first appeared in the US in 1990.

Windows 3.x was the first version of Windows to gain global appeal, establishing Microsoft as the biggest software company in the world. 18 years on, it is still the Windows operating system that is synomymous with Microsoft and from where the bulk of its revenue is derived.

I first started using Windows 3.1 in June 1992, before upgrading to Windows 3.11 a few months later. For me, the progression from needing to trigger applications from a DOS prompt to being able to launch them from within a GUI was a big improvement, although for Mac users this was of course nothing new.

Since then, we have had a whole host of Windows operating systems, including Windows 95, 98, Millennium Edition (ME), 2000….the lists goes on, but it was Windows 3.x that really got us all hooked!

Should I buy a Linux PC?

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Many software applications have now moved to the cloud and this has resulted in a bigger demand for inexpensive netbook computers. In this market there are two rival operating systems, Windows XP and Linux. Linux is cheaper than Windows XP, is also more stable, boots more quickly and is generally very reliable. However, it is also less familiar and would require a bit of time and effort on the part of the consumer in order to adapt to the new system.

In the current economic climate, the consumer might well consider that a bit of time and effort is worth the financial saving they would be able to make by choosing to buy a Linux machine instead of a Windows XP machine.

Business needs more help to tackle hi-tech crime

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

A report carried out by the Corporate IT Forum found that many UK businesses think that the government is not doing enough to tackle cyber crime, with 57% saying that they have little faith that hi-tech crime in the workplace would be dealt with adequately by the police. The report also revealed that only 4% of the respondents said they bothered to report every incident of hi-tech crime.

The survey was carried out on 3,500 members of the CIT Forum, which represents technology managers at the UK’s largest businesses. 69% of respondents reported seeing increases in the amount of hi-tech crime committed against them.

David Roberts, head of the Corporate IT Forum, said:

“IT chiefs in UK PLCs don’t think the government appreciates the scale of the cyber crime threat, the seriousness of the threat or how much it’s costing.”

It is common now for companies to be hit by denial of service attacks, viruses, and website defacements. According to the survey: “It has become too easy and too risk-free for criminals to become involved in cyber crime.”

Responding to a question about what would make a difference, 48% of respondents called for “consistent and appropriate penalties for cyber criminals and cross-border e-crime legislation”.

Details of 500,000 online bank accounts and credit and debit cards stolen by virus

Friday, October 31st, 2008

A computer virus has stolen the bank account and credit card details of around 500,000 financial institutions.

The Sinowal trojan has been around for about two and half years and has been tracked by security solutions provider, RSA. According to RSA, the Sinowal trojan has infected computers all over the world.

Sean Brady of RSA’s security division said:

“The effect has been really global with over 2000 domains compromised.”

“This is a serious incident on a very noticeable scale and we have seen an increase in the number of trojans and their variants, particularly in the States and Canada.”

According to Mr Brady, more than 270,000 banking accounts and 240,000 credit and debit cards have been compromised from hundreds of thousands of financial institutions in countries including the US, UK, Australia and Poland.

The Sinowal has been described by RSA as ‘one of the most serious threats to anyone with an internet connection’ because it works behind the scenes using a common infection method known as ‘drive-by downloads’.”

The RSA’s Fraud Action Research Lab said it first detected Sinowal in Feb 2006. Sean Brady said:

“One of the key points of interest about this particular trojan is that it has existed for two and a half years quietly collecting information,”

“Any IT professional will tell you it costs a lot to maintain and to store the information it is gathering.”

“The group behind it have made sure to invest in the infrastructure no doubt because the return and the potential return is so great.”

Taking Action

While the number of attacks is increasing, there are a few simple steps web users can take to protect their information in addition to using security software.

Derek Manky of Fortinet, said:

“We have a saying here which is ‘think before you link’.”

“That just means observe where you are going on the web. Be wary of clicking on anything in a high traffic site like social networks.”

“A lot of traffic in the eyes of cyber criminals means these sites are a target because to these people more traffic means more money.”

Blackberry phones

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Competition between manufacturers of smartphones like the iPhone and the G1 Google phone is tough. BlackBerry, the market leader, is responding to this challenge to its market position by introducing three very different new BlackBerry models. The first is the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220. The second is the beautifully designed BlackBerry Bold 9000 and finally there is the Blackberry Storm, with touch screen. This third phone is not yet available for review.

New software allows for fully formatted e-mail. In addition, Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments can be opened up, to enable editing. There is also an improved web browser with a ‘trackball’ which can be clicked to zoom in. Both phones also have a two-megapixel camera, with a tiny flash, that can also record video. In addition, they are both quad band.

The Flip model is intended for the consumer market and is half the price of the Bold. The price differential is justified in terms of functionality and sleek looks. The Bold is a very fast minature computer and has a gigabyte of storage built in.

Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

On Tuesday, at a conference held in Los Angeles, Microsoft demonstrated Windows 7, the latest version of its desktop operating system.

This version is designed to start much faster than Vista due to a reduction in the number of built in packages such as email, photo editing and movie editing.

The new operating system will probably be launched towards the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010.

Microsoft’s new operating system

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Microsoft are planning to launch a new “cloud” operating system late next year that will co-ordinate software inside the computer with software available on the internet. The world has changed and the market has moved on from desk top computing. Today the market uses all sorts of different types of internet-connected devices, such as smartphones and mini laptops, which in many cases use programs located on a server rather than on the device itself. Competitors of Microsoft already offer this type of computing and the question is ‘will Microsoft be able to maintain its advantageous market share as its software monopoly is eroded?’

Can robots think?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

In 1950, Alan Turing, a British mathematician, stated that a machine which could not be distinguished from a human was thinking. A machine is deemed to be indistinguishable from a human if it is capable of fooling thirty percent of its human interrogators that it is in fact a human and not a robot: the Turing Test.

This week, at the University of Reading, scientists have tested five machines, using text based conversations, to see if they could pass the Turing Test. The tests took place as part of the 18th Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence, an international annual competition to find the most human-like machine.

The winner of the competition was a robot called Elbot, which, although failing to pass the Turin Test, managed to fool 25% of the humans with whom it conversed.

New Apple laptop

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Apple has announced that it will launch its new laptop computer at a conference, due to be held on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California, next Tuesday. The announcement follows leaks and speculation about both the product design and a new low cost manufacturing process for the laptop cases. It has also been rumoured that Company sources have cryptically suggested that the conference will be “all about the brick”. However, in the current economic climate it remains to be seen whether reaction to Apple’s product launch will, in the end, centre around “the brick” or the product’s price.