Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Google Finally Launches Chrome For Android

It may sound a bit odd to say, but today Google has officially announced the launch of the Chrome web browser for Android devices.

Google’s Chrome browser and Android mobile operating system may have gone public in the same year but they haven’t shared cross compatibility until now. Chrome for Android is a beta which for now is limited to Android 4.0 devices.

The new software looks and acts much like the desktop version and because its connected to a users Google sign-in, users can get their personalized browsing experience transferred directly to their phone. That means you can see open tabs and synced bookmarks from the desktop version transferred over to Android.

Chrome is now available in Beta from Android Market, in select countries and languages for phones and tablets with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Facebook IPO Finally A Reality

Facebook has officially filed for its initial public offering (IPO) today paving the way for the social media giant to become a become a public company. The move is expected to raise between $5 billion and $10 billion in stock offerings.

The publicly available version of the SEC filing does not give a proposed date for the IPO and Facebook has not yet released its expectations for the initial stock price.

What Facebook's IPO means for you

Facebook becoming a publicly traded company might be great news for the sites founder Mark Zuckerberg and its investors but what does it mean for the users? Well it could go either way. Facebook will come under greater public scrutiny, and it's likely to face intense pressure from investors to keep growing its business each quarter. This means we could see more major changes, more advertising, development of other features or just about anything.

Investors will want more way to monetize the site so we'll likely see several changes as to what we'll be able to do on the site. Much like MySpace we may see a built in music player, video player and/or other applications that allow on site purchases. Well also likely see changes in how Facebook uses our user data to make money.

Facebook will almost certainly improve the mobile experience for users. We'll likely see more mobile advertising, even perhaps highly targeted ads for users checking into local businesses.

For now any speculation on possible changes is just that, speculation. One thing is for certain however, Facebook had better take notes from other social media sites that have come before it and not make the same mistakes. Users that don't like changes like the new timeline feature might not like any further potential chances and might very well leave the site behind.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MegaUpload Users Files Safe From Deletion For Now

If you are a MegaUpload user by now you are painfully aware that the site has recently been forced to shut down by US law enforcement officials due to copyright concerns. Unfortunately for user there was no prior notice given so that we could gain access to the site and download or remove our content. Well rest easy, at least for now. News.com reports that a deal has been made between MegaUpload's defense team and the two companies that hosted MegaUpload's servers, Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group to safe guard your files from deletion for at least two more weeks.

What does this mean for you?
Well so far not much has changed. The site is still down so users will not be able to access their files. Ira Rothken, MegaUpload's U.S. attorney, has said he is working with the hosting companies and the federal government to try to reach an arrangement that will allow users access to some, if not all, of their files.

Will I ever get my MegaUpload data back?
There is no clear and decisive answer here. The hosting companies involved have no control over the data as of now. It all depends on the federal government and what they decide to do. If they force the deletion of the data thee really is no recourse, they must legally comply.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Carpathia Hosting have setup a website and begun a campaign urging "innocent users" of Megaupload's service to get in touch with EFF to explore possible legal avenues for retrieving the data.

The site is designed to "help lawful users in the United States work with EFF to investigate their options for retrieving their legitimate, non-infringing files from Megaupload." This means users with personal files, photo's backups ect. not those of you with anything that might be construed as copyrighted material.

So for now its just a wait and see game. Hopefully it will all pan out for the best!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newest Smartphone Threat QR Code Malware

Security vendor AVG has issued a warning for smartphone users that like to scan Quick Response codes that some of these codes may contain text and URLs with hidden malware.

In its latest report, entitled AVG Community Powered Threat Q4 2011, the company warned that hackers are putting their own malicious stickers over the top of legitimate QR codes. These codes lead unsuspecting users to malicious sites or offer up downloads in the form of malicious malware. Some of the codes install malware which sends costly SMS messages to premium numbers and also redirects to a URL which downloads a malicious file.

In most cases the user does not know what lurks behind the QR code until the malware is already installed and running.

"Putting a malicious QR code sticker onto existing marketing material or replacing a website's bona fide QR code with a malicious one could be enough to trick many unsuspecting people. In Q4 we clearly saw the convergence between computers and mobile phones applies to malware too. As phones become more like computers, so do the risks,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer, AVG Technologies. “Many sophisticated tricks of the trade from computers are now being repurposed for phones. However, as phones are often tied into billing systems the gains can be far greater.”

Full Q4 Threat Report: AVG_Community_Powered_Threat_Report_Q4_2011

Friday, January 20, 2012

Internet Blackout Works As Congress Shelves SOPA And PIPA Vote

The politicians behind the anti-piracy bills, SOPA And PIPA, have responded to the recent internet blackouts in protest to their legislation by indefinitely shelving their respective proposed votes.

In a brief statement, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said "in light of recent events" that he would postpone the SOPA vote that had been scheduled for January 24. Shortly after Reid's statement Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on the similar PIPA legislation until there is wider agreement on the issue at this time neither have offered details on a potential new date for the vote

"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products," Smith said in his statement.

Does this mean SOPA and PIPA are dead? Not hardly!!

Despite his decision to postpone the current action, Reid left the door open to bringing the bill back or introducing further similar legislation. In his statement he said, "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved."

Clearly the fight is not over.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Major Sites Plan Blackouts In Protests Against SOPA

Update: You may have already noticed several major sites including Wikipedia and Craigslist have already put up their blackout pages. Many sites are choosing to add a 3-4sec splash screen type delay. Just note that doesn't mean the sites were hacked. This is a planned organized protest.

Starting at 5AM PST (8AM EST) you may notice some of your favorite websites are offline. Don't be alarmed! This is in protest to the recently proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The protest is set to begin Jan 18th at 8AM EST and end at 8PM EST.

Several major websites including Google, Reddit, Wikipedia, BoingBoing, Imgur and Tucows, are planning a partial, if not total, blackout Wednesday to protest the controversial anti-piracy legislation being considered by Congress. According to Fight for the Future and SOPAStike, two of the groups organizing the protests, nearly 12,000 websites have said they will join the blackout. That number is still growing.

If you need to use some of your favorite sites like Wikipedia for any urgent research, make sure you do it today – come tomorrow, you’ll be clean out of luck.

So what is SOPA Anyway?

SOPA and PIPA are actually two independent pieces of legislation. SOAPA is currently being considered in the House and PIPA in the Senate. Both are designed to tackle the problem of foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music and other products.

The goal is to give Intellectual Property (IP) owners more tools to go after foreign sites they claim are infringing upon their IP and contributing to the theft and sale of U.S. goods, music, video and other material.

Opponents argue that the bills will give content and IP owners too much power to go after websites they decide are infringing on their rights. The argument is that while the bills are targeted only at foreign websites, there are still sections that provide for very sweepings powers that could be used against legitimate U.S. websites. Inevitably forcing then to undertake costly and impractical monitoring of their sites to ensure compliance with SOPA and PIPA.

The main issue is with DNS blacklisting. This very sticky provision would have required ISPs to prevent Americans from visiting blacklisted sites by altering the DNS service that translates site names like Google.com into IP addresses such as Instead, for the blacklisted sites, ISPs would have to return a negative result so their customer's browsers would show that the site doesn’t exist. You could still reach the site via it's direct IP address just not by the domain name.

According to MPAA tech policy chief Paul Brigner the Motion Picture Associaton of America has conceded that DNS filtering will not be included in the anti-piracy bills now making their way through Congress. His remarks came during a debate on SOPA at the State of the Net conference in Washington DC. The event was sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.

Brigner's comments were echoed by Steve Tepp of the US Chamber of Congress, another major SOPA supporter. He said the DNS provisions of SOPA and PIPA have "essentially been taken off the table," as the sponsors of both bills—Rep Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), respectively—have pledged to remove those provisions from the bill.

Many contend that while this provision was a major sticking point many of the provisions still in the bills will enable a sort of Internet censorship and prior restraint on free speech.

You can view the entire bill here (download PDF).

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Google Launches Android Design Site

Android developers looking for a little help will now have a new tool thanks to Google. Today the company has introduced Android Design: A site Google explains as the place to learn about principles, building blocks, and patterns for creating world-class Android user interfaces.

The site features a ton of information including advice for buildings apps with details on suggested iconography, patterns, colors, typography, and writing styles. While these are all just suggestions Google hopes that by following some of these guidelines there will be less fragmentation across the user experience and that apps that follow them will look like they belong on an Android device.

Android Developers Blog: Introducing the Android Design site