Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Sony PSP has been given a minor firmware upgrade, with 5.03 soon available for download to the device.
The update brings no new features, but should make crashes a little less prevalent.
Earlier this afternoon, Sony representatives confirmed to GameCyte that software update 2.60 was just around the corner, and that readers like yourself might receive it -- and the included Photo Gallery application -- tomorrow morning.
Well, "tomorrow" has morphed into "right now." Fire up your PS3, head to System Update -- as if you had much of a choice, your PS3's internet access is apparently locked down until you take the plunge -- and go get yourself a snack. Right now, our download is clocking in at oh, about 2% a minute.
Once you do get things up and running, feel free to post your impressions in a comment below, or check back tomorrow for GameCyte's verdict
PS3 System Update 2.60 slap , Includes ‘Photo Gallery’ Application
Whatever detractors may say about the $400 entry fee, there's no question that the PlayStation 3 is a powerful multimedia center. Sure, it's no TiVo, but it's much less bloated than your Windows desktop, and houses hardware that can play back the latest movies and rip high-quality music with ease.
Tomorrow, Sony will hopefully make the PS3 a place where you'll want to show off your still images as well. Sony announced today that in addition to support for Divx 3.11, the rapidly-approaching 2.60 software update will include a new application, "Photo Gallery," that allows you to sort and view photos in a wide and often surprising variety of ways.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 12:29 PM
Scientists have always wanted to take a closer look at biological systems and they have developed ever-increasingly sophisticated imaging devices.
New Imaging Method Lets Scientists 'See' Cell Molecules More Clearly
Scientists have always wanted to take a closer look at biological systems and materials. From the magnifying glass to the electron microscope, they have developed ever-increasingly sophisticated imaging devices.
Now, Niels de Jonge, Ph.D., and colleagues at Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), add a new tool to the biology-watcher's box. In the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe a technique for imaging whole cells in liquid with a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM).
"Electron microscopy is the most important tool for imaging objects at the nano-scale – the size of molecules and objects in cells," said de Jonge, who is an assistant professor of Molecular Biology & Biophysics at Vanderbilt and a staff scientist at ORNL. But electron microscopy requires a high vacuum, which has prevented imaging of samples in liquid, such as biological cells.
The new technique – liquid STEM – uses a micro-fluidic device with electron transparent windows to enable the imaging of cells in liquid. In the PNAS article, the investigators demonstrate imaging of individual molecules in a cell, with significantly improved resolution (the fineness of detail in the image) and speed compared to existing imaging methods.
"Liquid STEM has the potential to become a versatile tool for imaging cellular processes on the nanometer scale," de Jonge said. "It will potentially be of great relevance for the development of molecular probes and for the understanding of the interaction of viruses with cells."
The technique will also become a resource for energy science, as researchers use it to visualize processes that occur at liquid: solid interfaces, for example in lithium ion batteries, fuel cells, or catalytic reactions.
"Our key innovation with respect to other techniques for imaging in liquid is the combination of a large volume that will accommodate whole cells, a resolution of a few nanometers, and fast imaging of a few seconds per image," de Jonge said.
The research was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program of ORNL, the SHaRE User Facility at ORNL, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the National Institutes of Health.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 11:55 AM
Google’s efforts to develop its advertising empire beyond the confines of the Internet have hit their first major setback.
The company said on Tuesday that it would end a two-year-old program to sell ads in newspapers because the effort, called Google Print Ads, had failed to live up to its expectations.
“While we hoped that Print Ads would create a new revenue stream for newspapers and produce more relevant advertising for consumers, the product has not created the impact that we — or our partners — wanted,” wrote Spencer Spinnell, director of Google Print Ads, on an official corporate blog.
Google said the program, which sought to bring Google’s automated method of selling ads through auctions to the newspaper industry, would end Feb. 28.
The program began in November 2006 as a test. Google later expanded it to about 800 newspapers, including large dailies like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The San Jose Mercury News.
But many newspapers used the program primarily for selling small amounts of ad space they could not sell themselves, newspaper publishers and industry analysts said. The ads were often sold at below-market rates.
“Financially, it was negligible for both Google and publishers,” said Jeffrey Lindsay, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. “None of these deals amounted to much.”
But some publishers, especially at smaller newspapers, may feel the impact of the program’s demise.
“We got some good business out of it,” said Steve Rossi, president and chief executive of the California Newspapers Partnership, which includes more than 30 daily newspapers owned by the MediaNews Group, Gannett and others.
The Google Print Ads program, along with two similar efforts by Google to sell ads on television and radio, were seen as high-profile tests of the company’s ability to bring the efficiencies of its automated marketplace for online ads to large, and sometimes, inefficient advertising markets.
Analysts said that all the programs had faced similar challenges and had been slow to gain traction with advertisers.
In radio, Google initially struggled to secure enough ad space to make the program attractive to marketers. In television, the company’s program has been looked at with suspicion, especially by cable companies that see Google as a competitor to their own efforts to sell targeted ads. The company is selling small amounts of ad space on the Dish Network, and since September, on some cable networks owned by NBC Universal, including MSNBC, CNBC and SciFi.
“If one was to drop out, the first was going to be newspapers, followed by radio,” Mr. Lindsay said. “TV is the one that has got the most legs.”
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the company’s radio and television ad sales programs.
Despite the limited size of Google Print Ads, some marketers were attracted to it, as the program often gave them the opportunity to place ads at prices lower than listed rates.
“It was very easy to use and we got very favorable pricing from many newspapers,” said Bruce Telkamp, executive vice president of eHealth, which runs eHealthInsurance.com. Mr. Telkamp said print ads were a small part of the company’s marketing budget.
In recent weeks, Google has closed several other small products and services that have failed to gain traction as it seeks to reduce costs.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 10:24 AM
How to protect your PC against the Downadup worm
Security experts say it's the principal worm attack in years, call it "amazing" and report that it impure nearly 9 million PCs in just two weeks.
Downadup is downright malicious. And that's even before it does much more than just spread.
But as analysts argue about how the compromised computers will be used -- to build a substantial botnet, perhaps -- or how much information hackers will steal from infected machines, users like you have a more immediate concern: "How do I keep my PC from joining the ranks of the hacked?"
That's a simple question. Unfortunately, because of this worm's flexibility, the answers aren't.
What's the worm again? Thanks to the lack of an industry-wide labeling system, the worm goes by more than one name. Some companies dub it "Downadup," others call it "Conficker."
No matter the name, it's the same threat.
When did Downadup first appear? Security companies warned of the worm in late November 2008; Symantec Corp. was one of the first to sound the alarm when it raised its ThreatCon security alert level on Nov. 21. Within a week, Microsoft Corp. had added its voice to the chorus as it acknowledged a significant uptick in attacks.
However, the worm only really took off about a week ago as newer variations struck users and resulted in millions of infections.
How does it spread? One of Downadup's most intriguing aspects, say security researchers, is its multipronged attack strategy: It can spread three different ways.
The one that's gotten the most attention exploits a vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft patched nearly four months ago. The bug, which is in a file-sharing service that's included in all versions of the operating system, can be exploited remotely just by sending a malformed data packet to an unpatched PC.
But the worm can also spread by brute-force password attacks, and by copying itself to any removable USB-based devices such as flash drives and cameras. More on those two in a moment.
What machines are most vulnerable to Downadup attack? According to Microsoft, unpatched Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 machines are at the greatest risk to exploits of the bug patched in October. That gibes with reports from security companies, which have highlighted the danger to PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 and XP SP3. Not coincidentally, those versions account for the bulk of Windows' market share.
Unpatched Windows Vista and Server 2008 systems, meanwhile, are less likely to fall victim to attack, since hackers must have authenticated access to the computer, or in other words, know the log-in username and password.
Any Windows-powered machines, however, can be compromised by the worm's password and USB attack strategies.
I'm running Windows 7 beta... am I safe? According to the Microsoft support document that details the October patch, yes you are.
Microsoft offered the fix as a security patch to users of the Windows 7 "pre-beta," the version it gave developers in late October and early November. It then integrated the patch into Windows 7 before it launched the public beta on Jan. 10.
OK, so how do I protect my PC? Because this thing is a triple threat, you'll need to take more than one defensive measure.
First of all, if you haven't already done so, apply the October fix that Microsoft tagged as MS08-067. If you have Windows Update set to automatically download and install patches, you should be protected, but it never hurts to double-check. You can verify that the patch has been installed by bringing up Windows Update, then clicking "Review your update history" and looking for a security update labeled as "KB958644."
If you are only now installing the patch, you might want to take Microsoft's advice and also download and install the January edition of its free Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), which was updated last week so that it can detect, and then delete, Downadup infections.
What's this about password attacks? Although most of the news about Downadup's spread has focused on its exploitation of a patched bug in Windows, the worm also propagates by trying to guess other machines' administrative passwords.
Once the worm penetrates a corporate network -- perhaps by infecting a single unpatched machine, say a laptop, that is later connected to that network -- it tries to break into other PCs, including those that have been patched with the October emergency fix.
"One of the ways in which the Conficker worm (also known as Confick or Downadup) uses to spread is to try and batter its way into ADMIN$ shares using a long list of different passwords," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, in an entry to a company blog last Friday. Cluley included the list of passwords that Downadup tries, which range from the ubiquitous password and the moronic secure to the slightly-more-clever letmein and nimda, or admin spelled backward.
Cluley urged users to steer clear of what he called "poorly-chosen passwords," while other security companies recommended that users not only pick stronger passwords but change them periodically as well.
Obviously, if you're using a password that's on the Downadup list, you should change it immediately.
From the moment Downadup infects a PC, it copies a file, named "autorun.inf" to the root of any USB storage devices, typically flash drives, that are connected to the compromised computer. That file name takes advantage of Windows' Autorun and Autoplay features to copy the worm to any machine that a flash drive, camera or other USB device is plugged into. Downadup will infect that PC when the drive or device is connected, or when the user double-clicks the device's icon within Windows Explorer or from the desktop.
Security experts have recommended that users disable both Autorun and Autoplay in Windows.
A December blog post by Symantec researcher Ben Nahorney spells out how to disable Autoplay, while a separate post on the Hackology blog outlines how to turn off Autorun by editing the registry.
What are the signs that my PC has been hit? Microsoft's advisory about Downadup lists several symptoms of infection, including these:
Account lockout policies are being tripped (because your password's been hijacked, and changed, by the attacker).
Automatic Updates are disabled (because Downadup tries to keep the PC unpatched by turning off Windows Update's automatic update, as well as Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS), the Windows component used by Windows Update to actually deliver the updates). Various security-related Web sites cannot be accessed (because Downadup blocks access to a whole host of security companies' sites in an effort to prevent antivirus software from being updated, which could result in the worm's detection and eradication).
If your PC is exhibiting any of these symptoms -- or the others that Microsoft spells out here -- the company recommends that you immediately use the MSRT to clean the machine.
You can download the MSRT from Microsoft's site, or follow these instructions, posted at its support site, that walk administrators through the steps to deploy the tool in enterprise environments.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 9:58 AM