Apple recalls iPods in South Korea

Apple's Korean arm has relented to South Korean pressure and issued a recall for first-generation iPod Nano devices sold in the country, in the wake of a series of reported explosions. Following four reports since December of devices overheating and exploding, Apple initially offered to replace batteries and shells in defective models, a tactic the company also used after similar reports surfaced in Japan. The full recall includes roughly 155,000 devices sold in South Korea from October 2005 to December 2006. The incidents prompted the South Korean government to toughen safety rules for lithium-ion batteries. (The Korean Herald)

Researcher cancels ATM hack demonstration

A Juniper security researcher canceled a Black Hat Conference presentation in which he was to reveal an ATM exploit after financial companies requested time to address the vulnerability. Barnaby Jack was set to demonstrate his hack, which involves ATMs running Windows CE operating systems, at the conference in Las Vegas later this month. In his conference description, Jack wrote that the exploit includes local and remote attacks on the underlying software. The vulnerability was serious enough that an ATM vendor pressured Jack and Juniper to postpone the presentation because of fears that it could pose a serious risk to the public. The ATM model that would have been used in the demonstration wasn't disclosed. (Technology Review)

Google announces Chrome OS

Google revealed plans Wednesday to launch its own open source operating system, called Chrome OS, with a target launch date in the second half of 2010. confirming long-standing rumors and targeting the second half of 2010 for an arrival date. In its official blog, Google said its OS will initially work optimally in netbooks. "We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the Web in a few seconds," Google said in the post. The user interface will be nondescript, and Google is likely to encourage Chrome OS users to get on the Web for its online applications rather than relay on installed programs. The company will also emphasize security, designing its architecture from the ground up. Google noted that the operating system, suitable for desktop systems running x86 and ARM chips, will be distinctly different than Android, which was designed to function across a variety of small devices. (Ars Technica)

Software learns sign language from television

A UK team has developed software that learns sign language based on subtitled and signed television footage. The technology, developed by computer scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds, includes an algorithm that recognizes British Sign Language gestures by identifying arm positions and flesh-colored pixels. The software then matches those gestures to subtitles displayed on the screen. The team provided 10 hours of subtitled and signed television for the system to learn 210 nouns and adjectives, and the software correctly identified 136 words, or 65 percent. (New Scientist)

Internet radio stations, labels reach royalty deal

Online music stations and major labels struck a royalty agreement Tuesday that sites such as Pandora say is affordable enough for them to continue streaming. SoundExchange, the organization that collects US royalties for artists across the globe, agreed to a tiered pricing structure that charges Internet stations based on their size. Larger companies with advertising revenues greater than $1.25 million, such as Pandora, will pay $0.08 per song or 25 percent of revenue, whichever is greater. Smaller sites will only pay 12 to 14 percent of their revenues, on top of a $25,000 annual fee. In 2007, the federal Copyright Royalty Board agreed to SoundExchange's proposal for higher webcasting rates at $0.19 per song. The pending change prompted protests from Internet radio stations, and Pandora said that it couldn't stay in business under the proposed model. (The New York Times)

Zero-day Direct X exploit targets IE users

Microsoft confirmed Monday that attackers are using a zero-day vulnerability in Direct X to exploit recent versions of Internet Explorer (IE). In a security advisory, Microsoft recommended disabling its video Active X Control. The company is working on a patch, but a spokesman declined to say whether it would be ready by the regular 14 July update. Security researchers previously revealed that attackers hacked into thousands of legitimate Web sites to implement drive-by attacks, and victims were also lured to visit malicious Web sites from spam. (Computerworld)

Camera uses special fabric instead of lens

MIT researchers have developed a flexible camera that captures images through a special fabric, without the need for a lens. In Nano Letters, researchers describe the development of light-detecting semiconductor material woven into layers, which provide a greater field of view than a single lens. The researchers developed an algorithm that takes wavelength data from the fabric and converts it into a black-and-white image. The technology is years away from practical applications, but the researchers believe it could be used to make clothing that lets users see everywhere around them at the same time, which could be helpful in military situations. (PhyOrg)

'Perfection tool' zooms in on low-quality camera footage

A new video enhancement tool developed at Tel Aviv University could help investigators zoom in clearly when watching security camera footage, a feature that has often been depicted in movies and television but hasn't been matched by actual technology. The team, which published its findings in Optics Letters and the Journal of Real Time Image Processing, developed its "perfection tool" to capture enhanced resolutions from video featuring turbulent atmosphere, or video that becomes distorted at long distances. According to professor Leonid Yaroslavsky, the team developed algorithms that use parts of the video that remain still — primarily backgrounds — to stabilize images. The technology could be used in devices such as military binoculars and could help reduce the size of video files sent through the Internet. Yaroslavsky said that once commercialized, the perfection tool could be integrated into existing technology within a few months. (Science Daily)

Programmer arrested for stealing stock trading code

A former Goldman Sachs employee was arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on 3 July after he allegedly copied valuable code for automated stock and commodities trading before resigning last month. Sergey Aleynikov copied roughly 32 Mbytes of code for Goldman Sach's proprietary trading platform, the FBI said stated in court documents. The company's system uses algorithms to quickly track market fluctuations and make automated trades. Aleynikov is accused of stealing the code so he could use it with another company in Chicago. The FBI, alerted to Aleynikov's actions by Goldman Sachs, found that Aleynikov tried to erase evidence of the crime but was foiled by a backup copy of his bash history, a log of his recent Unix commands. (Computerworld)

BT declines to adopt Phorm behavioral ads

BT, a British ISP, has decided not to adopt a controversial advertising service that provides targeted ads based on users' browsing history. Called Webwise, the technology was developed by US-based digital technology company Phorm and came under fire from the European Union last year after BT revealed that it had conducted unannounced tests with the service. Webwise has sparked concern among privacy advocates because it uses deep packet inspection for behavioral analysis, but Phorm claims that users remain anonymous because the technology assigns data to a numeric code and then discards it. BT's decision to abandon Webwise wasn't based on privacy complaints, but because of budgetary limitations, the company said. (The New York Times)

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