Sandbox feature to protect Office 2010 documents

Office 2010 will include a sandbox feature to protect systems from potentially malicious documents, a security measure Microsoft is reportedly taking because the company can’t catch every potential vulnerability. The sandbox feature is called Protected View, which keeps documents in a read-only format to ensure that malicious code can’t access other files on the system. Recently, the Office suite has  been susceptible to fuzzing, an automated hacking trick that involves inserting random data into documents to find vulnerabilities. (Computerworld)

Windows 7 to get ballot-style browser choice

Microsoft has acquiesced to European Union (EU) demands and will offer a ballot-style installation screen  on European machines that includes rival  browsers such as Firefox. The plan will begin with Windows 7 computers once the EU approves the proposal, which could happen in October, when the new operating system becomes available. Microsoft, which previously said it would remove Internet Explorer from European machines, made the change in an effort to sidestep antitrust allegations and major fines. The EU called the decision “good news” and said it would review the proposal to make sure it complies with regulations. (The New York Times)

Scientists work toward artificial brain within 10 years

Scientists are less than 10 years away from building a functional artificial brain, according to the director of the Blue Brain Project, a European initiative to reverse engineer a mammalian brain. Speaking at the TED Global conference in Oxford, England, Henry Markram said his team has already simulated parts of a rat brain. The project focuses on replicating the neocortex, the outer layer of mammalian brains responsible for complex functions such as motor commands and conscious thought. The Blue Brain Project currently has a software model with thousands of neurons that the team uses to construct artificial neocortical columns. (BBC)

AP to track its online articles through registry

The Associated Press (AP) said Thursday that it will build a “news registry” that tags articles and tracks how its news content is being used online.  Although the system might appear to be a form of digital rights management (DRM) and copyright enforcement, an AP executive said the intent is to spread its content further and keep it widely available with more licensed uses. The AP expects to have the technology ready to implement the registry by the end of this year. (All Things Digital)

Android to appear in various home gadgets

Device manufacturers are beginning to use Google’s Android platform in a wide range of products that are expected to appear on the market by the end of the year. Start-up company Touch Revolution said it supplied touchscreens and Android configurations for several large electronics companies. The devices will include cordless phones that use voice-over-IP or radio waves to communicate throughout homes and devices that function as advanced remote control for houses, controlling lights, security, and entertainment systems. (Forbes)

FCC launches reform Web site

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed an employee-only Web site to gather suggestions for reforming the agency. Located at, the site is a response to internal pressure to change the way the FCC runs its operations. FCC chair Julius Genachowski said the site would open to the public at a later date, once the agency has had a chance to review internal suggestions. Senior commissioner Robert McDowell sent a letter to Genachowski with several items for reform, including greater openness to the public. (Ars Technica)

Mobile phone becomes high-powered microscope

Mobile phone cameras could soon be used as microscopes to help diagnose diseases in remote regions. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a portable device, CellScope, that connects to a mobile phone to become a high-powered fluorescence microscope, capable of focusing on objects with a spacial resolution of 1.2 micrometers. That's more than enough to focus on red blood cells, which measure 7 micrometers in diameter. CellScope includes a light-emitting diode (LED) to see fluorescent dye used to identify tuberculosis bacteria. (Science Daily)

Multitouch screens move toward 10 fingers

Synaptics, the company the developed the multitouch technology featured on some iPod models, has developed next-generation touchscreens that recognize 10 fingers at once. The ClearPad 3000 series will enable complex touch patterns that could be used in a variety of applications, such as games and security. The display technology includes 48 sensing channels that recognize touches with greater accuracy, and the screens feature low power consumption. The screens could appear in devices by next year. (Wired)

Long process nears end for 802.11n standard

A draft standard for IEEE 802.11n, which adds multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) and other features to the wireless local area network standard, has been sent to the IEEE Standards Review Committee (RevCom) and is likely to be approved by September. Bob Heile, chairman of the 802.15 working group on personal area networks, said in an e-mail that the standard is nearing completion. Completing the process would end roughly five years of debate that included a possible alternative standard, TGnSync. (PC Magazine)

Adobe reevaluating buggy Reader download

Adobe acknowledged Monday that an older version of Reader available for download from its site contains critical vulnerabilities, and the company is reevaluating it update policy. Security company Secunia discovered the faulty download because it was flagged as vulnerable by a system scanner. Reader 9.1 was released 10 March, and there have been two patches since then, but they aren't included on the version available from Adobe. Users must patch manually or wait for the program to update itself, which can sometimes take up a week or more. According to Adobe, the program is supposed to check for updates immediately after installation, but doesn't always do so depending on PC configurations. (Computerworld)

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