Microsoft fends off Red Ring of Death

Microsoft engineers say they have finally solved the “Red Ring of Death” that has plagued many of its Xbox 360 consoles with its most recent hardware revision. Product manager Aaron Greenberg told Edge that consoles sent in for repair now have good performance numbers. The Red Ring of Death, three flashing red lights around the power button that indicate a hardware problem, became such a pervasive problem on Xbox 360s that Microsoft extended its warranty period to three years and set aside US$1.1 billion to handle repairs. (Edge)

Developers' G1 phones blocked from app store

Unlocked developer-only versions of G1 phones can’t be used to download applications from the Android store, a change Google made this week to protect paid apps from piracy. Copy-protected files, including paid apps that were made available beginning this month, are downloaded into a restricted folder on the G1. However, the developer versions don’t have the same protections, so they’re open to copying. Some developers have complained that the policy prevents them from downloading their own apps onto their phones. (The Reg)


Emoji apps banned from iPhone store

Apple is cracking down on iPhone applications that let users unlock emojis, Japanese emoticons that are hidden in devices outside of the country. The company has already pulled apps created specifically to unlock the pictographs, and has informed other developers to disable emoji features. Apple gave no explanation for the crackdown, but observers speculated it could be because of licensing rights or coding variances for the images. (Ars Technica)

Skype capabilities anger UK mobile providers

Two UK mobile phone service providers are threatening to drop support for Nokia devices unless the company removes a mobile version of Skype from its phones, according to Ars Technica. Orange and O2 are upset that the voice-over-IP service would let users circumvent their calling networks and get free calls through WiFi. The furor illustrates a tricky issue with VoIP software, which is becoming more popular among mobile phone users. (Ars Technica)

Botnets spur increase in SQL injection attacks

Automated SQL injection attacks affected more than 500,000 Web sites in 2008, according to a report by the Web Hacking Incidents Database (WHID). The numbers indicate that attackers are using botnets against a wider variety of sites, and  targeting customers instead of information stored in databases. WHID reported that 30 percent of Web application attacks were SQL injections. (Dark Reading)

Facebook embraces open policy after controversy

Facebook is turning to its users to help revise its terms of service (TOS), seeking feedback on a new set of principles and promising to let users vote on controversial sections of the TOS. The open policy is a response to controversy earlier this month after Facebook revised its TOS allowing it to retain user data ever if an account is deleted. The change prompted angry complaints about privacy, and the site has since  reverted  to  its original terms. The new principles specify that Facebook can retain data shared with other members until those members delete it, a key element of the original controversy. The policy also includes virtual town hall meetings in March and the establishment of a user council to help guide policies. (Venture Beat)


Contest invites hackers to attack Native Client

Google is offering cash rewards to hackers who can break its Native Client technology, organizing a contest through 5 May to make sure its x86 code security is sound. Participants can register with Google to get access to the latest build of Native Client and attack it. Teams that find an exploit first will get credit for it, so Google is encouraging hackers to act quickly. The results will be judged by a panel of university professors, and the first-place winner will receive US$8,192. (eWeek)


Microsoft lawsuit involves Linux kernal

Microsoft filed a lawsuit Wednesday against TomTom, alleging that the in-car navigation device maker violated eight of its patents. Three of the claims involve TomTom’s use of the Linux kernel, the first time that Microsoft has filed suit in relation to its claims that the open source platform includes several patent violations. However, Microsoft denied that it’s moving against open source technology, characterizing the lawsuit as a licensing dispute with TomTom that they initially tried to resolve through negotiations. (TechFlash)

Microsoft displays its augmented reality

Microsoft researchers showed off their augmented reality technology Wednesday at TechFest, demonstrating software that superimposed digital images onto real-time video. The technology differs from other augmented reality developments because it doesn’t need GPS or Wi-Fi signals to identify objects. Instead, Microsoft has implemented a computer-vision algorithm that recognizes objects within a scene. “You could be out on the street, hold the device up, and it could recognize a restaurant and deliver ratings and the menu,” Microsoft principal researcher Michael Cohen said. (Technology Review)

Microsoft targets Vista Ultimate cracks

Microsoft plans to identify counterfeit copies of Vista Ultimate with Windows updates in the next few weeks, according to Computerworld. The campaign is aimed at SoftMod, an activation hack that makes the system appear to have been installed and activated by the PC manufacturer. Affected computers will get a large pop-up window warning users that the system has software that circumvents activation, but their systems won’t be disabled. (Computerworld)

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