Microsoft launches new OS for personal navigation devices

On Monday, Microsoft released Windows Embedded NavReady 2009, its first OS for personal navigation devices (PNDs). The OS includes Bluetooth support, which will let PND manufacturers build devices that can connect to online services such as Microsoft’s Live Search and map service, mobile phones, and computers using Windows. In a statement, Kevin Dallas, general manager of Microsoft’s embedded business for Windows, said the early release will let manufacturers adopt the Embedded NavReady OS for upcoming devices in time for the upcoming holiday season. (Information Week, 06/16/08)

New compression technique leaves VoIP open to eavesdropping

A research team from Johns Hopkins University has developed software that can eavesdrop on encrypted voice-over-IP streams that use a new compression by measuring the packet size of words and phrases. The compression technique—called variable bitrate compression—varies the size of data packet. Longer and more  complex sounds have higher sampling rates while shorter and simpler sounds have lower sampling rates. The new technique cuts down on the bandwidth needed but maintains sound quality. However, the researchers created software that can partially decode VoIP conversations using software that searches for certain words and phrases and compares them to sample conversations in a database. When the software finds a match, it alerts the eavesdropper. The software yielded a 50 percent accuracy rate on short phrases; the percentage rose to 90 percent on longer and more complex words. (New Scientist, 06/12/08)

“N-variant” integrated circuits provides security through diversity

Computer engineers at Rice University unveiled a new way to design integrated circuits that contain multiple variants at the Design Automation Conference in Anaheim, California on Wednesday. These n-variant circuits have the ability to switch between variants based on external or self-adaptive triggers. Attacks against the chips would have to be successful against all variants the chip contains. In addition, the n-variant method could be used for digital rights management. Content producers could create media files that would only play on one variant or switch to another variants after the user accesses it  a certain number of times. (Science Daily, 06/11/08)

Intel extends C/C++ language for multicore computing

At its annual open house at the Computer History Museum, Intel displayed Ct, a new programming language for developing multicore software applications. Intel’s Ct compiler automatically partitions the code to run on different cores according to the data type and the operation performed on the data. Because Ct is an extension of the C/C++ language, programmers should pick up the new language quickly said Mohan Rajagopalan, a senior researcher at Intel. Ct’s runtime environment adjusts to the platform so applications developed in Ct will scale to the number of cores available. (TechWeb, 06/12/08)

Google expands access to search terms

Users of Google Trends now have access to the most popular search terms that fill Google’s databases, the company announced on Wednesday. The company has expanded the service to now let users search across terms and export the data to spreadsheets. The service requires a Google account. Data in Google Trends goes back to 2004. (Reuters, 06/11/08)

New algorithm speeds up the time needed to solve complex computer science problems

Computer scientists from the University of Michigan have developed a new algorithm that finds symmetries faster and speed up common search tasks. To illustrate its speed, the researchers applied the algorithm to finding the symmetries in an Internet connectivity graph of routers throughout the world. The algorithm returned results in less than half a second, capturing 10 the power of 83, 687 different symmetries. Using different methods, the process timed out in 30 minutes or took days to complete the problem. (Science Daily, 06/11/08)

Opera browser to include drive-by download defenses in fraud protection tools

Version 9.5 of the Opera browser will include an anti malware tool that notifies users when they’re about to visit a known malware site or a site that has been hacked. The browser will use a list of blackballed sites provided by HauteSecure. Rather than storing an updated blacklist locally as Firefox’s anti-malware tool does, the upcoming version of Opera will query HauteSecure’s servers and retrieve the latest blacklist data for each page request. A company spokesman for Opera said the browser’s architecture allows it to use and integrate data from any source, including user-provided information from the security community. The company has yet to confirm a release date for the final version of the browser but the anti-malware tool is included in the beta version and available at the company’s Web site. (InfoWorld, 06/10/08)

US ISPs to block child pornography sites

In an agreement with the New York state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, Verizon, Sprint, and Time Warner have agreed to block US access to child pornography sites and newsgroups. The agreement is the result of an eight-month investigation conducted by the New York state attorney general’s office in which undercover agents posing as Internet service subscribers complained to their providers about allowing access to child pornography. The attorney general’s office stepped in after the ISPs ignored the subscribers’ complaints. The three companies will also contribute money to fund that will underwrite the attorney general’s efforts to remove child pornography from the Internet. (The New York Times, 06/10/08)

Open Patent Alliance will jointly license WiMax patents

Executives from Cisco, Samsung, Sprint Nextel, Clearwire, Intel, and Alcatel-Lucent announced the formation of the Open Patent Alliance on Monday. The group’s goal is to gather patents and rights to WiMax, the IP-based wireless technology, and license them to manufacturers of consumer electronics, networking equipment, and computers. The alliance hopes to increase WiMax adoption by making the patents inexpensive. In a webcast introducing the new group, executives from the founding companies stressed the alliance’s open model and encouraged companies to join the group. (CNET, 06/09/08)

Supercomputer sets computing milestone

IBM’s supercomputer—nicknamed the Roadrunner—broke the petaflop barrier the company announced Monday. Petaflop speeds are equivalent to one thousand trillion calculations per second. Roadrunner is twice as fast as the IBM BlueGene/L, previously the world’s fastest computer. Roadrunner’s hybrid design uses conventional supercomputer processors as well as cell chips designed for Sony’s PlayStation 3 console. Researchers made modifications to the cell chips that allow the chips to carry out specialized calculations and handle more data. The conventional processors handle general computation tasks while the powerful cell chips work with large amounts of unstructured data. The computer will be installed at an undisclosed US government lab and used to monitor the US nuclear stockpile and for research in astronomy, genomics, and climate change. (BBC, 06/09/08)

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