You know spyware and virus, malware and DDOS, Trojan of horse fame, phishing and worm. But do you recall the brand-newest threat of them all? (apologies to Johnny Marks). Well, the Federal Trade Commission does: it's called "scareware," and late last week, the FTC slammed two of the biggest scareware providers with an asset freeze and a temporary injunction.
What is "scareware?" Arstechnica.com's report explains it thus:
Scareware-selling companies would contract with reputable websites to display advertisements on behalf of other reputable companies, but would poison the ads in question. Once clicked, visitors were actually redirected to a vendor-controlled website, which would then "scan" their computer and amazingly enough, find evidence of damage or infection. Cue the appropriate links, websites (just $39.95), and a few minutes later the result is one scammed customer who has just paid good money for nothing. The thieves, meanwhile, earn extra points if they manage to nick a credit card number in the process.
Some typical examples include Antivirus XP, DriveCleaner, and WinFixer. Drop by the Trend Micro blog for an animated portrayal of a typical Antivirus XP attack, which includes a replacement desktop wallpaper with no way to change it and a scary-looking fake BSOD screensaver.
To learn more about the baddies behind Antivirus XP and its ilk, and to learn how to clean up after scareware, join us after the break.
Years from now, when future geeks muse over the history of PC tech, what will they remember about 2008? That’s the question we sought to answer when we compiled this comprehensive technology retrospective of the last year. Make no mistake, identifying and sorting the year’s most significant tech events was no easy task. We locked ourselves in a room where we mentally relived the last 12 months, pondering hundreds of items of note and debating the importance of each to find its appropriate rank on our list. Behold the result: our countdown of the 250 items representing the most noteworthy events and product releases that shaped the PC computing landscape in 2008.
One way to show off your wealth is to invest in an OLED keyboard, but do the brightly lit keys really mesh with your many leather-bound books in a home office that smells of rich mahogany? No, of course it doesn't. To complete your home office decor, what you really need is a leather-wrapped keyboard, and now you can get one.
The Japan-made Gokukawa keyboard comes hand-wrapped in rich black leather with a glossy black-on-black design and takes workers two weeks to make. And like Metadot's Das Keyboard, you can order the leathery Gokukawa with or without labeled keys. But what isn't so luxurious is the decision to saddle the plank with a USB 1.1 hub instead of 2.0. We're also not digging the lack of a numpad, which can make adding up all that extra money needlessly difficult.
The Gokukawa has one other dirty little secret, this one for the better. At the current exchange rate, the marked and unmarked versions run about $550 and $600 respectively, a veritable bargain next to the $1,580 Optimus Maximus.
It's finally possible to piss off your pregnant wife, annoy your Twitter followers, and brand your unborn son as the kid with the dorkiest dad on the block all at the same time. Making it all possible is the Kickbee, the first gadget to enable Twittering from the womb.
"The Kickbee is a wearable device made of a stretchable band and embedded electronics and sensors," creator Corey Menscher wrote on his blog. "Piezo sensors are attached directly to the band, and transmit small but detectable voltages when triggered by movement underneath. An Arduino Mini microcontroller transmits the signals to an accompanying Java application wirelessly via Bluetooth. (a SparkFun BlueSMIRF v2 module that communicates serially with a Macbook Pro)."
The wearable waistband isn't likely to start any new fashion trends, but then again, anyone interested in the concept of unborn Twittering probably isn't into fashion anyway.
Google continues to improve its Gmail service, which has seen several upgrades this past year ranging from new themes to Mail Goggles. Gmail's newest trick is the ability to view PDF files on its own without the need to load your installed PDF viewer of choice.
"When I get sent a PDF, sometimes I just want to view it -- I don't always need to download and save it right then," Google wrote in a blog post. "So starting today, you'll see a new "View" link next to PDF attachments you get in Gmail."
Once you click on 'View,' the option to view the PDF file in plain HTML returns via a link at the top of the new viewer. You can also download the file straight away or from within the integrated viewer.
According to Cnet, Google.com search results will be next to get the updated PDF viewer. Until then, you can still skip the long load times inherent with Adobe's Acrobat by switching to Foxit Software's leaner and much faster PDF Reader.
Asus today has added to its Eee family with the new Eee Box B203. The new nettop shares much of the same DNA as the company's previous version, except Asus traded in Intel's Atom processor for a Celeron 220 CPU instead. Asus also expanded the storage options, now offering a 120GB and 160GB version alongside the 80GB offered in previous versions.
Familiar specs include up to 2GB of DDR2 memory, four USB 2.0 ports (two each on the front and back), a flash card reader, a DVI output, onboard graphics, and Ethernet and wireless-n connectivity stuffed into a box weighing just over 2 pounds. Running the system is Windows XP.
No word yet on price or availability, but the low-power Eee Box will likely carry a slightly lower price tag than the Atom version.
Articles have been sprouting up around the web in response to Google’s admission that staff will help hand pick search results displayed to users. Many of these articles are rather opinionated, but we will leave it up to you to decide if this is really the end of search as we know it.
For years now Google has washed their hands of all responsibility for its search results using variations on a phrase that has been prominently posted at the bottom of sites like news.google.com for years now. “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program”. In general however, our belief that Google’s results were a 100 per cent derivative of the page rank system was mostly one of faith. Under this system popularity is determined by counting links from other popular pages around the web as a way of gauging an articles creditability. Presumably some human intervention was used to prevent people from gaming the system, but that’s about it.
This week Google’s Marissa Meyer explained that going forward “editorial judgments will play a key role in Google searches”. Mayer also hinted about the possibility of using the data supplied by users using the new wiki search. Currently changes made using this method only influence your own search results, but it’s hard to argue that it might not have some practical use in crowd sourcing the relevance of certain searches. But with the abuse we have witnessed in the past, such as the anti spore backlash that was unleashed on Amazon, would human oversight be required to help moderate the impact of such user submitted data?
Assuming Google doesn’t abuse its power when interfering with the page ranking system, is this really such a bad thing? Hit the jump and let us know.
eSATA ports are starting to become more mainstream in mid to low end motherboards, and OCZ thinks the time is right to start adding on non hard drive based peripherals. Its new lineup of memory sticks will do just that and come in 8, 16, and 32GB capacities. The new drives will both communicate and receive their power from the eSATA port. To ensure backwards compatibility they have also included a rear mounted mini USB connection which will allow users to plug the device into laptops or other USB only machines.
No official benchmarks are have been taken by us, but the company is reportedly boasting read speeds of up to 90MB/s, and writes speeds as fast as 30MB/s. No comment has yet been made on pricing, but it will likely be in the same ballpark as its USB brethren.
It certainly is an interesting idea, but I can’t help but wonder if this type of device is really necessary with USB 3.0 right around the corner. USB 3.0 has a maximum theoretical throughput of 4.8Gbps which would easily max out most flash memory keys several times over.
Would you be interested in an eSATA flash drive? Hit the jump and let us know.
The Windows Live team has been pretty busy lately, and they certainly aren’t resting on their laurels with the launch of yet another web 2.0 service called “Thumbtack”.With Thumbtack users are able to save, edit, and share copies of online articles from web pages by either pasting them into the interface, or using the optional bookmarklet. The content is then hosted in an online storage bin for easy sorting and searching. Though this service has been done before by companies such as Evernote, Thumbtack’s current offering of free unlimited storage provides an excellent alternative for web scatterbrains such as myself who have always found bookmarking articles cumbersome and often tend break over time. After creating a note in Thumbtack you can click the article to access the original page, but if it’s vanished from the web, your clipping remains intact. It is also worth noting that competing free services such as Evernote only offer 40 MB of storage per month.
Currently browser support for the service is limited to Internet Explorer and Firefox. While compatibility for web kit browsers such as Chrome and Safari is noticeably absent, it’s also worth pointing out that some features have been stripped from the Firefox interface as well.These features include mass copy and paste between collections and the canvas view mode which gives users a virtual workspace. Even though this service may not be entirely unique per say, it is a promising addition to the Live Service lineup and in my case, and excellent alternative to bookmarking for archiving my favorite articles.
Is Microsoft winning you over with its online services? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Well, looks like EA finally came to its senses. After waving away the issue by, uh, talking about it, the mega-publisher finally popped a wedding ring on Tim Schafer and co.'s baby. Schafer, naturally, is super stoked.
“This is awesome news!” he said. “The quality and creativity of the games EA Partners has been involved with make it a perfect home for our baby, Brütal Legend. Some people were starting to wonder if the saga of Eddie Riggs would ever see the light of day, but now I think it’s clear that this game, like Metal itself, cannot be killed!”
Bit of an odd match, if you ask us -- but then, we're talking Tim Schafer here; only a publisher owned and operated by hundreds of other Tim Schafers would fit his curves.
Really though, we just hope EA doesn't pull a Microsoft before things are all said and done. Our poor hearts are still retching from the last rollercoaster ride.