When it comes to PC security, you already know the drill: Don't download unknown attachments, avoid clicking on suspicious links, log directly into your online accounts rather than follow a hyperlink, and so forth. These methods work well when dealing with virtual threats, but what happens when miscreants start meshing their malware tricks into the real world?
That's exactly what's going on in North Dakota, where some hybrid car owners have fell victim to fake parking citations left on the windshield. The citations read "PARKING VIOLATION. This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to ______," where the blank is filled in with a malicious website. Those who go the website are instructed to download a toolbar to view photos of the ticketed car, but it instead installs a Trojan along with a bogus security alert instructing victims to install a fake antivirus scanner.
As the economy finds it increasingly difficult to free itself from the clutches of the proverbial bear, it is safe to assume that the eagerness with which investors rallied to fund tech startups has been consigned to history, at least for the time being. The tenebrous economy has also made angel investors nervous. Angels are now trying to maintain a safe distance from tech start-ups just like all other investors.
Most tech start-ups count on angel investors for funds in their infancy. However, the economic meltdown has sapped their otherwise unbridled optimism. According to a survey conducted by the Angel Capital Association in November, fifty percent of investors invested well within their expectations in 2008. And one in every three angel investors feels that the slide in investments will continue.
The abysmal lack of confidence isn’t the only thing to blame, but the dearth of liquidity has also forced them to pull in their horns. However, the doughtier investors are still investing, though at a decreased pace, as they want to make the most of plummeting company valuations.
Dan Martin, a San Francisco-based angel investor, told CNET that stocks are a better investment avenue than “investing in the friend of a friend who wants to open a green Chuck E.” But there is still hope for budding tech entrepreneurs as many angels are expected to make joint investments with others in their fraternity.
Don't worry, that 6GB triple-channel DDR3 kit you just picked up for your new Core i7 build isn't going to go out of style any time soon, but Samsung did take us one step closer to DDR4 this week. The memory chip maker said it has developed and validated its first 40nm DRAM chip, and if all goes to plan, it will consume nearly a third less power than current 50nm chips.
Samsung's shrunken chip technology will first be used in a 1GB DDR2-800 SO-DIMM module and has been validated for Intel's GM45 platform. The company also said it plans to apply its 40nm technology to develop a 2Gbit DDR3 device for mas production by the end of the year.
"This definitely moves Samsung ahead very aggressively in terms of its manufacturing facilities," said Bob Merritt, a founding partner of market research firm Convergent Semiconductors LLC
But the biggest news is Samsung's claim that the move to 40nm is "a significant step" toward developing "ultra-high performance DRAM technologies" like DDR4, though the company didn't offer any other details.
UK’s Competition Commission has disapproved Project Kangaroo, a proposed Hulu-esque VOD service, which was supposed to provide video content – mostly free videos - from three of its joint owners, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. The fear of Kangaroo’s inevitable hegemony led the Commission to veto the alliance. The Commission felt that the video-on-demand service would have resulted in the “loss of competition” between its proprietors.
The three companies expressed their disconsolation in a joint statement. “We are disappointed by the decision to prohibit this joint venture. While this is an unwelcome finding for the shareholders, the real losers from this decision are British consumers. This is a disproportionate remedy and a missed opportunity in the further development of British broadcasting,” the statement reads. Although consumers would have most certainly devoured the service, the Commission's findings appear to be reasonable.
Rambus investors have found themselves riding a financial roller coaster filled with ups and downs contingent upon how the technology company fares in court. If you happen to be one of those investors, you better refill your Dramamine prescription. That's because a U.S. federal judge this week postponed indefinitely patent infringement cases filed by Rambus against several rival memory chip makers. News of the legal setback sent Rambus' shares hurtling downwards 22 percent in after-hours trading.
The defendants argued for the delay following Judge Sue L. Robinson's ruling on January 9 that the patent suit against Micron Technologies is "unenforceable" and that "spoliation" of evidence occurred.
"We are pleased that Judge Whyte recognized that the Delaware Court's unenforceability ruling impacts the patents asserted by Rambus in the California matter, and that he stayed Rambus' patent case against Micron," Micron general counsel Rod Lewis said in a statement. "We believe that Judge Robinson's thorough decision will be upheld on appeal."
Not surprisingly, Rambus holds a decidedly different opinion of the ruling. "While we are disappointed with the stay of the coordinated cases, it our expectation that the conflicting opinions of the district courts regarding document spoliation will go up together on appeal," Tom Lavelle, Rambus general counsel, said in a statement.
Update: GM Mark Jacobs confirmed that Mythic has seen a rash of lay-offs. However, he didn't dig into the who's and why's of this sad state of affairs.
Looks like the Fat Lady and Porky Pig are eying Warhammer Online as a possible next gig, though no contracts have been inked just yet. EA surreptitiously tossed Warhammer’s subscriber numbers into its recent investor call, probably hoping no one would notice the compact number’s squeaks and squeals. Unfortunately, the little tyke mumbled its way into an avalanche.
After announcing that Warhammer Online’s subscriber base has dropped from its rapid rise to 750,000, all the way down to 300,000, developer Mythic apparently axed 60-130 of its employees. Even worse, senior designers have reportedly been told to take a hike as well. Granted, this is only a rumor for now, but we’re seeking confirmation from Electronic Arts.
Regardless, though, things are looking grim for Mythic’s incredibly promising MMO. Here’s hoping the game’s upcoming series of live expansions can save this raid from completely wiping, but to be honest, we’re not hopeful.
See, economy? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Easily the coolest part of today’s TED event was Dr. Pattie Maes’s “Reframe” presentation on new technology interfaces. Maes, a researcher at MIT’s Media Lab, energized the crowd with a demonstration of a $350 piece of technology that her team dubs “the sixth sense.” Maes’s Fluid Interfaces research group collaborates on projects and inventions that augment the interaction between human and machine, including both visual and haptic interfaces that are far more immersive than our traditional keyboard and monitor.
Maes started by discussing the five natural senses that humans have developed over the past million years of evolution. These senses help us make important decisions in everyday life, including how we interact with other individuals and our physical environment. But arguably, the most useful stimulus we come across is information that we don’t have easy access to via these senses, such as large amounts of aggregated data and factual knowledge. Increasingly, all of this knowledge is being stored and made available online.
The question, then is whether we could develop (either naturally or artificially) a sixth sense to detect this meta-information that may exist and is relevant to our decision-making.
Read on to see what Dr. Maes and her team developed!
Bill Gates (the philanthropist, not the technologist) capped off the “reboot” segment of today’s TED speeches with a presentation about two of the important global problems the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been addressing since Gates retired from day-to-day operations at Microsoft: eradicating malaria and boosting education.
With regard to the Malaria issue, Gates noted that though the disease claims the lives of one million victims each year, this is a greatly reduced number from when Malaria was a global epidemic a hundred years ago. Now, the epidemic is centralized in poorer countries, whereas first-world nations have largely dismissed the problem. In fact, Gates noted more money was spent on developing baldness medication than on curing malaria – Malaria simply isn’t the rich man’s problem.
Gates then proceeded to release a handful of mosquitoes into the air, joking that there was no reason that only poor people should get malaria. These mosquitoes obviously didn’t carry the disease, though the surprise move drew more than a few nervous laughs from the 1,300 in attendance.
In between Tim Berners-Lee and Nandan Nilekani’s featured presentations at this year's TED conference, past-TED speaker Cindy Gallop announced the launch of her new website: Make Love Not Porn (NSFW, so we won’t link it). The feisty New York advertising exec, who last year gave a speech called “The Toyboy Manifesto” (about relationships between older women and younger men) started the site to debunk the myths that hardcore pornography is teaching about sex. Using some saucy language, Gallop claimed that internet pornography has become a de-facto substitute for sex education for today’s youth, and wants the site to become a open dialogue on the cultural meaning of sex. So far, the new site has only one entry.
If you check the list of hot topics on Twitter right now, you’ll fine #TED at the top of the list. That’s because today is the opening day of the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, a prestigious gathering of just over 1000 of the world’s most influential thinkers, entertainers, and futurists. This private event (registration costs $6,000, and that’s only after you’re invited) hosts a series a thought-provoking presentations aimed at stimulating the minds of attendees who are then encouraged to engage in an exchange of ideas throughout the week-long session.
Past speakers include Al Gore, JJ Abrams, and Jeff Bezos, who each gave provocative talks about their passions and innovations. This year’s lineup includes Green Auto Pioneer Shai Agassi, web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee, and one Bill Gates. The public typically has to wait several months before videos of these 18-minute long TED talks get uploaded, but we’ve received special access to the live stream of the main stage. Over the next three days, we’ll be posting recaps of tech-related talks to give you some insight into what goes on in this exclusive and enlightening forum. Keep tabs on our TED coverage by clicking this link!