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Here's the Windows 10 preview user forum on Microsoft's site

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 24 Januari 2015 | 16.01

Microsoft's engineers want to know what consumers think about Windows 10. Really they do. The company just announced a slew of new features at an event on Wednesday. On Friday morning, a new version of the preview build dropped. And now, the forum for user feedback is open.

Even if you're cautious about downloading the beta, just seeing what other people think and experience should be as fun as any Reddit thread.

A quick read of the threads so far: 

"Unexpected shutdown of Technology Preview"

"The UI is so UGLY an there are no options to change this." 

"Hey Cortana Play Music"

"OUCH! NOT GOOD! Things Freezing All Over"

But that's okay. This is a beta. Microsoft wants you to tell them what's good and bad, perfect or broken.

"We're well way on our way to making Windows 10 the largest-ever open collaborative development effort Microsoft has ever shipped," said Windows honcho Terry Myerson in his Windows 10 blog post on Wednesday. "Since we launched the Windows Insider Program in September, we've been joined by 1.7 million Windows Insiders, who have delivered over 800,000 pieces of feedback. We are truly co-creating the future of Windows with you and we're humbled by your valuable role in this new open development process."

So go ahead. Tell Microsoft what you think. And let us know what you think in the comments. 


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NIST pledges transparency in NSA dealings over crypto standards

A U.S. agency that develops widely used standards for encryption has pledged to be more transparent about its dealings with the National Security Agency, amid concerns the NSA undermined those standards to boost its surveillance efforts.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology outlined new proposed operating procedures in an updated draft published Friday. It's seeking public comments on the proposal through March 27.

The document follows a report last July from independent security experts who concluded NIST had put too much faith in the NSA in developing cryptographic standards.

"The new draft expands on NIST's interactions with the National Security Agency (NSA), explaining how the agencies work together and what steps are now in place to ensure NSA's contributions to the standards development process are transparent," NIST said.

"The new processes will ensure that NIST attributes to the NSA all algorithms, standards or guidelines contributed by the agency's staff, and acknowledges all comments received from the NSA."

NIST has been in the spotlight since 2013, when reports based on leaked documents from Edward Snowden claimed the NSA used its influence over NIST to insert a backdoor in at least one cryptographic standard and possibly to weaken others.

Last February, NIST appointed an independent panel of technologists review its practices, including Ed Felten, a computer scientist at Princeton University, Ron Rivest, an MIT professor, and Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, who works at Google.

They concluded that NIST needed to hire more cryptographic experts and reduce its reliance on the NSA for decisions about standards.

Friday's proposal reflects the feedback in that report and from public comments on the first draft, which was published last February and said much less about NIST's work with the NSA.

NIST is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Formed in 1901, it's charged with making U.S. businesses more competitive by creating standard measures for weights and time, as well as standards for encryption, x-ray radiation and other areas.


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North Carolina could be next in Google Fiber roll-out

Two cities in North Carolina could be the first to benefit from a planned expansion of Google's fiber-optic Internet service.

The company is holding events in Raleigh and Durham on Wednesday and Thursday next week, apparently to announce selection of the cities as roll-out locations for the service, according to local TV station WRAL. Construction of the service could begin as early as April, the report said.

The two cities, which along with Chapel Hill make up an area known as Research Triangle, were among a preliminary list of 34 locations that Google said last February were in the running for its high-speed Internet connections. The company said it would begin working with the cities to explore deployment of the service and provide more details on its planned roll-out towards the end of 2014. However, to-date, no further announcements have been made.

Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, Austin, Texas, and Kansas City. It delivers a "basic speed" service of around 5Mbps for no charge but customers must pay a construction cost of $300. A gigabit-per-second Internet service costs $70 per month and a third option bundles Internet and more than 100 TV channels for $120 or $130 per month depending on market. Installation costs for the two latter packages are waived.

In addition to fiber Internet, the company has told the 34 prospective cities that it is considering deploying Wi-Fi service in the areas covered by Google Fiber.

One of the other cities in the running, Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, said this week that it remains in conversation with Google on launch of fiber Internet there.


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Twitter 'recap' helps you catch up with missed tweets

Written By kom nampuldu on Kamis, 22 Januari 2015 | 16.01

The next time you are too busy to access your Twitter feed or have a bad Internet connection, the social network will help you get updated with a quick recap of the key tweets you have missed.

On Wednesday, Twitter introduced to the home timeline a feature, it calls "recaps," that will surface important tweets that the user might have missed from the accounts they follow.

"....we will surface a few of the best Tweets you probably wouldn't have seen otherwise, determined by engagement and other factors," Paul Rosania, a Twitter product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The recaps, which will be marked with the heading "While you were away," will appear for all users on the iOS operating system from Wednesday, with similar alerts for users of the Android app and the Web version of Twitter coming soon.

Users who spend a lot of time on Twitter will see fewer recaps, Twitter said. "Our goal is to help you keep up—or catch up—with your world, no matter how much time you spend on Twitter," Rosania wrote. "With a few improvements to the home timeline we think we can do a better job of delivering on that promise without compromising the real time nature of Twitter."

Rosania did not mention whether users would have any control over the tweets that would be included in the recaps and their frequency.

The recap feature was discussed by Twitter at an analyst meeting in November. CEO Dick Costolo said at the meeting that the company was building a Twitter that was the best way to keep in touch and connect with the world, and promised a speedup in the pace and breadth of product change.

Twitter has previously modified users' timelines. For example, besides showing "promoted tweets," purchased by advertisers, it also started surfacing tweets from accounts that the user didn't follow. "We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting," Twitter said in a support page.

Twitter reported in late October, when announcing its third-quarter 2014 results, that it is available in more than 35 languages and has 284 million monthly active users, up by 23 percent from the same quarter a year earlier.

There are also over 500 million unique users who visit Twitter owned and operated properties every month but don't log in, and there are many more unique monthly users who consume Twitter content in syndication and through mobile apps, Costolo said at the November meet. His aim is to convert visitors to active users by reducing barriers to consumption, including easier sign ons and an "instant timeline" feature that will allow new users to see what's happening on the site without having to first go through the time-consuming process of following accounts.


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Fujitsu psychology tool profiles users at risk of cyberattacks

Fujitsu wants to make computer security more personalized with profiling software based on psychology.

The manufacturer's Fujitsu Laboratories is developing an enterprise tool that can identify and advise people who are more vulnerable to cyberattacks, based on how they use email and Web browsers as well as their keyboard and mouse actions.

The software is designed on a belief that most cyberattacks exploit mistakes made by users such as clicking malicious links or inadvertently emailing the wrong person. Fujitsu describes the technology as the first that is based on behavioral and psychological characteristics.

Rather than being like an antivirus program, the software is more like "an action log analysis than looks into the potential risks of a user," a spokesman for the lab said via email. "It judges risk based on human behavior and then assigns a security countermeasure for a given user."

As part of its research, Fujitsu consulted social psychology experts and surveyed about 2,000 Japanese, half of whom had experienced attacks, to determine what traits make some users more vulnerable to viruses, scams and data leaks.

It found that those who are more comfortable taking risks are also more susceptible to virus infections, while those who are confident of their computer knowledge were at greater risk for data leaks.

The tool can display warnings such as "You are vulnerable to being scammed. Be careful," after a risk analysis. It can also produce bar graphs showing a user's vulnerability to viruses, scams and data breaches compared to the risk profiles of other departments in his or her company. Furthermore, it can analyze a user's attention level when reading privacy policies by tracking the distance his or her mouse moves.

Fujitsu says the information gathered is stripped of identifying information before analysis, and that data would only be collected with the consent of users.

"Most organizations have a single set of security countermeasures in place, but depending on the people and department, these can either be too strict or too lenient," the spokesman said. "Cyberattacks are becoming more and more intricate in how they adjust to their targets, so there are limits to what one kind of security countermeasure can do."

Fujitsu is still developing the tool and is now focusing on how the software will assign security countermeasures based on individual user behavior. It hopes to commercialize the system in 2016.


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BlackBerry wants to mandate app developers to make apps for its platform

BlackBerry CEO John Chen wants net neutrality to extend to content and applications, so that developers of apps for Android and iOS will be mandated to develop on the BlackBerry platform as well.

Not all content and app providers have embraced openness and neutrality, Chen wrote in a blog post that the company said was adapted from a letter sent to U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday. Policymakers must demand openness not just at the traffic and transport layer, but also at the content and applications layer, he added.

"Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM [BlackBerry Messenger] service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple's iMessage messaging service," Chen said. He also took a shot at streaming service Netflix for refusing to make its streaming movie service available to BlackBerry customers.

"Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users," said Chen, who added that as a result a "two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem" had been created where Android and iPhone users have more access to content and applications than users of mobile devices running other operating systems.

"Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet," said Chen, who added that all applications and content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer's mobile operating system.

The BlackBerry OS accounted for less than 1 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2014, according to research firm IDC. Android had 84.4 percent while iOS had 11.7 percent and Windows Phone had 2.9 percent.

On the issue of carrier neutrality, Chen favored using current rules to keep the Internet neutral rather than reclassifying broadband under Title II as common carrier under the Communications Act. Title II of the Act already defines telephone companies as common carriers, and requires them to deliver service at "just and reasonable" rates and interconnect with each other.

"Given the unique nature of wireless networks, including the highly competitive wireless business in the United States and the bandwidth limitations inherent in spectrum-dependent transport, reclassifying broadband as a Title II service seems excessive to us," Chen said.


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Dish found not to infringe Fox's copyright by letting users stream programs

Written By kom nampuldu on Rabu, 21 Januari 2015 | 16.01

A federal court in California has ruled that Dish Network did not infringe the copyright of Fox Broadcasting by offering users services for skipping ads and streaming live or recorded programming over the Internet to their computers and mobile devices.

Referring to a Supreme Court ruling on Aereo, a now defunct service which streamed broadcast television programming to subscribers, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Aereo neither owned the copyright to the broadcast works nor held a license from the copyright owners to perform those works publicly.

"DISH does not, however, receive programs that have been released to the public and then carry them by private channels to additional viewers in the same sense that Aereo did," Gee wrote in a decision on Jan 12 that was made public in a redacted form on Tuesday.

"DISH has a license for the analogous initial retransmission of the programming to users via satellite," the judge added.

Once Dish subscribers receive the authorized programming, its Dish Anywhere service aids the transfer of those recordings in the set-top box or digital video recorder to the subscriber's other devices, according to the judge, who added that the ultimate function of Dish Anywhere is to transmit programming that is already legitimately on a user's in-home hardware to his Internet-connected mobile device.

"Relying on external servers and equipment to ensure that content travels between those devices properly does not transform that service into a traditional cable company," she added.

On the charge that the programming was being illegally used for a public performance, the judge observed that when an individual Dish subscriber transmits programming rightfully in her possession to another device, that transmission does not travel to "a large number of people who are unknown to each other." The transmission travels either to the subscriber or to someone in the household using an authenticated device.

The judge also observed that a "no copying provision" in the agreement between Dish and Fox did not cover private home use by consumers. "Thus, DISH subscribers may time- and place-shift Fox programming within the confines of their home," she wrote.

The case was scheduled to go to trial in February but was put on hold until October after both companies requested it. They said in a Jan. 15 filing that the issues at stake in the lawsuit were "highly likely" to be resolved as they negotiate a renewal of their 2010 agreement later this year.

The judge agreed with Fox that Dish subscribers were contractually bound not to use Dish Anywhere outside the home on mobile devices. "Given our knowledge of current technologies, it may seem absurd that a contract would allow subscribers to use DISH Anywhere on their mobile devices inside the home, but not the moment they step outside the home. Those are the terms, however, to which the parties agreed," she wrote.

Judge Gee also found that by copying Fox programming for quality assurance testing of its ad-skipping AutoHop feature, Dish violated the no copying provision.

Fox could not be immediately reached for comment.

"The decision is the sixth in a string of victories in federal courts on both coasts for the American consumer related to our Hopper Whole-Home DVR platform," said R. Stanton Dodge, Dish's general counsel in a statement. "We are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over fundamental rights of consumer choice and control."


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Obama promises to promote net neutrality, broadband

U.S. President Barack Obama promised to push for net neutrality rules and for more transparency in the government's surveillance programs during his State of the Union address late Tuesday.

In a speech largely focused on the U.S. economy and aiding the middle class, Obama also promised to push for the deployment of next generation broadband networks, as he outlined in a preview to the State of the Union a week ago. The president has called on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to pass strong net neutrality rules and to roll back state limits on municipal broadband projects.

"I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world," Obama said in his annual speech before the U.S. Congress.

He also called for a new package of cybersecurity legislation, including legal protections for businesses that share cyberthreat information with the government, with details announced earlier this month. His proposal to criminalize violations of terms of service in computer and software products has led to concerns from white-hat hackers.

"No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids," he said Tuesday night. "We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyberthreats, just as we have done to combat terrorism."

Congress must "finally pass" legislation to combat cyberattacks and identity theft, he said. "If we don't act, we'll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable," Obama added. "If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe."

Earlier this month, Obama called for Congress to pass a consumer privacy bill of rights and a law requiring businesses with data breaches to report them to affected customers within 30 days.

On the U.S. government's controversial surveillance programs, Obama said the U.S. must uphold its commitment to civil liberties "if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks."

He promised a new report on surveillance programs and privacy next month. "While some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven't," he said. "As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse."

Obama also noted that his administration has worked to protect "human dignity" and privacy, including during the use of surveillance drones. His administration has "worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained," he said.

Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, giving the Republican response to the State of the Union, largely criticized Obama's foreign policy without addressing most of his tech-related proposals. However, Republicans will "advance solutions to prevent the kind of cyberattacks we've seen recently," she said.


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Don't blame sharks for Asian Internet problems, experts say

It may not be Shark Week, but don't tell that to people in Vietnam.

Internet connections in the South East Asian nation have been affected by problems with the Asia America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable system for the fourth time in a year, according to local news outlets. The cause of the outages? Sharks, if you believe some online reports.

As AAG has the highest capacity of cable systems linking to Vietnam, faults can have big consequences for its international Internet bandwidth.

Vietnam's latest woes aren't the first time sharks have been made out to be a threat to the Internet. Last year, a 2010 YouTube video, showing a shark biting a submarine cable, made the rounds again, approaching a million views, when a Google official said the search giant wraps its ocean cables in Kevlar to defend against sharks.

With 99 percent of all transoceanic Internet traffic now flowing through submarine cables, how large of a threat are these big fish? Michael Costin, Chairman of the AAG Cable Consortium, says the damage was likely caused by ship anchors or fishing.

"AAG is not yet aware of the cause of the advised fault, but strongly believes it is not caused by sharks," Costin said via email. "Consistent with past experience, AAG believes it is most likely to be as a consequence of damage due to ship anchors or fishing, which reportedly are the predominant causes of faults experienced by submarine cables."

The fault occurred 117 kilometers off Vung Tau in the southern part of the country. Costin said the consortium's local partner is working with Vietnam's coast guard to protect the AAG cable.

He points to research by the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC), a global industry group which claims that 65 to 75 percent of cable faults are due to anchoring and fishing. It found no cable problems that were caused by sharks from 2008 to 2013, compared to 11 cases between 1959 and 2006 as documented by the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The ICPC says advances in cable design have "effectively eliminated the problem." Modern cables wrap a core of optical fibers in multiple protective layers including a copper or aluminum tube as well as a fiberglass or plastic shell. Cables laid near shore or fishing grounds are often equipped with an additional shield of steel wires and buried.

"As for shark bites, its like a joke within this industry," Shota Masuda, a senior manager in NEC's Submarine Network Division, said via email. "Google made a remark last year about this, and this brought back a few papers written about this topic into the light, but in reality, sharks do not bite fiber optic submarine cables."

The continuing importance of marine cables has been highlighted by Google's recent investments in the infrastructure. NEC, one of the top three submarine cable makers along with Alcatel-Lucent and TE SubCom, is part of a consortium including Google working on the US$300 million FASTER cable system between Japan and the U.S. With six fiber pairs and 100 wavelengths, it will have a capacity of 60Tbps when it comes online in 2016. As Google described it, that's about ten million times faster than your cable modem.

NEC manufactured cables used in the 20,000km-long AAG system. Masuda says that the AAG Consortium is responsible for maintaining the link but said that cables can get cut by dropped anchors, trawler nets and undersea earthquakes. NEC's underwater cables, he said, are rated to last for 25 years at depths of up to 8 kilometers.

Biologists, meanwhile, say sharks are known to bite submarine cables. How much damage they can cause depends on the species and the cable itself.

"Underwater cables are sometimes bitten and damaged by sharks," Kazuhiro Nakaya, a marine scientist and professor emeritus at Hokkaido University, said via email. "Although 8,000m below the sea level is a little too deep for sharks (the deepest shark record is less than 5,000m), it is possible that the cables settled shallower areas are damaged by sharks."

Sharks are attracted by electromagnetic fields they can pick up through sensing organs called electroreceptors, which are located in their snouts and heads.

"They cruise along the bottom trying to detect bioelectric fields from prey living on the bottom and also looking for the light flashes of bioluminescent prey," Dean Grubbs, an associate scholar scientist at Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, said via email. He was referring to the bluntnose sixgill, which he said is the shark in the 2010 video on YouTube.

"Though their jaws are relatively weak, they have saw blade-shaped teeth and tend to bite large food items (including carrion like dead whales) and then twist their large body until they saw out a hunk of flesh. It is possible that a large shark feeding in this way could damage submarine cables."

Grubbs said he has seen experiments showing sharks orienting to a weak electromagnetic field emanating from an electrode. A transatlantic cable laid in the 1980s by AT&T was found to have been damaged several times by undersea attackers, primarily crocodile sharks, Grubbs said. He added, however, that "most deep-sea sharks have relatively weakly calcified jaws so their bite force is quite low."

That, combined with better protection for cables than in the past, suggests human activity is what has been affecting the Internet in Vietnam. According to the management consortium's Costin, anchoring and fishing were responsible for all the faults last year. It's expected to be fully restored by Jan. 27.


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Microsoft's Outlook.com faces brief man-in-the-middle attack in China

Written By kom nampuldu on Selasa, 20 Januari 2015 | 16.01

Microsoft's Outlook.com briefly faced a "man-in-the-middle" attack in China, according to a watchdog group, following similar eavesdropping attempts against Apple and Yahoo last year.

The group, GreatFire.org, noticed the attack against Outlook on Saturday for users attempting to visit the service through mobile and desktop email clients.

Accessing the service, prompted users to see warning messages, stemming from the service failing to return a trusted digital certificate, according to GreatFire.org.

Man-in-the-middle attacks work by trying to eavesdrop on the user's communications. This is typically done when a hacker impersonates a service the user is hoping to visit in an attempt to intercept the victim's login and password information.

In the case of the Outlook attack, tests showed that access to the Microsoft email service had likely been tampered with, GreatFire.org reported.

On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that the disruption took place. "We are aware of a small number of customers impacted by malicious routing to a server impersonating Outlook.com," it said in an email. "If a customer sees a certificate warning, they should contact their service provider for assistance."

Last October, Apple faced a man-in-the-middle attack in China against its iCloud service, and weeks before Yahoo had faced a similar issue in the country.

GreatFire.org claims these attacks could be a sign that the Chinese government is trying to monitor the communications of its citizenry. The country is already notorious for its online censorship, which has resulted in the blocking of foreign Internet services in the country, including those from Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Last year, China also cut access to mobile apps including messaging service Line and photo-sharing product Instagram.

China, however, has repeatedly denies it carries out any hacking attacks. The disruption to Microsoft's Outlook.com only lasted a day, according to GreatFire.org.


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