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Macs Being Targeted By Virus


For years, Apple fanboys and fangirls have proclaimed that Macs were “virus-proof,” though they never explained exactly why. PC (as in Windows-based PC) people, like myself, responded that it was simply because there were far more PCs than Macs, and since virus writers were out to cause as much havoc as they could, they targeted the larger operating system base.

And now, it looks like the Mac’s “immunity” to viruses has been shattered.

The computer security industry buzzed Thursday with warnings that more than a half-million Macintosh computers may have been infected with a virus targeting Apple machines.

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Self-Driving Car Takes To The Road


Maybe it’s the geek in me, but I just find this really neat:

“This is some of the best driving I’ve ever done,” Steve Mahan said the other day.

Mahan was behind the wheel of a Toyota Prius tooling the small California town of Morgan Hill in late January, a routine trip to pick up the dry cleaning and drop by the Taco Bell drive-in for a snack.

He also happens to be 95 percent blind.

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Amazon Announces Kindle Lending From Libraries


It’s hardly a secret that I like Amazon, but this press release might even impress non-Amazon fans:

Amazon.com today announced that Kindle and Kindle app customers can now borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 local libraries in the United States. When a customer borrows a Kindle library book, they’ll have all of the unique features they love about Kindle books, including Whispersync, which automatically synchronizes their margin notes, highlights and bookmarks, real page numbers, Facebook and Twitter integration, and more. For more information about borrowing library books for your Kindle or free Kindle apps, go to www.amazon.com/kindle/publiclibraries. To start checking out Kindle library books, visit your local library’s website.

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Feds Looking Into Smartphone Privacy


WSJ:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether smartphone applications illegally obtained or transmitted information about their users without proper disclosures, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Online-music streaming service Pandora, which plans an initial public offering, says in an SEC filing that it has been subpoenaed in an investigation probing information-sharing by mobile applications. John Letzing and Stacey Delo discuss.

The investigation is examining whether the app makers fully described to users the types of data they collected and why they needed the information, such as a unique identifier for the phone or its location, the person familiar with the matter said. Collecting information about a user without proper notice or authorization could violate a federal computer-fraud law.

On Monday, online music service Pandora Media Inc. said it had received a subpoena related to a federal grand-jury investigation of information-sharing practices by smartphone applications.

Pandora disclosed the subpoena in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Oakland, Calif., company said it had been informed it is “not a specific target of the investigation.”

Pandora said it believed similar subpoenas had been issued “on an industry-wide basis to the publishers of numerous other smartphone applications.” A Pandora spokeswoman declined to comment.

Personally, as an Android owner and Pandora user, I’m kinda interested in this… I certainly don’t want my info spread around the web.

Hand-Held Scanner Can Detect Cancer, Says Inventors


If true, this is huge:

Dr Ralph Weissleder of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and colleagues have developed a miniaturized nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) scanner that identifies molecules by the way their nuclei are affected by magnetic fields. It also attaches magnetic nanoparticles to proteins to allow specific proteins, such as those found in tumor cells, to be identified.

The gadget was tested on suspicious cells collected by fine needle aspiration from 50 patients. Because the samples needed are so small, cells could be taken from several areas of the suspected tumor. The samples were labeled with magnetic nanoparticles and then injected into the micro-NMR machine.

The results can be read by connecting the device to a smartphone loaded with a specially-programmed application. The samples tested revealed nine protein markers for cancer cells. When the results for four of these proteins were combined they allowed the team to produce a diagnosis.

Keep your eyes peeled for more news on this one.

Amazon May Go Head-To-Head With Netflix


And now, a bit of a digression from politics… just cause every once in a while, we all need something a little lighter.

Netflix’s streaming service, which has helped make the company the second-largest U.S. media subscription service and boosted the firm’s market value, may finally get competition from Amazon.com.

Amazon, led by CEO Jeff Bezos, has been rumored to work on a streaming video service offer bundled with its Amazon Prime service, which for an annual subscription fee of $79 a year gives users unlimited free two-day shipping, for a while. Tech blog Engadget over the weekend showed a screen shot of an ad that has since disappeared and mentioned content from BBC America and PBS.

I happen to be a customer of both Netflix and Amazon, though I cancelled my Amazon Prime membership when I got my Kindle, because I was hardly getting anything shipped to me–physically, at least–any more, having switched the vast majority of my book buying to Kindle books, which are “shipped” wirelessly and free even without Prime.

In fact, it may be that with the rise of the Kindle (one blogger has an estimate of 12 million–yes, million, with an m–Kindles sold so far), Amazon’s Prime may not be as popular as it once was, because of people doing what I did and not resubscribing to Prime after getting a Kindle. This may be Amazon’s way of rekindling (no pun intended) interest in the Prime program. If Amazon doesn’t raise the Prime pricetag, it works out as cheaper than Netflix:

“Amazon Prime includes free shipping for purchases and costs $79 per year, versus a Netflix streaming-only sub at $95.88.”

They’ve piqued my interest… I’ll be watching to see what Amazon does with this idea… and what Netflix does in response.

Moral Of The Week: News Cannot Be Contained


That’s what authorities in Egypt are finding out, as they shut down ISPs and mobile network providers.

Egyptians with dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they call into their local ISP, but calling an international number to reach a modem in another country gives them a connection to the outside world.

We Rebuild is looking to expand those dial-up options. It has set up a dial-up phone number in Sweden and is compiling a list of other numbers Egyptians can call. It is distributing information about its activities on a Wiki page.

[…]

The international dial-up numbers only work for people with access to a telephone modem and an international calling service, however. So although mobile networks have been suspended in some areas, people have posted instructions about how others can use their mobile phones as dial-up modems.

Egyptians also seem worried about Mubarak’s government snooping on their web use:

The few Egyptians able to access the Internet through Noor, the one functioning ISP, are taking steps to ensure their online activities are not being logged. Shortly before Internet access was cut off, the Tor Project said it saw a big spike in Egyptian visitors looking to download its Web browsing software, which is designed to let people surf the Web anonymously.

“We thought we were under denial-of-service attack,” said Andrew Lewman, the project’s executive director. The site was getting up to 3,000 requests per second, the vast majority of them from Egypt, he said. “Since then we’ve seen a quadrupling of Tor clients connecting from Noor over the past 24 hours,” he said.

No computer at all? No problem!

Even with no Internet, people have found ways to get messages out on Twitter. On Friday someone had set up a Twitter account where they posted messages that they had received via telephone calls from Egypt. A typicalmessage reads: “Live Phonecall: streets mostly quiet in Dokki, no police in sight. Lots of police trucks seen at Sheraton.”

Others are using fax machines to get information into Egypt about possible ways to communicate. They are distributing fax machine numbers for universities and embassies and asking people to send faxes to those numbers with instructions about how to use a mobile phone as a dial-up modem.

Moral of the story? You can’t keep bad news bottled up. Inventive people will find a way, especially with all the choices available these days.

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