Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

postheadericon First Major Outbreak of Mac OS X Trojan: a Turning Point?

Last week the blogosphere nearly exploded (see here, here, here and here for only a few examples) with the news of the Flashback trojan, creating a botnet of nearly 600,000 Apple machines. Getting your machine infected is as easy as surfing to a bogus website containing the malware, which installs itself using an exploit in Java. This technique is called a drive-by download. There is no need for you to enter your admin credentials. It’s even worse: the malware will install itself without you noticing it at all. Pretty scary if I may say so.

If you want to know if your Mac is infected with the Flashback trojan, then check out this page on F-Secure’s website to find out and follow the removal instructions if you do find it on your machine.

To make your Mac less vulnerable for this kind of malware attack, I recommend checking out Khürt Williams’ post who explains how to turn off Java in Safari and on OS X level. This makes very much sense when you are not a software developer who has to deal with Java on a daily basis. If you use an other browser like Google Chrome or Firefox, then check out this page for instructions. Khürt also advises to uninstall Adobe’s Flash plugin. This is one bridge too far for me at the moment, but it certainly is a good idea.

A lot of people consider the outbreak of Flashback as a turning point for the Mac platform. Mac users should face it that they are not ‘forgotten’ anymore by malware writers and should install anti-virus protection, just as the majority of Windows users does nowadays. Check this post on AskDifferent.com for a list of anti-virus solutions for the OS X platform.

Update April 11th, 2012: Apple works on software to release the Flashback malware from infected Macs and is working with ISPs worldwide to bring down the botnet’s command & control servers. Read more about this on arstechnica.com.

postheadericon Is Google Earning More Money from iOS than from Android?

Here is a link to a very interesting opinion post on how much money Google makes from Android compared to iOS. Estimation of the earnings from Android have been based on Google’s proposed settlement of the Java patents lawsuit that was started by Oracle. I found the numbers surprising and they are probably not too far from the truth.

Link : Digital Trends – Wait, Google earns four times more from iOS than Android?

postheadericon Oracle Database Under Threat in SAP Shops?

A number of reporters visiting the Mastering SAP event in Sydney, Australia, wrote that there is a buzz among SAP customers who run their systems on Oracle databases to think about changing their database strategies in the future.

When asked about which database they would likely be migrating to in the future in an informal survey, the majority answered surprisingly: Microsoft SQL Server.

Here’s a quote from BusinessInsider.com that explains why this is actually not so surprising:

It’s attractive because it offers technology similar to SAP HANA (features known as columnar and in-memory storage) and its prices start at $11,000 per terabyte. It can run on comparatively lower-cost hardware such as new servers by Dell, too. Microsoft and SAP have been partners for years.

So why not chose SAP’s new HANA database then? ZDNet says the following about this:

When it came around to a discussion on HANA, there was much debate about whether customers will put their OLTP systems on this as yet to be available database. The question in my mind is whether there is any real advantage in moving to HANA which today, can provide huge speed improvements in analytic style scenarios. The answer is a heavily qualified ‘maybe.’ HANA’s columnar store thrives on complex aggregation queries but is slow when trying to replicate what amount to row store calculations where an Oracle performs very well.

Links to the full articles:

postheadericon Erosion in Interest to Develop for Android due to Growing Fragmentation

The Register published the following news on their website a few days ago:

A new study conducted by IDC and mobile-developer platform and services company Appcelerator has determined that as Google’s open source Android operating system becomes more and more fragmented, fewer and fewer developers are putting it on their “must-code-for” list.

When this subject comes up, I always point to these statistics, published by Tweetdeck in October 2010:
http://tweetdeck.posterous.com/android-ecosystem

If the Android ecosystem was that fragmented already 18 months ago, consider how fragmented it is nowadays now that we have Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) added to the equation.

Oh, and don’t forget about tablet support that was added to Android 3.0, which makes the number of screen sizes and types of hardware even more diverse than it was 18 months ago.

Link : The Register – Fragmentation bomb wounds Android in developer war

postheadericon Oracle Drops Final Claim in Patent ‘476

Good news on the Oracle-Google-Android lawsuit. The final claim of the following ridiculous patent has been removed from the case:

transitory electrical and electromagnetic signals propagating through some medium, such as wires, air, or a vacuum

What the hell were the people thinking that granted this patent in the first place?

If you have time and are interested to read up on the Oracle-Google-Android lawsuit, then check out this extensive write-up at Groklaw.com linked below.

Link : Groklaw – Oracle Drops Final Claim in Patent ‘476 and Google Moves to Strike Portions of 3rd Oracle Damages Report

postheadericon Music May Have a Beneficial Influence on Our Aging Process

Good news for music addicts and musicians like me!

According to research that has been published in Neurobiology of Aging, music may have a beneficial influence on our aging process. Scientists came to this conclusion by doing experiments with young and old musicians and with people who hardly or never played an instrument.

Musicians of an older age were able to respond faster and better on audio tests with speech than the persons that were still young but never played an instrument. Research suggests that playing an instrument during most of your life has a big influence on your nervous system, which will be better able to process sound and speech on an older age.

Read more about this research on the following pages:

Also related to this subject is a post I linked to in September 2010:

postheadericon SAP Engineer Says Their New HANA Database Runs Circles Around Oracle’s Database

Business Insider has an interesting interview with Vishal Sikka, the SAP engineer that created the HANA database with his team of developers. In the first six months the HANA database generated $200 million in sales. And the claims in speed and performance are quite outrageous. Check out these quotes from the article/interview:

Given a chance, he’s happy to rattle off the happy customers who have already yanked out their old database and replaced it with HANA.  He says that two such customers have become members of the “100,000K club” which means that HANA runs 100,000-times faster than their previous database.

One large Japanese retailer used to need three days to process its customers rewards program. With HANA it now takes three seconds.

“The son of the owner of company runs the IT department. He was so psyched he called me,”  Sikka laughs. It actually took them longer — five hours — to calculate and verify the performance improvement numbers than it did to issue its rewards. The company can now offer its customers on-the-spot rewards while shopping in the store, based on the items loaded in the shopping cart.

This is hard to believe, but if it is only partly true, this could mean serious competition for Oracle.

Link : Business Insider – The Guy That Created SAP’s Hottest Product Ever Thinks It Will Squash Oracle Like A Bug

postheadericon The Pitch-drop Experiment: The World’s Longest-Running Lab Experiment

Eighty-five years and eight fallen drops later, this surely is a long-running experiment!

The pitch-drop experiment—really more of a demonstration—began in 1927 when Thomas Parnell, a physics professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, set out to show his students that tar pitch, a derivative of coal so brittle that it can be smashed to pieces with a hammer, is in fact a highly viscous fluid. It flows at room temperature, albeit extremely slowly. Parnell melted the pitch, poured it into a glass funnel, let it cool (for three years), hung the funnel over a beaker, and waited.

Read the rest of the story by following the link below.

Link : Popular Science – FYI: How Long-Running Is the Longest-Running Lab Experiment?

postheadericon Google Again Pulls Malicious Apps from the Official Android Market

A number of times I posted links to Android malware news, like this one.

An important lesson in these messages was: don’t download apps from untrusted sources because you risk downloading an app that contains malware.

Every now and then though, the official Android Market gets infected with malware apps. And it happened again recently, where Google had to pull 22 malicious apps from the Market. The post linked below talks about an estimate of 14,000 infected users.

In total, Google took down over a hundred malicious apps already. Since Android phones are very popular with over 500,000 activations a day, I am afraid these malware practices will get worse. I hope I won’t be right and Google invents a mechanism to find and block these apps as soon as they appear.

In the meantime, people should not only be careful when downloading apps from external sources. The Android Market can contain a nasty bug every now and then too.

Link : CIO.com – Google Pulls 22 More Malicious Android Apps From Market

postheadericon Researcher Demonstrates Proof-of-Concept Botnet of Android Phones

Just what the world was waiting for… *sigh*

[Georgia Weidman’s] Android proof-of-concept botnet installs itself in a fashion similar to the DroidDream malware, a trojan that could record phone conversations. The proof-of-concept botnet payload could be spread in several ways—either as part of a malicious application on an app store, or through a Web link sent to the smartphone or clicked in the mobile browser. “It ‘roots’ the phone,” she said, “and it works as a proxy between the cellular modem and the application layer.”

iOS users aren’t safe either. Weidman said that a similar botnet could also be created on iOS devices, but the malware needs to be distributed via a “jailbreak” package.

Link : ars technica – Researcher demos threat of “transparent” smartphone botnets

postheadericon Adobe Donates Flex to Apache

Adobe moves an other step away from the Flash platform and donates Flex to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). The ASF will still have to vote whether they will take on Flex and have not yet commented on the matter.

While Adobe states they are still committed to Flex, they also say that HTML5 will be the best technology for developing enterprise web applications on the long term.

Now honestly: would you really care investing your precious time in learning Flex now that Adobe has made this move, even if they say they are still behind the technology and its community? I actually feel sorry for the developers who did, and also for the people who invested their time and skills in Microsoft’s Silverlight which is going the same path as it looks right now.

Here are some links on the subject for your reading enjoyment:

postheadericon Number of Android Malware Apps Is Growing Faster Every Month

The lesson to be learned here is in the last sentences of the article:

In a related blog post, Juniper said it discovered a “trove of malicious applications aimed at Android users hosted across different Russia-based third party app stores,” which serves as a reminder to only download Android apps from trusted locations, like Google’s Android Market, Amazon, etc.

Link : HotHardware – Android Malware Infestation a Fast Growing Problem, Report Says

postheadericon Using Registry Cleaners Still Pays Off, Even in Windows 7

Source: Windows Secrets

Fred Langa of Windows Secrets did some interesting research on the effect of registry cleaners on Windows 7. Older versions of Windows were notorious for making a mess of the registry and not cleaning up correctly after uninstalling software. But what about Windows 7? Has this OS improved over its predecessors?

Langa’s conclusion: using a registry cleaner in Windows 7 still has a positive effect on your systems’s performance and bootup time. Of the tools that he put to the test, jv16 PowerTools turned out to be the most effective.

Want to know how he tested this, what other registry cleaning software he used and the statistics he gathered? Then hop over to Windows Secrets to find out.

Link : Windows Secrets – Putting Registry-/system-cleanup apps to the test

postheadericon Microsoft May Halt Development Work on Silverlight Plugin after Next Release

Will Microsoft follow Adobe in calling it quits on the development of their rich content plugins for (mobile) web browsers?

I bet they are laughing their asses off at Apple’s headquarters right now reading these announcements.

Link : The Verge – Microsoft may halt development work on Silverlight plugin after next release

postheadericon Adobe Throws in the Towel, Ceases Development of Mobile Flash Plugin for Android and Playbook

Apple can be “proud” of itself…

Link : The Verge – Adobe to cease developing mobile Flash plugin for Android and PlayBook