Palm Launches Radical 'Pre' Smartphone With Sprint  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

Palm launched the most radical new phone since the iPhone on Thursday here at CES. The company's new Pre smartphone, running its new webOS, puts people at the center of the smartphone experience and uses Web standards to extend the platform.

"This platform is going to be the basis for innovation at Palm for a decade to come," Palm chief executive Ed Colligan said.

The Pre and webOS are colorful, simple, and touch-centric – in a lot of ways, a lot like Apple's iPhone. The Pre is the most people-centric smartphone ever. The webOS consolidates your contacts from various locations, including Microsoft Exchange servers and Facebook, into a unified contact list. It automatically eliminates duplicate information, consolidates photos and lets you connect with people via any way you've got: texting, IM, e-mail, phone calls, or Facebook.

The people-centric view of information which Palm calls "synergy" carries into other applications as well. The Pre's calendar, for instance, can show information from multiple online calendars at the same time. If you're having an IM conversation with someone, you can switch into texting mode without leaving your window.  That's not the only radical thing here, though. The webOS is based on the idea of "cards," which are like desktop windows. Any action you're doing can be reduced to a card on the screen, moved around or thrown away. It's easy to switch between, say, writing an email and checking your contacts, by flicking between reduced email and contact card screens.

"Cards are a completely new metaphor for managing multiple activities on mobile," said Palm's senior director of human interface and user experience Matias Duarte. "The webOS really gives you so much control and so much power with a UI that's almost invisible."

Searching seems to be a breeze on the Pre. The OS seems to automatically index everything on the phone, so as soon as you start typing the name of a person or thing it begins to search, dropping to search on the Web if it can't find anything on the device.

The webOS has many other attractive little touches. Alerts, like new messages, appear unobtrusively at the bottom of the screen. You can maximize them a little bit if you want to, say, pause music. Everything seems to rotate into landscape mode easily, thanks to an accelerometer in the phone. The Web browser uses thumbnails of pages as bookmarks, and the email program supports HTML and attachments. In Palm's demo, at least, everything ran very smoothly.  The Pre is a sliding phone with a large 3.1-inch, 320x480 touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard below.

"Sometimes, those cheesy virtual keyboards just don't cut it," Colligan said, taking an irresistible jab at his number-one competitor, Apple.

The touch screen has a "gesture area" below the main screen where you can safely flick or twirl your fingers to manipulate content. And yes, the screen has iPhone-style multitouch, including pinching to zoom into Web pages.

The phone connects to the Internet using Sprint's EVDO Rev A network and 802.11b Wi-fi. It has GPS, stereo Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, and 8 GB of built-in storage, though it appears to have no memory card slot. It's the first phone built on TI's fast new OMAP 3430 platform, Colligan said. On the back, there's a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus, an LED flash and unusual depth of field, according to Colligan. On top, there's a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack, a ringer switch and the power button. The volume buttons are on the side. The device weighs 4.8 ounces. (full Story)

Macs Hit With BitTorrent-embedded Malware Attack  

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For years, Mac users have long been rightfully smug about their platform's relative immunity to virus and malware attacks, but it's inevitable that those days will eventually come to an end. (As the Mac gains in popularity, it also earns more attention from malware developers, and it's this lack of malware being actively developed, not some special, inherent security, that have really kept the Mac a "safe" platform for the time being.)

Now we're seeing one of the first moderately-sized exploits to take advantage of Mac users. The iServices.A Trojan horse is an attack being distributed via BitTorrent, where it's disguised as a bootleg copy of the new iWork 09. Once installed, the malware takes administrator access and connects to remote servers over the Internet, where it can be given additional instructions as the author commands, from installing additional malware to stealing information off the Mac in question. The malware creator can also take complete remote control of any compromised machine.

Security firm Intego said that just 20,000 machines had been infected as of January 21 but that the risk of ongoing infection was "serious, and users may face extremely serious consequences" if they are stricken with the malware.

Mac users are suggested to use common sense -- that is, don't try to download and installed pirated software -- and to update any antivirus definitions immediately. If you're a Mac user and aren't using security software, well, this might be a good time to start.

As well, if you've been hit by this piece of malware, a removal tool is available here. (Please note: I have not tested it.) (story Link)

Mac: No Viruses for macs - Not For Low Market Share  

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The core of Mac OS X is BSD Unix, and that OS has been around for two decades in open source form, inspected by all concerned. That's why Mac OS X is more secure than Windows, according to InfoWorld.

For a long time, apologists for Windows have been arguing "security through obscurity." However, if it has a CPU, hackers will try to attack it, and Mac OS X has been a big target for a long time.

"The difference isn't market share, it's the foundation of the operating systems. Given that most virus authors and hackers are in it for the ego, don't you think that there would be a huge incentive to be the first one to write a widespread OS X, Linux, or FreeBSD virus?" Paul Venezia asked.

The key is the foundation of the OS. If the OS is designed on a shaky foundation, everything on top will suffer. When Apple moved its customer based from Classic Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, they did so consciously with the idea that they needed a firm foundation for the future. But that meant leaving every Classic app behind in the long term.

Microsoft has never been able to make that commitment and retained the backwards compatibility with Win32 apps. That has put a strain on their whole Windows OS. "Simply put, Microsoft had the chance to beat Apple to the punch and make a giant leap back in 1997 or so, killing off the existing Win32 platform in favor of an NT-based client and server that did not have to run legacy applications natively. They didn't, and we are still paying the price for it today. Even if you're not running an MS OS, most of the spam in your mailbox came from zombie Windows systems in the control of spammers," the author noted. (full Story)

XP Service Pack 3 Hose Your System  

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From the moment Microsoft released it, Service Pack 3 for Windows XP has been the subject of almost daily reports of bugs, incompatibilities, and general headaches.
You can install SP3 with confidence — providing you take certain precautions — or, if you prefer, use Windows' Automatic Update settings to keep the service pack off your system.

Multiple problems plague SP3 adopters

Windows Secrets has been reporting problems with Windows XP's Service Pack 3 almost from the instant the patch collection was first distributed. In fact, so many readers have contacted us with questions or complaints about SP3 — the last major update to Windows XP — that we've synthesized everything you need to know about this update in a single column.
Here are the most glaring SP3-related problems:
• Internet connectivity fails when using black hole routers, which drop packets (see Susan Bradley's May 1 column in our paid content and Microsoft's Knowledge Base article 314825).
• False positives are generated by Norton Internet Security and other security applications (see my May 2 Top Story).
• Device Manager settings go missing, especially in connection with using Norton Antivirus (see Susan Bradley's column in the May 29 newsletter as well as KB 953791).
• Repeated rebooting occurs on machines using an AMD processor (see Susan Bradley's May 22 column and KB 953356).
• You can't install any new updates (see KB 943144).
• Third-party visual styles encounter problems (see the Support Alert Newsletter of June 19).

Making an upgrade decision that works for you

In light of these and other problems, you may wonder whether you ever want SP3 at all, especially given that many of its enhancements focus on networking and IT-level administration. Here's the case for SP3:
Think security: In addition to new features, SP3 — like most service packs — includes numerous security updates that were available individually in the past.
Consider support: If you think you might require Microsoft's assistance to install SP3, you need to add the service pack before April 2009, when the company will end such support. And because overall support for SP2 expires in early 2010, you'll need to have SP3 installed by that date if you want general support for XP.
Be prepared: Before you install SP3, take a few precautions. First and foremost, perform a full system backup. Microsoft has digested all recommended pre-install steps in KB 950717, which also includes troubleshooting information if all does not go well.

How to remove SP3 from your Automatic Updates

If you decide you don't want SP3, Microsoft offers a tool for suppressing the automatic installation of the service pack. The Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit won't prevent you from downloading SP3 manually from the company's site, nor will it stop you from installing the patches from a CD or DVD. All it does is stop the service pack from being installed via Windows' Automatic Updates.
In addition, the Service Pack Blocker postpones the installation for only a year from SP3's release date last April.
Surf over to Microsoft's Service Pack Blocker download page and click the Download button for SPBlockerTools.exe. Click Yes to accept the license agreement and type in the path to the folder where the files will be stored (click the Browse button and navigate to the folder if you want to avoid typing).
Now open the folder containing the extracted files and double-click SPBlockingTool.exe. A command prompt window appears for a few moments and displays the statement "Action successfully completed." Unfortunately, that doesn't tell you very much. The action the message refers to is the addition of a Registry entry instructing Windows Update not to send you SP3. (The same setting on Vista blocks SP1.)
If you want to see the code that is added, do the following:
Step 1. Choose Start, Run. Type regedit and press Enter.
Step 2. In the Registry Editor, navigate in the left pane to this entry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Policies \ Microsoft \ Windows \ WindowsUpdate
Step 3. With the WindowsUpdate icon selected in the left pane, look in the right pane for a key named DoNotAllowSP.
If you later decide you want Automatic Updates to offer you Service Pack 3, simply select the DoNotAllowSP key and press Delete (or click Edit, Delete).
If you're concerned about editing the Registry (which involves risks of its own), the Service Pack Blocker can also undo the block in 3 easy steps:
Step 1. Choose Start, Run. Type cmd and press Enter. (full Story) - Blog Search