Google Video Posting May Bring Execs Jail Time  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

Thanks to a three-minute cellphone video posted on Google Video in 2006, four of the company's executives may face jail time in Italy. The four defendants, including SVP David Drummond, former CFO George Reyes, Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, and a fourth yet to be identified, went on trial today in Milan over charges of privacy violation and defamation.

The video, which features four kids teasing a boy with Down syndrome, was removed shortly after being posted. And while the four execs on trial weren't directly involved with the handling of the video, they still face possible jail time.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time an individual has been criminally charged for violation of data protection laws that occurred by the company he or she works for," Trevor Hughes, executive director of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, said in a statement reported by The New York Times. "This suggests that privacy is going to be more of a battleground."

Google issued a public statement decrying the trial:

As we have repeatedly made clear, our hearts go out to the victim and his family. We are pleased that as a result of our cooperation the bullies in the video have been identified and punished. We feel that bringing this case to court is totally wrong. (story Link)

Nikon: Time-Traveling Camera  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

On Monday, Nikon announced eight cameras, including one that can go back in time by one second to capture ten shots before the one taken by the user.

The 12.1-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P90's secret is that it's always shooting. When a user presses the shutter release button, it will save the previous ten photos that were automatically shot. The ten photos will only be 3-megapixel captures.

This isn't a completely novel idea; Casio announced cameras with similar features at last month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Nikon's P90 will be a superzoom point-and-shoot that offers 24X optical zoom through a very wide-angle 26-mm lens. It offers a 3-inch LCD that extends and arches via a little arm, as well as an electronic viewfinder, which is just a tiny LCD screen. Face detection, optical image stabilization, and anti-blink technologies will also be included in the camera to help the user capture a great shot. The P90 will retail for $399.95, beginning in March.

New additions to Nikon's L-Series line of value cameras were also announced; this line includes the company's least expensive camera to date. The Coolpix L19 will retail for just $109; it will be an 8-megapixel shooter with a 2.7-inch LCD screen and 3.6X optical zoom, and will use two AA batteries. For $20 bucks more ($129), Nikon will offer the L20; the differences being a large 3-inch LCD screen and a 10-megapixel sensor.

The last camera in the series is the Coolpix L100, a 10-megapixel camera featuring 15X optical zoom and optical image stabilization. It will retail for $279.95. The L-Series cameras will be available later this month.

The last series that Nikon updated is the S-series, Nikon's "style line" that focuses on slim builds and high-end features. All of the cameras in this series will include optical image stabilization, enhanced face detection that can track a subject even while in motion, automatic scene selection, and red-eye fix which can remove red-eye effects after the picture is taken. All of the new models will be offered in multiple colors. (full Story)

2009’s Best Internet Security Suites  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

The list of available 2009-model security suites is now essentially complete. A running theme in this year's suites is the promise that these new versions will do more for your security while tying up fewer system resources. It's about time: Users have had it with suites that offer security but bog down the computer. Several vendors have introduced new "in the cloud" technologies to keep up with the accelerating growth of new malware. And many have redesigned their user interfaces to be more attractive and look lighter and faster. Some are new, innovative, and speedy. Others haven't kept pace. Which are which? I put them all through grueling tests to find out.

Performance Testing

Starting with the 2009 crop of suites, I added an entire day of performance testing per suite to my already lengthy set of evaluations. I wrote and gathered a collection of batch files, scripts, and freeware components to measure how long a number of common activities take on the computer. I ran the scripts many times on a system with no suite installed and then on that same system with each suite installed. Averaging the results let me see just how much each suite affected system performance.

I get a lot of complaints about how long PCs take to boot up in the morning, and many users blame their security suites for lengthening the process. The first part of my test script, therefore, calculates the time it takes from the start of the boot process (as reported internally by Windows) to the time when the system is completely ready to use. "Ready" is a fluid concept—I defined it as meaning that 10 seconds have passed with CPU usage under 5 percent. I ran this test 50 to 100 times and averaged the results; the test system with no suite installed takes almost exactly 60 seconds to boot. Norton Internet Security 2009 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 added only about 15 seconds to the boot time. That's not bad!

Some of the other suites added significantly to boot time. F-Secure Internet Security 2009 and McAfee Total Protection 2009 nearly doubled it, and BitDefender Total Security 2009 more than doubled it. The timings for Webroot Internet Security Essentials (WISE) averaged even higher—almost 2.5 times the baseline. However, the data set included a number of unexplained instances when booting up took 5 or even 10 minutes. Eliminating those quirky outliers brought the average boot time for WISE (the smallest suite) a bit below that of McAfee (the largest suite)—still not impressive.

Real-time malware scanners can kick in on any kind of file access and can slow ordinary file operations, especially if they redundantly scan the same file more than once during the operation. I set up a series of file move and copy actions using a variety of file types and timed how long it took with and without a security suite. Kaspersky added just 2 percent to the time required for this test, and Trend Micro Internet Security Pro added 6 percent. Norton and Panda Global Protection 2009 came in between those two. On the slow side, the system running ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 2009 took half again as long to perform the test.

Another of my new tests zips and unzips large groups of files, and my testing showed that this activity takes more of a performance hit from most security suites than moving and copying do. Panda had the lightest touch here, adding just 8 percent to the baseline time. Norton, Kaspersky, Trend Pro, and Webroot all added in the neighborhood of 25 percent to the time. Under ZoneAlarm the zip test took twice as long, and under BitDefender it took 2.5 times as long. That's dreadful! (full Story)

Windows 7 Versions Announced  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Microsoft has semi-officially released the five versions of Windows 7, although the company is apparently making a concerted effort to simplify the release plan to avoid the complexity of Windows Vista.

At this point, the releases have been provided (leaked?) to Gizmodo and Paul Thurrott's SuperSite, which has a rundown of the new offerings. Microsoft officials hadn't responded to requests for comment by post time. Microsoft has now provided an official list of the SKUs as of late Tuesday morning.

Essentially, the five versions are the same as for Vista, but with a few exceptions. However, Microsoft will only promote two directly to the consumer: Home Premium and Professional.

The Home Basic SKU has been eliminated except for emerging markets (which makes it a sixth version, techically), and the "Ultimate" offering, which was previously positioned as the end-all, be-all version of Windows, will be sold as an end-user version of Microsoft Windows 7 for Enterprise. It's unclear whether or not enthusiasts will flock to Ultimate as they have in years past, but at this point Microsoft seems to be downplaying the Ultimate offering as one that's really geared toward specialized users. The Ultimate SKU will still be sold at retail, apparently, however.

Microsoft Home Premium will be the standard offering for home users, with multmedia codecs being offered straight out of the box. Microsoft's Business version of Windows 7 will include specialized features like location-aware printing. Enterprise, however, will take Business and add to it, with such features as security features such as AppLocker and BitLocker, which will lock down applications and data, plus add the ability for remote access without a VPN. The Enterprise version will be offered through Microsoft's volume license program.

What's Windows Starter? A cut-down version for emerging markets. Chances are you'll never see it. However, if you do want to upgrade, you'll already have the code: all of the Win7 discs MS ships will apparently contain all of the versions' features, according to Thurrott.  (full Story)

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