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In mid-December, Google detected a sophisticated cyber attack on its corporate infrastructure.

Further investigation revealed that Google was among a number of Silicon Valley businesses and entities–from the finance, technology, media and chemical sectors–that fell under siege. The attackers may have succeeded in the theft of intellectual property, e.g. corporate data and software source codes, by exploiting an IE browser vulnerability.

Additionally, Google discovered that dozens of Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights activists appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These activists were based in China, as well as Europe and the US. The search-engine giant suspected these attacks originated from China.

From the Official Google Blog:

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China.

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

McAfee’s Chief Technology Officer, George Kurtz, said the Google hack comprised the “largest and most sophisticated cyberattack we have seen in years targeted at specific corporations“.

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Updates:
Foreign Journalists in Beijing Hit by E-Mail Hackers [NYT]
France, Germany Say Avoid IE Until Security Vulnerability Patched [eWeek]
Google probing possible inside help on attack [Yahoo]

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“In a direct challenge to Microsoft, Google is expected to announce on Wednesday that it is developing an operating system for a personal computer based on its Chrome browser, according to two people briefed on Google’s plans.” – via NYTimes [Full article here].

Random fact: From April 2008 to April 2009, Twitter has seen a 1,298% increase in visitors, whereas Facebook has only seen a 217% increase by comparison (Source: Nielsen).

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Ever since all the major newspapers and The White House jumped on board, I’ve been wanting to open a Twitter account or two. I love new sources of information. Unfortunately, I am still lacking in the infrastructure department (AKA I don’t have a smartphone) so it would be no different than blogging and sharing links through Facebook from my home computer. If I am to tweet, I need to be mobile!

Speaking of smartphones, the Palm Pre was released on June 6th to modest fanfare. It’s not much of a serious contender against the iPhone, because it has so few apps and games available. However, the Pre does has some perks. The WebOS user interface allows multiple applications to run simultaneously using a virtual “deck of cards” metaphor. Also, the Pre is able to gather data streams from all your online accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, etc.) and compile a comprehensive contacts list, without duplicates [Synergy].

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Thought I’d share these paragraphs from a TIME article I just read:
How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live“.

Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel: sharing links to longer articles, discussions, posts, videos — anything that lives behind a URL. Websites that once saw their traffic dominated by Google search queries are seeing a growing number of new visitors coming from “passed links” at social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is what the naysayers fail to understand: it’s just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.

Put those three elements together — social networks, live searching and link-sharing — and you have a cocktail that poses what may amount to the most interesting alternative to Google’s near monopoly in searching. At its heart, Google’s system is built around the slow, anonymous accumulation of authority: pages rise to the top of Google’s search results according to, in part, how many links point to them, which tends to favor older pages that have had time to build an audience. That’s a fantastic solution for finding high-quality needles in the immense, spam-plagued haystack that is the contemporary Web. But it’s not a particularly useful solution for finding out what people are saying right now, the in-the-moment conversation that industry pioneer John Battelle calls the “super fresh” Web. Even in its toddlerhood, Twitter is a more efficient supplier of the super-fresh Web than Google. If you’re looking for interesting articles or sites devoted to Kobe Bryant, you search Google. If you’re looking for interesting comments from your extended social network about the three-pointer Kobe just made 30 seconds ago, you go to Twitter.

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P.S. Microsoft released their new decision-search engine called Bing, which organizes search results into relevant categories (like a guidebook) rather than displaying long series of individual links.

“The Taiwanese company Elan Microelectronics has sued Apple, alleging infringement of two of its touch screen patents…The lawsuit alleges that Apple products — including its MacBook computer, iPhone and iPod Touch — use technology that infringes on two of Elan’s patents…” [via NYTimes]

Elan Microelectronic Corporation is a semiconductor & product design house that strives to create solutions which enable smart human-machine interactions. The company’s area of expertise is in the development of multitouch-sensitive inputs for handheld devices and computers, such as the touchpad on the Asus EeePCs.

Honestly, having a multitouch touchpad on my netbook is wonderful–I get a little sad every time I do a two-finger or three-finger tap or swipe on Powerbook (Mac OSX Tiger) and nothing happens. The guess the smart thing would be to upgrade to Leopard, but it’s not entirely necessary.

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“The first patent at issue, U.S. Patent 5,825,352 (“the ‘352 patent”), relates to touch-sensitive input devices with the ability to detect the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers…The ‘352 patent is a fundamental patent to the detection of multi-fingers that allows for any subsequent multi-finger applications to be implemented. The second patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,274,353 (“the ‘353 patent”), is directed to touchpads capable of switching between keyboard and handwriting input modes.” [via ELAN]

Elan has been in licensing talks with Apple for years, but the two companies were not able to come to an understanding. So Elan went ahead and filed suit. Does Elan Microelectronics stands a chance? They did manage to conclude litigation with touchpad-maker Synaptics at the end of 2008 (the two companies agreed to dismiss pending lawsuits and cross-license their patents). Perhaps cross-licensing will be in order for this case as well as the forseeable one between the Apple iPhone and the Palm Pre.

All the IP hurdles are going to make it difficult for companies to bring multitouch technologies to the mainstream market. I hear that Google disabled multitouch on the Android G1 to avoid patent infringement.

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