Week in Geek: No Booting Directly to the Desktop Allowed in Windows 8 Final

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By Akemi Iwaya on August 12th, 2012

This week’s edition of WIG is filled with news link goodness covering topics such as Microsoft is replacing Live Mesh with SkyDrive in the latest Windows Essentials bundle, Damn Small Linux is back after nearly four years, TextMate 2.0 is now open source, and more.

Photo by Akemi Iwaya.

Weekly News Links

Photo by Akemi Iwaya.

  • No booting straight to desktop in Windows 8, apparently
    Leaked builds of Microsoft’s Windows 8 are providing more clues as to what kinds of user behaviors will and won’t be permitted. Skipping Metro is right out.
  • Microsoft replaces Live Mesh with SkyDrive in Windows bundle
    Live Mesh users, read the Windows Essentials 2012 fine print. Microsoft is doing what some had feared in latest services bundle — replacing it with SkyDrive, which still doesn’t offer the same set of features.
  • Internet Explorer 10 will have Do-Not-Track as default
    When version 10 of Internet Explorer is published, it will default to sending the “Do-not-track” header (DNT). DNT will be enabled in the “Express Settings” Windows setup process. But there will be a “Customise” option that will allow users to stop the DNT header being sent.
  • Microsoft Is Gearing Up for a Browser-Based Skype
    Redmond-based software giant Microsoft is reportedly gearing up for the launch of a browser-based version of Skype, and the company has already taken the first steps in this direction.
  • Damn Small Linux resurfaces
    Almost four years after the release of the last version of Damn Small Linux (DSL), project leader John Andrews has announced the first release candidate of Damn Small Linux 4.11.
  • Linux Mint developers work on GNOME file manager fork
    GNOME is continuing to lose supporters as now part of the Linux Mint programming team start working on a fork of the GNOME file manger, Nautilus.
  • Ubuntu debates replacing Nautilus file manager
    In a bug report on Launchpad, Ubuntu developer Sebatien Bacher has suggested that Ubuntu might ship Nautilus 3.4 with version 12.10 of the Linux distribution – currently available as a third alpha – instead of the latest upstream version of the file manager. Nautilus 3.6, which is currently in development, would be included in the repositories but not be bundled by default.
  • Debian to use Xfce as its standard desktop
    Developer Joey Hess, a member of the Debian Installer Team, has made a change to the tasksel Debian component that is used during the installation of Debian; the modification causes the software to install Xfce instead of GNOME as the distribution’s standard desktop.
  • MATE vs Unity, GNOME 3: Open Source Desktop’s Future?
    MATE, the open-source desktop environment whose name no one is sure how to pronounce, is now nearly a year old. Many of us never thought it would make it this far, but the interface has held its own against competitors like Unity and GNOME Shell. But does MATE have a long-term future in the fast-evolving world of desktop Linux?
  • Dedicated Ubuntu Web Apps website published with in-depth step-by-step tutorials and technical references
    Along with Ubuntu Web Apps’ preview publishing, the developers have put together step-by-step tutorials and howtos via an official dedicated website, carefully explaining how interested users are to utilize the versatility, power and wide-range-of-usage as related to web apps integrated into the Ubuntu desktop.
  • Desktop Android? Multi-user Android support is on its way
    Android is great on smartphones and tablets, but it could work on the desktop? One critical missing part has been multi-user support, but thanks to clues in the code we now know that multi-user Android support is on its way.
  • Google Translate for Android adds OCR
    The most recent update to Google Translate for Android gives it the power to translate text directly from photos.
  • New Google trial includes Gmail in search results
    Google is always trying out new ideas, and its latest experiment will allow users to locate personal Gmail messages through Google Search. Once enabled you just type what you’re looking for into the search box, and if there are any matching emails stored in your Gmail account they’ll be pulled out and displayed in a sidebar on the right of the results page.
  • Google spreadsheets gains lockdown feature
    The Web giant has made it possible to protect data from editing by other users within its spreadsheet service.
  • Open Source for the Space Age
    NASA has started a rather ambitious project: to provide open-source everything. The main site is located at http://open.nasa.gov. From here, there is access to data, code and applications, among other things.
  • Slow, but rugged, Curiosity’s computer was built for Mars
    The PowerPC RAD750 chip at the heart of the Curiosity Mars rover’s central computer can withstand temperature extremes and massive doses of space radiation without the dreaded ‘blue screen of death.’
  • FTC settles Facebook privacy complaint sans Google-like fine
    The trade commission says that Facebook must now submit to biennial privacy audits and obtain users’ express consent before sharing information.
  • Piracy witch hunt downs legit e-book lending Web site
    Several authors on Twitter mistook an e-book lending Web site for a piracy hub, a mistake that eventually took the site offline. As the dust settles, a disturbing picture of file-sharing hysteria emerges.
  • TextMate 2.0 goes open source in response to OS X restrictions
    TextMate developer MacroMates announced this past Thursday that the code for TextMate 2.0, currently in alpha, is now available via the online GitHub repository. The code is being open sourced in order to counteract what some developers see as Apple’s increasingly limiting user and developer freedom on the Mac platform.
  • Steam download service moving beyond games
    Starting in September, the Steam online distribution platform is adding creativity and productivity apps for both PC and Mac.

Security News

Photo by Ariel Zambelich (Wired).

  • How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking
    In the space of one hour, Mat Honan’s entire digital life was destroyed. First his Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next his Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, his AppleID account was broken into, and the hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.
  • Amazon fixes security flaw hackers used against Wired’s Mat Honan
    Days after a devastating cyber attack on Wired journalist Mat Honan that exposed security flaws in Amazon’s and Apple’s online services, Amazon has fixed a problem that helped hackers gain control over Honan’s online accounts and remotely wipe his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.
  • Apple freezes over-the-phone password resets in response to Honan hac
    An anonymous Apple employee confirmed to Wired that the company has put a freeze on over-the-phone password verification—a step in Apple ID security that cost Wired reporter Mat Honan an iPhone, iPad, MacBook, several e-mail accounts, and two Twitter accounts worth of information this past weekend.
  • E-mail lists, encrypted passwords stolen in Battle.net hack
    The company behind games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo tells customers it believes no financial information was accessed but suggests users change their passwords immediately.
  • Nation-sponsored malware with Stuxnet ties has mystery warhead
    Researchers have uncovered yet another state-sponsored computer espionage operation that uses state-of-the-art software to extract a wealth of sensitive data from thousands of machines located mostly in the Middle East. Adding to the intrigue, Gauss trojan also targets Middle East banks and PayPal.
  • Researchers release ways to detect Gauss malware
    See if your system is infected by the new “cyberespionage toolkit” with tools from Kaspersky Lab and CrySyS Lab.
  • False Syria Reports: Reuters was running outdated WordPress
    The Friday before last, the journalist’s blog from Reuters began publishing false reports of the situation in Syria. The false reports were publishable because the British news agency was using an outdated version of WordPress which contained a number of publicly known vulnerabilities, according to a blog posting on the Wall Street Journal.
  • Adobe warns of critical holes in Reader, Acrobat
    Adobe is advising Reader and Acrobat users of a critical security flaw, and should prepare for an update scheduled for August 14.
  • Buffer overflows in KOffice and Calligra reported
    A buffer overflow vulnerability which affects both the KOffice and Calligra office suites has been disclosed by Charlie Miller of Accuvant Labs. The vulnerability, which allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code by exploiting an error in the read() function of the ODF renderer, was revealed as part of Miller’s presentation on NFC hacking at the recent Black Hat conference.
  • Microsoft defense that fetched $50,000 prize bypassed in just 2 week
    Two weeks after Microsoft released a free utility designed to help its software better withstand a powerful hacking technique, a security researcher has demonstrated an exploit that bypasses the newfangled protection.
  • Improved Flash sandbox arrives in Chrome for Windows
    The Google Chrome developers, with help from Adobe, have improved the sandboxing of the browser’s Flash plugin. To enable the improved sandboxing, the developers have ported the Flash player plugin from the older Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI) to Google’s Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI) architecture, which was developed especially to allow advanced features such as sandboxing and hardware graphics acceleration to be implemented.
  • Organizations should beware search engine data
    Google search enables hackers and industry competitors to gather information for targeted attacks, so companies should regulate employee sharing online and usage of free services.
  • Facebook battles phishing by reaching out to users
    In an effort to protect users and curb phishing, the social network gives users a select e-mail address to send reports of the illegal practice to.
  • Is Woz Right? Will the Cloud Shift be ‘Horrendous’?
    In a post-performance dialogue following “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, co-star Steve Wozniak took to blasting the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into remote servers, known as cloud computing.
  • Do you give mobile apps the keys to your kingdom?
    We are using more mobile apps than ever on our gadgets and many of them interact with our online accounts. Linking apps to online accounts can give them access to all kinds of personal information.
  • Google forced to temporarily deactivate copy protection for Android apps
    Google has been forced to temporarily deactivate a security feature in Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) intended to make it harder to pirate paid-for apps. The feature resulted in some purchased apps no longer working after devices on which they were installed on were restarted, requiring the user to reconfigure or even reinstall them.
  • Google’s search engine becomes new antipiracy weapon
    Sites that generate too many copyright takedown notices will be moved lower in search rankings. And Google will be busy: Copyright owners flagged more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone.
  • ‘Booter Shells’ Turn Web Sites into Weapons
    Hacked Web sites aren’t just used for hosting malware anymore. Increasingly, they are being retrofitted with tools that let miscreants harness the compromised site’s raw server power for attacks aimed at knocking other sites offline.

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Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 08/12/12
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