Parallels Access Lets iPad Users Run PC Apps

Running certain applications while on the road can be a pain, especially when carrying around multiple devices is simply not something that you can do. Many people tend to use an iPad when traveling or when going to school and work, but there are limitations to that -- the biggest one being a lack of applications meant for productivity.

Parallels, which already allows people to use Windows on their Mac, has come out with a new program called Parallels Access. This new software allows users to run full Windows applications on their iPad by connecting to a Mac or a PC remotely. In doing so, someone could eliminate the need to carry around a bulky laptop and instead opt to just use an iPad with a keyboard.

Improvements in Parallels

Parallels has been around since 2006, when Intel-based Macs first arrived on the market. Since the new computers were running Intel chips, Parallels discovered that it was possible to run Windows applications on a Mac without any major issues in performance. Since the first version of Parallels Desktop for Mac, the software has improved immensely and a Mac can now run Windows software just as well as a regular PC can.

With Parallels Access, a relatively new way to use computers is becoming possible. Although there are already certain devices that can remotely connect to a laptop or desktop computer, the real benefit of Access comes from its ability to shrink Windows apps to the correct size and make them manageable on a smaller screen.

In a demo video of the service, applications such as Microsoft Word were shown running on an iPad. By resizing the apps to fit onto the iPad's screen, virtually every application from Firefox to Office should run without issues.

Growth of Remote Computing

Software that enables remote access to a computer is...

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Nintendo Makes Bold Hardware Moves

Video game fans got a heads up on a new entry-level portable gaming system from Nintendo, which also plans to drop the price of its Wii U Deluxe Set. Will these moves help spur hardware sales during the holiday shopping season?

First up, the company took the lid off the Nintendo 2D. As its name suggests, the device plays all Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS games in 2D. The new device launches Oct. 12, the same day as Pokémon X and Pokémon Y game titles. The Nintendo 2DS will come in red and blue and retail for $129.99.

According to Nintendo, the handheld features a slate-type form factor. Otherwise, the new model offers many of the same hardware features as Nintendo 3DS: dual screens, game-play controls and touch-screen features. The system also has backward compatibility with the existing library of more than 2,000 Nintendo DS games, as well as access to wireless connectivity features like multiplayer online game play.

Seeking New Opportunities

We asked Billy Pidgeon, a video games analyst in New York, for his take on the new gaming device. He told us Nintendo has been doing well in the portable sector, so it makes sense to take steps to broaden the opportunity.

"The Wii 2 is an interesting tablet style device and it's 2D, "Pidgeon said. "Some people don't really appreciate or use the 3D aspect of the 3DS. Also, having a cheaper model available opens the door to more sales in the U.S. and overseas, where extra tariffs drive up the prices a little bit higher."

Meanwhile, Nintendo is dropping the price of Wii U Deluxe Set by $50. Beginning Sept. 20, it will be available at $299.99. At that time, the company will also offer a limited-edition Wii U bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Games...

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Apple Buys AlgoTrim, Sweden’s Compression Rock Stars

Wednesday's announcement from the Swedish news site Rapidus that Apple acquired data-compression rock stars AlgoTrim immediately ignited headlines from media sites all over the board.

AlgoTrim is now part of Apple, a win for what Apple needs -- high performance with minimized memory requirements -- and a win for what iOS users like best -- smart visuals looking even smarter.

The camera has always been a big selling point for iPhone fans, and AlgoTrim's image encoding technology will allow Apple to continue attracting consumers to its camera features.

Malmo-based AlgoTrim specializes in "lossless compression algorithms," and its products are based on a patented method used for compressing processor instructions.

Compression Speedups

The company has promoted its Code Compression Library as a "lossless and proprietary codec for compressing code, that is, the processor instructions. Its main use is to reduce the size of the firmware of a mobile device using NAND flash as non-volatile memory."

AlgoTrim has also featured optimized versions of standard codecs. According to the company, the optimized versions have typically been built for RISC processors, resulting in significant speedups of compression and/or decompression.

The algorithms accelerate processing speeds in mobile operating systems and applications, while at the same time reduce flash memory consumption.

What that means is that the consumer gets the best out of mobile imaging and video while minimizing memory requirements. Apple can deliver content to its iPhone users faster, with less strain on processing power and battery life.

Taking Visuals to Next Level

While all that good talk about power efficiency has to be one reason for the acquisition, one can never underestimate Apple's appetite for quality visuals.

AlgoTrim codecs could find their way into Apple's camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS as Apple tries to take cameras to the next levels

Over the years, AlgoTrim, which was founded in 2005, has...

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NY Times, Twitter Hit in Syrian Electronic Army DNS Attacks

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) is at it again. The hactivist group targeted nine websites, including the New York Times, Twitter and Twimg, Twitter's image service. Redirects to servers the hackers controlled aimed to launch drive-by malware attacks on victims.

The SEA's high-profile media hacking spree began earlier this year. Among the victims of the group that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are The Financial Times, The Guardian, and the Associated Press. Most recently, the Washington Post got hit. The common running theme: the papers reported stories SEA didn't like.

No Hacking Here

We asked Ken Pickering, the director of engineering at CORE Security, for his reaction to the attacks. He told us saying the Times was directly hacked is a bit of a fallacy.

"Realistically, their DNS provider was hacked. The end result is the same: The website being unavailable -- or serving up malware -- but there's not a whole lot the New York Times can do if their third party DNS provider was hacked," Pickering said.

"This points out one of the weaknesses of Internet architecture: blind trust on a DNS architecture. If they report the server IP has changed for a domain, most of us blindly trust going to that new IP," he added. "The system is only really failsafe if DNS providers are unhackable, which obviously isn't the case. And this is the resultant outcome: A story that the New York Times was hacked with very little they could do aside from picking a better service provider."

An IT Security Object Lesson

We also asked Kevin O'Brien, enterprise solution architect at CloudLock, for his views on the latest in a growing string of attacks against mainstream media. He told these attacks are not the same as having actual servers managed and run by the New York Times hacked. "The fundamental...

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FBI, Homeland Security: Android Draws 79% of Malware

Malware's attraction to the open-source Android operating system is no surprise to anyone following the mobile space. But now the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have weighed in, pointing out that Android-targeted malware accounts for an overwhelming 79 percent of the total.

The information comes in an unclassified memo to U.S. police and emergency medical personnel issued by those agencies in July, and published this week by Public Intelligence, a Web site dedicated to releasing governmental information obtained by researchers. The memo points out that 44 percent of Android users are still employing versions 2.3.3 through 2.3.7, which were released two years ago and still have security issues. Those issues were addressed in later versions, and the memo notes that their vulnerabilities make it essential to keep mobile OSes "patched and up to date."

The memo also cites the second-most popular target for malware as being the Symbian OS, at 19 percent as of 2012. While that represents a considerable slice of the malware universe, the good news in terms of reducing malware targets is that Symbian is rapidly disappearing. Earlier this month, for instance, research firm IDC found that Symbian's worldwide market share in the second quarter had dropped to 0.2 percent.

Top Three Threats

Way back in third place among malware, according to the memo, is Apple's iOS at 0.7 percent, followed by Windows Mobile at 0.3 percent, BlackBerry at 0.3 percent and Others combined at 0.7 percent.

The memo also highlights the three most prominent security threats, with descriptions and proposed mitigation strategies. The threats include SMS text messaging Trojans that send "text messages to premium-rate numbers owned by criminal hackers without the user's knowledge," which can result in exorbitant charges. The memo suggests the installation of a paid or free Android security suite to counter...

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Facebook Issues First of Regular Reports on Data Requests

Facebook has issued its first Global Government Requests Report, which it said lists every governmental agency request for user data in the first half of 2013. The social network said it intends to release the report with updated information regularly.

During the first six months of the year, Facebook received 25,607 requests covering 37,954 users from government agencies worldwide. Of those, between 11,000 and 12,000 requests came from within the U.S., covering 20,000 to 21,000 users. Overall, government agencies in 74 countries requested data during the six months.

Requests Honored

The U.S. requests, which came from agencies ranging from local police departments to the FBI and NSA, were honored 79 percent of the time, Facebook said. That compares with an average 60 percent rate in which Facebook honored requests globally.

Some countries, such as Turkey, did not file many requests but the ones that Facebook did receive were likely related to political unrest. The Turkish government sent out 96 requests, and while Facebook denies having provided information on Turkish protesters, the data seems to contradict that.

In June, Facebook was dealing with major accusations from an official stating that it had turned over protester information, contributing to the bloodshed. Although Facebook denied those accusations, Tuesday's announcement revealed that it did in fact hand over data in 45 of the requests, a substantial compliance rate.

Generalities

After National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked various NSA documents earlier this year, multiple tech companies (including Facebook) were named as suppliers of user information to the government. Although Facebook was able to release some information, current laws in the United States have prevented the company from releasing specific request stats. Instead, the data provided in Tuesday's announcement along with any future statements are a set of general statistics.

Facebook tried to assure users that it pays close attention to details...

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Dell Updates Business Latitude Ultrabooks, Laptops

Dell is out with a new lineup of business-targeted Ultrabooks and laptops. The Latitude 7000 Series Ultrabooks, Latitude 5000 and 3000 Series laptops offer a variety of IT-friendly options, as well as touchscreens to accommodate the touch-oriented interface in Windows 8.

Kirk Schell, vice president of the commercial computing group at Dell, said in a statement that the additions to the Latitude line "provide our commercial customers what they've been asking for by bringing touch capability to the workspace at desirable price points." He added that the new 7000 series "builds on the success of the award-winning XPS and Latitude 6430u to redefine the corporate laptop."

The company cited the 7000 Series as "the Ultrabook to be loved by IT professionals and end-user alike." Two models are being offered, one with a 12-inch screen and the other with a 14-inch. The 7000 series, Dell said, is the only corporate Ultrabook designed for backward compatibility with existing Latitude E-family docks, and they are the first that are available with WiGig wireless docking.

5000 and 3000 Series

The 5000 Series features one model with a 14.1-inch display, and one with a 15.6-inch. They also offer up Intel Core i7 ultra low voltage processors to help out with battery life, solid state drive or hybrid drive options, and a discrete graphics option. The 3000 Series are the newest entry-level laptops for small- and mid-size business and educational customers, and they offer business-class discrete graphics with up to 2 gigabytes video memory, as well as fourth-gen Intel Core processors with Turbo Mode and choices of 14- and 15.6-inch displays.

The company is appealing to IT departments with features designed to offer better IT management, such as an automated plug-in to the Microsoft System Center, remote BIOS management, and Dell's KACE management service, as well as FIPS 140-2 (level...

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Will Samsung Gear Be Like a Digital Swiss Army Knife?

After plenty of speculation, Samsung has confirmed that it is planning to unveil a smart watch at the IFA technology trade show in Berlin on Sept. 4. With that, Samsung goes head-to-head with Sony and Pebble while Apple has yet to reveal specific plans for the category.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Samsung revealed the name of the smart watch -- the Galaxy Gear -- and that it will offer a non-flexible display. But we don't know much else about the long-awaited device.

"The Gear won't have a flexible display. The new device will enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways," Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, told the paper. "It will lead a new trend in smart mobile communications. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry."

What Features Will Samsung Include?

To get a pulse on the smart watch possibilities, we turned to Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis. He told us we're at a wearable technology tipping point. The price and size of the technologies that enable small devices have declined and the battery life has lengthened, thanks in large part to smartphones.

"The fact that consumers are carrying smartphones means these wearable devices have something to talk to and, in some, cases offload processes to as they have constant communication to the macro network," Greengart said. "Smartphones are basically always connected super computers in our pocket. And when you can connect an always-connected super computer in your pocket to something on your wrist or head, it opens up all kinds of new possibilities."

The question on Greengart's mind -- and the minds of many other industry watchers -- is which of those possibilities has Samsung decided is compelling enough to consumers to land in the...

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VMworld Raises Big-Picture I.T. Questions

At this week's VMworld in San Francisco, the key annual event about virtualization and the cloud put on by VMware, lots of big-picture questions have emerged for enterprise technology pros to mull over. VMworld 2013 is no niche talk-and-party circus. The questions are about genuine enterprise I.T. issues that affect how businesses invest in and profit from their tech operations.

Cloud computing and data centers are hot business topics and this week's deliberations will get interesting.

Beyond the networking, storage, and other product announcements at this year's VMworld, which started on August 25 and runs to August 29, are some compelling questions: What's the long-term fate of the data center? With more applications, more big data to sort than ever before, what is the data center going to look like and how does it address the mobile world? Where does old I.T. survive against the new breed of business road warriors? Last but not least, how will changes in server management affect the jobs of today's system administrators?

The show this year comes at a time when virtualization pioneer VMware continues to be on secure footing with a technology of considerable benefit to businesses.

Virtualization Growth

Virtualization lets one machine, typically a server, run multiple operating systems for flexibility and an easing up of hardware needs. Wikibon, a community of practitioners and consultants who share advisory knowledge, recently issued results of a survey concluding that server virtualization is not hitting a wall but instead is continuing to grow -- from 69 percent of servers virtualized today to an expected 84 percent in eighteen months.

"Generally, the overheads associated with virtualization have become minimal and are far outweighed in many workloads by other business benefits," according to Wikibon.

VMware at this week's show is making it clear that its vision for future data centers and...

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Broadcom Adds Wi-Fi Direct to Wearable Devices Platform

The age of wearable devices has taken another step forward. On Tuesday, chipmaker Broadcom announced it was embedding Wi-Fi Direct into its Systems-on-a-Chip platform for wearable products, providing another means of connectivity for such possible products as jewelry with proximity detection, helmets with action cameras and bracelets used to automatically lock or unlock doors.

The platform is called Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices or WICED, and it is designed to simplify connectivity for the nascent market of wearable computing devices. With the addition of Wi-Fi Direct into the platform, WICED now also features standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, near-field communication (NFC) and location-sensing technology. Wi-Fi Direct allows two devices to talk to each other, directly and securely, without an intervening access point or a computer.

This week, Samsung confirmed rumors that it will be unveiling its Galaxy Gear smart watch on Sept. 4, and Apple and other major electronics companies are expected to follow with similar wrist-based devices in the coming months. But this is potentially only the first wave of powerful, small devices that individuals wear instead of carry or use on a desktop.

15 Million this Year

According to a report in January from Juniper Research, nearly 15 million wearable smart devices are expected to be sold this year, growing to almost 70 million by 2017. Many, like smart watches, will be designed as companion, subordinate pieces for other mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets.

Rahul Patel, Broadcom Vice President for Marketing in Wireless Connectivity Combos, said in a statement that "the value of the wearable device lies in its ability to connect to a smartphone or the Internet with minimal impact on battery life."

This dependence between a wearable device and a more powerful smartphone or tablet could grow less and less as the wearables become more powerful, including possibly, someday,...

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