Eyes Are on iPhone Sales for Apple Q4 Earnings

Apple is coming out with its fourth-quarter earnings report, which may be highlighted by an increase in iPhone sales, particularly as a result of Apple's new iPhone 5C and 5S, released last month.

The Q4 earnings and sales report will likely provide a clear picture of the smartphone marketplace and whether or not Apple's slightly cheaper iPhone 5C was a hit or not. Based upon early sales statistics, it is unlikely that the 5C will prove to be one of Apple's best-selling devices, but the report should provide a far better idea of how good or bad it really is.

Low Expectations

Despite coming out with two new smartphones, analysts seem doubtful when it comes to Apple's ability to increase its profits. Instead, the 47 analysts that have published research on Apple expect its profits to fall, compared with this time last year. These predictions are based upon an average earnings estimate of $7.92 a share.

However, it is not all bad news for Apple. The same analysts expect sales to rise by 2 percent, reaching $36.8 billion. The actual earnings report seems to be less interesting than the sales number and trajectory of the iPhone 5S and 5C. Both phones have sold well, but the 5C failed to take off in overseas countries, where analysts hoped it would become popular.

Since Apple's sales numbers are expected to increase this quarter, the company may end up having one of its strongest holiday quarters on record. While expectations for the report are low, next quarter is expected to be far stronger.

The 5C Conundrum

Perhaps the most important set of information expected to come out from Apple is the iPhone 5C's trajectory sales numbers. Although iPhone sales have increased as a whole, it is likely that the high-end iPhone 5S has had to pick up the 5C's slack,...

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Start-Up Claims Its AI Can Reliably Break CAPTCHAs

This week may mark the beginning of the end for the CAPTCHA, those intentionally-hard-to-read images that challenge you to prove you are a human and not a bot. An artificial-intelligence start-up claims to have developed technology that can accurately read CAPTCHAs 90 percent or more of the time.

CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, and it requires that you, who we currently assume is human, properly read and type the numbers or letters shown in a distorted image.

On Sunday, San Francisco-based start-up Vicarious said that its algorithms can "reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs," including ones from Google, Yahoo, PayPal, Capcha.com and others. If the claim is accurate, the sudden vulnerability of this anti-bot test could become a significant problem for countless logon-protected sites.

As High as 90 Percent

Vicarious said that a CAPTCHA can be considered broken if interpreting software has a precision of at least 1 percent, while the company said its success rate can be as high as 90 percent for Google's reCAPTCHA, which is the most widely used version. For each letter, the company claims 95 percent accuracy. A recent Microsoft Research paper said that no algorithms it had reviewed could reliably solve CAPTCHAs, even part of the time. Whether or not this potential leaves CAPTCHAs vulnerable to break-ins, Vicarious said its test results do mean that CAPTCHAs are no longer valid as Turing tests.

A Turing test, named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, is a computer-based test that is intended to tell the difference between a human or a computer program.

Vicarious co-founder D. Scott Phoenix said in a statement that modern artificial-intelligence systems like IBM's famed Watson and deep neural networks "rely on brute force," using massive computing power to work on massive data sets. By contrast, he said, Vicarious'...

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Salesforce.com Launches $1 Million Hackathon

Hackathons are making headlines these days but one cloud providerEUs contest is coming with the largest single hackathon bounty ever. Salesforce.com is turning heads with a $1 million #salesforcehack during its Dreamforce event.

HereEUs the deal: Developers will create the next killer mobile app on the Salesforce Platform for a chance to win a cool $1 million.

Salesforce has noticed a trend: with social networks rising -- and with the simultaneous proliferation of mobile devices -- developers are looking to capitalize on the potentially lucrative technology shift to create a new class of enterprise apps.

How Serious is Salesforce?

EUWeEUre in the midst of a mobile app renaissance,EU said Adam Seligman, vice president of Salesforce Platform developer and partner marketing. EUDevelopers are reinventing how business works, and how companies connect with their customers. With the Salesforce Platform, they have the proven mobile, social and cloud services to create exponentially more productive apps for the enterprise.EU

Developers have to be on site at Dreamforce to participate in the hackathon, so Salesforce is offering a $99 Hacker Pass that will give them access to a Developer Zone, as well as the main Dreamforce keynote. The deadline is Nov. 19. The winner will be announced at Dreamforce, Thursday, Nov. 21.

We caught up with Kevin O'Brien, Enterprise Solution Architect at information security firm CloudLock, to get his thoughts on the hackathon. He told us three key points are embedded in the announcement: Salesforce is serious about courting developers; the company wants mobile to be a key part of that; and the CRM provider is willing to work with development environments that are most relevant today -- such as Heroku, ExactTarget and Fuel -- in order to get there.

Attracting Force Multipliers

EUThe focus on mobility especially is a strong indicator of how the EUsocial enterpriseEU message of 2012 has evolved,...

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Salesforce.com Launches $1 Million Hackathon

Hackathons are making headlines these days but one cloud providerEUs contest is coming with the largest single hackathon bounty ever. Salesforce.com is turning heads with a $1 million #salesforcehack during its Dreamforce event.

HereEUs the deal: Developers will create the next killer mobile app on the Salesforce Platform for a chance to win a cool $1 million.

Salesforce has noticed a trend: with social networks rising -- and with the simultaneous proliferation of mobile devices -- developers are looking to capitalize on the potentially lucrative technology shift to create a new class of enterprise apps.

How Serious is Salesforce?

EUWeEUre in the midst of a mobile app renaissance,EU said Adam Seligman, vice president of Salesforce Platform developer and partner marketing. EUDevelopers are reinventing how business works, and how companies connect with their customers. With the Salesforce Platform, they have the proven mobile, social and cloud services to create exponentially more productive apps for the enterprise.EU

Developers have to be on site at Dreamforce to participate in the hackathon, so Salesforce is offering a $99 Hacker Pass that will give them access to a Developer Zone, as well as the main Dreamforce keynote. The deadline is Nov. 19. The winner will be announced at Dreamforce, Thursday, Nov. 21.

We caught up with Kevin O'Brien, Enterprise Solution Architect at information security firm CloudLock, to get his thoughts on the hackathon. He told us three key points are embedded in the announcement: Salesforce is serious about courting developers; the company wants mobile to be a key part of that; and the CRM provider is willing to work with development environments that are most relevant today -- such as Heroku, ExactTarget and Fuel -- in order to get there.

Attracting Force Multipliers

EUThe focus on mobility especially is a strong indicator of how the EUsocial enterpriseEU message of 2012 has evolved,...

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Europe May Act Against U.S. Over Spying

The European Union is considering taking action against the U.S. for cyberspying on its leaders, including suspending two-way trade talks designed to create a market that represents half the world economy.

France's President Francois Hollande has been pressing fellow heads of state to make the spying issue part of the agenda of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels today. French EU Commissioner Michel Barnier told the BBC on Thursday, "Enough is enough."

"We can't simply return to business as usual," German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

France and Germany called U.S. ambassadors into their government offices this week over news reports that the Obama administration tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and accessed phone records of 70 million French citizens.

Barnier says confidence in the U.S. has been shaken and, as commissioner for internal market and services, he suggested Europe develop its own digital tools such as a "European data cloud" independent of American oversight.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said Europe's undermined confidence in the USA meant it should suspend negotiations for a two-way free-trade agreement that would account for almost half of the global economy. The Americans, Schulz said, now must prove they can be trusted.

"If we go to the negotiations and we have the feeling those people with whom we negotiate know everything that we want to deal with in advance, how can we trust each other?" he said.

Ambassador John Emerson was asked Thursday to meet with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle after Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the chancellor spoke Wednesday with President Obama about the spying reports.

In France, Ambassador Charles Rivkin was summoned to meet with French officials after the newspaper Le Monde reported that the National Security Agency program to sweep up phone transactions (but not listen to the conversations) collected records...

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Europe May Act Against U.S. Over Spying

The European Union is considering taking action against the U.S. for cyberspying on its leaders, including suspending two-way trade talks designed to create a market that represents half the world economy.

France's President Francois Hollande has been pressing fellow heads of state to make the spying issue part of the agenda of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels today. French EU Commissioner Michel Barnier told the BBC on Thursday, "Enough is enough."

"We can't simply return to business as usual," German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

France and Germany called U.S. ambassadors into their government offices this week over news reports that the Obama administration tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and accessed phone records of 70 million French citizens.

Barnier says confidence in the U.S. has been shaken and, as commissioner for internal market and services, he suggested Europe develop its own digital tools such as a "European data cloud" independent of American oversight.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said Europe's undermined confidence in the USA meant it should suspend negotiations for a two-way free-trade agreement that would account for almost half of the global economy. The Americans, Schulz said, now must prove they can be trusted.

"If we go to the negotiations and we have the feeling those people with whom we negotiate know everything that we want to deal with in advance, how can we trust each other?" he said.

Ambassador John Emerson was asked Thursday to meet with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle after Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the chancellor spoke Wednesday with President Obama about the spying reports.

In France, Ambassador Charles Rivkin was summoned to meet with French officials after the newspaper Le Monde reported that the National Security Agency program to sweep up phone transactions (but not listen to the conversations) collected records...

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Learning from Facebook, Twitter Preps for Cautious IPO

Twitter has set a price range of $17 to $20 per share share for its initial public offering and says it could raise as much as $1.6 billion in the process. The pricing is relatively conservative considering that Twitter is poised to pull off the year's hottest IPO.

Twitter Inc. said in a regulatory filing Thursday that it will put forth 70 million shares in the offering. If all the shares are sold, the underwriters can buy another 10.5 million shares.

At the $20 share price, Twitter's market value would be around $12.5 billion, roughly one-tenth of Facebook's current valuation. Twitter's value is based on 625.2 million outstanding shares expected after the offering, including restricted stock units and stock options.

The San Francisco-based short-messaging service plans to list its stock under the ticker symbol "TWTR" on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares will likely start trading in early November. Twitter will begin its IPO "roadshow" as early as Friday, meeting with prospective investors to pitch its stock.

The company's valuation is conservative. Some analysts had expected the figure to be as high as $20 billion. Back in August Twitter priced some of its employee stock options at $20.62, based on an appraisal by an investment firm.

Other publicly traded companies in the $12 billion range include tool maker Stanley Black & Decker and pharmaceutical company Forest Laboratories. LinkedIn Corp., meanwhile, stands around $27 billion based on its closing stock price Thursday.

Twitter's caution suggests that the company learned from Facebook's rocky initial public offering last year. Rather than set expectations too high, Twitter is playing it safe and will very likely raise its price range closer to the IPO, and thus fuel demand.

Facebook's IPO was marred by technical glitches on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in May of 2012. As a result, the Securities and Exchange...

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Advise Cyberbully Victims To Get Help, It Can Save a Life

Sarah Ball was a 15-year-old high school sophomore at Hernando High School in Brooksville, Fla., when a friend posted on Facebook: "I hate Sarah Ball, and I don't care who knows."

Then there was the Facebook group "Hernando Haters" asking to rate her attractiveness, plus an anonymous email calling her a "waste of space." And this text arrived on her 16th birthday: "Wow, you're still alive? Impressive. Well happy birthday anyway."

It wasn't until Sarah's mom, who had access to her daughter's online passwords, saw the messages that the girl told her everything.

More young people are reaching out to family members after being harassed or taunted online, and it's helping. A poll released Thursday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV found incidents of "digital abuse" are still prevalent but declining somewhat. It found a growing awareness among teenagers and young adults about harm from online meanness and cyberbullying, as well as a slight increase among those willing to tell a parent or sibling.

"It was actually quite embarrassing, to be honest," remembers Ball, now an 18-year-old college freshman. But "really, truly, if it wasn't for my parents, I don't think I'd be where I'm at today."

The survey's findings come a week after two Florida girls, ages 12 and 14, were arrested on felony charges for allegedly bullying online a 12-year-old girl who later killed herself by jumping off a tower at an abandoned concrete plant.

The AP-NORC/MTV poll found that some 49 percent of young people ages 14 through 24 in the U.S. said they have had at least one brush with some kind of electronic harassment, down from about 56 percent in 2011. Of those who have encountered an incident, 34 percent went to a parent, compared with 27 percent just two years ago. And 18 percent --...

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OS X Mavericks Brings More Grief for Apple

AppleEUs OS X Mavericks version of its operating system for Mac computers is being adopted at a record pace. But there are also reports of a variety of issues, including problems with installation, the Mail app, and multiple monitors.

In just the first 24 hours of its availability, Mavericks version 10.9 accounted for 5.5 percent of all Mac-based Web traffic in the U.S. and Canada, according to ad network Chitika. The OS was released on Tuesday, and that traffic volume, if accurate, is more than three times the 1.6 percent of traffic recorded for Mountain Lion during its first 24 hours.

A key reason for the high adoption, of course, could well be this versionEUs price: free. Although the Mountain Lion update was only $19.99, any price tag is more of a hurdle than none.

Incomplete Downloads

Throughout the Web, there are reports of various installation problems, including incomplete downloads, hard disk errors, and installations that get hung up.

When downloading the OS, one circulating suggestion is to try again if thereEUs a problem, because of the high level of traffic. For hard disk errors, hold down Command-R immediately after the chime when the Mac is starting up. This will reboot the OS X recovery partition, after which Disk Utility can be run to undertake a disk repair routine on the main boot drive. Any errors can then be fixed, followed by a normal restart and resumption of the installation.

For installations that get hung up, wait about an hour to see if the installation resumes. If not, quit the installer or force-quit it, then reboot and try again.

There have also been reports of problems involving the Mavericks Mail app and GoogleEUs Gmail. One such issue is that the Mail app cannot delete or does not show messages in the Inbox. Some users have...

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NSA Website Attacked, Knocked Offline

Update Saturday, October 26 PM: The NSA site is finally back online. While there was no mention of the attack, the top story featured on the NSA site is, ironically, "General Alexander Statement Regarding Cybersecurity Awareness Month."

Original Report Follows:

The U.S. National Security Agency's website, nsa.gov, was knocked offline Friday afternoon, and as of Friday evening, it was still unavailable. Only a browser message indicating that the server was not responding appeared.

Sources quoted by various news agencies have speculated that the site has apparently fallen victim to a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack, and that it was believed that the hacker group Anonymous would claim responsibility. However, as of the time of publication of this report, the group has not claimed responsibility.

DDoS Attacks Still Unstoppable

DDoS attacks are those in which data is sent to a particular server from many clients, with the goal of overwhelming or flooding the server with data and requests. In this manner, the server then becomes too busy to deliver its normal response, such as serving the requested Web page.

In many DDoS attacks, the multitude of requests are sent from computers which have been taken over by hackers through viruses that lie dormant on the computers of unsuspecting users. When the hackers EUactivateEU the viruses and other malware, the usersEU computers send the malicious requests to the target server -- in this case, that of the NSA.

Although DDoS attacks have been common for almost two decades, computer experts have been largely unable to prevent those attacks because they are unable to distinguish between legitimate Web traffic and malicious attack requests.

White House Denies NSA Spying

The NSA has recently come under fire for its electronic eavesdropping on millions of Americans, as well as citizens and even politicians of foreign countries, including U.S. allies like the U.K., France, and Germany. The...

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