Business

Money Meltdown, Ozzie's Cloud, Security Worries

At least those of us who are fans of professional baseball have the playoffs to take our minds off the grim news this week (at least that's the case for fans of the teams that are winning). The U.S. financial system meltdown smacked world markets and set off a whole lot of worry, which tended to overshadow all the other news.

1. The IT worker's Wall Street meltdown worry list and bailout roundup: It seems we've all had more questions than answers in recent weeks about the U.S. financial crisis and slumping global economy. Which financial institutions will melt down next? What will be the effect on the IT industry? Is our money safe? What about our jobs? Answers to such questions as well as a roundup of related news, including numerous stories regarding the likely fallout for IT, can be found at this story link.

2. Vendors fixing bug that could crash Internet systems: Patches are being developed for a set of security flaws that could be exploited to easily knock servers offline. Technical details of the flaws have not been publicly released, but experts who uncovered them have said the vulnerabilities can knock offline Windows, Linux, firewalls and embedded systems using a denial-of-service attack. In other security news ...

3.. Researcher finds evidence of massive site compromise: Criminal gangs have obtained administrative log-in credentials for more than -- sit down -- 200,000 Web sites and have launched attacks from those domains using a hacker exploit kit, according to Ian Amit, director of security research at Aladdin Knowledge Systems. He infiltrated a server of a customer of Neosploit, a hacker tool kit used to carry out exploits on browsers and Web software, and discovered that several hacker groups have contributed to an enormous pool of usernames and passwords for sites.

4. Microsoft will float cloud OS this month: Microsoft will debut its secretive "Cloud OS" project led by Ray Ozzie at its Professional Developers Conference later this month. Developers will see the APIs (application programming interfaces) and services that are part of the cloud-based application platform, which is code-named Red Dog.

5. Nokia takes aim at Apple with touch-screen phone: Nokia showed off its first touch-screen phone, the 5800 Xpress Music, which will be released by the end of the year. The phone looks a lot like an iPhone and is expected to offer competition for the popular Apple smartphones. Nokia's touch-screen phone runs on Symbian's Series 60 OS, which the Finnish company said it has modified so that it's more user-friendly.

6. Facebook boycott called as millions blast new design: A group of Facebook users is calling for a two-day boycott of the social-networking site on the weekend of Oct. 18-19 to protest its new design. Despite the unwieldy name "1,000,000 against the new Facebook layout," the group had attracted nearly 2.7 million people by early in the week. The groups "Petition Against the New Facebook" and the more direct "I hate the new Facebook" had 1.6 million and 1.5 million supporters, respectively. The groups undoubtedly have some overlap, but even so that's a lot of unhappy people.

7. Google proposes $4.4 trillion clean energy plan: Google doesn't have enough on its corporate plate -- the company now aims to decrease U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and push the move to alternative forms of energy as part of a -- gasp! -- $4.4 trillion plan it says will lead to enormous financial savings by 2030 and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 48 percent. Clean Energy 2030 is meant to spur debate about environmental issues, according to Google. "With a new Administration and Congress -- and multiple energy-related imperatives -- this is an opportune, perhaps unprecedented, moment to move from plan to action," the company said.

8. Report: SEC investigating false Steve Jobs heart attack rumor: A few weeks back Bloomberg accidentally posted an obituary for Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- news organizations often have obits of notable people written in advance of them actually dying -- and his health was again the subject of a false report, this time from a "citizen journalist" posting on CNN's iReport that Jobs had suffered a heart attack. In this age of Internet scoops and the ever-expanding blogosphere, the news network has made prevalent use of citizen reports, as opposed to those reported and written by professional journalists. The heart-attack report is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Bloomberg News. The SEC wants to know whether it was a prank or an attempt to drive down Apple's share price, which dropped within minutes of the report hitting the Web and then regained ground.

9. For Microsoft shops, Silverlight 2.0 trumps Flash: Silverlight 2.0 will be released within the next few weeks and is expected to provide developers and Web designers with the first serious alternative to Adobe's popular Flash technology for creating rich Internet applications. While Flash will continue to have plenty of support and has the advantage of being an established, much-used technology, more developers and designers will be drawn to Silverlight with the new release.

10. 22 signs you're a geek: OK, so we know there had to be other stories that were more "Top 10" than this one, but given what a rocky week it felt like with all the worry and uncertainty, we reckon we could all stand some levity. Not to mention a bit more certainty about at least one subject. And what better subject for our audience than determining our geek status? Check out the 22 traits and see if you qualify for inclusion in Geekdom.

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