Google Miffs Admins, IT Boosts Street

Google annoyed administrators when it made changes to Google Apps "Start" portal pages without letting them know it was updating layout and functionality of those pages. Some administrators reported at a discussion forum that they were swamped with angry calls from end users who couldn't access Gmail accounts. On a slightly brighter note, Google reported solid quarterly earnings, as did IBM and Intel, but there's plenty of room for concern about the current quarter and coming quarters. Meanwhile, Mozilla continues work on its mobile browser, code-named Fennec, which was released in alpha this week for use on Nokia Internet tablets.

1. Google Apps portal pages malfunctioning: Google Apps "Start" portal pages have become malfunction junctions for some administrators, who complained over two days this week at discussion forums that changes Google made to those pages are making their working lives miserable. The company apparently updated layout and functionality of those pages without telling admins what they were about to do, leading end users to flood administrators with complaints and issues, including not being able to access Gmail.

2. Wall Street Beat: IT earnings mixed, but offer some relief: This was a big week for IT companies to report quarterly earnings, including bellwethers IBM, Google and Intel. IBM and Google reported strong earnings, with Intel also reporting a net-income rise, but noting that current-quarter sales are slack, which at best suggests a weak holiday season is coming and at worst would mean a decline in results compared to the same quarter a year ago. If the worst transpires, it will be the first such decline for Intel since 2000.

3. Mozilla offers alpha version of mobile browser for N810: An alpha version of Mozilla's mobile browser, code-named Fennec, was released for Nokia's Internet tablets, marking the first public release of the software. Mozilla hopes the release will bring in feedback leading to the next step in its browser road map, which is "optimizing for performance," according to Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's vice president for mobile.

4. FBI says Dark Market sting netted 56 arrests: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with other law enforcement agencies in the U.K., Turkey and Germany, infiltrated online "carder" forums hosted at the now shut-down DarkMarket.ws site and seized compromised accounts and prevented about US$70 million in fraud. The two-year undercover investigation also led to the arrests of 56 alleged online fraudsters.

5. E-voting report: Several states still vulnerable: E-voting systems will fail on Election Day, Nov. 4, somewhere in the U.S., with multiple states that use such systems ill-prepared for the upcoming election, according to a report from three voting-rights advocacy groups. While the report noted that there have been improvements in e-voting systems and election preparations since the last presidential race in 2004, it also found that some states still have not taken even the most basic precautions against technical problems and fraud.

6. Microsoft mulling 'instant on' feature for Windows: Microsoft confirmed it is thinking about adding into its Windows client OS a function that would let users have limited access to the OS so that they could turn on their PCs quickly. The company surveyed users about that function and screenshots of the survey wound up on the Engadget blog. Microsoft won't yet offer specific comments about "instant on," but a good guess is that it is contemplating that addition for Windows 7, which is expected out late next year or early in 2010.

7. With eyes on Atom, AMD to detail netbook strategy next month: Advanced Micro Devices will provide its product roadmap for netbooks at an analyst meeting scheduled for Nov. 13. Netbooks are small, inexpensive laptops that have taken the market by storm, fueled by Intel's low-cost Atom processor. AMD hasn't been competitive with Intel in that area yet, but promises it soon will be.

8. Cybersecurity threats grow in sophistication, subtlety and power: Malware, botnets, cyber warfare, threats to VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) and mobile devices, along with an "evolving cybercrime economy" mean that online threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the Georgia Tech Information Security Center said in an annual threat report. Criminals have figured out ways to make such online threats more subtle and they continue to gain in ability to exploit changes on the Web, including increased use of social-network sites, the GTISC found.

9. First look: Macbook and Macbook Pro: As expected, Apple showed off updates to its laptop lines this week, with a new Macbook and Macbook Pro. Macworld has been checking out the new laptops and offers some thoughts on how they stack up.

10. Microsoft: 'No interest' in pursuing Yahoo deal: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stirred things up -- as he is prone to do -- when he reportedly said at a Gartner conference that it still makes economic sense for shareholders of both companies for Microsoft to buy Yahoo. His company responded by issuing a statement saying it has "no interest in acquiring Yahoo." Investors responded by giving Yahoo's share price a boost.

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