? All Tech Radio Episode 367
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  • A new form of state-sponsored malware is making the rounds, this one aimed specifically at spying on its victims. Dubbed "MiniFlame" by Kapersky Lab, but also known as SPE, the new malware variant is similar to the Flame virus that targeted computers in the Middle East this past summer. But MiniFlame is a cyber espionage program that can take over where Flame leaves off. The developers of MiniFlame may have started their work as early as 2007, according to Kaspersky, and continued until the end of last year. Six variants of the new virus have been discovered, though there are likely more. So far the infection rate is low, especially when compared with Gauss and Flame. Only 50 to 60 computers worldwide are estimated to be infected with MiniFlame. But these types of attacks are less focused on quantity and more on hitting specific targets. "MiniFlame is a high precision attack tool. Most likely it is a targeted cyberweapon used in what can be defined as the second wave of a cyberattack," Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert for Kaspersky Lab, said in a statement. "The discovery of miniFlame also gives us additional evidence of the cooperation between the creators of the most notable malicious programs used for cyber warfare operations: Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame, and Gauss."
  • In addition to a smaller iPad, Apple also reportedly plans to unveil a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display at a media event next week. People familiar with the company's plans told John Paczkowski of AllThingsD that Apple will debut the redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro at an Oct. 23 media event. The notebook will feature the "same thin chassis, all-flash storage, and a 2,560-by-1,600 pixel density display." Pricing on the new MacBook Pro remains unknown. The current 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Retina display starts at $1,199. The redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was launched by Apple in June. It takes many cues from the popular MacBook Air lineup, including flash-only storage and the lack of an optical disc drive.
  • Will college be totally free in ten years? It depends on who you believe. Billionaire Vivek Wadhwa's views are less well known, even though he served as a counter-point interview last May on a 60 Minutes segment featuring Peter Thiel. Wadhwa has unwavering faith in the power of technology to fix much of what is wrong with the world, and he believes that online courses will revolutionize higher education and cut the cost to near zero for most students over the next decade. He claims that teachers positions will be converted to mentors that guide students to success but teaching is done totally online.
  • Microsoft's first TV spot for Windows 8 started running this weekend. The new operating system, which features a brand new touch-friendly interface instead of the traditional Start menu, will launch on October 26. Some people see this as the end of Apple's dominance in the tablet business while others say it doesn't measure up. The most appealing thing about it is the fact the same operating system will work on phones tablets and PCs. Apple has a different operating system for phones and computers making it a less than homogenous experience.
  • We've known for months that Microsoft was bringing a version of Microsoft Office 2013 to Android tablets and Apple's iPad family. Now, according to the Czech tech news site, IHNED, Microsoft product manager Petr Bobek has said that Microsoft is planning to release native iOS and Android versions of Office 2013 in the first quarter of 2013Bobek, a Microsoft Office portfolio manager in the Czech Republic, said that these new versions of Office will be available to larger companies and Microsoft partners In December 2012. small-office/home-office (SOHO) and household users will have to wait until at least February. The online version of Office 365 edition for mobile devices and tablets will appear in early 2013.
  • In the fast-growing and cut-throat mobile world, Intel is struggling - its market share is less than 1 per cent of smartphones, trailing Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, ARM Holdings Plc and others. That leaves some investors, already concerned about a lackluster global economy, asking if Intel's invincibility has come to an end, and whether its profit and revenue growth potential may become much more ordinary. When the company reports third-quarter results on Tuesday, one key figure to watch is gross margin, which analysts forecast at 62 per cent. While that is still the envy of smaller chipmakers, it has been declining from a record 67.5 per cent in late 2010, a trend analysts expect to continue.
  • New statistics from the creator of League of Legends (and a variety of industry sources) indicate that the free multiplayer PC real-time strategy game had an average of 3 million concurrent online users in July, besting the entire combined total peak player count for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox 360 (1.4 million) and people playing the top 100 games on Steam (650,000). Riot Games, developer of League, also noted in an infographic that the game usually sees an average of 12 million players a day, with about 32 million active players logging in every month. Just for reference, when World of Warcraft sat at the top, it had about 12 million subscribers total.
  • Activision is ditching the subscription portion of its online service Call of Duty Elite and making it available for free in its upcoming video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Early downloads of map packs and other content originally tied to an Elite subscription will now launch as $15 individual packages or as part of a $50 Season Pass featuring four downloads. Like previous years, Black Ops II downloads will appear on Xbox 360 first before launching on the PC and PlayStation 3. "We've learned a lot in our first year of Call of Duty Elite, and we're very proud that we over delivered on our commitment of playable content to our premium members," said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg in a statement. "What we have realized is that several of the Call of Duty Elite services which are currently only available to our premium members for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 are things that would further unite, engage and delight our player community. So we are going to make them free for Call of Duty: Black Ops II."
  • With its latest model, Apple has finally fixed the iPod nano. The 5th- and 6th-generation MP3 players were a radical rethink that didn't work all that well; Apple tossed the click wheel design that the first four nano generations used, and replaced it with a tiny, square screen that was too small to view or control comfortably. The 7th-generation nano ($149 direct, 16GB) fixes this problem with another full-scale redesign that includes a larger, sharper touch screen. It's also feather light, yet sturdy feeling, has an improved interface, and comes with better-sounding Apple EarPods
  • AT&T could very well be the first Internet service provider to begin what is being called the "six strikes" anti-piracy campaign. Last year, a new entity called the Center for Copyright Information was formed. The CCI teamed up with what is believed to be every major service provider, including AT&T, to develop a new six-stage system. About 75% of all online users are represented by the ISPs involved. The program, officially called the Copyright Alert Sysem, is being touted as an "educational" platform with the mindset that a lot of online piracy offenders may not realize what they're doing is illegal, or if they do they might not realize the risk and implications of the process. Internal training documents from AT&T show the company is really getting ready to start its version of this program. In the alleged documents, it writes, "In an effort to assist content owners with combating on-line piracy, AT&T will be sending alert e-mails to customers who are identified as having been downloading copyrighted content without authorization from the copyright owner. The reports are made by the content owners and are of IP-addresses that are associated with copyright-infringing activities."

email from listeners:

  • Kate from Beaverton asks "Is Windows 8 going to be a closed operating system where they provide applications only through an app store like Apple?"