A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the .cn domain slowed and blocked Internet access in the region over the weekend. According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the attack was the largest the agency had ever experienced. The domain was hit at least twice, beginning in the early morning hours and again at around 4 a.m. local time. The CNNIC apologized for the inconvenience and said it was working to protect the network. According to an April report from Verizon, approximately 96 percent of the 2012 cyber-espionage cases traced to China.
After 33 years at the company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months. Until a successor is chosen, Ballmer will continue as CEO, the company said this morning. "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer, 57, said in a statement. "We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing senior leadership team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."
Facebook has now topped 1 billion users, and its greatest hope for continued growth is emerging markets, but what if people in those regions don't actually have access to the Web? Enter Internet.org, a new organization spearheaded by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg that seeks to increase access to the Web, and bring the Internet "to the next 5 billion people." At this point, 2.7 billion people - about one-third of the world's population - have access to the Internet. Internet.org is still in its early stages, but Zuckerberg said the group will focus on three key challenges in developing countries: making access affordable; using data more efficiently; and helping businesses drive access. Not surprisingly, cost is a major factor in Internet deployment. In addition to paying for network deployment, many people can't afford a data plan once that Internet service actually reaches them.
Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) is discounting its all-electric RAV4 through low-cost lease and loan offers to boost demand for the slow-selling compact crossover that's powered by a Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) battery pack and motor. Toyota, the world's biggest maker of hybrid autos, this month is promoting the option of a $299-a-month, three-year lease for the $49,800 light truck, or a 60-month, no-interest loan, said Carly Schaffner, a company spokeswoman. The offers run through Sept. 3 and are available only in the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions, the vehicle's main markets. Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co. (GM) similarly have turned to discounted leases to buoy their rechargeable models. Toyota last year said it would sell 2,600 RAV4 EVs by the end of 2014. Through July, just 709 have been sold since sales began last September.
Amazon Web Services had some difficulty over the weekend, which trickled down to affect popular apps like Instagram and Vine. On Sunday afternoon, Amazon's status dashboardreported "degraded performance" for its EC2 Web service in Northern Virginia, as well as "connectivity issues for load balancers" via Amazon's Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), also in Northern Virginia. The problems lasted about an hour. By 3:30 p.m. PT, Amazon reported that the problems were caused by "a 'grey' partial failure with a networking device" that resulted in packet loss. "The networking device was removed from service and we are performing a forensic investigation to understand how it failed," Amazon said. Normal service was restored by about 6 p.m. PT.
Fingerprint sensing technology may be expected with the next-generation Microsoft tablets, the Surface 2 and Pro 2. "When the user picks up their device in a specific manner, their analyzed and verified fingerprints will be able to instantly unlock their device without any other security measure required," Patent Bolt reports. Fingerprint sensors would allow the controlling of playing games, ebook reading, and other features. Apple has been reportedly been working on the same technology for the new iPhne 5S, iPhone 6. Microsoft has not officially revealed the release date for the Surface 2, but reports involving the recent price cuts are hinting that a new model will be released soon. Experts predict that stars will align for the "Surface 2," "Pro 2," and Windows 8.1 release.
Google (GOOG) is weighing building its own line of self-driving cars independent of the automakers, according to new report by Amir Efrati on JessicaLessin.com. Efrati doesn't name his sources, but he's a veteran Google reporter formerly of theWall Street Journal so I have little reason to doubt them. But it does raise an interesting question: Can a tech company-even one with the resources and innovation drive of Google-build an automobile from scratch? First, the details of the report: Efrati's sources said Google is making no headway with the entrenched automakers over partnerships to build self-driving vehicles. So it's opted to go around them, talking to auto-components designers Continental(CTTAY) and Magna International (MGA) about having them build cars to Google's design. (German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine also reported Continental has struck a deal with both Google and IBM (IBM).) Efrati's report added that Google might use these cars as part of a "robo-taxi" service that prowls cities picking up passengers on demand.
GameStop (GME), having survived a brutal nine quarters without much in the way of new video game products on aging platforms, is about to power up on two new video game consoles and two major releases from popular franchises. The Texas-based retailer expects a major boost from the fourth iteration of Sony's(SNE) PlayStation, due in mid-November, and Microsoft's (MSFT) new Xbox One, expected to hit shelves around the same time. Before the next-generation devices arrive, there's likely to be a final retail hurrah for new games on the old machines as the hit franchises Grand Theft Auto 5 and Battlefield 4 hit the shelves over the next two months.
There are 3,200 utilities that make up the U.S. electrical grid, the largest machine in the world. These power companies sell $400 billion worth of electricity a year, mostly derived from burning fossil fuels in centralized stations and distributed over 2.7 million miles of power lines. Regulators set rates; utilities get guaranteed returns; investors get sure-thing dividends. It's a model that hasn't changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. And it's doomed to obsolescence. That's the opinion of David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, a wholesale power company based in Princeton, N.J. What's afoot is a confluence of green energy and computer technology, deregulation, cheap natural gas, and political pressure that, as Crane starkly frames it, poses "a mortal threat to the existing utility system." He says that in about the time it has taken cell phones to supplant land lines in most U.S. homes, the grid will become increasingly irrelevant as customers move toward decentralized homegrown green energy. Rooftop solar, in particular, is turning tens of thousands of businesses and households into power producers. Such distributed generation, to use the industry's term for power produced outside the grid, is certain to grow.
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