December 28, 2006
HD DVD DRM Cracked? So Soon?
Reports are hitting the press that an enterprising hacker has cracked the Advanced Access Content System DRM for HD DVD high definition discs. He was annoyed that he couldn't play his video on his computer even though he had the drive and monitor. The video card was the culprit that stopped playback. Muslix64, as the guy is known, gave himself four weeks to break the DRM. It took him eight days and he couldn't believe how easy it was.
It can't please Hollywood that the code was broken so fast. All the effort that went into creating a hard-to-crack anti-piracy system may be for naught, especially given the experience with programs that rip protected standard DVDs. That's the problem, though. As long as there is a legitimate way to play back content there is likely going to be a way to modify or bypass those controls. Is a hack for Blu-Ray that far behind?
December 26, 2006
Google Tops Yahoo in Visits, and a New Entrant Comes to Search
Google became the second most visited web site in November, beating out Yahoo for the first time in that distinction. The numbers from ComScore show that Google had 475.7 million visitors to Yahoo's 475.7 million visitors. Microsoft remains on top with 501.7 million visitors. That should go over big with Yahoo stockholders and Wall Street analysts. The story is in the Daily Tech.
And speaking of Google and Yahoo, another player is about to enter the search engine wars. Jimmy Wales is about to launch a new search engine in partnership with Amazon called Wikiasari. The concept is to add a human element to ranking search results. We'll see.
Since we're talking about rankings and visits, the top ten search providers for November show that Google is still on top with 49.5% of searches with 3,097,838 hits and a growth of 31%. Yahoo comes in second at 1,518,249 searches and growth of 27%. MSN/Windows Live Search rounds out the top three with 515,526 searches and a growth of -12%. We'll be eagerly awaiting the relaunch of Windows Live search in 2007 in spite of Vista's default search settings, and again in 2008, and 2009, etc.
Vista Flaws Already?
It's typically a slow time for tech around the Christmas - New Year's week. However, with consumer Vista just around the corner after the release of the corporate version, the New York Times is reporting "potentially serious flaws" has been discovered in the code. Microsoft is riding this OS as the most secure ever. Compared to all the others, it likely is, but that doesn't mean it's perfect.
The flaws in question can elevate a user's privileges on target machines making it possible for hackers to take control of a target machine. This combined with another discovered flaw in Internet Explorer 7 makes it possible to get past the controls that block a compromised browser from infecting the rest of the machine.
A Russian programmer described these flaws on December 15th. They affect all versions of Windows including Vista. Microsoft is investigating and making cautious statements about the discovery. Can we expect critical security fixes even before the software is officially released?