Social media takes a hit, Microsoft fears Linux

While some parts of the world are enjoying summer, a season usually marked by a lack of major news, this week offered some interesting developments nevertheless. Twitter spent the back end of the week fighting off a DOS (denial of service) attack that also targeted fellow social-media site Facebook. Apple and Google realized that they are becoming competitors, leading Google's CEO to resign from Apple's board. And in security news, the Defcon hacker meeting produced stories that belong in a James Bond movie.

1. Twitter taken down by denial-of-service attack, Facebook confirms DOS attack same day as Twitter and Twitter Still Struggling to Recover From DOS Attack·: Social media sites Facebook and Twitter took a beating this week after both were subjected to a DOS attack. Twitter was down for two hours on Thursday and still suffered from the attacks on Friday. Facebook reported that people had trouble accessing the site on Thursday, but resolved the situation late that morning Pacific Time. A blogger from Georgia claimed that the Russian government sponsored the attacks in an effort to silence him for speaking out against the country's handling of Georgia. While Twitter was mum on the attacks' motivation, a Facebook spokeswoman said they were directed at an "activist blogger" -- possibly the Georgia advocate -- rather than the sites themselves.

2. Google CEO steps down from Apple board: Google and Apple experienced a parting of ways Monday when Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple's board. Schmidt and Apple executive Steve Jobs reached the decision mutually, Apple said. Google's advances into the OS and mobile-phone spaces move it closer to Apple's main businesses, decreasing Schmidt's effectiveness on the board, Jobs said. Schmidt had been on the Apple board since August 2006.

3. Yahoo filing reveals more details of Microsoft deal: A filing from Yahoo revealed information on its recent search deal with Microsoft. Yahoo will receive US$50 million a year from Microsoft for three years, according to a document submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Other interesting bits from the filing include how Microsoft and Yahoo can opt out of the deal. In one such exit move, Yahoo can pull out if average revenue per search flounders compared to Google's average revenue per search.

4. Microsoft acknowledges Linux threat to Windows: Another SEC filing confirmed that Microsoft sees Linux as a threat to its Windows OS, something Microsoft executives had made pretty clear already through various public proclamations. Microsoft obliquely referenced the use of Linux in netbooks as a cause for concern. Manufacturers are looking to lower costs in emerging markets where "new, lower-price PC form-factors" are becoming popular, and Linux has gained some traction as a viable OS for these machines, Microsoft said in the filing.

5. Fake ATM doesn't last long at hacker meet, Defense Department eyes hacker con for new recruits and Korean 'journalists' booted from Defcon: Intelligence-gathering operations, government recruitment of hackers and data-stealing cash machines may sound like the stuff of spy novels but in fact were part of the fun at this week's Defcon hacker conference. Show organizers kicked out three South Korean "journalists" after the trio raised suspicions by asking too-detailed questions. A U.S. Air Force colonel attended the conference to recruit candidates for government jobs, saying Defcon's character has shifted away from malicious hackers. And an effort to pilfer bank information with a fake cash machine failed. An attendee thought that the machine, placed in the hotel hosting the event, looked suspicious and, after examining it, discovered that its card reader skimmed bank card numbers.

6. Enterprise app stores still need some work: While Apple has mastered selling software from an application store, don't expect to see this trend enter the enterprise space any time soon, said industry observers. Some cited the need to integrate enterprise applications into business systems as a challenge to a one-stop app shop. Another said that businesses need an application store that offers a variety of products from assorted vendors, not individual, walled stores managed by separate companies.

7. Venture capital industry hasn't hit bottom yet, says longtime VC: A seasoned venture capitalist predicted that the market for seed money has yet to hit bottom. Michael Fitzgerald, who has more than 20 years of investing experience, said the single-digit returns on investments that venture capitalists are experiencing make them reluctant to fund new companies. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association supported that belief, claiming that during the first two quarters of 2009, venture capital investments dwindled to their 1996 and 1997 levels. However, the study predicted an increase in funding levels for the remainder of the year.

8. Android moves into home entertainment: Google's Android OS may power consumer electronics as well as smartphones and netbooks. On Monday MIPS Technologies released Android source code that allows people to create Android applications for devices that use the company's processors. MIPS technology is found in assorted home entertainment devices such as Sony DVD players and Linksys broadband routers.

9. Chinese teen beaten to death at Internet addict camp: Counselors at a Chinese camp for Internet addiction allegedly beat a teenage camper to death, according to state media. The 15-year-old boy's father told a Chinese newspaper that camp staff placed the boy in solitary confinement, chastised him for running slowly and eventually beat him until he died. Physical activities are a staple of these camps, which the government funds to wean children off what leaders label as Internet usage that harms families and school performance.

10. Microsoft to charge Office Live customers domain-renewal fee: Some small businesses using Microsoft's Office Live Small Business service will have to pay to renew Web domains they acquired through the service. The charge affects customers who enrolled in the service before last February. Customers who signed up for the service after that date were charged an annual fee of $14.95. Microsoft said that the charge was necessary to compete with other businesses offering similar services.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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