Category Archives: Tech News

Did Vinay Deolalikar Just Solved One of Computer Science’s Most Complex Problems?

Vinay Deolalikar is the principal research scientist over at HP Labs and has recently claimed to have solved one of the most complex problems of Computer Science. The problem is actually so complex that Clay Mathematics Institute had announced a $1 Million prize award for whoever solves the problem. Whether Vinay would get the money or not will be decided once the institute can verify Vinay’s solution.

The problem that Vinay has tried to solve is called the P vs NP problem and deals with the existence of questions that can be answered quickly but require an impossibly long amount of time to be solved by any direct procedure. The complete details of the problem can be found here. As a result of his research, Vinay claims he has found proof that P is not equal to NP, meaning that an NP (nondeterministic polynomial time) problem can only be solved by brute force. The complete paper offered by Vinay can be accessed here.

Many scientists from around the world have expressed appreciation for Vinay’s effort but no body has started  celebrating  just yet. They all explained that Vinay’s proof and logic would have to be tested extensively before it can be claimed accurate.

Vinay has a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from University of Southern California. Vinay routinely gives lectures on Algebraic Geometry and Number Theory at Stanford University.

[Via NetworkWorld]

Skype Files for IPO, Aims to Raise $100 Million

Skype

Skype has filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with the SEC today. The Luxembourg based company will be offering American Depository Shares and will trade on NASDAQ.

It aims to raise about $100 million through the IPO. The IPO will be managed by Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley. The initial price band or the number of shares on offer haven’t been revealed yet.

A 65% stake of Skype was sold to private investors by eBay last year at a $2.75 billion valuation. It is fast turning profitable and had revenues of $406 million in the first half of 2010 with a net income of close to $13 million. It has 124 million monthly active users with 8.1 million of them paying to use the service.

Source: Skype SEC Filing

Mozilla Plans to Enable Silent Update Mode in Firefox4

So Firefox is going the Chrome way and planning to enable silent updates for Firefox4 users? This feature is not live yet for the latest version of Firefox but you may expect the addition anytime soon.

Silent updates mean that the browser will automatically check for newer updates and install them when you are not running the latest version of Firefox. Thus, the user will not be asked whether he wants to upgrade to the latest version or not.

Firefox 4 Silent Updates

The silent updates will only be available for Windows, confirms Alex Faaborg (one of the designers of Firefox 4)

Alex adds “Firefox 4 will use the update dialog box for versions 4 and above, users will see the updating bar on load. The updates could also be applied in the background. Firefox wants to leave the final decision to the user and let him choose whether or not he wants to auto install updates, unlike Google Chrome. If you choose the auto updates setup, updates will be rolled in the background”. You can read the entire discussion at the Mozilla dev apps forum.

A Google engineer argues on a report (PDF) that any software publisher should enable silent upgrades in the background. This is to ensure that more users are running the latest version which will consequently keep them safe from malicious attacks.

The report shows a statistic that 97% of Chrome users were running the latest version of Google Chrome while 85% of Firefox users were using the latest version of Firefox. Safari users lag the race at 53%.

I don’t think that automatic updates do any good, the liberty should be on the user’s end on what version of a program he/she wants to use.

Via Computer World

HP CEO Resigns Following Sexual Harassment Allegation

Mark-HurdHP CEO Mark Hurd resigned yesterday after an investigation revealed that he had failed to disclose a personal relationship with a contractor. HP’s current CFO, Cathie Lesjak, has been appointed as an interim CEO to fill the void left by Hurd.

“Hurd’s decision was made following an investigation by outside legal counsel and the General Counsel’s Office, overseen by the Board, of the facts and circumstances surrounding a claim of sexual harassment against Hurd and HP by a former contractor to HP”, read an official statement from the company. Although the investigation cleared Hurd of the sexual harassment charges, it found him in violation of Hewlett-Packard’s standard of business conduct.

This is obviously a big setback to the personal computing giant. Although Hurd has been criticized in the past for some of his actions, he is generally considered to be a successful CEO who managed to revive the company’s fortunes. The news of the scandal sent HP’s stocks plummeting by 10%.

DemandMedia, the Company Behind eHow Files For an IPO

They say “Content is King” and truly so. DemandMedia is one of the largest content producers that provide supplemental income to thousands of freelance writers every month. The company that owns popular reference site “eHow” today filed for an IPO.

The California based content creator is represented by GoldmanSachs and Morgan Staneley in this effort to raise appropriate capital. There is no information yet on how much they expect to raise, but the filing discloses that DemandMeda had revenues of $198 Million in the first 6 months of 2010 mainly generated through advertising sales and domain registrations. The complete text of the filing can be viewed here.

Besides eHow, other properties owned by DemandMedia includes Cracked.com, LiveStrong.com, Trails.com, GolfLink and AnswerBag. Over the last few years, the importance of structured content, such as that offered by DemandMedia properties, has increased exponentially with the increase in number of web users. In addition to accumulating content regarding a specific topic at a single platform, these properties also portray as more authentic to users compared to thousands of put-together web pages by individuals.

The response to DemandMedia’s IPO would be a good indication of the Silicon Valley’s economic health in general and a good example for many tech companies that are ready to go public. It is also interesting to note here that another content company AssociatedContent was recently acquired by Yahoo! for a little over $100 Million. Similar companies, same time frame, different exit strategies, let see which one proves to be better.

Google Acquires Slide, eyes the Social Gaming Market

Google has just acquired another social application company named Slide, in an effort to make Google services socially aware.

Google announced the acquisition in an official blog post published earlier today. It’s interesting to note that Google is slowly expanding the company’s reach on “Social gaming” and ways people make fun on the internet. Earlier this year, Google invested in another company called Zynga which will lay the foundation of Google Games, expected to launch at the end of 2010.

The official blog post says that Google is working on open and transparent ways to allow the users take advantage of the technology which in turn helps them stay connected with family members and friends. With Slide, Google expects to make it’s services more socially aware. Long story short, Google is preparing to take a share in the social gaming sector which is currently dominated by Facebook, thanks to all the interactive and funny games Facebook has.

Coming back to Slide, the company started as a simple photo sharing website back in 2004(read wikipedia refrence). Initially, the startup tried to engage the Myspace audience by letting the users insert slide shows into Myspace pages. Realizing the power and reach of Facebook, the company diversified and started focusing on Facebook apps – some of the very popular being Superpoke and FunSpace.

The company’s   founder Max Levchin along with his team of developers will be soon joining the Google camp to integrate Slide with other Google services. Please note that Max is also one of the co founders of Paypal.

Techcrunch reports that along with $182 million purchase price, Google has also agreed to pay an additional $46 million for employee retention bonuses.

AVG Releases Reports of Mumba Botnet

AVG has claimed that the Mumba Botnet is out in the wild and has nearly 55,000 PCs setup under its network. This poses a serious security threat to those infected users accessing the Internet without a proper firewall or an antivirus. The Mumba Botnet has stolen up to 60 GB of data until now. This data includes credit card numbers, bank passwords and other sensitive data.

The order in which infected nations stand, is the USA alone with 33%, 17% in Germany and 7% in Spain. This clarifies that people in developed nations and people with technologically inclined brains make the country a hotspot for an attack as compared to developing countries.

The Mumba botnet is extremely dangerous because apart from the malware spreading capabilities, the botnet now also has Zeus under it. Zeus is another Trojan tool to steal bank login information. The malware attacked vulnerable and popular browsers like Firefox and IE.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, the SVP at AVG said,

The unique infrastructure of the Mumba botnet means that going after the servers hosting the stolen data is now much more difficult than before.

AVG is moving towards security in a more serious way and the recent inclusion of AVG Link Scanner into browsers brings AVG a score on other antiviruses. Likewise, these reports give it more credibility in the field.

(Source)

Google Multi Account Sign-In Feature Limited To 3 Accounts

Google recently made available a very useful feature called Multi Account Sign-in to its users, though this feature is very useful, currently it is limited to only 3 Google Accounts.

Google 3 Account Multi Sign-in Limit

If you try to sign in to more than 3 accounts with the Google Multi Account Sign-in Feature enabled, you will see an error message similar to the one in the image above. The error message says:

You are already signed in to the maximum number of accounts. If you want to use another account you must sign out of all Google Accounts then sign in to the account you want.

So, currently to make use of different accounts, you will first have to sign out of one or all of the Google Accounts you are currently signed in into and then sign-in to the account you want to check. Though this is a minor constraint, it would definitely be good if Google would allow users to access around 5-7 accounts at once.

I know many users who have around 5 accounts minimum for various purposes. In addition to that, it would also be good if Google allowed users to sign-in with Google Apps accounts too.

Twitter Launching a “ShoutOut” Feature Soon

Twitter has just created an official @TwitterShoutOut account that seems to be a way to write endorsements or testimonials for your Twitter friends in 140 characters or less. The official description of the account reads “Contribute your shoutouts to peeps.”

There is no word from Twitter yet about this, but consensus is that it will let friends, or friends of friends vouch for you in the Twitterverse. This could be a very relevant feature in assessing credibility of a user and get  succinct  reviews about them from people who actually know them. Traditionally, a lot of people gauged somebody’s credibility by the number of followers they have, but with launch of so many services that allow you to buy followers, that has gone down the drain.

All this, however, is still a theory since there hasn’t been an official word from Twitter yet. The account was created in the last few hours and has not made nay public tweets yet. Do you think such a feature would work well with Twitter users? What are some other features Twitter should launch to improve the online social scene?

Collaborative Project Management Tool WizeHive Giving Away Premium Accounts To Google Wave Users

Google Wave might have had a short lifespan, and it might have failed to gain significant traction. However, make no mistake, it definitely had its fair share of dedicated users. Although, Google has promised to keep Wave alive till the end of the year, the long term future of Wave is uncertain to say the least. Many users are already speaking out against Google’s decision to axe Wave. In fact, some are even trying to change the search engine giant’s mind through initiatives like SaveGoogleWave.

WizeHive

WizeHive, a Google Wave competitor, has decided to capitalize on the buzz surrounding Wave’s demise to attract new users. If you or your company heavily relied on Google Wave, WizeHive is one of the many collaboration tools you can have a look at. While WizeHive might not have all the fancy features of Wave, it is better organized and offers a more coherent user experience. It allows you to instantly chat with people, share files, collaborate on projects and organize tasks.

In order to grab a premium account, all you need to do is signup for the free account and send an email to [email protected]. The first 500 people to request an account will get their 30-day trial changed into a 1 year standard account worth $588.