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MP3 earphones dangerous for pacemakers

Headphones used with MP3 digital music players like the iPod may interfere with heart pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, U.S. researchers said on Sunday. The MP3 players themselves posed no threat to pacemakers and defibrillators, used to normalize heart rhythm. But strong little magnets inside the headphones can foul up the devices if placed within 1.2 inches of them, the researchers told an American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans. Dr. William Maisel of the Medical Device Safety Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston led a team that tested eight models of MP3 player headphones, including clip-on and earbud types, in 60 defibrillator and pacemaker patients.

They placed the headphones on the patients’ chests, directly over the devices. The headphones interfered with the heart devices in about a quarter of the patients — 14 of the 60 — and interference was twice as likely in those with a defibrillator than with a pacemaker. So that means people with pacemakers or defibrillators should not place the headphones in a shirt pocket or coat pocket near the chest when they are not being used, drape them over their chest or have others who are wearing headphones rest their head on the patient’s chest, Maisel said. Most of the headphones had magnetic field strengths more than 20 times higher than the threshold for interfering with pacemakers or defibrillators, he said.

Source: Reuters

Rapidshare policy update: 80 GB download limit

I received few emails from our readers that Rapidshare changed their Users policy and it’s quite a significant change so I will write few sentences about it. Rapidshare continues to be one of the most popular filesharing services offering terabytes of data. You can find pretty much everything uploaded there, often just a few minutes after the pre time.

Anyway, the new policy affects mostly holders of Rapidshare Premium account: the main change is the download traffic limit to 80 GB per month, which is something as 2.66 gigabytes per day. Before the update, it used to be 10 gigabytes per day, so this is a pretty major limitation. Still, 80 gigabytes should be more than enough for you, unless you download all new video games and HD rips.

This change is valid only for new Premium accounts on Rapidshare, the holders of old accounts shouldn’t be affected unless they extend their account(s) after the policy change. The other important and actually very annoying change is that public, anonymous uploads will last only 10 downloads and then the data will be deleted. If you want to keep your files longer, you have to register a Collector’s account, which is free, but it’s still an extra hassle. Well, although these bad news may prevent few people from paying for Premium account at Rapidshare, I’m pretty sure the service will remain very popular nevertheless.

4.7 Million copies of Fallout 3 shipped

Bethesda’s crowing this morning about record sales of its post-apocalyptic role-playing games Fallout 3. Probably justified. UK sales checker Chart-Track says Fallout 3 has already outsold every prior game in the franchise combined. That sounds slightly more illustrious than it is, because of course all those older Fallout games (except for what-was-Interplay-smoking spinoff Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel) were strictly computer-based. Console sales routinely trump PC sales nowadays, and of course there’s that thing about the market exploding since Fallout and Fallout 2 arrived in the late 1990s. But at least 90 percent illustrious, with Chart-Track stating the game has already outsold Bethesda’s Oblivion by 57%, pulling in sales of 55% on Xbox 360, 28% on PS3, and 17% on PC.

Bethesda dropped a note this morning stating it’s shipped approximately 4.7 million units of Fallout 3 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, “representing retail sales in excess of $300 million.” The game went on sale at midnight on October 28 in North America, as some 2,000 retailers held special late night launch parties. I’m not sure if that’s a record midnight opening for a video game, but if it’s not, it’s got to be close. Also: That’s 4.7 million units shipped to stores, not necessarily sold-through. We’ll see best-guesses at the sell-through numbers shortly from NPD. More info about Fallout 3 in our post.

Source: PC World

Hackers infiltrated into Obama’s & McCain’s networks

Foreign hackers infiltrated the networks of John McCain and Barack Obama during the US presidential campaign, according to reports. CNN and Newsweek cited sources within both camps as reporting that hackers from an undisclosed foreign location targeted each network over the summer in an attempt to acquire information. The report did not specify which group or nation was responsible for the attacks, but the target appears to be documents outlining the candidates’ policy proposals. The information would reportedly have been used in future policy negotiations with the winning candidate.

Following the attacks both camps reportedly hired outside consultants to seal up any security flaws, and the FBI and Secret Service are both said to be investigating the incidents. Hacking for political reasons has emerged in recent years as a companion to traditional espionage. In 2007, Chinese government officials were accused of hacking government sites in the US, France, Germany and the UK. Russian nationalists have also been thought to use cyber-attacks to supplement their political efforts. In the midst of conflicts with Estonia and Georgia, Russian hackers were said to be masterminding attacks on government and social infrastructure sites.

Source: Vnunet

ExtremeFFS: SanDisk’s 100x faster SSD drives

The future of storage is heading away from the spinning magnetic disks inside most of our computers and towards solid state drives. Besides the advantage of being much more reliable and durable, solid state drives (SSD) also have the advantage of being quicker to deliver data. SanDisk detailed today a new technology that it hopes to cement SSD as the performance choice, coupling it with new metrics. SanDisk explained its new file system technology for SSDs, which it calls the ExtremeFFS, at WinHEC 2008 in Los Angeles and boasts that it could boost random write speeds by up to 100 times over existing systems. The “FFS” in the brand stands for Flash File System (not the other use of the acronym) and the Extreme, of course, relates to SanDisk’s brand of premium flash products.

SanDisk appears to have geared its technology towards the needs of Windows Vista. ExtremeFFS operates on a page-based algorithm, which means there is no fixed coupling between physical and logical location. SanDisk explains that when a sector of data is written, ExtremeFFS puts it on the SSD where it is most convenient and efficient. This should result in an improvement in random write performance by up to 100 times in best case scenarios. SanDisk products with ExtremeFFS are expected to ship in 2009.

Source: Tom’s Hardware

Hackers misuse Obama’s victory with malware

President-elect Barack Obama is already targeted as the subject of a malicious malware campaign designed to steal information from infected computers. Following Obama’s presidential victory Tuesday, malware authors were quick to create a Trojan exploiting the high volumes of Web traffic surrounding Obama, security experts said. And so far, researchers say that spam capitalizing on Obama’s victory has experienced a sharp upward spike, comprising about 60 percent of all spam messages in what has become a globalized attack. “The hackers are taking advantage of Obama-mania,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for SophosLabs. “So many people have been excited or interested in (the election), that they might be susceptible to it.”

Specifically, malware authors are exploiting users’ post-election curiosity with an e-mail purporting to offer news of Obama’s victory. The legitimate-looking message then offers the viewer a link, allegedly of a video featuring Obama’s acceptance speech. However, in order to view the clip, users are advised to click on a link that will allegedly download the latest version of Adobe Flash player. Once users open the link, a Web site actually links to a file called adobe_flash_exe, a malicious Trojan downloader designed to distribute information-stealing software on unsuspecting victims’ computers. Upon execution, the compromised machine receives a RootKit that sends the user’s personal data to numerous command and control centers. Researchers at Web security company Websense said in a blog that they have seen at least 25,000 e-mails through the systems using that particular technique, which, in addition to distributing data-stealing malware, also incorporates the victim’s computer into a botnet, a network of computers programmed to perpetuate spam campaigns.

Source: CRN

Netflix will stop selling DVDs

Netflix is exiting the previously-viewed DVD market. In a blog post yesterday, the company said it would stop selling DVDs to its members as of November 30 to focus on DVD rentals and streaming video. “Our core business is delivering great movie rentals to you on DVD by mail and instantly to the computer and TV,” a Netflix representative says in the post. “So we’ve decided it makes sense for us to focus exclusively on that.” According to comments on the blog post, some members are unhappy about the decision, and many are concerned that Netflix will eventually get out of the disc business entirely–even for rentals.

Netflix’s streaming service already is popular with PC users, and just last week, Netflix expanded that streaming service to Mac users. Still, despite a bigger push into the streaming market and the service’s rising popularity, it seems very unlikely that Netflix would give up on its physical disc rental service anytime soon. This is especially true given recent statements by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about the importance of Blu-ray to the company’s future.

Source: Washington Post

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