March 3, 2006 10:00 AM PST
Week in review: Unfolding Origami
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not widespread. But they caution that Apple fans should not be smug: Now that it's been done, other malicious code writers are likely to turn their attention to the operating system. It's a "small step in malicious code development for OS X," said Kevin Long, an analyst at security specialist Cybertrust and a Mac user for 11 years. "The message we need to get out there is that Mac users should not be complacent."
Meanwhile, a group of security researchers claims to have found the first virus that can jump to a mobile device after infecting a PC. The malicious software, dubbed "Crossover," was sent anonymously to the Mobile Antivirus Researchers Association, the group said in a statement released on Monday. The virus is a proof-of-concept bug and was not released in the wild, meaning that it doesn't pose an actual risk for PC and device users.
When executed, the virus checks what type of machine it is running on. If it is a Windows PC, it will jump to a handheld device as soon as it detects a connection using Microsoft's ActiveSync synchronization software. When running on a portable OS, it will erase all the files in the "My Documents" folder and copy itself to the start-up folder.
A nearly four-decade-old insight has led a man to invent an industrial design that could change personal computing, aeronautics and how drinking water is purified. Now he believes spirals are a key to making a wide array of machines more energy-efficient.
His energy makeover began with fans and air conditioners, including the inefficient cooling systems of PCs. Jay Harman said his company, Pax Scientific, has signed a contract with Delphi, a maker of components for everything from PC fans to car air conditioners and refrigerators, and it is in talks with several other PC makers and aerospace contractors.
Another company with an eye toward energy efficiency is Microsoft, which is looking to make scrolling through e-mail less work for your hands and more work for your feet. The software maker's research unit has developed a prototype e-mail program in which cubicle dwellers can wade through e-mail and delete messages using their feet. The StepMail program uses a standard dance pad.
The premise of the footwork project is that computer input is a continual strain on the hands, while other tasks, such as playing the piano or riding a bicycle, use both hands and feet. It's part of a broader look at the role feet can play in computing, an effort dubbed "Step User Interface."
StepMail is one of more than 150 projects that Microsoft showed off at its two-day TechFest. The annual event, which took place at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters, allows workers from product teams across the company to check out what the company's 700-person research unit is up to.
Those who have scoffed at some of the forensic techniques featured on TV's "CSI" police-drama series may be interested in two new creations that could make crime fighting easier.
Technology developed by NASA engineers lets photographers add measurements to objects in a picture with the use of laser dots, the space agency said this week. That tool, which has helped NASA scientists find and analyze damage to spacecraft, may soon be widely useful to police investigating crime scenes.
The device, called the Laser Scaling and Measurement Device for Photographic Images, is a black box weighing about half a pound, and attaches directly to a camera. With twin lasers an inch apart, the tool can project a pattern of dots in a photographer's field of vision. Once the image loads into specialized software, the photographer can then set points of interest within the picture and set distances between those references.
Meanwhile, researchers have created a sensor to instantly test for cocaine in a person's blood, streamlining a process that otherwise takes hours. The group said the sensor could also conceivably be used to test for exposure to biotoxins and other substances.
The sensor contains a specific, artificially fabricated DNA molecule that reacts when it meets cocaine. In seconds, the molecule turns from a floppy, formless shape into a rigid structure. When adding a blood or saliva sample contaminated with cocaine to the sensor, the change can be instantly measured by sending electrons through the DNA and seeing how they travel.
Also of note
Microsoft settled on six versions of its upcoming Vista operating system, including an Ultimate edition that will combine the best of the company's corporate and consumer features...More than 60 years after the end of World War II, a distributed computing project managed to crack a previously uncracked message that was encrypted using the Enigma machine...Severe airline accidents could be a consequence of passengers defying the ban on making cell phone calls while flying, a new study has shown.
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