Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 1 Released

Note: This article was originally published on DPS Computing on December 12 2007.  Part of the new DPS Archives feature.

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Microsoft have a few hours ago released the eagerly anticipated Service Pack 1 for both XP and Vista Users. Get Service Pack 1 here. 
Microsoft has now released the eagerly anticipate update for its Microsoft Office 2007 suite. The update includes both security related updates and several other tweaks and bug fixes.

Microsoft have told us “The 2007 Microsoft Office suites Service Pack 1 (SP1) contains significant security improvements, stability improvements, and performance improvements. Some fixes that are included with the 2007 Microsoft Office suites SP1 were previously released in separate updates. The 2007 Microsoft Office suites SP1 combines the previously released fixes into one update.”

Ask.com Further Ensures Users Privacy

Note: This article was originally published on DPS Computing on December 12 2007.  Part of the new DPS Archives feature.

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Ask.com has today reassured its users as well as privacy experts with the announcement of AskEraser – a tool which allows users to keep their searches private and not have them stored or used for statistical purposes. 

The widely popular search engine Ask.com, formally Ask Jeeves, has enjoyed the adulation of privacy experts and Ask.com users alike with the announcement of AskEraser, a tool which is designed to keep users searches private.

The Ask.com website will now include a new privacy option that when applied at the users request will delete all information related to their searches of the Ask.com servers therefore keeping them private and away from prying eyes.

For years users big fear regarding the Internet and its use is the privacy of their online data. Whether it be online shopping, registering for a free e-mail account or simply searching for information or content there has always been the fear that someone somewhere is storing information about your habits and previous actions, sometimes for years.

With this news coming from Ask.com it is widely expected to put pressure on other Internet search engines to follow suit however they may be reluctant to do this. A senior director of a privacy group has told us “As you start giving users more control on certain sites, we hope that sites pressure each other to implement privacy control as a competitive tool”.

Although definitely a step in the right direction the fear is that with Ask.com’s ever decreasing market share in searches the pressure may become less and less for some other giants such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! to change there ways. Also, Ask.com sometimes shares data with Google at the time of searches for the purposes of ads and improving searches and although the user may enable the AskEraser tool Google are under absolutely no obligation to comply with its requests and delete the data that has been sent to it.

Ask.com may well have stumbled across something great with this tool however as the current trend of popular sites and services such as Google Mail and MySpace developing highly intrusive and suspect advertising programs that attempt to link certain ads to the content of your private email or MySpace information is not being recieved well at all from users. Google Mail and MySpace are both reported to have lost many users due to the new advertising systems which many see as glorified forms of spam. This can only spell disaster for both services with Microsofts rival Windows Live Mail (formally Hotmail) offering comparable services to Google Mail and Facebook offering comparable services to MySpace and in some cases outdoing them on features, functionality and extendability.

AskErasers greatest feature has to be though that not only can you delete data of your prior searches but you can also guarentee that no future search data on the Ask.com website is stored.

It is yet to be seen how many users take up the offer of AskEraser but you can be sure it will be followed closely by both the big search engines as well as privacy groups and of course the users themselves.

2011 : The Year Of Apple

Apple iPhone 4SAlthough 2011 saw the tragic death of Steve Jobs, a key component to Apples two successful periods, it was a good year financially for the company.

Today it was announced that Apples iOS device sales during last year alone was greater than the total sales of Mac computers for the past 28 years that the company has been in existence.  In 2011 a whopping 156 million iOS devices were sold bringing the cumulative sales figures for iOS devices up to 316 million units.

This compares with 28 years of Mac sales which currently only total 122 million.

After fears last year that some experts were predicting a bleak short term future for Apple, the announcement of these results seems to have helped people renew confidence in the technology giant.

The iPhone is way out in the lead of the most popular iOS device with the cumulative total this year expected to exceed 200 million.  The iPod Touch is in second place, but a long way behind the iPhone at approximately 70 million.  The iPad is a little further behind with approximately 55 million.

Sales of iOS devices now account for approximately 75% of Apples total income with the company raking in just under $110 billion last year.

Facebook Hacking British Student Gets 8 Months

A British student, who was studying software development has today been sentenced to a total of 8 months in custody for being the orchestrator of one of the biggest social media hacking incidents ever.

The student, aged 26, from York hacked into the popular social networking site last year.  Although he claimed his intentions were to help Facebook and act as a ‘security consultant’ for them his unauthorised intrusion caused Facebook having to spend over £125,000 to rectify the damage.

The prosecution dismissed the claim that he was an ‘ethical hacker’ and handed down a custodial sentence for what it believed to be malicious action on his part.

Previously, the student had taken part in similar action against popular search engine, Yahoo!, for which he was not prosecuted and it is believed that he did indeed work with Yahoo to improve its security.

The incident could have had far more disastrous consequences for the industry giant, which is currently believed to be worth $100 billion.

Popular iPad Apps Plagued By Poor Server Performance

AppleWith the growing popularity and ownership of iPads a major problem is brewing for some of the new app development companies and independent developers – sever performance.

Many new apps have been released over the past few months, a lot of which have been first time releases on the iOS platform for developers.  Some of the most voiced complaints from iPad owners is poor server responsiveness and not being able to connect.

Some new applications have suddenly shot to huge popularity overnight and it seems that some developers cannot keep upgrading and adding new servers as fast as the apps user base grows.

This can potentially have a negative effect on an otherwise popular app as users become tired of slow response between actions and being unable to connect to the apps servers at all during peak times.

DPS Computing recently reported on the problems that Mafia Wars : Shakedown seemed to be experiencing.  Although there has been no official word from developers Zynga on this, it is likely that the cause of the problems are down to server load.

Other apps are facing more intermittent server performance problems where they are unavailable for short periods of time on occasion.  One example of this is the Chronicles of Merlin game app, which is also a popular but fully independant game on social networking site Facebook.  The problem reported with this game today were however, relatively minor.  Players reporting that they could not connect to any of the apps servers for a period of 10 – 15 minutes.

The problems with server performance also seem to be disproportionately affecting developers of free apps.  One possible reason for this is the lack of a revenue stream from app sales likely means that funds for server upgrades are much smaller than developers releasing paid apps.  To compound this, free apps will usually acquire a much bigger user base, much more quickly than their paid counterparts.

Have you been experiencing any problems with any iOS (iPhone or iPad) apps recently?  Let us know!