According to PCWorld, a former employee of the U.S. Department of Education has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing confidential loan files of several hundred college students on an agency database, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Charlotte M. Robinson, 46, of Dolton, Illinois, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of unauthorized computer access. Robinson, who faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a U.S. $100,000 fine, is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22. Robinson worked as an employee in the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Division of the Department of Education, where her responsibilities included reviewing and processing student loan complaints within the FSA Office of the Ombudsman, the DOJ said in a press release. Between April 2006 and May 2009, Robinson logged into the agency’s National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) and repeatedly viewed the confidential college loan records of several hundred people, including musicians, actors, family members and friends, the DOJ said. NSLDS includes borrowers’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, types of loans, loan balances and other information. Confidential records maintained in NSLDS are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and access by Department of Education employees is strictly limited to official government duties, the DOJ said. Robinson was aware that the records were confidential, according to her plea agreement. Her sole purpose for viewing the records was “idle curiosity,” the DOJ said……Read More
According to PCWorld, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is making it possible for developers to directly integrate mobile applications for Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and also apps for Android-based smartphones, with its cloud using two new beta SDKs (software development kits), it said in a blog post on Thursday. Amazon’s aim is to make it easier for developers to build mobile applications that take advantage of its cloud-based services. Previously, developers had to do more of the work themselves, including writing their own libraries to handle the HTTP connection and error handling, according to Amazon. Using the AWS SDK for Android and the AWS SDK for iOS developers can integrate their applications with Amazon’s cloud-based Simple Storage Service (S3), the SimpleDB database and send messages using Simple Notification Service (SNS) and Simple Queue Service (SQS). Possible applications of the services include uploading photos, videos, and other types of content to Amazon S3; sharing game moves and high scores using Amazon SimpleDB, or transmitting messages between smartphones without the need for any additional server infrastructure, Amazon said……Read More
Google gave the world a first look at its new Chrome OS laptop Tuesday and according to CEO Eric Schmidt it’s very much like the Network Computer devices that he was pitching while chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems 13 years ago, reports PCWorld. Only this time around, the idea will actually catch on, Schmidt said. The difference, Schmidt said, is that the web-based development tools used to build programs for Chrome OS have had had years to mature. “Our instincts were right… but we didn’t have the tools,” he said of the computer industry’s failure to make lightweight computers that could compete with Microsoft Windows in the enterprise. Google thinks that web applications are finally ready to displace Microsoft’s hegemony and businesses will buy computers that can’t run programs such as Word or Excel.
“I think there’s every reason to believe that when you go back and you look at history, not only is this the right time to build these products, but because they work and they work at scale, they’ll be very successful,” Schmidt said. Google didn’t say if or when it was going to start selling its own lightweight laptops. But the company did offer a sneak peak at a completely black, unbranded notebook, running the Chrome OS, that it’s shipping out to developers and a limited number of lucky consumers…
Mobile video in the United States is a sleeping giant that is just now waking up, PC World reports. Why now? More people own smartphones and other advanced mobile devices (such as eBook readers and tablet PCs), and they want to watch video on those devices. Wireless networks are getting faster and more reliable, and the launch of Apple’s iPad certainly added to the excitement around watching videos in the kitchen or on the bus or wherever. Feeding the momentum are advertisers, who see mobile video as a great opportunity for ad placement. As demand heats up, a number of well-moneyed companies are moving quickly to establish themselves as the go-to provider of mobile streaming video–aiming to become the “Hulu of mobile.” Which ones are the main contenders……Read More
Ruckus Wireless aims to lower the cost of entry to enterprise IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi gear with a stepped-down line of access points it is introducing on Monday, according to PCWorld. The ZoneFlex 7300 series has a smaller antenna array than the 7962, which Ruckus introduced last year, but is designed to compete on price against rival products from Cisco Systems and Aruba Networks. The single-band ZoneFlex 7343 starts at US$499, and the dual-band 7363 at $599. Ruckus claims the 7343 is the first enterprise-class 802.11n access point priced under $500. Wi-Fi equipment using the 802.11n standard, which was formally ratified only last year, still makes up a relatively small portion of sales, according to research company Dell’Oro Group. In the fourth quarter, 802.11n products represented $146 million of the approximately $450 million in revenue for enterprise WLAN (wireless LAN) gear, according to Dell’Oro analyst Loren Shalinsky. That was despite the fact that 802.11n products generally cost more than ones that use the earlier 802.11a/b/g technology……Read More
If you’re one of the folks (or as others have said, “idiots“) who have already decided to hand over a few Benjamins for an iPad pre-order, chances are you haven’t given much thought to what happens if your battery goes bad. Rest assured that Apple is one step ahead of you, PCWorld reports. According to a recently-posted FAQ, Apple will replace your iPad if it “requires service due to the battery’s diminished ability to hold an electrical charge,” for $99 and a $6.95 shipping fee. Before you get too excited, this doesn’t mean that you could pull the old switcharoo if you’re tampering with your iPad or using it as a coaster. Apple added, “Your iPad is not eligible for Battery Replacement Service if the product has been damaged, for example, as result of an accident, liquid contact, disassembly, unauthorized service or unauthorized modifications, or if the product is not operating correctly as a result of a component failure.” A little more than $100 for a new, or as Engadget points out “possibly refurbished,” iPad may seem like a decent deal to some, considering Apple services iPhones when they start to lose their charge. But the swap comes with one big disadvantage.…Read More
That iPhone you adore may have been built by a child. Nearly a dozen underage teens were working for Apple-contracted facilities in 2009, the company has revealed, PCWorld reports. The news was posted to Apple’s web site under a section labeled “Supplier Responsibility.” The underage workers, Apple says, were at three different suppliers’ facilities. Though the specific locations aren’t disclosed, the report says inspectors visited facilities in China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. The factories in question built iPhones, iPods, and various Apple computers. “Across the three facilities, our auditors found records of 11 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age, although the workers were no longer underage or no longer in active employment at the time of our audit,” the report says. The legal age in the facilities’ countries, according to Apple’s report, is 16. The workers in question were only 15 when they were hired.…Read More