At Least 4 Dead After Two TV News Choppers Collide, Crash While Covering Car Chase in Phoenix

Federal investigators hope to determine why two news helicopters covering a police chase on live television collided and crashed to the ground, killing all four people on board.

Both helicopters from local TV stations went down in a grassy park in central Phoenix and caught fire Friday afternoon. No one on the ground was hurt.

TV viewers did not witness the accident because cameras aboard both aircraft were pointed at the ground, but they saw video from one of the helicopters break up and begin to spin before the station abruptly switched to the studio.


Computer program can learn baby talk

A computer program that learns to decode sounds from different languages in the same way that a baby does helps to shed new light on how people learn to talk, researchers said on Tuesday.They said the finding casts doubt on theories that babies are born knowing all the possible sounds in all of the world’s languages.

“The debate in language acquisition is around the question of how much specific information about language is hard-wired into the brain of the infant and how much of the knowledge that infants acquire about language is something that can be explained by relatively general purpose learning systems,” said James McClelland, a psychology professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

McClelland says his computer program supports the theory that babies systematically sort through sounds until they understand the structure of a language.

“The problem the child confronts is how many categories are there and how should I think about it. We’re trying to propose a method that solves that problem,” said McClelland, whose work appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Expanding on some existing ideas, he and a team of international researchers developed a computer model that resembles the brain processes a baby uses when learning about speech.

PC baby talk…

Nine Hacks That Will Make You the Master of Your IPhone

Only a few days after the iPhone went on sale, hackers were already kicking the wheels and checking under the hood to see if they could pimp out Apple’s locked-down smartphone. After a month, they’ve made surprising progress. Below, we detail some of the milestone hacks for what has been called “the most significant consumer electronics product ever.”

Most of the hacks that have been publicized so far are aimed at controlling or enhancing your own iPhone, but a darker side has emerged too. A security firm announced a possible Wi-Fi-based browser exploit, which could give hackers access to an iPhone’s microphone, surfing history and contact information — and possibly website and e-mail passwords stored on the phone, too. Make no mistake: The iPhone is a magnet for hackers, both good and bad.

The hacks below run the gamut from easy hacks almost anyone can do to advanced mods that require serious hardware and software skills. Proceed at your own risk: With any hack, there is a chance you could permanently damage your iPhone or render it unusable, and you’re almost certainly voiding your warranty if you try most of these hacks. You have been warned.

Activate the IPhone Without AT&T
Ordinarily, the iPhone needs to be activated from within iTunes and registered with the carrier, AT&T, before it can be used for anything except telling the time and calling 911. Jon Lech Johansen (aka “DVD Jon”), who is notorious for cracking the CSS protection scheme on DVDs, took only five days to write a program that can bypass the activation step. It’s called Phone Activation Server 1.0. Of course, if you don’t have an AT&T account, the phone part won’t work, but this hack does get you Wi-Fi, web surfing, e-mail and music capabilities.
Difficulty: Medium
Details: DVD Jon Hacks iPhone: No Activation Required

iPhone Hacks…

Storm Worm Erupts Into Worst Virus Attack In 2 Years

The Storm worm authors are waging a multi-pronged attack and generating the largest virus attack some researchers say they’ve seen in two years.”We are basically in the midst of an incredibly large attack,” said Adam Swidler, a senior manager with security company Postini. “It’s the most sustained attack that we’ve seen. There’s been nine to 10 days straight days of attack at this level.”

Swidler said in an interview with InformationWeek that the attack started a little more than a week ago, and Postini since then has recorded 200 million spam e-mails luring users to malicious Web sites. Before this attack, an average day sees about 1 million virus-laden e-mails, according to Postini. Last Thursday, however, the company tracked 42 million Storm-related messages in that day alone. As of Tuesday afternoon, Postini researchers were predicting they would see that day between 4 million and 6 million virus e-mails — 99% of them associated with the Storm worm.

While the number of spam e-mails has dropped significantly, it’s still far above normal levels, so Swidler isn’t ready to say the attack is over.

The viruses are not embedded in the e-mails or in attachments. The e-mails, many of them otherwise empty, contain a link to a compromised Web site where machines are infected with a generic downloader. This helps pull the computers into the malware authors’ growing botnet, while also leaving them open for further infection at a later date.

“This is designed to add computers to the botnet,” said Swidler. “That’s first and foremost their goal.”

But the Storm worm authors aren’t contenting themselves with this one attack vector.


Digg chooses Microsoft as new ad partner

News aggregator Digg has chosen Microsoft to serve up display and contextual ads on its Web site where people share and rank their favorite news items, the companies announced Wednesday.

Microsoft replaces Google as Digg’s main advertising partner, although Digg will continue to collaborate with Federated Media Publishing, which links up advertisers with blogs and other sites looking to monetize their content. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the deal is a three-year contract.

The revenue-sharing deal is a win for Microsoft, which last year snagged a similar deal with popular social-networking site Facebook shortly after losing the ad account to Google.

With social networks and community media sites attracting an increasing amount of ad dollars from portals and other sites, these deals mean big business for the ad partners. Digg has 17 million unique visitors per month.

Digg looked at Microsoft, Google and Yahoo before making a choice, said Digg Chief Executive Jay Adelson. “Microsoft came to the table with the best solution for our needs. We even spoke with Facebook, who we view as having similarities with our model, and they’re very pleased with their relationship with Microsoft.”

Microsoft executives were obviously pleased with the news. “They’re such an innovator in this space and have such a unique audience that we can learn so much from them,” Adam Sohn, director for Microsoft’s online services group, said of Digg.

Digg co-founder Kevin Rose wrote in a blog posting: “This move gives us an advertising partner with a larger organization and a more scalable technology platform to keep pace with Digg’s growth. Best of all, it lets the Digg team completely focus on new feature development.”

Digg Ads…

Symantec’s first-quarter income falls to $95.2 million

Symantec, maker of Norton Internet security software, reported lower quarterly profit on Wednesday as stock-based compensation costs, restructuring costs and acquisition-related adjustments reduced earnings.

Its shares climbed 9 percent after it released the results.

Fiscal first-quarter net income at the world’s largest security software maker fell to $95.2 million, or 10 cents per share, from $100.5 million, or 10 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $1.4 billion from $1.265 billion.

Symantec, which also sells data center software to businesses, is in the midst of integrating its $974 million purchase of business software maker Altiris, which closed in April of this year.

The Cupertino, Calif., company’s shares have fallen 6 percent so far this year, while those of rival McAfee have climbed 23 percent.


Apple earnings soar as iPhone shipments revealed

Apple is on a roll, and the company shows no sign of slowing down.

After the close of the stock market Wednesday, Apple reported profits of $818 million, or 92 cents a share, for its fiscal third quarter. That’s a 73 percent jump compared with last year, when third-quarter profit was $472 million. It’s 9 cents higher than Wall Street was expecting and 26 cents better than the company’s own projections. Strong Mac and iPod sales led the charge, but Apple also has a third business these days.

The company reported selling 270,000 iPhones during the 30 hours before the quarter ended on June 30. That’s at the upper end of what estimates were going into iPhone weekend, though far below some of the extremely high estimates that surfaced following the launch. Still, some were anticipating a smaller number after AT&T reported activating 146,000 iPhones during the same period.

Apple shares were up $12.26, or nearly 9 percent, to $149.52 in after-hours trading.

Revenue for the quarter was up 24 percent to $5.4 billion, as compared with $4.37 billion for the same period a year ago. That tops Wall Street’s expectations of $5.2 billion and Apple’s own projections of $5.1 billion.

“I’m pleased to report strong financial results and another landmark quarter for Apple, said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, on a conference call following the release of the company’s results.

iPhone on the rise.