Microsoft Mute on IE8's Evolution

Microsoft is consistent down to perfection in avoiding to reveal any details related to the evolution of Internet Explorer 8. The successor of IE7, which debuted into its first public testing phase at the start of March at MIX08, is built under the leadership of Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group. In this context, the translucency strategy for product development, which is Sinofsky's tactic for gaging all details about upcoming products, affects not only Windows operating systems and the Windows Live platform, but also Internet Explorer, specifically IE8.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 has been available for download as a release focused on web content developers and designers since March 5, 2008. Following the launch of the first beta, Microsoft indicated repeatedly that there would be additional testing milestones for the next iteration of IE. At the same time, IE8 Beta 2 was promised for the summer of this year, a version tailored to end users this time, rather than on developers.

Questions about the upcoming Beta for IE8, as well as for the final version of the browser have become nothing short of a refrain for the IE team. And so have Microsoft's answers. During April's Windows Internet Explorer 8 Expert Zone Chat, Eric Lawrence, IE Security Program Manager, explained that a date for the delivery of IE8 Beta 2 was not set in stone.

"Beta-2 will be available later this year. Sorry, I don't have a precise date available," Lawrence stated, adding that the same is valid for the general availability of the browser. "We haven't announced a release date thus far. We're all working hard and very eager to ship a great browser as soon as we can."

Little has changed between April and May as far as details on the next stages in the development of IE8 are concerned. Answering a question about the next build of the browser, a member of the IE feedback and release team had this to say: "We'll have another Beta sometime later this year. Thank you for using Beta 1!"

In addition, John Hrvatin, program manager for developer tools and script engine integration revealed that "IE8 Beta 1 was developer-focused, but we've been listening to input on how to improve the overall browser's appearance and customization that we'll incorporate in future releases." Lawrence emphasized that Microsoft is yet to announce the complete feature set of IE8, and that future releases will build on top of IE8 Beta 1.


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IE8 Beta 1 Attack Code Available in the Wild

Internet Explorer "Print Table of Links" cross-zone scripting vulnerability. Security researcher Aviv Raff has released an example of attack code for Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 in the wild. According to Raff Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser is vulnerable to exploits targeting a Cross-Zone Scripting security flaw that affects the "Print Table of Links" feature. Under normal conditions, via "Print Table of Links", users are able to print not only a webpage but also a table with all the links on the page in an appendix.

"An attacker can easily add a specially crafted link to a webpage (e.g. at his own website, comments in blogs, social networks, Wikipedia, etc.), so whenever a user will print this webpage with this feature enabled, the attacker will be able to run arbitrary code on the user’s machine (i.e. in order to take control over the machine)", Raff explained.

According to the Israeli security researcher the vulnerability can be exploited on IE7 and IE8 Beta 1 running on Windows XP, in such a manner that an attacker could gain complete control over the operating system. The User Account Control mitigation built into Windows Vista prevents complete take-over of the platform, allowing only for information leakage. Raff managed not only to detail the vulnerability but also to make the proof-of-concept available for download. Microsoft was informed of the flaw last week but so far failed to deliver a patch.

"Whenever a user prints a page, Internet Explorer uses a local resource script which generates a new HTML to be printed. This HTML consists of the following elements: Header, webpage body, Footer, and if enabled, also the table of links in the webpage. While the script takes only the text within the link’s inner data, it does not validate the URL of links, and add it to the HTML as it is. This allows to inject a script that will be executed when the new HTML will be generated", Raff added.


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Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 ActiveX Security

Back at the beginning of March, Microsoft released the first public Beta of its next iteration of Internet Explorer, namely IE8 Beta 1. Designed to deliver an evolution in comparison with IE7, Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 brings to the table a range of improvements, including security enhancements. In this regard, some of the modifications introduced into Internet Explorer 8 impact directly the way that the browser handles one of the most common avenues for web-based attacks: ActiveX add-ons. This is why IE8 Beta 1 features such improvements as Per-User (Non-Admin) ActiveX, ActiveX Opt-In and Per-Site ActiveX.

Per-User (Non-Admin) ActiveX means that "running IE8 in Windows Vista, a standard user may install ActiveX controls in their own user profile without requiring administrative privileges. This improvement makes it easier for an organization to realize the full benefit of User Account Control by enabling standard users to install ActiveX controls used in their day-to-day browsing. If a user happens to install a malicious ActiveX control, the overall system will be unaffected, as the control was installed only under the user’s account. Since installations can be restricted to a user profile, the risk and cost of compromise," explained Matt Crowley, Program Manager for Extensibility with Internet Explorer.

ActiveX Opt-In is not new to Internet Explorer 8, it has only been perfected as Microsoft introduced the security mitigation in IE7. Crowley justified the need for an ActiveX Opt-In as the best way to decrease the attack surface created by all binary extensibility mechanisms. As a direct consequence, the vast majority of controls on a user's machine are disabled by default by the ActiveX control. It is the end user of IE7 and IE8 that will have the final say in what ActiveX controls are enabled as soon as certain websites require them.

Via Per-Site ActiveX, "when a user navigates to a Web site containing an ActiveX control, IE8 performs a number of checks, including a determination of where a control is permitted to run. This check is referred to as Per-Site ActiveX, a defense mechanism to help prevent malicious repurposing of controls. If a control is installed, but is not permitted to run on a specific website, an Information Bar appears asking the user whether or not the control should be permitted to run on the current website," Crowley added.


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No Fats for Children is Dangerous

No Fats for Children is Dangerous - Children need fats in their diet. If you think you can help your little child become a fashion model, that's very risky. A new research showed that parents who eliminate all types of fats from their children's alimentation could cause serious health issues for their kids.

It is well known fact that some amount of 'good' fats, like olive and sunflower oils, is crucial for proper growth and development. But the increasing children obesity level has pushed many families to adopt low-fat diets for their children. The number of overweight children has doubled in ten years, now 25 % of the children aged 11-15 being classified as obese - so fat that their health is threatened.

The new research reveals that children burn more fat than adults do, related to each calorie spent, so that they store fat with more difficulty. This means the parents do not need to go to extremes.

The team led by Dr John Kostyak at the Pennsylvania State University assessed the burning rate of body fat in ten children aged six to ten, and in ten adults. All the subjects were middle weighed relatively to their age and sex. They were given the same common American diet for three days before the tests, even if the adults received larger meals.

The subjects' oxygen consume and carbon dioxide residue, as also heat production, were measured in a calorimeter room and a hood system, for nine hours on three separate days at a low physical activity level (like watching movies or reading).

The researchers also counted the nitrogen levels in the volunteers' urine to see how much fat they burned. The total fat burned level in a day was the same for both children and adults. This meant that children burned much more fat linked to the energy they used, in grams of burned fat per calorie of energy consume, about 50 % more. Women and girls burned more fat than men and boys of similar age did.

Other researches had shown that dietary fats are essential for normal growth, as they contain fat-soluble vitamins (like A and D), vital for the development of eyesight, bones and other organs. "Sufficient fat must be included in the diet for children to support normal growth and development.", said Kostyak.

"Children need the fatty acids and omega 3 found in fat, and fat soluble vitamins A,D and E for growth, development and eyesight. There is a risk parents could think that all fat is bad for their children - some years ago we had a phenomenon known as Muesli Belt syndrome where parents went to extremes with food that didn't contain all the nutrients they need." said Jacqui Lowdon, of the British Dietetic Association.

"35 % of calories from a healthy diet should come from fat, ideally polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats such as olive and sunflower oils. These set up healthy eating patterns for life", she added.


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Working Mothers Have Fatter Children

Working Mothers Have Fatter Children - Their children get bad food habits. This is one of the most unexpected results related to the emancipation of women: kids get increasingly fatter. A novel study made at the University of Bristol and published in Research in Public Policy from the Center for Market and Public Organization revealed that children aged 5 to 7, whose mothers had a full-time job had more chances of being overweight at 16. There was no sudden effect but children turned more obese with the age.

The body mass index (BMI), assessing weight correlated to height, revealed that rates of obesity in British children aged 2 to 10 boosted from 1995 to 2003 from 10 % to 15 % (in boys) and for girls the rate was 10% - 13 %. There was also an upward tendency in the number of employed women aged 16 to 59: from 59 % in 1971 to 74 % in 2007.

Previous American studies had found a correlation between full-time employed mothers and increased childhood obesity. This new study investigates whether a child's age when the mother goes out to work affects the child’s weight later in life. The new research used data coming from two British birth cohorts: the 1958 National Child Development Study and the 1970 British Cohort Survey.

The results revealed that children aged 5 to 7, with full-time employed mothers presented a likelihood increased by 5 - 8 % to be overweight, no matter the gender of the children. While the mother is outside, children’s eating habits are affected.

As mothers have less time for cooking, families increasingly eat out or buy ready-made food, often junk food. The other persons who take care of the children can come up with wrong food choices. Imagine a grandma offering sugar-filled or fatty food items to the children, as these addicting types of food could lead to a bond between her and her grandchildren.

When parents are out, children are more likely to remain indoors watching TV or playing computer games while consuming junk food rather than playing outside wasting calories.

Obesity turns obvious when the child is between 5 and 7 years old because it's when children’s food preferences and habits develop, due to an inner mechanism or because they start going to school.


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11 Tips For Avoiding Kids' Accidents

11 Tips For Avoiding Kids' Accidents - And 3 in case of accident
Annually, one in 8 children reach the hospital following an accident, which occurred mainly inside the house. An infant can easy fall from the table where its dippers are changed or choke with food or small objects that got stuck in the throat. Toddlers often fall while climbing over all places or get burned or poisoned while tasting everything they grab. The main cause of death in the case of 3-7 years old age children are circulation accidents and drowning. School age children experience accidents in the street or while playing outside.

A toddler aged 1-3 cannot be taught to retain which are the dangers. That's why the main task belongs to the adults. The drawers and the oven door must be blocked introducing a stick through the handles.

The surfaces of the playgrounds must be covered by sand, so that in case the child falls from the swing, it will land on soft ground. Are there lakes or running waters close to your house? You should know that a 1-2 years old child can drawn even in a water of a few cm deep, because when toddlers fall face down they lose the notion of up-down and they won't be able to get up. A child aged 1-3 years old should never be left alone to play outside.

A pre-school age child understands only clear signs and can focus in just one thing at once. But street circulation means various abstract concepts and ambiguous messages, that's why a pre-school child should never be left alone to cross the street. Till the age of 12, children are not old enough for circulating alone on the bike in an agglomerated traffic.

Children must use a helmet when biking, riding, skating or playing on a toboggan. Head lesions can have severe effects and even can be deadly. The lack of helmet means, in case of bike accidents, head injuries in 60 % of the cases.

In many countries, safety chairs for cars in the case of the children is a must. The models for infants differ from those for toddlers.

Here are some tips for avoiding toddlers' accidents:
1. Drugs. Keep them in locked cupboards. Ask your guests to keep their drugs in safe places, out of the toddler's reach.

2. Home chemicals. They should be kept in locked boards. Put the products at their place even when leaving the room for some moments. Don't leave detergent remains in the dish washing machine.

3. Cooking machine. Turn always the handles of the pots towards the inner part of the machine. Tie the pot to a protection appliance, if existent. Endow the cooking machine with protection against overturn, for the case when the child can climb over the oven's door. If the child can be burned by touching the oven's door, a protection grill must be placed.

4. Dangerous personal objects. Knives, scissors and others must be locked or kept in places inaccessible to children. When using them, put them out of the edge of the table, where they can be reached by the children. Matches and plastic bags are dangerous for children. Plastic bags are less dangerous if they are tied in knot.

5. Stairs. Fix the high balustrades at about 70-75 cm (2.5 ft) at both edges of the stairs.

6. Windows and balcony doors. Endow them with locks, chains and other safety devices, so that the child cannot open them or slip through them when they are opened for airing.

7. Book shelves. They must be fixed to the walls, if the child likes climbing and hanging on the furniture pieces.

8. Power outlets and electric cables must be endowed with breeches, especially if not used. Cables for lamps, pressers and other objects must be fixed on the wall or furniture, so that the child won't pull the cable, being hit by the object. If not really necessary, remove these objects. Do not leave the presser on the ironing table, nor its cable hanging from the table.

9. Hot water. The temperature of the hot water should be regulated to 50o C, so that the child won't get scalded when opening the tap.

10. Toys. Discard toys having sharp edges or corners, which are small or demountable, as they can be swallowed, choking the child. The eyes and the ears of the teddy bears must be well fixed.

11. Sweets and snacks. Don't leave hard candies or peanuts at the reach of the toddlers, they can choke with them.

In case of accident:
1. Poisoning. If the child has ingested a toxic liquid, rinse well its mouth and give it to drink 1-2 cups of water or milk. Call the doctor. If a corrosive chemical reached the eyes, rinse them immediately with a lot of water for 10 minutes.

2. Burning. For minor burnings, apply cold water (but not too cold) on the lesion for about 20 minutes. If the lesion is larger than the child's hand or is on the face, joint, lower abdomen or genitalia, bring the child immediately to a hospital. More profound lesions must always be treated by a doctor.

3. Choking. If something has stopped on the trachea, remove it immediately through the Heimlich method. If you do not know it, call your doctor or participate to special classes teaching it.


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Microsoft and Yahoo, Love Is in the Air, Still

The two companies re-enter talks
A Microsoft takeover of Yahoo is dead from the perspective of both companies, but the same is not valid for the negotiations between the two giants. The Redmond and Sunnyvale based companies have re-entered talks at the end of the past week, announcing that they have discovered a common ground that would permit the creation of an anti-Google alliance on the same front.

"In light of developments since the withdrawal of the Microsoft proposal to acquire Yahoo Inc., Microsoft announced that it is continuing to explore and pursue its alternatives to improve and expand its online services and advertising business," Microsoft announced via a statement issued on Sunday May, 18. Initially, the Redmond giant offered $31 per share for Yahoo, namely $44.6 billion, on February 1, 2008, through an unsolicited acquisition proposal.

Yahoo's answer came on February 11 and involved not so much a "no," as an invitation to raise the initial bid. In the final stages of what turned out as failed negotiations, Yahoo's board of Directors were looking to obtain $5 billion more for the company than what Microsoft was willing to pay, namely no more than $50 billion. As a consequence, the Redmond company announced on May 3 that it was officially withdrawing its takeover bid. However, the Microsoft and Yahoo forced dance is evolving into an elegant ballet, where a partnership could yet take form.

"Microsoft is considering and has raised with Yahoo an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo. Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo or Microsoft or with other third parties," the Redmond company stated.

Microsoft, through its representatives failed to add anything extra to the official statement. Details are scarce at this point, but it seems that Microsoft is really after the eyeballs loyal to the Yahoo brand and its web properties. In this context a scenario in which the Redmond company would serve advertisements on Yahoo's infrastructure, and next to the Sunnyvale giant's search results.

"Yahoo has confirmed with Microsoft that it is not interested in pursuing an acquisition of all of Yahoo at this time. Yahoo and its Board of Directors continue to consider a number of value maximizing strategic alternatives for Yahoo, and we remain open to pursuing any transaction which is in the best interest of our stockholders. Yahoo!'s Board of Directors will evaluate each of our alternatives, including any Microsoft proposal, consistent with its fiduciary duties, with a focus on maximizing stockholder value," reads Yahoo's response to Microsoft's statement.

Microsoft emphasized the fact that even if the negotiations with Yahoo have entered a new stage, there is absolutely no guarantee that the two companies will be able to indeed agree on a common course of action. Or that a transaction will be finalized.


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Busted: 4 Popular Myths About Your Health

Four popular myths about health and lifestyle get an expert analysis - and a diagnosis of "not true"
Since our health really is – or at least, it should be – our most precious asset, we're all likely to feel extremely protective when it comes to our own bodies, so much so in fact that to some extent, we all believe in small "superstitions", things we acquired or were taught, various myths about certain aspects that have to do with our lifestyle, food intake and other situations we deal with every day. My mother always used to tell me that eating too much sugar will give me diabetes and was perfectly convinced that drinking as much as a sip of wine while on antibiotics will make the latter useless. It's interesting to have a look at some of these popular myths and see if they have any basis in fact – which is precisely what a team of journalists and experts from the Daily Mail did – with some surprising results.

Myth: Brushing your teeth right after eating sweets will help you avoid decay.
Experts say: Absolutely not true.
Why: Dentists say that whenever we eat sugar, this causes the enamel of the teeth to soften slightly for a short interval. If we brush our teeth immediately after eating sweets, we're actually causing damage to the protective coating of our teeth, thus making everything a million times worse. It's therefore best if we wait for at least an hour before brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.

Myth: Brushing your teeth for a long interval will help them stay clean.
Experts say: Not True.
Why: Brushing is essential for keeping our teeth clean, but too aggressive brushing can cause damage to the enamel coat, actually making it wear off. Lengthy brushing also causes receding gums. Doctors say brush for a maximum of two minutes using circular motions.

Myth: Eating too much sugar will give you diabetes.
Experts say: Not true.
Why: Diabetes is triggered when the pancreas fails to secrete sufficient insulin to control the glucose levels in our blood, which means that too much sugar cannot in itself make us develop diabetes. But there's a catch. The most common form of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes, which does not require regular insulin injections but is quite a serious condition. Type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing in the developed world and has been linked to rising rates of obesity – which in its turn can be triggered by eating too many sweets and sugary foods. As a result, it's good to stay off the chocolate – however, know that it won't directly make you a diabetic.

Myth: Alcohol will render antibiotics useless.
Experts say: Not true.
Why: There are many drugs out there – antibiotics among them – that will leave you feeling dizzy when mixed with alcohol, or even make you feel drunk faster. Needless to say, alcohol consumption is not indicated at any time, least of all when you're sick. However, there is no scientific proof to support the old argument that drinking will make your pills useless. The one exception mentioned by an expert quoted by the Daily Mail is an antibiotic named Metronidazole (prescribed for various infections) which causes vomiting when mixed with even the smallest amount of alcohol.


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The Health Benefits of Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the most versatile types of food out there
Yogurt has become such an integral part of our diets that we've grown used to taking its beneficial effects for granted, without asking too many questions with regard to its contents or the finer details of its inner workings. For the more yogurt-curious among you, here is a short guide to the many health benefits of this familiar product, which has practically taken over the dairy aisle at most modern supermarkets.

Yogurt is of course made from milk, which means that it contains animal proteins (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving, nutritionists say). It also contains a lot of calcium, vitamin B-2 and B-12, as well as potassium and magnesium. However, the one key component of yogurt which has made the headlines more and more over the past years is something generically known as "probiotics". Experts say probiotics are in fact "friendly bacteria", which occur naturally in the digestive system and many yogurt products contain live strains of these "good bacteria", which studies indicate can help boost the immune system and contribute to the overall health of the digestive tract.

There are still not enough studies to turn these assumptions into hard facts, but scientists have many reasons to believe that yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including constipation, diarrhea, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. The benefits are believed to come from the fact that yogurt changes the microflora in the intestines, as well as the time food takes to go through the bowel. Also, as mentioned before, certain probiotic strains enhance the body's immune system, boost resistance to and recovery from infection, and improve the success of drug therapy.

Finally, yogurt contains a lot of calcium and vitamin D, which experts say helps fight the most common type of bone diseases - osteoporosis. "The combination of calcium and vitamin D has a clear skeletal benefit, provided the dose of vitamin D is sufficiently high," explains Jeri Nieves, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes Hospital. As a result, many of the currently available brands of yogurt with added vitamin D can prove an excellent companion in the fight for the prevention of osteoporosis, particularly for older people. The conclusion is simple: yogurt should not be missing from your diets, and you'll learn to appreciate both its immediate and its long-term benefits.


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Vegetarian Burgers Are Veritable Salt Bombs

Research has pointed out that vegetarian burgers and sausages contain the same amount of salt as five bags of chips
We live in the age of fast-food and whether we like it or not, hamburgers and sausages are pretty much part of our daily lives to a greater extent than we'd like to admit. By its very definition, fast food is a quick, easy-fix apparent solution for those evenings when we're feeling too tired or when we're not motivated to cook proper food.

However, as we very well know, fast food equals junk food and for those of us struggling to lead healthy, well-balanced lifestyles the calorific bomb hidden in today's appetizing fast-food products is a definite no-no. However, some of us may have imagined at some point that the so-called "meat-free", vegetarian products can occasionally act as healthier replacements for the traditional beef and pork – only to be proven wrong.

The latest research indicates that replacing old-fashioned junk food with vegetarian substitutes may turn out to be even worse than actually eating a traditional burger. A study conducted by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) association revealed that some vegetarian burgers and sausages contain the same amount of salt as five bags of chips.

The maximum recommended daily salt intake for an adult is about 6 grams, while for children it ranges somewhere between 3 and 5 grams a day. However, more than one brand of vegetarian sausages currently available on the market contain no less than 5.6g of salt per serving – which means that eating only one such sausage would give you the amount of salt needed for a whole day. And let's face it – how many of us can stop after just one?

"With the barbecue season already upon us, many people may think that going meat-free is a healthier option. We would urge them to look carefully at the labeling to help make sure that they are buying lower-salt products wherever they can", urged CASH nutritionist Carrie Bolt. "Confusingly, many of these products give only the sodium levels on pack. These need to be multiplied by 2.5 to get the salt levels".

Excess salt consumption, nutritionists and heart disease specialists warn us, is very bad news for our health. "We all need to make sure we eat less salt, as the amount that we currently eat puts up our blood pressure and this is the major cause of strokes and heart attacks", warned Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at St George's Hospital Medical School in London, quoted by the Daily Mail. Keep a close eye on your salt intake, and if possible, avoid eating such products altogether – it may be tough on your appetite, but you're definitely giving your heart a helping hand.


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