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Computer Tech News – April 4, 2011

Japan earthquake and tsunami triggers worldwide chip manufacturing backlog. Millions of website are hit by the LizaMoon virus. New Firebox browser blasts past Internet Explorer. These and other interesting stories from the world of computers and the Internet in this week’s Computer Tech News.

Japan Earthquake to Have Long-Term Impact on Microelectronics Industry

Sendai Tsunami AftermathThe March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of northeastern Japan is likely to have a long-term impact in the microelectronics industry worldwide, according to industry experts. Beyond the immediate damage caused by the 9.0 temblor and resulting tsunami, the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is causing power and transportation problems throughout Japan, which has had a devastating impact on the production of silicon chips and the chemicals needed to make microelectronics. Reports indicate that the worldwide production of silicon wafers has dropped 25 percent since the Sendai earthquake and the global supply of hydrogen peroxide — one of the key chemicals needed to manufacture silicon wafers — has plummeted 75 percent. It may be more than six months before production is back to pre-March 11 levels, which is likely to lead to significant price increases on many chip-based products for the rest of 2011.

Millions of Websites Hit with ‘Mass-Injection’ Cyberattack

Computer VirusSince March 28, millions of websites have been corrupted with a “mass-injected” script that experts are calling one of the biggest and most successful cyberattacks of all time. Dubbed the “LizaMoon” virus after the website on which it was first detected, the virus directs users to a rogue URL that tries to get them to install a fake anti-virus program called the “Windows Stability Center.” If users arrive at a site and get an animated message purporting to show their computer is filled with bugs, they should close it down immediately, experts advise.

Microsoft Files Antitrust Complaint Against Google

Google Vs. MicrosftSoftware giant Microsoft has filed a formal antitrust complaint with the European Union charging its rival Google with using unfair practices in how it yields search results. Part of Microsoft’s complaint is that it is preventing users of its Bing search engine from accessing results on YouTube, which Google owns. It also charges Google with not allowing its rivals access to critical software needed to attract top-tier advertisers. Many experts note the irony of Microsoft charging a rival with monopolistic practices as Microsoft itself has been the target of similar suits in the past.

New Browsers Hit the Market: Firefox 4 Beats IE9 in Usage

Firefox 4 vs. IENew versions of the world’s most popular Internet browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla’s Firefox, were released within a week of each other in late March. Both Firefox 4 and IE9 promote increased hardware acceleration and greater overall performance. But surveys show that Firefox 4 was the big winner in the browser wars, gaining in market share over its Microsoft rival. Part of this success may be due to the fact Microsoft intentionally made IE9 unusable on its older Windows XP machines, which accounts for more than half of all PCs currently in use. Firefox 4 works on Windows XP as well as newer operating systems like Vista and Windows 7. Other browsers continuing to make gains at IE’s expense include Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari.

Hollywood Poised to Launch $30 Video-on-Demand

HollywoodHollywood’s major studios are about to offer the public the chance to stream first-run movies for $30 in a move that has the nation’s theater owners up in arms. The studios — with the exception of Paramount — are working with Direct TV to offer this premium Video-on-Demand (VOD) service to users 60 days after a film has opened in theaters. Some industry watchers are skeptical of the $30 price tag since lower-priced DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are usually available some 90 days after a movie’s theatrical premiere.

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  • Computer Applications
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