Thursday, November 29, 2007

Google Cleans Up Malware

Reports say that certain malware distributing sites are making their way to the top of Google's search results, taking advantage of their PageRank system.

Google Purges Malware Websites
This week, news spread in the web saying that malware sites are taking advantage of Google's PageRank system to appear on the top of the search results. Researchers confirmed this Wednesday that Google Inc. has cleaned its index for malware websites.

Malware websites forced its way to the top of search results in Google search by processes known as spamdexing and Google bombing. Spamdexing creates invisible text in the websites that is used to lure users to the websites and is usually irrelevant to the page's content, while Google bombing employs the work of bots that increases the PageRank of a page. For more information about these techniques, see the article, Clicking Google Search Result May Lead to Malware in Sonicsoft Wired.

Researchers, however, said that Google has purged the malware sites from its index, effectively removing these sites from appearing on their search results.

The malware sites, once visited, will attempt to install tons of spywares, viruses, password stealers, rootkits onto the user's system. These malwares are easily prevented by the most recent patches available and uses no new exploits of software.

"They look gone to us," said Alex Eckelberry, the CEO of Sunbelt Software Distribution Inc., the company that broke the news Monday of a massive, coordinated campaign by attackers to spread malware through search results on Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search and other sites.
Google did confirm yesterday with us that they were working the case, and they are good about nailing this stuff," Eckelberry added. He notified Google about his research this Monday.

Ironically, Google refuses to confirm or deny that it did remove from its index the 40,000 malware hosting sites, or even that they had existed. "Google takes the security of our users very seriously, especially when it comes to malware," a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. "In our search results, we try to warn users of potentially dangerous sites when we know of them. Sites that clearly exploit browser security holes to install software, such as malware, spyware, viruses, adware and Trojan horses, are in violation of the Google quality guidelines and may be removed from Google's index."

However, she did not mention how long Google made the purge, and if the company had ever done any countermeasures against malware sites from perform this kind of trick in the future.

Microsoft has just confirmed the presence of the malware sites, and are working on it, says a representative of the Live Search team. Yahoo has not yet made a comment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google Trouble

A new wave of malware distribution is stewing, and it utilizes Google's PageRank system to appeal to users.

Clicking Google Search Result May Lead to Malware
Google is really famous for this technology, and is probably why it's service is leading from its rivals, Yahoo! Search and MSN Search. Google's PageRank technology was designed so popular websites appear on top of search results.

Google's PageRank uses a nifty logic to determine which page is important and which are not by counting the websites that links to the website. In an example, let's say we will need to rank Page A. Google's spiderbot will count how many websites will link to Page A, thus adding a vote to the site, and increasing its rank. The higher the number of sites, the higher the rank would be. All websites are ranked using this technology. For more information about Google PageRank, see this page.

Although this may look like a very good system, it's not without its flaws. A technique known as Google bombing is a technique used to manipulate the search results of Google Search. Since Google uses PageRank, which counts how many websites that links to a page, Google bombing involves creating tons of websites, or blogposts, that links to a page you want its rank to increase. If enough false websites or posts links to the page, it might appear on top of the search result of Google. Also, a technique called Spamdexing, is closely related to Google bombing, employing a different technique, usually involves creating invisible text (like white text, that blends perfectly with the background) to increase the likelihood that the page is ranked higher.

Malwares are now using these techniques to direct unsuspecting users to enter the website, that installs tons of viruses, trojan horses, rootkits, and password stealers. A bot may be used to create hundreds of blogposts that links to the malware page, effectively increasing its rank, and increasing its chance to appear on top of the search result page. Innocent keywords, from 'how to I teach my dog to play fetch' to 'how to cisco routing vpn dial in', may produce links that leads malicious websites on the very top of the results. Most users wouldn't suspect anything's amiss with the rogue results, although the ultra-wary might be suspicious because many of the malicious URLs are just a jumble of characters, with China's .cn top-level domain at their ends.

Once a user enters the bogus site, he'll be bombarded with malware installation. It may guise itself as a fake video codec. If that doesn't get the user, its IFRAME will. "This is what's doing the most damage," added Sunbelt malware researcher Adam Thomas. "It's loaded with every piece of malware you can think of, including fake toolbars, rogue software and scareware."

One site that Thomas encountered tried to install more than 25 separate pieces of malware, including numerous Trojan horses, a spam bot, a full-blown rootkit, and a pair of password stealers. All the malicious code pitched at users is well-known to security vendors, and can only exploit PCs that aren't up-to-date on their patches.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Service Pack 3 Speeds XP

Microsoft has released the beta version of Windows XP to a limited number of testers just days after Windows Vista Service Pack 1 was released. Testers say SP3 speeds up Windows XP.

Service Pack 3 Boosts XP's Speed
Looks like the six-year old operating system is improving, as early testers of Windows XP SP3 reveals that it speeds up Windows XP. Microsoft has released the beta version of SP3 to a limited number of tester just days after the release of SP1 for Vista.

Devil Mountain Software tested the SP1 for Vista earlier, and claimed that Vista with SP1 is no faster than the original, unpatched version. They repeated some of the same tests on the release candidate of Windows XP SP3.

"We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Windows XP SP3 delivers a measurable performance boost to this aging desktop OS," said Craig Barth, Devil Mountain's chief technology officer, in a post to a company blog Friday.

Devil Mountain ran its OfficeBench suite of performance benchmarks on a laptop equipped with Office 2007, Microsoft's latest application suite. The notebook - the same unit used in the Vista/Vista SP1 tests earlier - featured a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 1GB of memory. The results reported a 10% speed increase under XP SP3 when compared to SP2, the service pack released in 2004.

"Since SP3 was supposed to be mostly a bug-fix/patch consolidation release, the unexpected speed boost comes as a nice bonus," Barth said. "In fact, XP SP3 is shaping up to be a 'must-have' update for the majority of users who are still running Redmond's not-so-latest and greatest desktop OS."

According to the Office performance benchmarks, Windows XP SP3 is also considerably faster than Vista SP1. "None of this bodes well for Vista, which is now more than two times slower than the most current builds of its older sibling," said Barth.

This may be the Service Pack that could snatch away Vista's selling points. Since companies are still reluctant to upgrade to Vista, they may test out this service pack and eventually skip Windows Vista altogether if all goes well. For one thing, upgrading to Windows Vista costs money - to purchase the operating system, to upgrade the computer components to match the requirements of Vista, and to train people on how to use the new operating system. Upgrading Windows XP to Service Pack 3, is free, however. In addition, XPs performance is better than Vista, considering the application incompatibilities, and with this upgrade, it looks like XPs the clear winner.

But we can't tell for sure. Even though Microsoft extended the support for the six-year old operating system, they may come up with some scheme to force Windows XP users to upgrade to Vista.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 is scheduled to be released in the early quarter of 2008, but Microsoft said this lock is not definite, but will respond accordingly to consumer demands.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Windows XP Service Pack 3

Windows Vista's Service Pack 1 has been quite a buzz during the past few months, but Microsoft is quiet about its Service Pack 3 for Windows XP

Microsoft Quietly Readies XP SP3
Just days after Microsoft delivered the release candidate of Windows Vista's Service Pack 1, Microsoft issued a quiet release of the Windows XP SP3 beta, to about 15,000 testers, the company said.

The next major service pack, a critical fix to the six-year old operating system, will be scheduled to be released in the first half of 2008. Microsoft, however, reminded everyone that this is not definite rather an estimate. "We are targeting [the first half of] 2008 for the release of XP SP3 RTM, though our timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority," a company spokesperson said. RTM means release to manufacturing, and when a software is given to a publisher to be boxed and shipped to consumers.

Like Windows Vista SP1, Microsoft will at some point offer the beta version to anyone who wants to test it, the spokesman said.

Microsoft has been quiet about what will be in Windows XP SP3, and in general has been reluctant to even mention the update as it publicizes the progress of Vista SP1 in company blogs and regular communications with the press. Analysts have speculated that Microsoft, which has already made several XP-related concessions, including extending support for the aged OS and pushing the end of retail and OEM sales out five more months, wants to downplay SP3 to make sure it doesn't steal any more thunder from Windows Vista.

According to accounts published last month, XP SP3 will feature more than 1,000 hot fixes and patches that have been issued in the past three years, as well as at least four new features, some of which will be ports of Vista tools.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Google Edge

Google extended its lead in web searches, ComScore says.

Google Remains On Top of Web Searches

Google still remains on the top of the pack, with still increasing share of internet search engine market in October. According to market researcher ComScore, Google broadened its lead over its rivals Yahoo and Microsoft by winning 58.5 percent of all US searches in October, an increase of 1.5 percentage points over September.

Yahoo took second place with 22.9 percent of the search market, down from 23.7 percent, while third ranked Microsoft dropped to 9.7 percent from 10.3 percent. Ask Network remained steady at fourth place with 4.7 percent of the U.S. search market in October, while Time Warner Network dropped a tad to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent a month earlier, ComScore reported.

Google captured 6.1 billion of the 10.5 billion Internet searches Americans conducted in October, ComScore said, far more than second place Yahoo's 2.4 billion.

Leading Search Engines - October 2007
  • Google: 58.5 percent (+1.5 points)
  • Yahoo: 22.9 percent (-0.8 points)
  • Microsoft: 9.7 percent (-0.6 points)
  • Ask Networ: 4.7 percent (no change)
  • Time Warner Network: 4.2 percent -0.1 points)

Source: ComScore. (The company only counted search engines with nearly 5 percent or more of the search market in its survey.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

War in Microsoft

Analysts say that Microsoft Windows Vista's biggest problem is not competition from other companies like Apple. It's more like Family Feud, actually.

Vista's Biggest Problem
Microsoft's biggest worry shouldn't be rival operating systems from Apple Inc. or Red Hat, but competition from it's own Windows XP, analysts said last week.

The big story isn't that 32% of the companies we surveyed said that they would start Vista deployments by the end of next year," said Benjamin Gray, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "It's that companies have been hugely successful in standardizing on Windows XP."

About 85% of US and European companies with more than 1,000 employees use Windows XP, up from 65% a year before. Although Windows XP is already six years old, Gray warned not to bet against it. "There are plenty of companies looking forward to XP SP3," he said. That next hot-fix and patch rollup is to ship sometime in the first quarter of 2008, Microsoft has said, and it will reportedly be XP's last service pack.

Vista's biggest competition isn't Apple or Novell or Red Hat; it's Microsoft itself, it's XP," Gray said. A lot of companies use Windows XP that Microsoft may feel obligated to extend the product mainstream support past its April 2009 expiration date. "I wouldn't be surprised," Gray said, "although it might require some additional pressure on the company by its largest customers."

Still, XP will eventually get the boot in favor of Vista. Vista isn't a matter of if, but of when and how," he noted.

Businesses will start upgrading their operating system to Vista by the end of 2008, while some will do this in 2009, and 2010. Still, some companies are skittish about upgrading, according to Forrester's data.

He attributed the lowered expectations to a lack of detailed information about Vista in 2006; too-high prices for PCs with 2GB of memory, which is essentially the minimum needed for Vista, according to company managers; and a larger-than-expected number of incompatible applications.

"Application incompatibility is a big, big headache," Gray said, citing reports from companies preparing for a migration to Vista. Those firms said applications incompatible with Vista made up between 10% and 40% of their software portfolios. "That's causing a lot of XP shops to take a wait-and-see approach to Vista."

But Gray said he was convinced Microsoft will win out in the end, if only because it has virtually no competitor worth the name in the enterprise market. "Linux and Mac have 1% or 2%, and in some cases, such as Europe and the largest corporations, they don't even register," he said. "Microsoft owns this space, and I don't see that changing."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Month Special: 404 - Not Found

Ever heard of a 404 page? It's a page that is displayed by a website, or the web browser, to inform the user the page he or she is trying to access does not exists. It's not a good sight, but these website make 404 pages the destination page for a few

Cool Pages We Haven't Found

Stereotyped as the 'Page cannot be displayed' page in Internet Explorer, 404 (or four oh four) pages is the page displayed by a website telling the user the requested page is not available.

Possible reasons could be the page has been moved to another location, or the page does not exist, or the user have typed the website address wrong. In any cases, a 404 page shows up if the web server can't access the required page.

It's sometimes dreadful to find yourself on a 404 page. There is no usable content, and more often than not, the only way to go back is pressing the Back button on your browser. Not only that, some web servers are placing ads on their 404 pages, making it impossible to discern you've reached a non-working page.

Still, some websites make their 404 pages cool and imaginative. They include fancy graphics, unique ideas, and even poetry to convey to the users they have reached a bad link. Not only that, they also provide a link to the home page, sometimes a search feature, and even an option to report the bad link, so you're not left lost.

Anyway, here are some of the fun 404 pages we haven't found (since technically, the web page is supposedly not existing):

Do Whatever You Need to Do. These characters are talking about 404 errors and are hilarious!

While you're lost... you must die!

Be poetic. gives you three haikus, and beer!

Another Haiku. Informative, but a direct link back to the homepage would be useful.

Road Not Found.

The Blue Screen of Web Death. Yep, it's still here. BSOWD.

Be sincere. He seems to be very sorry for the missing page...

Don' Count up to 404. The page already did it for you.

Poetic again. A small poem about the 404 error.

Unusual Solutions. Shocking visitors with colors - interesting, but not quite appealing

Tell Them What Happened. A nifty flowchart of what happened

Lost? Nowhere to go?

Robots. Computers. Jamie Huskisson communicates with “lost” visitors using imagery

Good design. A really dirty, hand-made image with a comment - for despaired visitors only. The page also includes a search box.

Emergency Test! Apparently, this is a test of the emergency broadcast systems. You should remain calm, these kinds of things happen all the time. The “four oh four error” by

What Can be Done? This site offers some suggestions

Clean and simple. BlueVertigo offers a poem with horizontal scrolling

Run! Servers on the loose!

Time for oh-four! The 404 on the clock Use Emotions. Isn't he sad?
Hmmm. Slonky uses a bizarre image.

More Haiku.

Page Cannot be found. My favorite

Crash with style. Even a 404-error page can look stylish.

While you're here. The site gives cocktail recipe:

We all make mistakes!

Neat, huh? Click the images for a larger view.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Zune Can't Win

Microsoft's answer to Apple's digital music player, the iPod, is the Zune. It wasn't a big hit when it was first released. However, with Zune 2.0, it may turn the tides, but Apple have had a big head start.

Zune too Late?

Finally, Microsoft got digital music right -- to bad it's five years too late. PC Magazine just awarded the Microsoft Zune 80GB player an Editor's Choice. Unfortunately, it's the best of a dying breed - hard drive-based players, but still sports a brilliant blend of elegant design, intuitive interface, and strong features.

Hard drive-based players are becoming rarer, with flash-driven players with all the rage. The Apple iPod touch, the number one most-coveted player today, is an 8GB flash player. So are the Apple iPod nano, SanDisk's best players, and the Samsung p2. Microsoft did produce a new flash-based player too. The Microsoft Zune 8GB model uses flash memory, pleasingly thin, and shares that same smart interface to the new Zune Marketplace as its big brother.

Several tests show, however, that the display is sluggish, and iPod nano and touch thumps that area. Whatever issues exist with the flash-based Zune are probably easily fixed, though it's hard to imagine that Microsoft can do anything to the player that would make it more attractive than Apple's flash offerings.

Microsoft does present some minor innovations. (No, not the integration of FM radio—SanDisk and just about every other iPod competitor does that.) The ad hoc music sharing is a nifty curiosity: Share music with other Zune owners, who get to play the songs three times (over three days, three months, three years or any time span you want). The fundamental flaw here is, I'm sure, obvious to you: You have to know other Zune owners for this to work. Do you know any? In the year since Zune first launched, I have yet to meet one.

This, of course, invites the question: If Microsoft could build in Wi-Fi, why didn't the company make a deal with some service provider to turn thousands of hot spots into music-download spigots? Could it be that no one wanted to make a deal with Microsoft? Music partners haven't always fared so well with the Redmond-based company. Just look at what happened with PlaysForSure, which Microsoft left out of the first- and second-generation Zunes, and the disastrous, short-lived MTV/Urge relationship.

Still, companies like Verizon like to make money, and they must be gnashing their teeth over the Apple/T-Mobile hot spot/Starbucks deal. Any wireless service provider could be making pennies per download with Microsoft and its new Zunes. Multiply this by a million downloads and you're talking some serious cash.

The harsh reality is that Microsoft will never win in the digital music market—unless someone discovers that iPods cause cancer. I have to believe that Microsoft knows this and accepts it. It's not looking for Apple converts—a good plan because there won't be any. Instead, Microsoft will go for digital music virgins. There are still millions of them. Many are adults who don't understand why everything Apple does is so cool. Others always considered Apple's products too expensive. The Zune is cool in its own right, though it lacks that intangible quality of every Apple product.

Young people graduating from the Nintendo DS to music players may not accept the Zune ("cool" plays too large in their lives and they'll likely demand an iPod touch or nano), but young adults, grown adults, and the elderly could be perfect target markets for the new Zunes. With that in mind, Microsoft may want to take another look at its ad campaign, which is obviously designed to appeal to people who love the iPod ads.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.0 Beta

Close to 15,000 developers have been testing the 'alpha' version of Firefox 3.0, and today, Mozilla has released the first beta version. The release of the beta is tad delayed than originally expected, but from the early looks of the Firefox 3 beta 1 browser it was worth the wait

Firefox 3 Adds More Security

Mozilla has released a beta version of Firefox 3.0 today, and said they one-step closer into releasing their next-generation web browser to the public.

Close to 15,000 developers have been testing the early 'alpha' versions of Firefox code for several months now, but the first beta release of the code should open up the software to a broader public.

"The move from alpha to beta typically means that we've hit a point of quality where we believe the browser is useable as a daily browser," said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering. "For us, it's a step up in terms of getting closer toward the final release." Schroepfer expects a second beta to follow by year's end followed by a final beta 3 update in early 2008.

One of the big changes with Firefox 3.0 is an overhaul of the way the browser bookmarks and keeps track of browsing history. With this new feature, called Places, browsing history will now be stored in a database, meaning that it will be much easier for Firefox users to search for sites they've visited. "Because of the new Places infrastructure we're able to store a much larger component of your history," Schroepfer said.

Another addition is the browser's ability to search what is being typed into the address bar to see it it's relevant to your browsing history.

Security has also taken a front seat with Firefox 3.0. The browser is now integrated with Google's database of known malicious Web sites and will warn users before they visit sites that are considered to be dangerous.

The Download Manager works better with antivirus software, giving users extra security by spotting malicious files before they are placed on the computer. Also, Firefox will no longer permit add-ons to be downloaded from insecure sites.

A lot of the work has been done under the hood. Firefox has a new overhauled HTML rendering engine, known as Gecko 1.9. They promised that the new engine will perform better in the graphically rich Web 2.0 world, where developers are trying to find new ways of running software whether the PC is connected to the Internet or not. "You won't see those as a user right away," Schroepfer said. "But you'll see Web applications do more interesting things and run more quickly in Firefox over time."

Don't use Firefox with Yahoo! Mail and Gmail yet - errors occur on some website that heavily depend on Ajax technology. There is no planned release date for Firefox 3.0 final release. The release of the beta is tad delayed than originally expected, but from the early looks of the Firefox 3 beta 1 browser it was worth the wait.

Monday, November 19, 2007

GMail Reaches 5 Gig

Google Mail's, or Gmail, inbox and storage capacity has been increasing ever since it was released to the public this February, and now it has reached new heights

GMail's Mileage Reaches 5 Gigabytes of Storage
As of today, November 19, 2007, Gmail's storage capacity has reached over 5,000 Megabytes or 5 GB of online storage. That's all for free online, and that also includes your Picasa and Blogger accounts.

Google's Gmail capacity has been increasing at about 1 megabyte per hour ever since it was released to the public last February of 2007. Google's promise is that they will increase the storage capacity indefinitely, or as long as they have space on their servers.

After Gmail's initial announcement and development, many existing web mail services quickly increased their storage capacity. For example, Hotmail went from giving some users 2 MB to 25 MB (250 MB after 30 days, and 2 GB for Hotmail Plus accounts), while Yahoo! Mail went from 4 MB to 100 MB (and 2 GB for Yahoo! Mail Plus accounts). Yahoo! Mail storage then proceeded to 250 MB, in late April of 2005, to 1 GB. Yahoo! Mail announced that it would be providing "unlimited" storage to all its users in March 2007 and began providing it in May 2007.

These were all seen as moves to stop existing users from switching to Gmail and to capitalize on the newly rekindled public interest in web mail services. The desire to catch up was especially visible for MSN's Hotmail, which upgraded its e-mail storage erratically from 250 MB to the new Windows Live Hotmail which includes 5 GB of storage. As of November 2006, MSN Hotmail upgraded all free accounts to have 1 GB of storage. In August of 2005, AOL started providing all AIM screen names with their own e-mail accounts with 2 GB of storage. Another source of competition came from 30Gigs who were offering 30 gigabytes of storage, initially through invite only but now available publicly.

Other than the general increase of storage limit, there has also been an improvement of the e-mail interfaces of Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail after the launch of Gmail. Gmail's ability to have an attachment size of 10 MB was also matched by Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail during 2005. Following the footsteps of Gmail, Yahoo! launched the Yahoo! Mail Beta service and Microsoft launched Windows Live Hotmail, both now incorporating Ajax interfaces. Google increased the maximum attachment size to 20 MB in May 2007

Copyright 2007 Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Google Shmoogle

Google was cited by Fortune Magazine as the #1 out of 100 best company to work for, and this is made even more obvious by Google's gimmicks and its tradition of April Fools jokes.

It's All Google Fun
Google's motto: Don't be evil. They said that you can work and make money without being evil. What I like about Google is they make their business fun. They take away the complicated bits and pieces and instead present their service in a very user-friendly way.

For example, if a pop-up blocker prevents Google from opening a window, it would say, 'Grr.. a popup blocker is preventing Google from opening your page' (or something like that). Or, the "Hooray! No Spam Here!" message inside an empty Spam folder in Gmail. If you frequently use Google, you might notice they also change the Google logo every once in a while to reflect current events, like Halloween, or a birthday (or death) of a popular person. You can find more special Google logos here, at the Google page.

Google celebrates New Year 2007

Google celebrates Leonardo da Vinci's birthday

Google celebrates Edvard Munch's Birthday

Google celebrates Louis Braille's Birthday

Google's relaxed corporate culture is made more obvious by Google's tradition of April Fools jokes. In case you missed some of them, here they are:

2000: Google MentalPlex
Google announced a new "MentalPlex" search technology that supposedly read the user's mind to determine what the user wanted to search for, thus eliminating the step of actually typing in the search query.

What Google said is you must think of your search query and look at the rotating circle. Clicking the circle will display your search result.

See for yourself:
Google MentalPlex page
Google MentalPlex FAQs page
Google MentalPlex Usage Illustration page

2002: PigeonRank
Google reveals the technology behind its PageRank System — PigeonRank. Google touts the benefits of this cost-effective and efficient means of ranking pages and reassures readers that there is no animal cruelty involved in the process. The article makes many humorous references and puns
based on computer terminology and how Google PageRank really works

See for yourself:
Google PigeonRank page

2004: Google Lunar/Copernicus Center
Fictitious job opportunities for a research center on the moon. Luna/X (a pun to Linux as well as a reference to the Windows XP visual style and Mac OS X) is the name of a new operating system they claimed to have created for working at the research center.

See for yourself:
Google Copernicus Center page

2005: Google Gulp
Google Gulp, a fictitious drink, was announced by Google in 2005. According to the company, this beverage would optimize one's use of the Google search engine by increasing the drinker's intelligence. It was claimed this boost was achieved through real-time analysis of the user's DNA and carefully tailored adjustments to neurotransmitters in the brain (a patented technology termed Auto-Drink). The drink was said to come in "4 great flavors": Glutamate Grape (glutamic acid), Sugar-Free Radical (free radicals), Beta Carroty (beta carotene), and Sero-Tonic Water (serotonin).

This hoax was likely intended as a parody of Google's invite-only email service called Gmail. Although ostensibly free, the company claimed the beverage could only be obtained by returning the cap of a Google Gulp bottle to a local grocery store: a causal loop. In the Google Gulp FAQ, Google replies to the observation "I mean, isn't this whole invite-only thing kind of bogus?" by saying "Dude, it's like you've never even heard of viral marketing."

See for yourself:
Google Gulp page
Google Gulp FAQs page

2006: Google Romance
On April Fool's Day 2006, Google Romance was announced on the main Google search page with the introduction, "Dating is a search problem. Solve it with Google Romance." It pretends to offer a "Soulmate Search" to send users on a "Contextual Date". A parody of online dating, it amusingly had a link for "those who generally favor the 'throw enough stuff at the wall' approach to online dating" to Post multiple profiles with a bulk upload file, you sleaze in addition to Post your Google Romance profile. Clicking on either of these gave an error page, which explained that it was an April Fool's joke and included links to previous April Fool's Jokes for nostalgia.

See for yourself:
Google Romance page
Google Romance FAQs page

Google Romance tour page

2007: Gmail Paper & Google TiSP

Gmail Paper

At about 10:00 PM Pacific time (where Google has its headquarters) the day before April 1, 2007, Google changed the login page for Gmail to announce a new service called Gmail Paper. The service offered to allow users of Google's free webmail service to add e-mails to a "Paper Archive," which Google would print (on "96% post-consumer organic soybean sputum") and mail via traditional post. The service would be free, supported by bold, red advertisements printed on the back of the printed messages. Image attachments would also be printed on high-quality glossy paper, though MP3 and WAV files would not be printed. The page detailing more information about the service features photographs of Ian Spiro and Carrie Kemper, current employees of Google. Also featured are Product Marketing Managers of Gmail Anna-Christina Douglas, and Kevin Systrom.

Gmail Paper Index
Gmail Paper Announcement
Gmail Paper Program Policies

Google TiSP

Google TiSP (short for Toilet Internet Service Provider) was a fictitious free broadband service supposedly released by Google. This service would make use of a standard toilet and sewage lines to provide free Internet connectivity at a speed of 8 Mbit/s (2 Mbit/s upload) (or up to 32 Mbit/s with a paid plan). A user would drop a weighted end of a long, Google-supplied fiber-optic cable in their toilet and flush it. Around 60 minutes later, the end would be recovered and connected to the Internet by a "Plumbing Hardware Dispatcher (PHD)." The user would then connect their end to a Google-supplied wireless router and run the Google-supplied installation media on a Windows XP or Vista computer ("Mac and Linux support coming soon"). Alternatively, a user could request a professional installation, in which Google would deploy nanobots through the plumbing to complete the process. The free service would be supported by "discreet DNA sequencing" of "personal bodily output" to display online ads that relate to culinary preferences and personal health. Google also referenced the cola-and-Mentos reaction in their FAQ: "If you're still experiencing problems, drop eight mints into the bowl and add a two-liter bottle of diet soda."

Google TiSP
Google TiSP FAQ
Installation page
Press Release page

Finally, Google also created a 404 - Not Found page:
Not found page - April fools version

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good 'ol Gmail

Google's answer to the email rivalries is the Gmail. It's free, and has unique features that really make it stand out among its competitors

Google Gmail Exposed

Gmail has come a long way since it first debuted. In April 1, 2004, Google's web-based email service was released as a beta, but to a limited users only - you need an invitation from a Gmail user to create your own email account. In February of 2007, it was opened to the public, and anybody can create an account without any invitations.

Before the invitation-only status was removed, Gmail has the largest email storage capacity - 1 GB in size, compared to Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail's megabytes-sized inboxes. It was the choice for people who have to store lots and lotsa emails. And when it opened to the public, that storage capacity soared to 2 GB. As of now, Gmail's storage capacity is creeping to 5Gb and still increasing to a little more than 1 MB an hour.

The unique feature of Gmail is it's unique presentation and foundation. It uses AJAX, a technology that allows you to refresh certain areas of a webpage, without refreshing the entire page. That allows faster load times, and very responsive page. Clicking the Inbox immediately shows your inbox folder (without the page refreshing). In the same way, clicking any folder shows the folder's contents almost instantaneously.

And it's unique 'conversational view' allows you to see the thread of your email in one single view. All messages in the email are grouped together in a stack, so all the replies to the email and your replies to the email are readily available.

But these are the ones that makes Gmail stand out among the rest. You won't see these in Yahoo! and Windows Live Hotmail:

By default, all your emails and data go through unencrypted connection. However, changing the http:// in the address bar to https://, you can manually force Gmail to use a more secure, encrypted connection to retrieve your emails. That reduces third-party sniffing for data and user information, like your contacts.

Plus Addressing
Gmail has this handy, and unique feature, that allows you to plus your addresses. If you receive the Sonicsoft Wired Update email, you'll notice that it is used extensively. Plus addressing allows users to send emails to, where extratext can be any string. Emails will still be sent to This is especially useful when subscribing to online websites. So you can filter out the messages received from a subscribed site, a user might register the email address as

The Dot Addresses
Another useful feature of Gmail is that it doesn't recognize the dot or period. It ignores them instead. So, all emails to,, and will still go to This is useful to sort out or filter messages you receive.

You might have noticed that Gmail is still in beta state - meaning it's not yet released as final. It's been beta ever since it was released, and many people are wondering whether Gmail will get out of beta state, or might go on forever as beta, known as the perpetual beta. Google says that it will remain in beta so they can improve their services whenever it is needed. Last month, Gmail was updated to version 2.0. However, some people are reporting problems with the new format. Users are allowed to go back to version 1 anytime they like.

Check out the Official Gmail Blog for more news.

Copyright 2007 Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 16, 2007

Businesses Might Skip Windows Vista

With Microsoft's plan of releasing the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 7, in late 2009 or early 2010, there's a strong possibility that business might skip Vista altogether

Will Businesses Skip Vista Altogether?

Windows Vista will be available to consumers and business for one year on November 30, and yet many Windows users are still waiting for the Vista service pack before upgrading. But with Microsoft's plan of releasing the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 7, in late 2009 or early 2010, Windows users might skip Vista and in favor of the new version.

On Wednesday, Microsoft reported that more and more third party vendors are writing software and configuring hardware that are Vista compatible, along with drivers that should iron out the incompatibilities that plagued older hardware.

According to Mike Nash, a vice president of product management for Windows client, the experience of running Vista on hardware that is certified for it "is a lot better today than it was a month ago and certainly a lot better than it was [last November]."

Along with Windows Server 2008, Microsoft will release the roll-up updates for Windows Vista in the first quarter next year. The company is hoping that companies will upgrade to both versions.

Even with optimistic reports of Microsoft about Windows Vista, users are still complaining with enough problems that some companies may opt to wait until Windows 7 before upgrading their desktops. However, Microsoft has not disclosed much detail about Windows 7 except that it will be released about three years after Vista.

Users complain that Vista doesn't run well with older hardware -- either on PCs or with connected devices like printers that are a year or two old. Even on PCs that are supposedly meant to be optimized for Vista, there are still odd performance and compatibility issues with certain devices, applications and OS features that make using it a less than optimal experience

For this reason, one East Coast IT consultant who specializes in Microsoft products said that unless Windows Vista SP1 really smooths over the problems people are having with Vista, "there's a good chance many people will hold on to XP until the next version of Windows.

"They're just so many little usability issues," said the consultant, who asked not to be named, but who has nearly 20 years of experience with Microsoft software. "I can just imagine when the next one comes out, Microsoft will actually get it right and everyone will breathe a sigh of relief."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Microsoft Office 13?

The latest version of Microsoft Office is 2007, but its version number is really 12. Microsoft has no plans on releasing the version 13. Find out why on this post.

Microsoft Will Not Release Office 13

The latest version of Microsoft Office is 2007, since it was released that year. But 2007 is not its real version - application versions are replaced usually by something, in this case the year it was released, to make it more appealing. Do you know Windows 5? Windows 5 is really Windows XP; Windows 6 is Vista, and a rumor is going around regarding Windows 7. Instead of releasing 'Windows 5.1', Microsoft dubbed it with XP - it's less geeky and more professional sounding.

You might have heard this before, but Microsoft Office 2007's version is really 12, and sometimes the suite is known as Office 12 (especially for those technical people and geeks). The beta version of Office 2007 is known only as Office 12.

Microsoft Office 2007 featured a new interface called the Ribbon, or the Fluent interface. It grouped the commands into logical tabs to make work easier and faster. The menu bar was also stripped, and taking its place is the Office button that sits on the top-left corner of the window. It contains commands such as Open, Save, Print, and Close.

The newest version also includes SmartArt, that automates the process of creating diagrams; the new contextual spelling checker, that flags correctly spelled words but incorrectly used in context (such as there are tree roses in the pot); the Mini toolbar, dubbed Floatie in beta versions, and Live Preview that shows the effect by just hovering the mouse.

Successful the Office Suite may be, Microsoft has announced that they are not going to release the Office 13 version. This statement is from Jensen Harris, the Group Program Manager for Microsoft's Office User Experience Team and the man behind the radical ribbon interface of Office 2007.

Don't despair - Microsoft is not really cancelling the whole Office suite business - too much money is at stake. No. The company is merely skipping the 'unlucky' version 13. Harris said that the number 13"is an unlucky number so we're going to skip Office 13 and call the next one Office 14"

"Our job isn't done here (with Office 2007), we still have some tricks up out sleeve" according to Harris, who says the team is "in the early stages of planning the next version of Office."

"We're currently immersed in that early and very creative part of the product cycle. We're looking at the customer feedback that we're starting to get from real people going to the store and buying Office 2007, and also from our corporate customers, and also just thinking about what problems we have left in the user experience."

Inconsistencies still exist on the Office 2007, such as the ribbon. Present in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the ribbon is not used in Publisher, and the main window of Outlook.

Harris said that "it's fair to say that we're going to evaluate every single program in Office and see whether (Fluent) makes sense or not, and whether it's the right step for that program to take. But undoubtedly we'll see more of the Fluent UI in Office in the future, and maybe even elsewhere at Microsoft."

As of now, it's too early to say what features are going to be thrown to the Office 14, although speaking at last year's Software 2006 conflab, Microsoft corporate vice president Simon Witts spoke of Office 14 focusing on "role-based productivity."

Its really something when a multi-billion-dollar corporation, built on the numbers zero and one, is still forced to pander to beliefs about "unlucky" number.

Copyright 2007 Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Sonicsoft Release - ShutDown Guard

Sonicsoft releases another of its products that prevents your computer from shutting down unless you really wanted it to.

Sonicsoft Shutdown Guard Beta Released
Sonicsoft has released a beta version of ShutDown Guard, a software that prevents your computer from shutting down automatically, unless you really wanted it to.

Sometimes Windows users gets frustrated when Windows automatically reboots because of an installation, causing them to save their work and wait until Windows is ready again. ShutDown Guard prevents that. Running in the background, it monitors for the shut down sequence. When it does, it stops it and shows the user a message. If the shut down is legit, the user can command ShutDown Guard to allow the shut down. The shut down is also allowed after a specified amount of time, in case the user leaves the PC after initiating the shut down command.

The beta version is free and is available now. I will post links to the program later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Block those Popups

We hate those annoying popups, so why not fight against it? Of course, choose a robust and smart blocker. In this post, we examine some of the popular popup blockers available

How Tough is Your Blocker?

We all agree - we hate those annoying popups. They really sap away the internet surfing experience. Popups are those little, sometimes borderless and modal, windows that contain nothing but advertisement. Nowadays, popups are not limited by that description no more. Advanced popups uses the DOM and JavaScript to convey their messages and annoy the average web surfer.

Of course, you could always use a popup blocker to purge those pesky windows, but how effective is your popup blocker? If you are using a popup blocker, test how effective it is by going to the Popup Test site. It contains every available popup method to see if your popup blocker can detect these type of 'attacks'.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 has included its own popup blocker, and it's quite effective - but not always. Some popups bypass the blocker unless it is set to strict mode, where every popups are blocked. To override the setting, just hold CTRL while clicking the link. If you haven't installed a popup blocker yet, here is a list of some of the popular ad blocking programs that you can try. Some of them are free, while others have free limited-time trial. Find a one that works for you.

PopUp Ad SmasheR
PopUp Ad SmasheR has a weird name, but it stops most of the typical browsing annoyances in Internet Explorer. You can configure it to stop pop-up and pop-under ads, animated and floating ads, Flash ads, timer ads (which can prevent you from accessing a Web page), deceiving dialog box ads, and message box ads.

Ad Annihilator
Ad Annihilator is good--very good, in fact--at blocking pop-up ads, banner ads, Flash ads, and other distractions, including cookies. Once you've started blocking ads, the program's "suppression mechanism" (which sounds like an antibiotic) recognizes and kills similar banners and pop-up windows. If you identify a keyword or character string that often appears in ads, you can add it to the program's Web content filtering and blocking feature.

AdBarricade is a network-based ad-blocking service that supplies you with new DNS (Domain Name System) numbers; as a result, ads are blocked before they get near your PC. You have nothing to install, and the service works with every browser and operating system.

Super Ad Blocker
Super Ad Blocker tackles even the most annoying ads, including pop-ups, banners, and the distracting fly-in and slide-in types. It works nicely on all counts; if you're curious about how well it does, you can obtain detailed logs for all the blocked ads. Super Ad Blocker comes with a comprehensive configuration panel showing you its options for stopping ads, including those that annoy you while you're using instant messaging programs.

ZeroAds tries to remove all types of ads, but it's most proficient at blocking simple banners and pop-ups; it didn't touch most of the Flash ads on the sites I tried. The program includes a cookie remover and an active antispyware module. The 15-day trial will help you decide how well the $30 product works at blocking ads on the sites you visit.

Popup Free
Popup Free is a small, no-frills tool that stops pop-up, banner, and Flash ads, and loads into the system tray when Internet Explorer launches. It halts most banners and some Flash ads reasonably well, yet has trouble stopping slide-in and fly-across ads. If Popup Free nails a legitimate pop-up window, you can add the item to your whitelist to let it through in the future. The tool is free, but to continue using it, you'll need to obtain a free registration code within 14 days.

Google Toolbar Pop-Up Blocker
You probably know the Google Toolbar as a terrific search tool for Internet Explorer or Firefox. But it also comes with a free pop-up blocker that works as well as some of the pricey ones do; it's amazingly accurate at diagnosing and blocking pop-ups that I don't want to see while letting "good" pop-ups appear. The toolbar supports Web-based bookmarking, and throws in a spelling checker and an automatic form-filling feature

Yahoo Toolbar
Yahoo's free Toolbar fits snugly into your browser, right under the address field, and protects you from pesky pop-ups.
Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything about the other annoyances, namely banner and Flash ads. If you don't find those bothersome, however, Yahoo's customizable Toolbar might be the choice for you. It's loaded with other features, too, including competent Web searches, the ability to check Yahoo Mail, and free Norton antivirus and antispyware scans. The Yahoo Toolbar also lets you create Web-based bookmarks that are separate from your system-based bookmarks, ideal if your other browsers also have the Yahoo Toolbar installed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sonicsoft Record

Sonicsoft reached a new milestone and gained a little popularity

Sonicsoft Wired Gets Visitors Across the Globe

The Sonicsoft Wired blog been around for about a month now, containing current news and updates in the computing world. During that span of time, it has gained a little popularity across the internet.

On its first week, Sonicsoft Wired ranked first on Google PageRank, an algorithm that determines the importance of a website based on how many external sites link to it, and the quality of the page. During the first three weeks of the launch, searching the word sonicsoft will show the website first on the search results list. As of November 14, Sonicsoft Wired ranks 1st, and its sister blog, Sonicsoft Survival Guide, ranks 5th.

Sonicsoft has yet reached another milestone. Using Google Analytics, a free web tool to track how many people have visited your website and the location in the globe that accessed the site, Sonicsoft Wired peaked at 200 visitors all across the planet, with concentrated visitors from Asia. Several visitors from the United States, South America, and Europe were also present.

After almost a month, the website has received visitors from all 6 continents, a major feat considering the site is fairly new with no way of advertising or promotion. Thirteen people from North America visited on the second week, while visits from Europe came early this week. Qatar accessed the site, with the longest amount of time to stay in the page, averaging 7 minutes, and Singapore came second, with an average time of 5 minutes. The highest visitors for a territory is the South East Asia, with 77 visits. The final continent, Africa, accessed the site today, helping to achieve the record.

Comprehensive the reports of Google Analytics may be, there is no way to personally identify an individual who visited the site. Data is collected anonymously.

Copyright 2007 Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sonicsoft Logo

Sonicsoft releases its new logo and tagline

The New Sonicsoft Mark

Sonicsoft has just released its newest logo and trademark. Check it out:

Sonicsoft: Sounds Perfect. Doesn't it? What do you think?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yahoo! Messenger Gets Virus

A new threat emerges that uses Yahoo! Messenger as its way of spreading. Find out more in this post.

A Virus Uses Yahoo! Messenger

Did anybody receive a weird looking instant message that has the link* in it? Be warned, this is a type of a virus. Apparently, the virus uses Yahoo! Messenger as its way of spreading.

More and more users of Yahoo! Messenger, or YM, have been receiving suspicious instant messages from their contact lists. It contains characters not found in the English alphabet, so it is presumed to be Korean or Japanese. The message also include the link*. The sender of the message does not now or are unaware that these messages were sent using their account information. Forums are abuzz with questions regarding the problem in the last few weeks of October. Most answers are about viruses - that a new virus is using this technique to spread out.

Typical sign that the virus has infected the computer is frequent messages that contain the link above*, either when you are online, or as offline messages. Using social engineering, the virus spreads to your contact list by providing them the link. Recipients would think this is a cool website, since they know that a contact sent the link.

Messages seems to be random and contains corrupted characters. You may see them as:

Bé gái b? gi?t, xâm h?i tình d?c

S?ng nh? máu ng?a và th?

They can be sent when you are online, or as offline messages, and at regular intervals, like every 5 minutes. Senders are unaware that these type of messages are being sent. Some reports even say that it also causes the link or message to be pasted on their Microsoft Word document.

More information about the problem here:

BigBlueBall Website

BigBlueBall Forums

Yahoo! Answers New Zealand

Other websites that requires additional language packs.

There are no news from Yahoo! regarding any patch to fix this vulnerability as the infection size is still small.

So, keep your enemies close, but your Yahoo! Messenger contacts closer. The best way to avoid this type of attack is to spread the news - don't click the link (hey, it rhymes) - to avoid further increase of infection. Others suggest to use the Web Version of Yahoo! Messenger to prevent contact with the virus.

*Although no site has confirmed that this is a virus, do not, under any circumstances, try to open the link, to avoid infection. At least you want to play it safe. And any temptation to click the link proves the virus' capability of social engineering - urging people to see what the link contains

Copyright 2007 by Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 9, 2007

Stop AutoRun (Part 1)

The most common vector for virus infection thru USB flash drives exploits the AutoRun feature of Windows. Find out how to turn off this feature and hopefully provide you another level of protection.

AutoRun, Be-gone!

Windows came with the feature called AutoRun, or AutoPlay, that allows the computer to launch a program once you insert a CD or USB flash drive into your system. This is handy feature is what makes your CD launch the installer or your DVDs to launch the correct player. But this feature poses significant risks. For more information, see the article, USB Virus Get Sneaky.

Once you insert your CD or USB flash drive, Windows searches for the autorun.inf file in the root directory. If found, Windows executes the contents of the file. With Windows XP and Vista, the default action to take when the autorun.inf file is not found is to prompt the user on what to do based on the contents of the new media. Otherwise, the indicated program in the autorun file is executed. Convenient it may be, unfortunately, a virus may use this as a technique to infect your system. All it takes is a USB flash drive with an autorun and an executable program its root folder.

Folder and Directory means essentially the same - a way to organize files. Root directory means the top-most level of a drive, usually denoted by a backslash (\). Root directories usually contain boot information and other files that are usually marked important or highly accessed.

In Windows XP, you can change the defaults for AutoPlay by right-clicking the drive in Windows Explorer, and selecting Properties. Under the AutoPlay tab, you can control what Windows does for each type of media. Changing the settings here have no effect in preventing autorun.inf from being executed.

Although the Registry keys, NoDriveAutoRun and NoDriveTypeAutoRun, can turn off the feature, this can be overridden. A registry entry, MountPoints2 (see Removing Common USB Viruses), contained cached information to launch the program. This cache is obtained when the user first inserted the media, including, but not limited to hard drives, USB flash drives and optical media.

For steps on how to stop AutoRun, click here.

Stop AutoRun (Part 2)

The most common vector for virus infection thru USB flash drives exploits the AutoRun feature of Windows. Find out how to turn off this feature and hopefully provide you another level of protection. Read the Introduction here.

AutoRun, Be-gone! (Continued)

Solution? Globally block the autorun.infs from executing. Keep in mind, though, that this will block all friendly and hostile autorun.infs - nothing will happen when you insert a USB flash drive or CD and DVDs - but that's what we want. We don't want a rogue virus to execute when we insert a removable media. Of course, your installation CDs might not launch the setup program automatically. You have to manually open the program in Windows Explorer - a minor drawback.

To block autorun.infs from executing, follow these steps

  1. Start Notepad or another text editor (don't use Microsoft Word or Wordpad)

  2. Copy the following text from this page and paste it into your text editor (everything between the square brackets should be all on one line)

    REGEDIT4[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\Autorun.inf]@="@SYS:DoesNotExist"

  3. Save the file with a name like NoAutoRun.reg, taking care to include the .reg extension

  4. Right-click your .reg file and choose Merge. Confirm any warning prompts to add the information to the Registry.

What we did is to nullify the file that Windows searches when you insert a removable drive. Windows was instructed to find the autorun information inside the name autorun.inf. Here, we changed that to nothing, so Windows will attempt to search for the file with no filename (which is impossible since no file has no filename).

The benefit is a big one: a rogue program that you never intended to launch won't silently take over your system if you happen to insert a Trojan-carrying disc into a drive.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Fastest Internet Browser

Apple Safari is faster than Internet Explorer and Mozilla, a testing firm says.

Surfing with Apple Safari

A testing firm says that Apple is faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and Firefox - proof to what Apple said in June when it released the new beta version.

The testing firm has tried to download a webpage off a busy server using Apple's Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Firefox, and timed the results. Based on the tests, Apple's Safari is faster than Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 by 1.6 seconds, and Firefox by 1.2 seconds -- way slower than what Apple is currently advertising: 2x faster than Internet Explorer

However, the test is not conclusive. The firm has tested the browsers by downloading on a busy server - a huge no-no when testing for speed. This will result in bad data as busy servers may respond quicker or slower depending on the load. What they should have used is a local, dedicated testing server, to avoid interference with the data.

Apple has released a public version of Safari 3 on their website, available for both Mac and Windows.

I have tested the new Safari, and I must say it is faster than Internet Explorer 6 and 7. Loading Safari is comparable to Internet Explorer, but loading the page is faster - probably because it uses the progressive technique of loading pictures rather than displaying the image once the download is complete, a technique used by Internet Explorer. Using progressive loading, a blurry avatar or the image is displayed first, and later refined as the whole image is downloaded completely.

Other cool stuff is the tabbed browsing of Safari, and the ability to customize the toolbar (with cool movement animations). Safari for Windows uses manifests from Apple, meaning, the checkbox, option button, buttons, and checkboxes look like the ones on a Mac. Also, the ability to resize a text box is pretty neat. That way, if you want to see your entire text inside one, just drag and resize.

But the biggest drawback is that it does not display all pages correctly, especially the ones with Flash content. Adobe has not yet released a Flash player for Safari for Windows at the time of this writing. Since this version is also a beta, crashes are often.

You can find the latest version here and download the beta here.

Copyright 2007 by Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved
Image: Apple Website

Monday, November 5, 2007

BETA: Yahoo! Messenger

Fans of the popular Yahoo! Messenger, great news! Yahoo! has released the beta version of the new Y! Messenger

Yahoo! Messenger 9.0

October 29 - Yahoo! has released a new version of Yahoo! Messenger, the Yahoo! Messenger 9.0. It is still in beta state, meaning the program is bound to have bugs or glitches that will be fixed on the final release of the product.

The new Y! Messenger, version 9.0, now supports better-looking skins. These new skins allows you to customize not only the color of the window, but also the title bar of the window, with cool designs. Default skins are available, ranging from wood to icy blue.

The interface is sleeker and cleaner than the previous version, reducing the visual clutter.

Along with the new additions is the 'friend-happy' contact list. The list is now expanded, so that you can view the image of your contacts. It also gives more room for the status of each contact. But sometimes this wastes so much space, instead of displaying more contacts. That makes you scroll through the list unnecessarily. However, you have the option to revert back to the former list view. By the way, you can now use Emoticons for your status messages.

Also, a new contact group has been added - your Address Book list. That way, you can easily IM or text message your friends in your Y! Mail address book.

The photo sharing features of Y! Messenger has been improved, integrating photos from Flickr. Plus a cool new integrated Media player has been added. Just include a link from a video site, such as YouTube, and Messenger allows you to play the video right inside the chat window.

Yahoo! Messenger also features some protection against malicious attacks like viruses and malwares, but I haven't tested them yet.

The chat window is changed, too. The toolbar now only contains IMvironment, Plugins, and Photos, along with the Call button. The rest are moved to the lower portion of the window, right above the text box.

No new options are available in the Preference window, and the Skins section has been moved to the top of the title bar.

It's a working program, but it is still in beta state. There's no guarantee that it will work properly. Expect some glitches and crashes here and there. And any features described here will eventually change and additional features may be available in the future. If you decide to try and install the new version, you can download one here:

While in the subject of instant messengers, why not try Trillian by Cerulean Studios. This allows you to connect to multiple instant messenger accounts, like Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, ICQ, AIM, IRQ, Bonjour, Jabber, Skype and others. Plus, it also allows you to log in to multiple accounts at the same time. So you can be online on both of your Yahoo! IDs and another for Windows Live messenger. Cool, huh? It's free, by the way. Download the software here:

Copyright Sonicsoft Corporation
All Rights Reserved