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IBM considers using DNA for faster processors

Scientists at IBM are experimenting with using DNA molecules as a way to create tiny circuits that could form the basis of smaller, more powerful computer chips. The company is researching ways in which DNA can arrange itself into patterns on the surface of a chip, and then act as a kind of scaffolding on to which millions of tiny carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles are deposited. For decades chip makers have been etching smaller and smaller patterns onto the surface of chips to speed performance and reduce power consumption. The new technique builds on work done several years ago by Paul Rothmund, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology, who figured out that DNA molecules can be made to “self-assemble” into tiny forms such as triangles, squares and stars.

Lenovo offers to replace problem batteries

Lenovo is offering to replace certain batteries sold with its ThinkPad line of laptops, warning users that they may be permanently damaged due to errors. The company is offering free replacements for batteries that do not recharge or suffer from “irreparable damage,” according to Lenovo’s support Web site. Users need to run a diagnostics tool to see if batteries show any of those symptoms. The tool can be downloaded from Lenovo’s support site. If it indicates the battery is either damaged, shows sudden drops in the fuel gauge or fails to recharge, then the battery may need to be replaced. Eligibility for a free replacement also depends on the laptop model and specific battery installed.

Netscape creator working on secretive new browser

Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, perhaps still stinging after losing to Microsoft in the browser wars in the mid-1990s, may be looking to get back into the browser game. Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times reported Friday that Andreessen is investing in RockMelt, a company developing a new browser to compete with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and others in a market that is once again competitive after being locked up by IE for many years. Little is known about RockMelt, and the company is keeping a very low public profile. According to the Times, Eric Vishria and Tim Howes are the founders of the company, but the company’s home page says very little about it. Vishria and Howes used to work with Andreessen at Opsware, which was purchased by Hewlett-Packard in 2007. Andreessen now serves on boards at several Silicon Valley companies, including eBay and Facebook, and invests in new ventures.

Hackers love Twitter

Web sites such as Twitter are becoming increasingly favored by hackers as places to plant malicious software in order to infect computers, according to a new study covering Web application security vulnerabilities. Social-networking sites were the most commonly targeted vertical market according to a study of hacking episodes in the first half of the year. The study is part of the latest Web Hacking Incidents Database report, released on Monday. Twitter has been attacked by several worms, and other social-networking platforms such as MySpace and Facebook have also been used to distribute malware. That’s often done when an infected computer begins posting links on social-networking sites to other Web sites rigged with malicious software. Users click on the links since they trust their friends who posted the links, not knowing their friend has been hacked.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.

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