Top 10: Google miffs admins, IT jobs, Apple notebooks

This week's roundup of the top tech news stories includes recession-proof IT jobs, Apple's new MacBooks, Google Apps problems, and more

Google annoyed administrators when it made changes to Google Apps "Start" portal pages without letting them know it was updating layout and functionality of those pages. Some administrators reported at a discussion forum that they were swamped with angry calls from end-users who couldn't access Gmail accounts. On a slightly brighter note, there are some IT jobs that persevere even in the face of financial difficulty, and Apple unveiled new notebooks to much fanfare. Meanwhile, Mozilla continues work on its mobile browser, code-named Fennec, which was released in alpha this week for use on Nokia Internet tablets.

1. Recession-proof IT jobs: Believe it or not, some IT jobs are still in high demand even in this slumping economy. Unlike some other industries that have been hit hard, IT is seen as a core area that nearly every company needs. As such, there are still plenty of IT skills that can lead to new jobs -- or just keep you secure in the job you have now.

[ Video: Catch up on the week in tech news with the World Tech Update ]

2. Apple's new notebooks answer the call for innovation: As expected, Apple showed off updates to its laptop lines this week, with a new MacBook and MacBook Pro. InfoWorld's Tom Yager got a good look at them and came away with a positive impression of the updates in both technology and pricing.

3. Google Apps portal pages malfunctioning: Google Apps "Start" portal pages have become malfunction junctions for some administrators, who complained over two days this week at discussion forums that changes Google made to those pages are making their working lives miserable. The company apparently updated layout and functionality of those pages without telling admins what they were about to do, leading end-users to flood administrators with complaints and issues, including not being able to access Gmail.

4. E-voting report: Several states still vulnerable: E-voting systems will fail on Election Day, Nov. 4, somewhere in the United States, with multiple states that use such systems ill-prepared for the upcoming election, according to a report from three voting-rights advocacy groups. While the report noted that there have been improvements in e-voting systems and election preparations since the last presidential race in 2004, it also found that some states still have not taken even the most basic precautions against technical problems and fraud.

5. Mozilla offers alpha version of mobile browser for N810: An alpha version of Mozilla's mobile browser, code-named Fennec, was released for Nokia's Internet tablets, marking the first public release of the software. Mozilla hopes the release will bring in feedback leading to the next step in its browser road map, which is "optimizing for performance," according to Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's vice president for mobile.

6. Microsoft: "No interest" in pursuing Yahoo deal: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stirred things up -- as he is prone to do -- when he reportedly said at a Gartner conference that it still makes economic sense for shareholders of both companies for Microsoft to buy Yahoo. His company responded by issuing a statement saying it has "no interest in acquiring Yahoo." Investors responded by giving Yahoo's share price a boost.

7. FBI says Dark Market sting netted 56 arrests: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with other law enforcement agencies in the U.K., Turkey, and Germany, infiltrated online "carder" forums hosted at the now shut-down DarkMarket.ws site and seized compromised accounts and prevented about $70 million in fraud. The two-year undercover investigation also led to the arrests of 56 alleged online fraudsters.

8. Microsoft mulling "instant on" feature for Windows: Microsoft confirmed it is thinking about adding into its Windows client OS a function that would let users have limited access to the OS so that they could turn on their PCs quickly. The company surveyed users about that function and screenshots of the survey wound up on the Engadget blog. Microsoft won't yet offer specific comments about "instant on," but a good guess is that it is contemplating that addition for Windows 7, which is expected out late next year or early in 2010.

9. With eyes on Atom, AMD to detail netbook strategy next month: Advanced Micro Devices will provide its product road map for netbooks at an analyst meeting scheduled for Nov. 13. Netbooks are small, inexpensive laptops that have taken the market by storm, fueled by Intel's low-cost Atom processor. AMD hasn't been competitive with Intel in that area yet, but promises it soon will be.

10. Cybersecurity threats grow in sophistication, subtlety, and power: Malware, botnets, cyberwarfare, threats to VoIP and mobile devices, along with an "evolving cybercrime economy" mean that online threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the Georgia Tech Information Security Center said in an annual threat report. Criminals have figured out ways to make such online threats more subtle, and they continue to gain in ability to exploit changes on the Web, including increased use of social-network sites, the GTISC found.

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