Microsoft Security Bulletins, December 2010

December 14, 2010

In keeping with its normal schedule, Microsoft today released its monthly batch of security bulletins for December.  This month sets a new record, with 17 bulletins covering at least 38 identified vulnerabilities.  Two of these have a maximum severity rating of Critical, fourteen are rated Important, and one Moderate.   There are  Critical updates for all supported versions of Windows.   There are also two Important patches for Microsoft Office, and one each for Works 9 and SharePoint Server.  There is one Moderate patch for Exchange Server.  My preview post for this month has a breakdown of patches by Windows version and severity.

Microsoft says that eight of these patches will definitely require a system restart, and the remaining 9 may do so.  Further details, and download links for the individual patches, are given in the Security Bulletin Summary.   As always, you should update your system(s) as soon as you conveniently can.

As usual, the good folks at the SANS Internet Storm Center have posted their own summary of this month’s patches, along with their assessment of the severity of each.

It’s Official: Ken Jennings vs. Watson

December 14, 2010

I have written here a few times before about an IBM project to build a software system that could be a successful contestant on Jeopardy!, the popular, long-running TV game show.  Apparently IBM feels that the system, called Watson, is now ready for its public debut.  According to an AP story carried at the site, a match will take place this winter between Watson and two of the hardy game show’s most successful champions, Ken Jennings (who won the most games, 74) and Brad Rutter (who won the most money, about $3.3 million).

Two of the venerable game show’s most successful champions – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter – will play two games against “Watson,” a computer program developed by IBM’s artificial intelligence team. The matches will be spread over three days that will air Feb. 14-16, the game show said on Tuesday.

The prize for the winner of the two-game match will be $1 million.  IBM has said that it will give any money Watson wins to charity; Jennings and Rutter have pledged to donate half of their winnings.

Watson has apparently already had some trial matches against human opponents, including some past Jeopardy! champions, but its track record has not been disclosed.

It should be fascinating to watch.

Update, Tuesday, 14 December, 14:08 EST

The “Media Decoder” blog at the New York Times also has a short article on this news.  IBM also has a project page, with more explanatory material.

Update Thursday, 16 December, 22:52 EST

The BBC News technology section also has an article about the Watson / Jennings / Rutter match.

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