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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Yahoo! announces 'phased rollout' of new version of Mail

Internet portal, Yahoo! has announced what it is calling a 'phased rollout' of new features for its web-based Mail product.

As mailbox sizes grow - Yahoo is currently offering 1GB of disk space to each user (and Yahoo! Mail Plus users get 2GB) - the amount of data kept in mailboxes is growing rapidly. In order to be able to better manage their mail Yahoo! Mail users are being offered a battery of new search-related features.

According to Yahoo!, the new version of Mail can conduct a quick search of e-mail header, body, and attachments and show snippets with highlighted matches on search terms for a quick review of search results.

The client will also display thumbnails of photos and other views of attachments, which makes it easier to scan though pictures and documents saved in email messages. It is claimed that the new version also provides intelligent matching on searches using prefixes of words.

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MSN buys into Net calling future

update Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it has purchased a small Internet calling start-up called Teleo, as part of a move to expand the capabilities of MSN Messenger.

The move comes as all the major portal and IM companies are moving more heavily into Internet calling. Last week, Google launched its own instant-messaging service, dubbed Google Talk, with a focus on voice chatting.

Microsoft has its eyes set on something more like Net phone company Skype's service, however. A key part of Teleo's technology is focused on making calls from a computer to an ordinary telephone, a feature that company executives said would start finding its way into MSN Messenger before the end of 2005.

"We've been making a lot of investments in voice, but as we looked at continuing...we had that build or buy discussion," said Brooke Richardson, lead product manager for MSN's communication services division. "We decided that if we wanted to do things rapidly, Teleo was a good fit."

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Coffee found to be high in health-giving antioxidants

Coffee might soon be considered a health drink following a study showing it is a surprisingly rich source of anti-cancer agents.

A study has found that coffee contributes more antioxidants - which have been linked with fighting heart disease and cancer - to the diet than cranberries, apples or tomatoes.

Fruit and vegetables have long been known to be a good source of antioxidants, but the new findings are surprising because it is the first time that coffee has been shown to be such a rich source of the agents.

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Wisconsin Lab Works on Post-Bar Code Tech

Alfonso Gutierrez smiles as boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tagged with tiny chips zip around a conveyor belt and pass under a reader that instantly displays information about the product.

"It's going fast," said Gutierrez, who heads a new university research lab dedicated to helping businesses deploy the technology that could one day replace the bar code.

Gutierrez was referring to the speed of the conveyor belt — 600 feet per minute, the speed Wal-Mart uses in its warehouses — but he could have been talking about the rapid acceptance of radio frequency identification, a technology that can revolutionize business but also erode privacy.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Google changes irk advertisers, please publishers

Publishers who have seen a bump in revenue through Google's advertising program are heaping praise on recent changes, while some advertisers complain of increased costs.

Google last Tuesday changed the way advertisers using its AdWords program bid on keywords, creating a minimum bid for each one based on a quality score it determines for the keyword.

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"Mars Spectacular" E-Mail Hoax Spins On

Planning to haul out the deck chairs, blankets, and binoculars Saturday night for Mars's closest approach to Earth in history? Save yourself the trouble.

"The Red Planet is about to be spectacular!" a widely circulated e-mail chain letter claims. "This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history."

And just in case you didn't get the message, it ends, "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN!"

Mars did make an incredibly close pass on August 27 ... 2003. On that date it came within 35 million miles of Earth—the nearest the two planets have been in perhaps 60,000 years

Titled "Mars Spectacular," the e-mail exemplifies the power of the Internet and some of the problems plaguing it.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Google warms up for online voice calls

Google yesterday opened a new front in the internet turf war with the launch of an instant messaging system that will allow users to make voice calls over the net.

The company is striving to expand its services beyond its search engine and hopes "Google Talk" will enable it to do so.

It will take on AOL, currently the US market leader in instant messaging with 41m people signed up, and Skype, tops in internet phone calls with 51m users worldwide.

Google dominates search - a position it hopes to translate into success in messaging and internet telephony.

However, analysts cautioned yesterday that persuading users to switch to Google from their current messaging system could meet inertia.

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'Men cleverer than women' claim

Academics in the UK claim their research shows that men are more intelligent than women.

A study to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology says that men are on average five points ahead on IQ tests.

Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn claim the difference grows when the highest IQ levels are considered.

Their research was based on IQ tests given to 80,000 people and a further study of 20,000 students.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why Google's Instant Message Service is Not about Jabber but about Skype

We recently have heard through the grapevine that the 3 billion dollar (US) offer from News Corp. was not enough money to convince the wonder twins over at Skype, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, to sell. This is not just about money for Niklas and Janus. There must be a passion for technology. Look at Kazaa. Illegal file sharing is a hard business to make money at. At this point it seems that any way they go, Niklas and Janus stand to make a boat load of money when Skype hits the market, but they will do it the way they want.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Web Analytics Breakthrough!

This article is going to ask you to make a paradigm shift in how you think about identifying unique visitors. This article will describe new, cutting edge methodologies for identifying people, methodologies that -- at this point -- no web analytics product supports. We’re going to take a journey from first generation web analytics to second.

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Microsoft Woos OSDL for New Linux Offensive

Microsoft has once again stirred up a hornets nest in the open-source community, this time approaching the OSDL (Open Source Development Labs) to work with it on a joint, independent research project to do some facts-based analysis of Linux and Windows.

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Yahoo Japan to expand its online music service

Yahoo Japan Corp. said on Monday it would expand its online music distribution service, allowing customers in the world's second-largest music market to listen to selected songs in full before they decide to buy.

The country's top Internet portal said the new service with 100,000 available songs would be launched on Monday morning.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Web access may be as close as an electrical outlet

Those wanting high-speed access to the Internet essentially have two choices: Buy it from a cable TV company or from the local telephone company.

But a third option stands in the wings for many consumers: the electric company.

The idea seems simple: Millions of miles of power lines already run to nearly every home in the United States. Just send an Internet signal through them and everyone can be connected.

Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy in practice. Utility companies face technological hurdles and they have had to be persuaded that it's worth their while.

But now Broadband over Power Lines (BPL), with investments from big-name companies including Google and IBM, is beginning to move beyond small trial projects to deploying systems for large communities. For example, some 50,000 homes in the Cincinnati area have signed up for BPL Internet- service. And Manassas, Va., a town of 37,000, runs its own BPL service. "Our hope is that in the next two years you'll see millions of homes" using BPL, says Kevin Kushman, vice president of corporate development at CURRENT Communications Group in Germantown, Md. CURRENT is partnering with Cinergy Corp. to provide BPL in the Cincinnati area.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Are wireless gamers cheapskates?

More cell phone users are playing games on their handsets, but only one-third of those people actually want to buy games, according to a report from the NPD Group.

The majority are satisfied with free or preloaded games, according to the report, which was released Tuesday. The findings were based on a survey of more than 6,700 teenage and adult wireless subscribers.

The report also notes that, among survey respondents, the average gaming session is 11 minutes long.

About half the cell phones in use in the United States are capable of downloading games, the report said. And 27 percent of people with those phones use them to play games, up from 20 percent last year. Teens are three times as likely as adults to play games, according to NPD.

The report adds that there's plenty of room for growth, noting that 6 percent of non-gamers surveyed said they're interested in using their phones to play games during the next year. The reason most often cited for the increasing interest, the study said, is the desire to "kill time or alleviate boredom."

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When PCs pollute

Dust on the floor of workshops in India and China has a lot to say about the unintended afterlife of PCs and television sets cast off by consumers and businesses in the United States.

A new report from Greenpeace International takes a close look at the presence of toxic metals such as lead and chemicals, including flame retardants, in places where obsolete electronic gear is disassembled and often scavenged for its pieces. Its conclusions: E-waste recycling work is dangerously unregulated and further evidence that electronics makers need to take more responsibility for the gear they produce.

"Both wastes and hazardous chemicals used in the processing (of spent electronics) are commonly handled with little regard for the health and safety of the work force or surrounding communities and with no regard for the environment," the report says. "Overall, the result is severe contamination."

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Intel buys XML router company

Chipmaker Intel signaled that it's once again interested in selling communications equipment with its purchase on Wednesday of Sarvega, which makes network routers that use the XML standard to improve Internet traffic.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sarvega, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., posted $7 million in revenue in 2003 and lists Intel as one of the supporters that contributed to Sarvega's $20 million venture capital fund.

The 5-year-old Sarvega has developed what it calls an "XML router," a device that can look at the content of a message using Extensible Markup Language and send it to the appropriate point on a network.

An XML router is meant to complement the IP routers and switches that carry the streams of data traffic across the Internet, Sarvega said.

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Sun's Linux killer shows promise

Review If Sun gets very serious about Solaris 10 on x86 and the Open Solaris project that it hopes will nourish it, Linux vendors had better get very worried. That's because, in the many areas where Linux is miles ahead of Solaris, Sun stands a good chance of catching up quickly if it has the will, whereas in the many areas where Solaris is miles ahead, the Linux community will be hard pressed to narrow the gap. In this series of articles, we take a careful look at Solaris x86, examining the good, the bad, and the ugly, with Linux as our chief point of reference.

The Good

Unix has been around since Linus Torvalds was in short pants. If there's one thing you can say about the Solaris kernel and shell, they're mature. The system is exceptionally solid, at least on Sun hardware. But does this legendary stability migrate to x86 gear? In our limited experience, at least, it does. We've experienced a number of application crashes since we began playing with Solaris 10, but none capable of pulling the kernel down with it. On the other hand, we've had sloppy JavaScripts immobilize totally, and at times actually re-boot, our Linux box (especially with 2.4.x series kernels); we've seen X oddities do the same, and have experienced several wacky incidents using Microsoft bugware with Wine that required a hard reset. While we haven't taken a systematic approach to blowing up our Solaris 10 installations, one gets the impression of a pretty bulletproof kernel and shell.

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Yahoo readies new VoIP service

Yahoo Inc is readying to capture a larger piece of the VoIP market and one analyst said it would announce a new VoIP product during the next two weeks.

The new service would be comparable to Skype Technologies SA's, said Safa Rashtchy, senior research analyst at Wall Street researcher Piper Jaffray Co, which makes a market in Yahoo stock.

"VoIP is fast becoming the new killer app of the Internet and this move should push Yahoo ahead of its competitors," Rashtchy said in a research note.

Yahoo is planning to become a full-service VoIP provider, but declined to give a timeline on new product announcements beyond "coming months," said spokesperson Terrell Karlsten.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Telstra to be split

TELSTRA will be split in two in an effort to boost competition in the $30 billion telecommunications industry as part of a package of reforms ahead of its full privatisation.

The package, believed to have been approved by cabinet last night, will force a furious Telstra to create distinct network and retail divisions, with separate premises and management but under the same company structure.

If the measures are passed by the Coalition partyroom as early as today, legislation to sell Telstra could go before parliament next month.

That would allow the Government to sell its 51.8per cent stake in Telstra before the end of next year.

The concept of splitting Telstra into separate divisions - so-called operational separation - has been promoted as a means of reducing Telstra's dominance since deregulation of the telecoms market started in the mid-1990s.

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Apple unloads dozens of fixes for OS X

Apple Computer has released what seems to be one of its larger security updates for Mac OS X, doling out fixes for 44 flaws.

Still, only a handful of the vulnerabilities are of major concern, according to security analysts. The package of fixes was released Monday.

"This one is a big update. I don't recall seeing as many updates as we see today," said Thomas Kristensen, Secunia's chief technology officer.

By comparison, Apple last May released an update for 20 vulnerabilities and in March distributed an update for a dozen flaws.

But Kristensen noted that, with the new update, only a few of the 44 vulnerabilities are of great concern. He also said that 25 percent of the patches involve older vulnerabilities that have yet to lead to exploit code being developed by attackers. Still, Secunia is rating the overall update as "highly critical."

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AMD's 4000+ powers more notebooks

Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday released a new set of mobile processors designed for consumer laptops it hopes will sell well enough to take a chunk out of Intel's Centrino empire.

The company said its Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processor 4000+ is meant for full-size notebook computers--machines with screen sizes measuring 15 to 17 inches on the diagonal. Already, Fujitsu Siemens and VoodooPC have jumped on the bandwagon and said they would include the new Athlon chip as part of their latest laptop offerings.

Priced at $382 in 1,000-unit quantities, AMD said its 4000+ can handle 32-bit and 64-bit processing jobs and includes 802.11a/b/g wireless capabilities. The mobile Athlon also includes virus protection hardwired to the chip that works in tandem with Microsoft Windows Service Pack 2. In addition to its 4000+, AMD said it now offers five other Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processors.

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Spyware Heats Up the Debate Over Cookies

INTERNET users are taking back control of their computers, and online marketers and publishers are not pleased with the results. But they don't quite know what to do about their conundrum - if it is a conundrum, since they can't even agree on that.

Until recently, Internet businesses could track their users freely, using what are known as cookies, tiny text files they embed on the user's hard drive. Now, with the proliferation of antispyware programs that can delete unwanted cookies, they often cannot tell who has been to their Web site before or what they have seen. And this erosion of control over a tool for gaining insight into consumer behavior has many of them fretting.

"Cookies are critical from a business perspective," said Lorraine Ross, vice president for sales at "They help us do things like track our profitability per unique visitor, for instance. But if you don't know how many people are coming in, you don't really have a handle on whether your profitability is improving or not."

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Group Where? Almost Anywhere

Companies looking for a way to leverage Microsoft Corp. Outlook—but not necessarily with Exchange—have a growing number of flexible groupware servers from which to choose.

eWEEK Labs evaluated four of the newest of these servers: Bynari Inc.'s Insight Server 4.2, CommuniGate Systems' CommuniGate Pro Real-Time Collaboration 4.2, Gordano Ltd.'s Gordano Messaging Suite 11 and Scalix Inc.'s Scalix Server 9.2.1. Through a plug-in, the servers connect Outlook users to features including group calendar and scheduling and shared folders.

We gave CommuniGate's CommuniGate Pro our eWEEK Labs' Analyst's Choice award not only for providing good groupware features for users but also for offering administrators a broadly extensible system that supports third-party tools and runs on a range of server hardware and operating systems.

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Google, others breach e-gambling law?

Search engines with Australian domains, including Google, are being investigated by authorities for possible breach of interactive gambling laws.

Australia's Interactive Gambling Act 2001 prohibits advertising of gambling services on Web sites where "it is likely that the majority of that site’s users are physically present in Australia". Banned services include online casino-style gaming services such as roulette, poker, craps, online poker machines and blackjack.

Breaching the Act carries a maximum penalty of AU$220,000 per day for individuals and AU$1.1 million per day for corporations.

Alexandra Mason, spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, told ZDNet Australia the alleged illegal practice by Google and other search engine operators was being looked into.

Google Australia displays advertising links to online gambling sites when certain keywords are misspelt. But the Internet giant isn't alone -- little-known Melbourne-based search engine company Web Wombat has admitted to such activities.

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Worm strikes down Windows 2000 systems

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A fast-moving computer worm Tuesday attacked computer systems using Microsoft operating systems, shutting down computers in the United States, Germany and Asia.

Among those hit were offices on Capitol Hill, which is in the midst of August recess, and media organizations, including CNN, ABC and The New York Times. The Caterpillar Co. in Peoria, Illinois, reportedly also had problems.

A small number of computers in an administrative office at San Francisco International Airport also crashed, but they were not essential to the airport's operation, spokesman Mike McCarron said.

The FBI said the computer problems did not appear to be part of any widespread attack.

While the worm affects primarily Windows 2000, it also can affect some early versions of Microsoft XP, said Johannes Ullrich, chief technology officer of the Sans Institute, a network security firm based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Symptoms include the repeated shutdown and rebooting of a computer.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Microsoft rejects Visual Studio delay request

Microsoft has rejected a request from developers to push back delivery of its oft-delayed Visual Studio 2005 in order to fix bugs.

In addition, the software giant said it will include a significant new feature that will be introduced in an interim release of Visual Studio 2005 in the next week.

Through a feedback form on the Microsoft Developer Network Web site, developer customers asked Microsoft to release a third beta of Visual Studio 2005, which is due for completion on Nov. 7.

In the original suggestion, a customer said that Visual Studio 2005, which had a second beta program in April, has too many bugs and performance problems. "I'd rather have a good product six months from now than a mediocre one in three months," wrote Clint Stotesbery on Thursday.

The majority of developers who wrote into the suggestion forum agreed, saying that the quality of the product was more important than meeting the Nov. 7 deadline. Visual Studio 2005, formerly code-named Whidbey, will arrive at least one year later than originally planned.

Representatives from Microsoft's Visual Studio development group decided to pass on the suggestion. A few hours later, it posted a note saying, "We are confident that we will be able to ship you a high-quality product later this year."

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Zotob worm finds its path limited

A new worm that was unleashed over the weekend affects only a limited group of Windows users and has not wreaked any widespread havoc, according to Trend Micro.

As of Monday morning on the West Coast, the original Zotob.A had infected about 50 computers worldwide, and the first variant, Zotob.B, had compromised about 1,000 systems, the antivirus software maker said.

"There are not that many infections," said David Perry, director of global education at Trend Micro.

The worm, which has spawned at least two variants, exploits a hole in the plug-and-play feature in the Windows operating system. It surfaced only days after Microsoft offered a fix for the "critical" bug as part of its monthly patching cycle.

While early reports on Zotob suggested it was spreading rapidly, the impact of the worm has actually been restricted because it targets PCs running Windows 2000, an older version of the software, Microsoft said. It poses no threat to computers running the newer Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, the company added.

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Firefox loses market share

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has clawed back some market share from Mozilla's Firefox, according to latest figures.

Web application provider NetApplications said on Friday that the open source browser's market share fell from 8.71 percent in June to 8.07 percent in July. IE's share grew from 86.56 percent to 87.2 over the same period. NetApplications said this is the first time that Firefox has faltered in its rise against IE since its launch last year., a Web development tutorial site, has also recorded a drop in the proportion of its visitors using Firefox over recent months, from a peak of 21.0 percent in May to 19.8 percent in July. The combined market share of IE 5 and 6 increased from 71.4 in April to 73.8 in July.

Over the last year, Firefox' market share has increased significantly, with Web analytics firm reporting that it quadrupled its market share between May 2004 and April 2005, and WebSideStory reporting that it doubled its user base in the US between June 2004 to April 2005.

The drop in Firefox' market share could be an anomaly, or could indicate that some users have switched back to IE. Over the last couple of months, developers have patched a number of security flaws in the open source browser and in Greasemonkey, a third-party extension for the browser.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Academia's quest for the ultimate search tool

The University of California at Berkeley is creating an interdisciplinary center for advanced search technologies and is in talks with search giants including Google to join the project, CNET has learned.

The project is one of many efforts at U.S. universities designed to address the explosive growth of Internet search and the complex issues that have arisen in the field.

U.C. Berkeley, birthplace of early search highflier Inktomi and the school where Google CEO Eric Schmidt got his computer science doctoral degree, is bringing together roughly 20 faculty members from various departments to cross-pollinate work on search technology, said Robert Wilensky, the center's director. The principal areas of focus: privacy, fraud, multimedia search and personalization.

"We want to solve the problems that have been engendered by the success of search," Wilensky said in an interview. Wilensky is a professor of computer science and information management at Berkeley.

Plans are still being worked out for the center's physical space, but Wilensky said he hopes designs will be completed within the next few months and the center opened early next year. He also said he's talking to Google and other search players about membership.

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At Microsoft, the yin and yang of Linux

As Microsoft's director of platform technology strategy, Bill Hilf spends half his time trying to figure out ways Windows can work better with Linux and the other half trying to outflank the open-source rival.

Of course, he doesn't describe it quite that starkly.

"My life is like a yin and a yang," he said in an interview at this week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. "There is just as much time thinking about the there is about the cooperation/interoperability/opportunity. It's equal time."

The lab's dual purpose reflects an evolution in Microsoft's mindset when it comes to Linux and open-source software.

Linux is still seen as a competitor that needs to be addressed head-on. The company spends plenty of time and money on its anti-Linux "Get the Facts" campaign, for example.

At the same time, though, Microsoft seems to have accepted that Linux is not going away, and the company wants to make sure it's not turning off customers--or leaving dollars on the table--by ignoring its very real rival.

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In Silicon Valley, debating the size of the Web

How big is the World Wide Web? Many Internet engineers consider that query one of those imponderable philosophical questions, like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

But the question about the size of the Web came under intense debate last week after Yahoo announced at an Internet search engine conference in Santa Clara, Calif., that its search engine index--an accounting of the number of documents that can be located from its databases--had reached 19.2 billion.

Because the number was more than twice as large as the number of documents (8.1 billion) currently reported by Google, Yahoo's fierce competitor and Silicon Valley neighbor, the announcement--actually a brief mention in a Yahoo company Web log--set off a spat. Google questioned the way its rival was counting its numbers.

Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, suggested that the Yahoo index was inflated with duplicate entries in such a way as to cut its effectiveness despite its large size.

"The comprehensiveness of any search engine should be measured by real Web pages that can be returned in response to real search queries and verified to be unique," he said on Friday. "We report the total index size of Google based on this approach."

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Fax-Back Phishing Scam

According to reports, phishers have come up with a brand new trick, to lure unsuspecting victims to fax their banking details to fraudsters.

Sophos said, the modus-operandi is such, that users receive e-mail messages that seem to be coming from "Paypal". These messages warn recipients of an alleged attempt to reset their password and request sensitive information from them, as part of an on-going investigation.

The e-mails direct users to a Microsoft Word document hosted on a website and urge them to download a form, fill it out with their bank account details, including credit card numbers, PIN information and login details and fax it to a toll-free number.

Sophos maintains, that this free-phone number is actually hosting an active fax machine, though it's not clear whether it is located in the USA or is being re-directed elsewhere. The new tactic, comes in the wake of decreasing impact of e-mail based phishing attempts, which ask people to fill out personal information on-line.

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What Can Google Learn From Netscape's Downfall?

It's been 10 years since the initial public offering of ill-fated Internet pioneer Netscape Communications, and the often-told story of its rise and fall has inspired inevitable comparisons to the industry's current darling, Google.

Like Netscape, Google had a wildly successful IPO, created a mainstream technology for optimizing Internet use and, as a result, has Microsoft gunning for them in the same way it went for Netscape's jugular.

And though the Internet landscape today is vastly different than the one that Netscape forged a decade ago, Google could learn a thing or two about how to do battle with the software giant in the coming years by taking a look back at the browser pioneer's defeat.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has made no bones about the software giant's quest to squash Google the way it buried Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen's baby in the 1990s. After the Netscape Navigator browser introduced millions of users to the Internet, Microsoft one-upped Netscape by integrating its Internet Explorer browser into its Windows operating system (OS), forcing the browser startup to scramble for a new business model. Eventually, America Online bought Netscape, and the Netscape browser technology now resides in the Mozilla Foundation project as the open-source Firefox browser, which, ironically enough, is making a comeback of sorts against Microsoft Internet Explorer.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Google Delays Book Scanning

Google Inc. has suspended some of its project to place a vast selection of books online, bowing at least temporarily to concerns of publishers who fear scanning material into the world's most powerful search engine will lead to unauthorized use and duplication of copyrighted material.

Google launched its test service, Google Print, in October and later started its Google Print Library Project, an attempt to scan books in five libraries to make them searchable online. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google postponed further scanning of copyrighted books from libraries at Harvard University, the University of Michigan and Stanford University until November. Until then, copyright holders can opt out of the scanning by contacting Google directly, the company said.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Bored on the phone? Beware Jerk-O-Meter

Ever wonder if that spouse, friend or co-worker on the other end of the phone is really paying attention? The "Jerk-O-Meter" may hold the answer.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing software for cell phones that would analyze speech patterns and voice tones to rate people -- on a scale of 0 to 100 percent -- on how engaged they are in a conversation.

Anmol Madan, who led the project while he pursued a master's degree at MIT, sees the Jerk-O-Meter as a tool for improving relationships, not ending them. Or it might assist telephone sales and marketing efforts.

"Think of a situation where you could actually prevent an argument," he said. "Just having this device can make people more attentive because they know they're being monitored."

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Linux Based CarPC

Someone is throwing up his Linux based CarPC on

From his website:

I am throwing up this page because I have yet to see a decent LINUX based CarPC that shows the potential of what can be achieved if the effort is put forth. I have spent the last month or so tweaking the software as well as fabricating the LCD and controls to the point where I am satisfied with the result.

What I CAN do:

* Listen to music
* Watch videos/movies
* Control audio with steering wheel control. Since the audio is fed into the HU with a P.I.E adapter, the steering wheel is my "master" volume control.
* View Pictures in a slideshow
* Sniff wireless networks and plot them with GPS - I've plotted the APs I've found, and integrated it with Google's Map API, check it out.
* Download and view local Weather info, including 3 day forcast and doplar radar
* Browse the web with Firefox
* Connect to my cell phone with bluetooth, and connect to Verizon's EVDO network
* Stream DirecTV from my house. <- This is my FAVORITE - Basically I am using ssh keys and scripts to connect to my MythTV box at home, change to the channel I want, start vlc, which does on the fly transcoding of the signal, then connects to it from my CarPC. The result is a list of channels in my videos menu, I select the channel I want, and it all happens auto-magically.
* Remote start my car, and connect to it from inside my house. I can SSH in, and transfer files without even getting off my couch :)

What I CAN'T do:

* Turn-by-Turn navigation. There just isn't anything out there for Linux.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Identity-Theft Keylogger Identified

Sunbelt Software has identified the keylogging spyware that is feeding sensitive personal information to an identity-theft ring. The FBI confirms it has been in contact with Sunbelt and is looking into the company's findings.

Sunbelt Software Inc. says it has identified the keylogging spyware that is feeding sensitive personal information to the "massive identity-theft ring" identified by company researchers last week.

According to the Florida-based security software company, the keylogger is named Srv.SSA-KeyLogger. It's a variant of a family of Trojans sometimes known as W32/Dumaru. Trojan progams by definition do not spread. Users typically download them onto their PCs without realizing it, or they acquire them through other malware.

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Microsoft to fight crime with spammer's 'millions'

Software giant Microsoft will invest the US$7 million it is expecting from a damages settlement with 'spam king' Scott Richter into fighting Internet crimes, paying its legal bills and "rewarding" the state of New York.

The announcement was made by Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in an open letter posted on the company's Web site.

After covering its legal expenses, Microsoft will dedicate US$5 million dollars to helping law enforcement agencies address computer-related crimes, Smith said. "In appreciation of the role of the New York Attorney General, another US$1 million of this settlement money will be directed to New York state … to expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults," he said in the letter.

Describing Richter -- who is said to have sent or assisted others in sending more than 38 billion e-mails a year -- as one of the world's most "prolific" spammers, Smith called the settlement a milestone and expressed hope the decision would send a clear warning to those dabbling in spamming.

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FAQ: Demystifying VoIP

From the article on CNET

What is VoIP?
VoIP refers to voice calls that are routed over online networks using the Internet Protocol--the IP that serves as the backbone of the Internet and is used to ferry e-mails, instant messages and Web pages to millions of PCs or cell phones.

VoIP tends to be relatively inexpensive. Why?
VoIP calls are just another application riding over the Internet. And these calls are unregulated. So at their core, they are no different from e-mails, instant messages or Web pages, which all can be distributed for free between Internet-connected machines. Those include computers and wireless devices, such as cell phones and handhelds, that are set up to receive online information.

Why do some VoIP services cost money, and why are some free?
A VoIP service can connect users not only with other VoIP customers but also with phone services that are offline, such as those that use traditional landline networks and wireless cell phone networks. For those calls, VoIP service providers must pay access fees to the landline and wireless operators. Those charges are passed along to VoIP customers. VoIP services that stay on the Internet--calls that are between personal computers with VoIP service--are free.

Windows 2000 Users Dealing With Wave of Bugs

Windows 2000 users have had a hard week.
While they're still waiting for Microsoft to repair and re-release the last official update to the aging operating system -- dubbed Update Rollup 1 -- they also found out this week that they're the most at risk to a pair of critical vulnerabilities disclosed by Microsoft.

Windows 2000 systems present the easiest target for the Plug and Play and print spooler vulnerabilities, Microsoft acknowledged in Tuesday's security bulletins. "Windows 2000 systems are primarily at risk from this vulnerability," the Redmond, Wash.-based developer said in the Plug and Play bulletin, and repeated the warning in the bulletin dedicated to the print spooler bug. (For the latter flaw, Windows XP SP1, which has been superseded by SP2, is just as vulnerable as Windows 2000.)

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Opera goes bare bones for WAP phones

Opera Software has unveiled a super-lightweight browser aimed at Web-enabling some 700 million low-end and mid-tier mobile phones. Dubbed Opera Mini, the browser works on WAP-enabled, J2ME-equipped (Java 2 Mobile Edition) handsets, provided the selected wireless carrier supports the service, Opera says.

Opera Mini is based on a small Java client that is installed on the phone, along with a remotely located server that pre-processes Web pages and delivers them to the device, Opera said. The mini browser makes use of Opera's small screen rendering technology. "It has all the features expected of a browser, and more, such as bookmarks, browsing history, and ability to split large pages into smaller sections for faster browsing," the company claims on its website.

Full article

AOL Wants To Be Part Of The Cellular Phone

America Online Inc. on Monday said it has acquired wireless software maker Wildseed Ltd, a deal that could help AOL embed its services in cellular phones sold by wireless carriers.

AOL bought the Kirkland, Wash.-based, Wildseed for its technology and engineers, a company spokeswoman said. AOL, a division of Time Warner Inc., is not committing to any of the company's products. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"What we're excited about, and why we bought the company, is for the technology and the talent," the spokeswoman said. "We're not saying anything firm about what we're going to do (with the company)."

Wildseed sells the SmartSkin cellular-phone accessory that provides a variety of services, including ringtones, message alerts, animations, video clips and games. The accessory, which is available in different themes, ran on Wildseed's Curitel Identity handset. Curitel was the company's debut product.

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Unhappiness drives open source adoption

A common reason why more governments and enterprises around the world are moving to open source software is unhappiness, it was revealed during a panel discussion at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco yesterday.

Google Inc open source programs manager Chris DiBona said the search giant has stuck with Linux throughout the company's life, in part, because it was unhappy with the terms of another software company.

For instance, DiBona pointed out that if Google used Windows, or any other non-open source software program, to make changes to that system he would be required to essentially ask permission from that vendor. "Why should we hand over the control of our software support to another company?"

Other benefits of Linux for Google was being able to determine exactly what was running on any server at any given time and being able to plan what kind of power that machine would have, according to DiBona. This would not be possible, he said, using proprietary software. "Worse than that, if I want to expand ... I have to rip things out. But why would I want to spend money on something for which I only want to use a small part?"

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Bring some 'bling' to your Web site

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Want your Web site to rank higher? Make sure search engines can link to all your pages, use specific keywords when tagging content, promote popular products prominently and use software to track visitor traffic.

In a silly take on a somewhat serious topic, search marketing experts told merchants on Wednesday how to put some "bling bling" in their Web sites to increase their visitor traffic in a panel humorously titled "Pimp My Site!" at the Search Engine Strategies conference here.

"If people can't find your Web site how are they going to buy your products?" Todd Friesen, director of search engine optimization at search marketing company Range Online Media, asked rhetorically in an interview after the session. "Search engines are a huge part of our lives now. Everybody knows about Yahoo, Google and MSN now and they use them for shopping."

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The openSUSE

The openSUSE project is a worldwide community program sponsored by Novell that promotes the use of Linux everywhere. Now is up and hosting the project web site. Its Download page is giving the SUSE Linux 9.1 and SUSE Linux 10.0 OSS Beta 1 (code name: Prague).

Lawsuit claims Google overcharges advertisers

A group of advertisers last week filed a class action suit against Google, accusing the search engine of overcharging advertisers who use its paid search advertising services, according to Reuters.

Google offers two paid search advertising services. The AdSense system allows advertisers to display targeted ads on content related websites in return for the payment of a fee to Google each time an internet user clicks on one of their ads. Google then repays part of the fee to the web page owner.

Full article

Ring tone downloads on the rise

Almost 23 percent of mobile-phone owners--around 30 million people--have downloaded ring tones to their mobile phones, while 5 percent did so in the previous year, a study by Ipsos Insight found.

Ring tone purchases differ from online-music buying in a few ways, the study found. Though it is not the case with PC-based music downloads, older customers are attracted to ring tone services, the research firm said. People are also paying more to download a ring tone of a song than they would pay for the song through a service such as Apple Computer's iTunes. Almost 78 percent of mobile phone users paid to download a ring tone, while 50 percent of PC user report having paid for standard song downloads, the study said.

Full article

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Networking: Trouble for new Microsoft OS?

According to Microsoft, one of Vista's primary features is its network access protection. Often, worms and viruses attack an internal corporate network via mobile PCs -- and handhelds -- that lack the latest security updates or virus signatures. With Vista, mobile computing users will be prevented from linking to a corporate network until they have installed all of the latest security software and met other "security criteria," the company said in a statement.

In addition, Vista is providing outgoing -- as well as incoming -- filtering, which can be centrally managed. Microsoft said this allows network administrators to control which applications are allowed to communicate and which are to be blocked from communicating on the network. Controlling network access is one of the most important ways to mitigate security risk, the Microsoft statement said.

Full article

Yahoo passes Google in search index

When people need to search they will likely to use Google and even use the word "To google" to mean using Google search engine. Yahoo announced on its Yahoo! Search Blog that its search index is now over 20 billions items which comprise of 19.2 billion web documents, 1.6 billion images, and over 50 million audio and video files. That's almost twice the 11.3 billion Google index items. Associated Press observers had previously pegged Yahoo's index at just 8 billion items.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Cisco buying Nokia?

It's reported on the Business newspaper that cisco is considering buying a world's top mobitel handset maker. It's likely to be Nokia according to an article on Reuter.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Active Ports

Two years ago, I tried to install Mdaemon mail server on an NT machine that I had already installed Wingate proxy server. I could start POP3, but SMTP refused to start. Oops why? What’s wrong with you, Mr. SMTP? I brought up the DOS prompt and typed ‘netstat –an’ wow something was already using port 25. ‘netstat’ of Windows NT doesn’t give any options to map ports to the owning process, nor Windows 2000. I spent some minutes on the Net to find a simple tool to help to me. Finally, I found Active Ports and it helped me to find Wingate that was using the port. Active Ports is free and easy to use. You can download it from Those who run Windows XP can use ‘netstat –b’ to accomplish this task. Happy computing! ;)

Will viruses hitch a ride on car computers?

Car industry officials and analysts say hackers' growing interest in writing viruses for wireless devices puts auto computer systems at risk of infection.

As carmakers adjust on-board computers to allow consumers to transfer information with MP3 players and mobile phones, they also make their vehicles vulnerable to mobile viruses that jump between devices via the Bluetooth wireless technology that connects them.

Full article

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mozilla for Profit

The Mozilla Foundation said on Wednesday it is setting up a for-profit subsidiary known as the Mozilla Corporation that will market Mozilla’s free Firefox browser and other open-source software.

The foundation will continue as a not-for-profit entity and will continue to be responsible for developing Firefox, the Thunderbird email client, and other open-source applications, with the help of thousands of volunteers around the world.

Red Hat Set To Unveil Certificate System

Red Hat plans to introduce its Red Hat Certificate System at LinuxWorld this week as part of a broader strategy to build out a robust security platform, sources close to the Raleigh, N.C.-based company said.

The server, based on assets that Red Hat acquired in September from America Online’s Netscape Security Solutions arm, will manage user identities and offer strong authentication, single sign-on and token management using X.509 certificates, LDAP and PKI security technologies, sources said.

Friday, August 05, 2005

What Business Can Learn from Open Source

It's an interesting essay on What Business Can Learn from Open Source from Paul Graham. From the essay: "But the biggest thing business has to learn from open source is not about Linux or Firefox, but about the forces that produced them. Ultimately these will affect a lot more than what software you use. We may be able to get a fix on these underlying forces by triangulating from open source and blogging. As you've probably noticed, they have a lot in common."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Yahoo to Launch Blog Ad Network

Yahoo is launching its long-awaited competitor to Google AdSense. The service is telling us that the Ad war is getting hotter and hotter between Google and Yahoo.