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Microsoft Stalks Super Spammers

Posted in Corporate,Internet,Privacy,Spam,Uncategorized by download on October 29, 2005

Takes legal action after test PC is bombarded by 18 million spam messages in three weeks.

Microsoft announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against groups that use zombie computers. The software giant took the action after learning through a company experiment that use of infected PCs to thwart spam blockers and pass along immense quantities of junk e-mail is more widespread and disruptive than Microsoft expected.

A Microsoft statement said that the civil suit, filed in August in Washington State’s King County Superior Court, “for the first time specifically targets illegal e-mail operations that connect to zombie computers to send spam.”

Zombie computers, through the unwitting acquisition of bad code, allow computers in remote locations to use them to carry out illegal activities. PC World this summer examined the problem in the exclusive series “Web of Crime.”

In a controlled experiment, Microsoft turned a PC into a zombie by infecting it with malicious code. The company then monitored how much spam and spyware the computer sent. After three weeks, the number totaled 18 million e-mail messages from 5 million different connections.

“The numbers were astonishing,” says Microsoft attorney Tim Cranton, who directs the company’s Internet Safety Enforcement Team. “Much higher than we expected.”

More than half of the spam currently being sent originates from zombies, according to Microsoft.

How Microsoft Measured

Cranton says that Microsoft used cross-referencing methods with multiple mail servers to narrow the scope of the lawsuit to 13 groups of spammers. The company did this by comparing e-mail messages sent to the infected computer with company-monitored Hotmail accounts designed to trap spam.

“In two to three months, we will amend the lawsuit to name the spammers who are taking advantage [of consumers],” says Cranton. He won’t go into details about the groups being investigated, but notes that “a fair amount” of the spammers are based in the United States.

“This is compelling information that will hopefully get people’s attention,” Cranton says. The lawsuit, filed as a John Doe suit because it doesn’t name specific defendants, alleges six counts ranging from trespassing to a violation of the CAN-SPAM federal legislation, which requires clear identification of a message’s purveyor and an opt-out clause to the recipient, among other things. Cranton says Microsoft plans to use the federal law as well as a Washington State antispam law to prosecute the spammers.

“We’re talking about criminal behavior here,” Cranton says.

Microsoft has sued spammers before. In 2004 the company filed lawsuits against eight alleged spammers under the CAN-SPAM federal legislation.

Protection Tips

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., today, Cranton, officials of Consumer Action, and representatives of the Federal Trade Commission discussed the suit and ways for computer users to avoid zombie-generated spam.

Consumer Action’s Linda Sherry encouraged PC users to take a variety of steps to inoculate their computers in the face of this threat, including:

* Use a firewall, “and if you need to turn it off to access a Web site, make sure you turn it on again.”
* Get computer updates.
* Use antivirus software.
* Be wary of attachments.

The FTC announced the creation of a spam education site, OnGuardOnline.gov. “This is our attempt to have a one-stop shop for consumers to protect themselves,” said Dan Salzburg of the FTC.

One company from the private sector uses creative filters, based on the volume of mail sent and the reputation of the sender, to separate wanted from unwanted correspondence.

Ironport Systems believes that through a combination of throttling (setting rate limits for sent messages to more easily target zombie PCs that send extremely high amounts of e-mail in a short amount of time) and reputation filtering (applying different standards to e-mail based on the message’s sender) it can more efficiently separate the wheat from the chaff.

“On the ‘receive’ side, we can block 80 percent of the stuff at the connection level by examining behavior of the mail server; we’ve bound the problem beautifully,” says company spokesperson Tom Gillis. “The remaining 20 percent we’re going to open up more carefully.”

Gillis, who says that Ironport serves such top Internet service providers as Roadrunner, Sprint, and Verizon, admits that spam filtering is always ongoing.

“This is definitely a cat-and-mouse type game,” he says. “We develop an algorithm to block [spam], and [the spammers’] engineers come up with something to get around it.”

Eric S. Crouch, Medill News Service
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Google to launch eBay competitor

Posted in Corporate,Shopping,Uncategorized by download on October 29, 2005

BEIJING, Oct. 27 — Google is testing a new searchable database service, called Google Base, which will expand the company’s reach into online classifieds and into the territory of Internet auctioneer eBay.

Google spokeswoman Eileen Rodriguez noted that the company was testing a new way for content owners to submit their content to Google, which would complement Google’s search features.

The service would let internet users submit information about a wide range of personal items, free of charge, to a publicly searchable database maintained by Google.

In a description on the Google Base site, the company described the service as “Google’s database into which you can add all types of content.”

Among the items listed as examples of what could be submitted were used cars, descriptions of a party planning service and a “database of protein structures.”

By allowing sellers to individually hawk items they want to get rid of without charging a fee, Google Base could pose a direct challenge to eBay, whose business is founded on the millions of listings it attracts from sellers. Enditem

(Agencies)

Government-backed Net safety campaign kicks off

Posted in Internet,Privacy,Uncategorized by download on October 28, 2005

A major government-backed campaign to raise public awareness of online security issues launched in London today.

The campaign ‘Get Safe Online’ is a joint initiative between the Government, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and private sector sponsors, including HSBC, eBay and Microsoft, and aims to provide users with up-to-date information about online safety.

People are being urged to visit the website http://www.getsafeonline.org after research found that more than three quarters of the UK’s population (83 per cent) are uninformed when it comes to protecting themselves online. Almost half of the population rely on friends and family for safety advice rather than referring to expert information.

The website is designed as a one-stop-shop where people can obtain reliable information and discover how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.

‘The Internet has become an essential tool for businesses and consumers, and has brought enormous benefits to our everyday, but we all know there are risks too,’ said John Hutton, the cabinet minister responsible for e-Government, ‘That’s why we are running the Get Safe Online campaign to make the internet a safer place to make financial transactions and exchange personal information.’

TV presenter and journalist Richard Hammond has also been drafted in to help get the campaign up and running.

‘We wouldn’t leave our front door open or our cars unlocked, but we regularly use the net without taking basic precautions,’ said Hammond, ‘It’s not difficult to use the Internet safely; it comes down to some basic rules we should all remember.’

The Top Gear host is promoting the initiative’s ‘SAFE’ check, which stands for Spyware, Anti-virus, Firewall and ‘Ensure your operating system is updated’.

To publicise the initiative and website, 10 ‘Get Safe Online Campaign Minis’ will tour the UK when campaign ambassadors will be on hand to give advice to the public. The regional roadshow will visit Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow over the next two weeks.
Kelly Ellis

Sony debuts dual input LCD displays

Posted in Corporate,LCD,Technology,Uncategorized by download on October 28, 2005

Sony has introduced two new LCD displays with dual digital and analogue inputs.

The 17in HS75D and 19in HS95D models offer both DVI and SVGA connectivity to the 1,280×1,024 screen with 700:1 and 600:1 contrast respectively, a 160 viewing angle and an 8ms response time.

‘Powerful’ gamma controls are included to help match screen colours with cameras and printers while the displays support the sRGB colour space as a further aid to maintaining colour consistency with digital cameras.

The HS-Series also features two levels of automatic self-adjustment. The first time the display is connected, the display automatically configures itself. Thereafter the Advanced ECO-Mode, as Sony puts it, adjusts screen settings for the best image quality as lighting conditions vary.

‘DVI-D inputs on HS75D and HS95D are the icing on the cake,’ says Hans Mastenbroek, marketing director, Sony Displays Europe. ‘With DVI becoming increasingly established, we felt that this was the essential next step to providing consumers with the best in terms of versatility and value for money.’

The SDM-S75D is expected to retail at around £239 inc VAT, while the SDM-S95D should cost around £349 inc VAT.
Simon Aughton

Bill Gates bullish on Google

Posted in Corporate,Technology,Uncategorized by download on October 28, 2005

Bill Gates has tried to dispel the notion that Microsoft is somehow afraid of Google.

Recent alleged outbursts by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, have suggested that the search company’s success has rattled the software giant.

However the company’s founder told an Israeli newspaper that this is not the case.

‘We do not fear Google, but there is intense competition between us,’ Gates told the Yediot Ahronot during a brief visit with Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

He said that while there are undoubtedly clever people working at Google, the state of Internet search is still a long way from where it should be. He said that Microsoft plans improvements to its own MSN search technology over the next six months, adding that this will not involve the acquisition of any other search company.
Simon Aughton

Desperate Housewives on you iPod for $1.99

Posted in Technology,Uncategorized by download on October 20, 2005

Call it the iPod Paradox: with each successive version, Apple’s 30-million-selling music player gets thinner and thinner, but its feature list grows longer and longer. By next year, no doubt, the iPod will act as a radio, remote control and coffee stirrer, but will be thin enough to roll up into a tube.

The latest model, unveiled last week, is deliciously thin (4.2 by 2.4 by about 0.5 inches). In addition to its usual repertoire (presenting music, digital photos, calendar, address book and song lyrics), it can now play video.

Now, there’s no such thing as a Video iPod. The new model is simply called the iPod; its thicker, videoless predecessors have gone off to the great eBay in the sky.

All the debate about “Will anyone buy a video iPod?? is suddenly moot, because the new model is the same excellent music player plus video.

The biggest surprise: watching video on the tiny, 2.5-inch screen (320 by 240 pixels) is completely immersive. Three unexpected factors are at work. First, the picture itself is sharp and vivid, with crisp action that never smears; the screen is noticeably brighter than on previous iPods. Second, because the audio is piped directly into your ear sockets, it has much higher fidelity and presence than most people’s TV sets. Finally, remember that a 2.5-inch screen a foot from your face fills as much of your vision as a much larger screen that’s across the room.

Many people — including Apple’s chief, Steve Jobs — have predicted that video on the iPod would never be as popular as music. One crucial reason is that watching requires your full attention. You can’t do something else simultaneously, like driving or working.

In practice, these predictions turn out to be absolutely accurate. (I established this fact through scientific hands-on testing. Unintentionally absorbed in an episode of “Lost? while walking through Grand Central Terminal, I marched directly into a steel support girder.)

Watching iPodvision also requires one free hand to hold the device, which feels awkward after a while. Remember, too, that in urban settings, where iPods are muggers’ favorite delicacies, you have to hold the thing out in full view.

You feel like you’re wearing a bumper sticker that says: “I’m an idiot. Rob me.?

In less public situations, though, pocket video is a delight; it’s escapism on demand. Waiting for the plane, waiting for the doctor and waiting for the waiter come to mind. Long car rides are a natural, too (passengers only, please).

Plane rides are somewhat less successful candidates for video, because the battery life is so poor. The 30-gigabyte model ($300), which can hold 75 hours of video or 7,500 songs, plays video for just over two hours on a charge. The 60-gigabyte model ($400) holds twice as much, but manages three hours of video playback. (Apple says that battery life is far better when playing music: 14 and 20 hours, an iPod record.)

With a $19 video cable, you can connect the iPod to a TV for a bigger picture, but don’t expect high definition. The 320 by 240 pixels of video quality, which look so pristine on the iPod’s screen, get magnified four times on a TV. The result is blurry and VHS-ish, barely tolerable from couch distance.

You load up the new iPod the same way you loaded up the old ones: by connecting it to a Mac or PC that’s running Apple’s free iTunes jukebox software, which now handles videos.

And where are you supposed to get the video in the proper file format (H.264 or MPEG-4)? You can export home movies directly from Apple’s iMovie video-editing program.

You can convert existing video files using software like QuickTime Player Pro ($30, for Mac or Windows). You can even convert commercial DVD movies, if certain Web sites are to be believed.

You can also download videos from the iTunes Music Store, which is suddenly in need of a name makeover. And here’s where things get much, much more interesting — maybe even more interesting, in fact, than the video iPod itself.

This music store offers free video podcasts, which are short, usually homemade Internet broadcasts. Pixar animated shorts cost $1.99 each. You can also buy any of 2,000 music videos for $1.99 apiece; of course, the price includes the song itself (which costs 99 cents when sold separately).

There are plenty of places online to watch music videos, but Apple has assembled the first legal centralized place to download and keep them.

But the biggest news is that Apple now sells TV shows: name-brand, day-old, network TV shows.

Incredibly, Apple has persuaded Disney, which owns ABC, to make available all episodes of five TV series, including “Lost,? “Desperate Housewives? and “That’s So Raven.? Each show costs $1.99 — an easy impulse buy if you missed an episode.

They play back beautifully, with no network logo in the corner, no yearlong wait for the DVD, and no commercials. (One 43-minute “hour? of TV takes 12 minutes to download with my cable modem, and about two minutes to transfer to the iPod over its U.S.B. 2.0 cable. The TV shows, music videos and short films are lightly copy-protected: you can play them on up to five computers and an unlimited number of iPods, but can’t burn them to a CD or DVD.)

Selling shows the day after they’ve been broadcast may seem like an obvious money-recouper for the TV networks. But until now, TV and movie companies have been terrified by the prospect of Internet distribution; their executives still wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares of file-swapping teenagers. That Mr. Jobs persuaded Disney to dip its pinky toe into these waters is an impressive development — and a very promising sign.

Now, the new iPod is the smallest, simplest and best-looking pocket video player, but certain people should steer clear. Don’t buy the iPod if you want to buy pop music at online stores other than Apple’s; their tunes won’t play on it.

Don’t buy the iPod, either, if you’re convinced that video cries out for a bigger screen; Archos, Creative Technology, iRiver and Samsung make music/video players with 3.8- to 7-inch screens and better battery life. As a bonus, most Archos players can record directly from a DVD, TiVo or cable box, and you can load up the other brands with shows recorded from a TiVo.

But that’s not an apples-to-Apple comparison. Those players are more expensive, much bulkier, two-handers that don’t slip into a pocket unless you’re a kangaroo. (The Archos GMini 402 is only slightly larger than the iPod, and also costs $300 — but offers a smaller screen and much less capacious hard drive.) And loading them up with TV shows is infinitely more technical and awkward than Apple’s nearly effortless, one-click procedure.

Of course, most people aren’t likely to be bowled over by the breadth of Apple’s video catalog at the moment. Five TV series only? United States only? Big deal, right? Then again, the iTunes Music Store itself was an equally tiny experiment once (Macintosh only, United States only). Today, it’s a wildly successful international phenomenon.

Here’s hoping that Apple’s video trial is similarly successful — not for Apple’s sake, but for TV and movie fans. If so, the new video-capable iPod might turn out to be the crowbar that cracked what was once an uncrackable problem: how to deliver cheap, fast, convenient, economically feasible, piracy-resistant, Internet-based movies and network TV shows, on demand, to the masses.

Source: NYTimes

I guess this is the start…

Posted in Uncategorized by download on October 13, 2005

Well with so many new blogs on wordpress I got one. I am not new to WordPress or it’s blogging system infact the only reason I joined WordPress is to have a blog where I can post with out identifing my self. You see like many other people on blogs who get suspended which I find quite humourous such as this one:

SINGAPORE schools have begun a clampdown on students who insult teachers in online journals by punishing them with suspensions.

In August, five junior college students who posted derogatory remarks about their teachers and vice-principal on their blogs, or online journals, were suspended for three days, the Straits Times reported.

Seven secondary schools and two junior colleges have also got tough on penalised students for making offensive remarks about teachers on blogs: one secondary school student who called a teacher a “prude” and a “frustrated old spinster” on her blog was ordered to remove the remarks.

Blogging has become huge popular among the young in tech-savvy Singapore, where over 65 per cent of the city-state’s 4.2 million people are wired to the internet.

But with libellous blogs emerging as a hot legal issue, one has to be careful with what is written.

In May, a Singapore student shut down his blog after a government agency threatened to sue for what it said were untrue and serious accusations.

In September, three ethnic Chinese bloggers were charged in court under Singapore’s sedition laws for making racial slurs against the Malay community on their weblogs.

Lawyers say students could be sued for defamation, even if a teacher was not named.

“As long as someone is able to identify the teacher, and it is an untrue statement that affects his reputation or livelihood, then the student is liable,” lawyer Doris Chia of Harry Elias and Partners was quoted as saying in the Straits Times.

An injunction can be taken to get the student to remove the blog and issue an apology, she said.

Reuters

So I guess I don;t really care what audience in volume reads my “blog” gee I hate that word or care if they like it or not. Infact if you don’t like my blog you can go suck my dick.