Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Saturday, March 26, 2005  


Comic Of The Day

posted by Gary Williams at 12:07 PM | link |

via Yahoo! Messenger under seige from Phishing attack

Yahoo! Messenger under seige from Phishing attack

Posted on : 2005-03-26| Author : Anne Roberts
News Category : Internet

If you get a message from a buddy asking you to click on a link to a Yahoo! page, better to delete the message or ask for clarification from the sender. Why? well it could be a spim message(spamming on IM). Phishers have now set their sights on the world of instant messaging (IM). The first target is the Yahoo! Messenger.

The Phishers send an innocent looking message from someone on your contact list. The message directs you to a bogus Yahoo! Page, which will request you to login using your Yahoo! ID & password. Phishers can then hack into your PC using the information supplied by you. Access to your financial information is got via the same way.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:47 AM | link |

Thursday, March 24, 2005  

via Lawrence Lessig

Yahoo! Creative Commons Search Engine

Late last night, Yahoo! launched a Creative Commons search engine, permitting you to search the web, filtering results on the basis of Creative Commons licenses. So, as I feel like I've said 10,000 times when explaining CC on the road, 'Show me pictures of the Empire State Building that I can use for noncommercial use,' and this is the first of about 13,000 on the list.

This is exciting news for us. It confirms great news about Yahoo!. I met their senior management last October. They had, imho, precisely the right vision of a future net. Not a platform for delivering whatever, but instead a platform for communities to develop. With the acquisition of Flickr, the step into blogging and now this tool to locate the welcome mats spread across the net, that vision begins to turn real.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:02 PM | link |


Comic Of The Day For Meg

Since my friend Meg (of Mandarin Design) works in a big corporate software setup — state of California IT department — I thought she might like today's DIlbert cartoon:

posted by Gary Williams at 9:57 AM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

Bobby Fischer Heads for Iceland After Release From Japanese Jail


Published: March 24, 2005

TOKYO, March 24- After eight months in a Japanese detention cell, the American chess legend Bobby Fischer flew out of Tokyo today, lambasting leaders of the United States and Japan as he started a journey to self-exile in Iceland.

'This was not an arrest, it was a kidnapping cooked up by Bush and Koizumi,' the 62-year-old Mr. Fischer told reporters, referring to President Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan.

'They are war criminals - they should both be hung,' Mr. Fischer said, his eyes shielded by the visor of baseball cap, his chin sporting a long gray beard grown during his detention on an American arrest warrant.

'I'm not free until I get out of Japan,' he said, striding toward the boarding gate for a flight to Copenhagen. Japan's Justice Ministry approved his release and departure after Iceland's Parliament voted Monday to award citizenship to Mr. Fischer, a tribute to the epic cold war match in 1972 in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik. That contest ended with the American beating the Soviet player Boris Spassky.

On Wednesday, Icelandic diplomats here presented documents to Japanese foreign and justice ministries confirming that Mr. Fischer, who was born in Chicago and brought up in Brooklyn, is now a citizen of Iceland. Under Japanese law, he could be deported to his country of origin or to another country where he has citizenship.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:55 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 23, 2005  

via Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

Japan to free Bobby Fischer, controversial chess champ

Boing Boing reader John Duffell says,

Bobby Fischer, former world chess champion and a wanted man in the U.S. who's been held by the Japanese government for the past 8 months, will soon be freed. Fischer has been granted Icelandic citizenship, prompting the Japanese to allow for his release to Iceland. He's wanted in the US for breaking international sanctions in 1992 when he played a chess match in Yugoslavia. Fischer also pissed off a lot of people on 9/11, when he went on Philippine radio to commend the 9/11 hijackers for the WTC attacks.

Snip: 'The former champion has many supporters in Iceland, after playing a world championship match there in 1972 at the height of the Cold War, beating the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky. 'Mr Fischer is a true Icelander now,' Iceland's ambassador to Japan, Thordur Oskarsson, told Reuters news agency.'

posted by Gary Williams at 10:07 PM | link |

via The Register

Drive-by Trojans exploit browser flaws

By John Leyden
Published Wednesday 23rd March 2005 15:10 GMT

Analysis Trojans - malicious programs that pose as benign apps - are usurping network worms to become the greatest malware menace. Sixteen of the 50 most frequent malicious code sightings reported to Symantec in the second half of 2004 were Trojans. In the first six months of last year, Trojans accounted for just eight of the top 50 malicious code reports.

Symantec blames Trojans for an upsurge in client-side exploits for web browsers. Trojans create the means to deliver malicious code onto vulnerable Windows PCs. Browsers are the primary target, but flaws in email clients, peer-to-peer networks, instant messaging clients, and media players can also be exploited in this way.
Browser beauty contest

Between July and December 2004 Symantec documented 13 vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer and 21 vulnerabilities affecting each of the Mozilla browsers. Six vulnerabilities were reported in Opera and none in Safari.

Of the 13 vulns affecting IE in 2H04, nine were classified as "high severity". Of the 21 vulnerabilities affecting the Mozilla browsers, Symantec classified 11 as "high severity". Firefox users enjoyed an easier ride with just seven affecting "high severity" vulns over the report period.

Symantec says there have been few attacks in the wild against Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or Safari, but the jury is still out on whether these browsers represent a more secure alternative to IE.

Nigel Beighton, Symantec’s director of enterprise strategy, EMEA, told El Reg that choice of browser is less important than activating seldom-used security zones features to limit exposure. "If you don't set trusted sites and stick by default browser security it's like surfing everywhere on the net with your wallet open," he said.
Attack, attack, attack

Symantec's Internet Threat Report, published Monday (21 March), brings together data gleaned from the security firm's SecurityFocus and managed security services division. The report found that financial service industry was the most frequently targeted sector in internet attacks, followed by hi-tech and pharmaceutical firms. "Attacks are becoming more targeted and specific," said Beighton.

For the third straight reporting period, the Microsoft SQL Server Resolution Service Stack Overflow Attack (formerly referred to as the Slammer Attack) was the most common attack, used by 22 per cent of all attackers. Organisations reported 13.6 attacks per day, up from 10.6 in the previous six months. The United States continues to be the top country of attack origin, followed by China and Germany.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:42 AM | link |

Tuesday, March 22, 2005  

via New Scientist Breaking News

Classic maths puzzle cracked at last

A number puzzle originating in the work of self-taught maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan nearly a century ago has been solved. The solution may one day lead to advances in particle physics and computer security.

Karl Mahlburg, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, US, has spent a year putting together the final pieces to the puzzle, which involves understanding patterns of numbers.

'I have filled notebook upon notebook with calculations and equations,' says Mahlburg, who has submitted a 10-page paper of his results to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The patterns were first discovered by Ramanujan, who was born in India in 1887 and flunked out of college after just a year because he neglected his studies in subjects outside of mathematics.

But he was so passionate about the subject he wrote to mathematicians in England outlining his theories, and one realised his innate talent. Ramanujan was brought to England in 1914 and worked there until shortly before his untimely death in 1920 following a mystery illness.
Curious patterns

Ramanujan noticed that whole numbers can be broken into sums of smaller numbers, called partitions. The number 4, for example, contains five partitions: 4, 3 1, 2 2, 1 1 2, and 1 1 1 1.

He further realised that curious patterns - called congruences - occurred for some numbers in that the number of partitions was divisible by 5, 7, and 11. For example, the number of partitions for any number ending in 4 or 9 is divisible by 5.

'But in some sense, no one understood why you could divide the partitions of 4 or 9 into five equal groups,' says George Andrews, a mathematician at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, US. That changed in the 1940s, when physicist Freeman Dyson discovered a rule, called a 'rank', explaining the congruences for 5 and 7. That set off a concerted search for a rule that covered 11 as well - a solution called the 'crank' that Andrews and colleague Frank Garvan of the University of Florida, US, helped deduce in the 1980s.
Patterns everywhere

Then in the late 1990s, Mahlburg's advisor, Ken Ono, stumbled across an equation in one of Ramanujan's notebooks that led him to discover that any prime number - not just 5, 7, and 11 - had congruences. 'He found, amazingly, that Ramanujan's congruences were just the tip of the iceberg - there were really patterns everywhere,' Mahlburg told New Scientist. 'That was a revolutionary and shocking result.'

But again, it was not clear why prime numbers showed these patterns - until Mahlburg proved the crank can be generalised to all primes. He likens the problem to a gymnasium full of people and a 'big, complicated theory' saying there is an even number of people in the gym. Rather than counting every person, Mahlburg uses a 'combinatorial' approach showing that the people are dancing in pairs. 'Then, it's quite easy to see there's an even number,' he says.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:20 PM | link |


Website rouses informants' fear, investigators' ire

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff | March 21, 2005

When a team of police, federal agents, and a drug-sniffing dog burst through the front door and scoured every corner of the house, the woman and her boyfriend figured they knew who had turned them in. So she struck back: In the shadowy realms of cyberspace, she publicly identified the informant who she suspected had ratted on her boyfriend, landing him in court on drug possession charges.

On a website launched seven months ago from the North Shore, the woman posted a note saying her alleged informant, a 27-year-old man from the Tewksbury area, was a ''narc' who made a practice of snitching on others to minimize his own legal problems.

''In this day and age, you can't be a rat and not have people know,' said the woman in an interview, speaking on the condition that her name not be used. ''I think it kind of opens up people's eyes in town to people who are doing shady deals.'

The website, which was launched by Sean Bucci, who is battling his own marijuana charges, has quickly become the largest online database of its kind. It currently holds more than 800 profiles of alleged informants, and new additions appear frequently, posted by people who want to take revenge on federal agents, former friends-turned-snitches, and others who they believe have informed on them to law enforcement agencies.

Law enforcement officials worry that the site will impede their ability to use undercover agents and informants, who often provide information critical to criminal cases, especially those involving drugs. And they worry that criminals might use the site to find out the names of informants, which could imperil the people whose information is posted there.

The Globe is not naming the website because it is impossible to verify whether all the people listed there are informants, and because publicizing access to their identities could jeopardize their safety.

In Boston, a paid informant for the FBI has been living on the run, afraid for his life, since his profile appeared on the website about seven months ago. The informant had been working undercover on a case when he got an ominous phone call from one of the men he was investigating.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:48 PM | link |

Monday, March 21, 2005  

via whiskey river

Not Striving

'I become aware of the old Buddhist axiom of not striving. It seems clear that if I pour my energy into creating beauty and euphoria, this simultaneously creates an empty hole which I will subsequently experience as the opposite. The answer is equanimity - let things be as they are.'
- Myron J. Stolaroff
Thanatos to Eros

posted by Gary Williams at 11:02 PM | link |

via Scalzi Whatever

Submit for Summer Sci Fi Magazine

Subterranean Press, the publisher which will be releasing the limited hardcover version of Agent to the Stars in July, is also launching a quarterly magazine, called (naturally enough) Subterranean Magazine, the first issue of which should be out in reasonably short order (you can order it here, if you like). Bill Schafer, who is the publisher, asked me if I might be interested in taking the editorial reins for the Spring 2006 issue.

I was, for at least three reasons. One, I enjoy editing; I did it before when I worked for AOL (I edited a humor section there) and I was interested in trying it in the field of science fiction. Two, I know that my earlier stint as an editor made me a better writer, because I'd been on the other side of the blue pencil; gaining experience as an editor in science fiction could only help make my own science fiction writing better. Three, I'd recently been mulling over shopping the idea of me editing an SF anthology around a particular theme -- and here was a chance to do just that, in magazine form. It all clicked together. I said yes, Bill gave me a budget, and here we are.

So, now that I've found someone insane -- uh, make that, inspired -- enough to let me take control of an entire magazine issue, let me tell you what I want to make the issue about:

Big Honkin' Science Fiction Clich?s.

Rocketships and orinthopters, Little Green Men and Amazon Women on the Moon, master computers flummoxed by simple logic, worlds where everyone wears the same silver tunics, everyone eating meals made from pills, people named 'Ted-35' and 'Jill QR7.' Yes. As writers we're trained to run from them, because they've been done to death (or to unmarketability, which for stories is the same thing). Magazines quite rightly caution prospective writers from them. The Internet holds entire lists of them. Television shows have run for years doing nothing more than mocking them.

These are what I want to see, in brand-spankin'-new stories.

Why? Well, I guess mostly because we're not supposed to play with clich?s, and you know how people get when they're told they can't touch something. It makes them want to get their grimy little paws all over that thing. Also, of course, there's a substantive difference between writing a story filled with clich?s, that you think is something new and original, and going in knowing that you're working with clich?s, and being aware you'll have to work to sell it to the reader (and also the editor).

There's also the matter that right now there are some damn fine writers out there, and I'm personally itchin' to see what some of them could do to overhaul a crappy old clich? and make it the heart of a clean-burning, page-turning tale.

To be clear, I don't want see stories with clich?d elements that are merely obvious rehashes or lazy sardonic 'send-ups' of the very stories that got these plot ideas banned to the hinterlands. I adore humor in SF and will be looking for it, but let's face it: sardonically sending up SF clich?s is its own clich? (Oh, the irony). Show me an Amazon Women on the Moon story full of snarky in-joke SF references, and you've just shown me what everyone else has done for the last 30 years, and why would I buy that? Show me an Amazon Women on the Moon story that gets me genuinely emotionally involved, and now we're talking.

Now that I've gone over the general concept, let's talk details. Here's what I'll be looking for:

posted by Gary Williams at 7:56 PM | link |

via Wired News

Secrets of the CO2 Eaters

By Kristen Philipkoski
02:00 AM Oct. 01, 2004 PT

The genetic map of a type of teeny-weeny ocean algae could have a big impact on how scientists try to protect the Earth's oceans from greenhouse gases.

The lowly diatom is a microscopic, single-celled, hatbox-shaped organism. Despite their size, the Earth's diatoms generate 40 percent of the 50 billion tons of organic carbon produced every year in the sea, gobbling up carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen in the process. Taken together, all of the diatoms on Earth perform as much photosynthesis as all of the rain forests in the world.

'These organisms, although very small, play an incredibly important role in maintaining the health of our planet,' said Virginia Arbrust, an associate professor of oceanography at the University of Washington and lead author of a paper, published in the Oct. 1 issue of Science, that outlines a genetic map for the diatom.

While deciphering the diatom's genomic map, Arbrust and the 44 other scientists who worked on the project were surprised to find that the diatom processes nitrogen just like humans do: through a urea cycle, the process of detoxifying ammonia and nitrogenous waste. The scientists never imagined that such a minute organism would have a urea cycle, and Arbrust predicted the discovery will lead to a flurry of new research.

'That was unexpected, but now that we know it exists, we have lots of work to do to find out what it tells us about how these organisms work,' she said.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:42 PM | link |


Farm animals 'need emotional TLC'

By Julianna Kettlewell
BBC News science reporter

Cows enjoy solving problems, according to researchers
Farm animals have feelings which should be respected and catered for, academics at a London, UK, meeting have said.

They believe animals should not be dismissed as simple automatons - cows take pleasure in solving problems and sheep can form deep friendships.

Delegates from around the globe were speaking at the Compassion in World Farming Trust (CIWF Trust) conference.

They shared ways of exploring the minds of animals, as well as monitoring their suffering and alleviating their pain.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:32 PM | link |

via WorkingForChange-Slogans 'r' us

Slogans For Karen Hughes

If Karen Hughes plans to craft a cuddlier image for us, she's going to need a little help. Okay, she's going to need a lot of help. An aircraft carrier group of help. And I'm thinking some snappy slogans could come in handy. Quick. Simple. Buzzworthy. So, in the interest of patriotism, I'm offering up a few. Gratis. Don't thank me, I'm here to help.


# When Democracy Reigns, It Pours.
# America: Just a Big Red White and Blue Teddy Bear With a Whole Lot of Guns.
# Snap. Crackle. Pow. Thud.
# Be All We Think You Should Be.
# Tastes Great. Less Torture.
# They Don't Call Us The GREAT Satan For Nothing.
# America 2.0. Now With Improved Press Suppression.
# What's So Bad About Bread And Circuses Anyway?
# John Wayne: Not Just an Actor. A Way Of Life.
# Don't Like Us? Get In Line.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:09 AM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

At NASA, Clouds Are What You Zoom Through to Get to Mars


Published: March 21, 2005

Until a few weeks ago, James C. Wilson, a professor of engineering at the University of Denver, thought he would be spending the summer using high-altitude NASA aircraft to carry instruments into tropical clouds to measure the movement of water vapor and particles like soot.

Understanding these clouds is critical to understanding and predicting climate change. But the project has been canceled, Dr. Wilson says, a casualty of accounting changes at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and of the Bush administration's emphasis on sending people to the Moon and Mars.

While NASA is best known for its spaceflight programs, it has long financed other scientific research, including the study of the atmosphere and of components of the universe. Until this year, that research was largely shielded from cost overruns in the shuttle and space station programs.

But under procedures instituted during the tenure of Sean O'Keefe, the administrator who left the agency in February, officials are much more free to shift money to the shuttle and the space station from other programs. Even though NASA would get a 2.4 percent increase in financing under the Bush administration's budget for the coming fiscal year, many scientific programs could suffer.

'Those firewalls are coming down, and that's a cause for concern,' said Representative Sherwood Boehlert, the New York Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Science, which held a hearing on NASA spending last month.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:23 AM | link |

Sunday, March 20, 2005  

VIA Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters

Orrin Hatch To Lead Copyright Panel

Senator Orrin Hatch, (in)famous for his idea of destroying the computers of copyright violators is to head a Senate 'panel, which will have jurisdiction over copyright, trademark and patent law, as well as treaties intended to protect American intellectual property overseas.' Looks like file sharing will finally be erased once and for all. Oh, and this looks like another field day for those who refuse to subsume patent, trademark and copyright law under the heading of 'IP law.''

posted by Gary Williams at 2:04 PM | link |

via Easy Bake Coven

Karen Hughes Picked To Polish US Image.

And Bill Clinton will be picked to speak on monogamy. Michael Jackson picked to speak on natural beauty. Courtney Love picked to speak on femininity.

Karen Hughes. Crude, rude, anal Karen Hughes. So uptight she can snap broomsticks with her sphincter. Is she the one we need to send off globally to speak for all of us?

posted by Gary Williams at 12:15 AM | link |

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