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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tech News - Apple, Microsoft and Google sued over file previews

Tech News - Apple, Microsoft and Google sued over file previews

Chicago (IL) – Those small thumbnail images commonly used my operating systems and web browsers to illustrate the content of a file are at the heart of a new lawsuit filed by Cygnus against Apple, Microsoft and Google. The small Indiana-based company claims that it owns the patent for file previews used by software such as Windows and OS X as well as a number of web browsers. 

According to Cygnus, its owner and president Gregory Swartz developed the file preview technology while doing consultancy work for IT firms. A quick look in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database reveals that Gregory Swartz indeed applied for a patent titled "System and method for iconic software environment management" in 2001 and was granted the patent in March of this year. Cygnus is seeking an injunction as well as royalties from the Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Apple's OS X uses thumbnail previews to show content of documents in Finder and in Cover Flow mode, which employs high-resolution bitmaps for crisp file previews. Cygnus said that a number of web browsers also infringe its patent, including Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8. Cygnus’s suit also targets Apple's iPhone.

According to Swartz, the three tech giants are only the beginning of a wave of suits. He noted that his legal team is looking for other potential targets across the tech sector, stating that they already identified "many other potentially infringing products."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Microsoft embraces open source with jQuery

Microsoft plans to integrate the JQuery library into both the ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET Model View Controller frameworks. Tony Patton outlines how jQuery may work within an ASP.NET application. 

Microsoft recently announced plans to adopt jQuery as part of its official development platform.

The inclusion of jQuery provides more features to ASP.NET developers. Here's a closer look at the combination and how jQuery may work within an ASP.NET application.

JavaScript development via jQuery 
The jQuery JavaScript library is an open source JavaScript library that simplifies many aspects of JavaScript development. It provides a powerful framework in a small package and enjoys a loyal following among AJAX developers.

Among its many features is the ease at which it allows you to work with anything within a Web page including the DOM, event handling, animation, and all aspects of AJAX.

In contrast to other JavaScript libraries, jQuery has a very small footprint (15 KB). In addition, it is cross-browser compatible and has a large following with extensive usage on major Web sites--NBC and Netflix are two great examples.

JQuery's features are beyond the scope of this article. For more information, check out thejQuery Web site; the site sets it apart from other frameworks, as it provides excellent documentation and example code.

ASP.NET and jQuery 
Microsoft plans to integrate the JQuery library into both the ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET Model View Controller (MVC) frameworks. The delivery model is the Microsoft AJAX Framework, which is a combination of ASP.NET AJAX and jQuery. The best features of both will be utilized to provide a framework for building powerful AJAX applications.

ASP.NET AJAX provides excellent features for working with AJAX requests, while providing plenty of components and controls (along with the AJAX Control Toolkit) for building AJAX enabled interfaces.

On the jQuery side, the features of selectors, animations, and plugins are utilized. Selectors allow you to easily grab elements from a DOM and manipulate them. The animation features of jQuery are excellent and easy to use. The plugin architecture is very powerful and has a loyal following, with many freely available plugins that expand the jQuery library.

With the adoption of jQuery, it will be fully integrated into future versions of Microsoft's flagship development environment Visual Studio. The integration will include IntelliSense support, making it much easier to utilize the jQuery library. jQuery will make its first appearance in ASP.NET MVC.

It is important to note that Microsoft has no plans to take over or build its own version of jQuery. The company will utilize the jQuery library as-is under its MIT license. However, Microsoft does plan on actively contributing to jQuery, so who knows how future jQuery development may be influenced.

In action 
As I write this article, the inclusion of jQuery within ASP.NET is not available in any form, but you can easily download the library from the jQuery site and put it to use. Once downloaded, the jQuery source file is installed on the Web server and may be referenced with the following line:

When working with ASP.NET with AJAX support, you can use the ScriptManager control to bring the jQuery library into the page, as the following snippet illustrates:

         

Once included or referenced, it is available for use within that Web Form.

The following example was given during a recent presentation. The code sets the background color (via CSS) for all textboxes on the page. It uses a jQuery selector to grab all textboxes with the CSS property used to manipulate the background color.

More to come 
While this article covers Microsoft's announcement regarding jQuery, the actual delivery of the technology remains to be seen with future versions of Microsoft products. On the Visual Web Developer Team Blog, Jeff King promises an updated IntelliSense file for Visual Studio 2008.

You can get up and running with jQuery in Visual Studio 2008 via the Visual Studio jQuery download.. But the best way to get acquainted with jQuery is to dive into it using your ASP.NET applications.

An interesting combination 
There are many developers who have been using jQuery within their ASP.NET applications for a long time. They are excited to have jQuery fully supported within the ASP.NET platform.

It is interesting that Microsoft chose to go with jQuery as opposed to building its own solution. The power of open source software is validated by an industry behemoth. Of course, Microsoft will still push its CodePlex site for its own version of open source when and where they can, but it makes me wonder what other open source tools and libraries Microsoft may adopt in the future.

News - Damaged Undersea Cable causes Internet and Telephone outages

News - Damaged Undersea Cable causes Internet and Telephone outages

Parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe experienced Internet and telephone outages Friday when three undersea cables between Italy and Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea were damaged.

The affected cable systems, which run from Alexandria in northern Egypt to Sicily in southern Italy, carry more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

It's still unclear how the cables were damaged or when they will be fixed. Reliance Globalcom, a communications provider in India, told Bloomberg News that there was no time frame for getting the network fixed. France Telecom said it plans to send a boat to fix the problem and should have service restored to normal by December 31, according to Bloomberg.

The cable system that was cut is known as SMW4 cable or South East Asia- Middle East-Western Europe 4. It connects 12 countries: Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France.

Vodafone's cell phone service in Egypt has been affected by the cable failure, according to Bloomberg. Mobile phone service between Europe and Asia on Orange was also disrupted, the Bloomberg article said. Orange officials told Bloomberg that at one point as much as 55 percent of voice traffic in Saudi Arabia, 52 percent in Egypt, and 82 percent in India was out of service.

Telephone providers, such as Portugal Telecom and Reliance, told Bloomberg that they've been rerouting traffic to other parts of their network to avoid issues. But this rerouting has caused network congestion, which means slower Internet connections and some dropped phone calls.

In January, undersea cables outside Alexandria were also damaged, disrupting about 70 percent of the communications network in India and the Middle East.

News - China Blocks Access to NYT Site

News - China Blocks Access to NYT Site

Chinese authorities have begun blocking access from mainland China to the Web site of The New York Timeseven while lifting some of the restrictions they had recently imposed on the Web sites of other media outlets.

When computer users in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou tried to connect on Friday morning local time to NYTimes.com, they received a message that the site was not available; some users were cut off on Thursday as early as 8 p.m. The blocking was still in effect on Saturday morning.

But the Chinese-language Web sites of BBC, Voice of America and Asiaweek, all of which had been blocked earlier this week, were accessible by Friday. The Web site of Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper, was blocked earlier this week and still restricted on Friday.


Chinese officials had few explanations for the restriction on the Times site. "Concerning your particular question, we're not really familiar with the details," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, who declined to give his name. "Web site maintenance is not within the job purview of the Foreign Ministry."
Tang Rui, an official with the government's International Press Center in Beijing, said he also had no specific information. "It might be a technical problem," he said, declining to elaborate.
Access to the Web site was not restricted on Friday in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but which still allows freedom of speech, including on the Internet. Net users in Japan and the United States were also not experiencing difficulties on Friday in viewing the site.
A spokeswoman for the Times, Catherine J. Mathis, said there did not appear to be a technical issue.
Rebecca MacKinnon, a researcher at Hong Kong University who specializes in China's Internet controls, said the reasons for the restrictions were mysterious. "All anybody can offer is speculation," she said.
In the months leading up to the Olympics in Beijing, during the Games and immediately after, the Chinese government temporarily unblocked access to some Web sites and eased curbs on the ability of foreign correspondents to travel within China. It has not tightened the travel restrictions since then.

eCommerce News - Google dominates ad server market, study shows

eCommerce News - Google dominates ad server market, study shows

It will surprise no one that Google accounts for a lion's share of the ad server market. However, it may come as a shock that Microsoft holds only the equivalent of a lion's paw.

Attributor, a content-tracking company, analyzed ad server calls across 75 million domains in October. According to the data Attributor released this week, Google--through DoubleClick and AdSense--accounts for 56.5 percent market share.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's equivalent figure hovers at 3.8 percent. Yahoo came in behind Google with 9.7 percent. If Microsoft and Yahoo ever end up combining forces, they still wouldn't touch Google.

A server call, by the way, is the "moment when a Web site requests an ad to serve up to a user. The study examined whose ad code was on that page," according to AdAge.com.

Here is Attributor's breakdown of the ad server market, as of October.

(Credit: Attributor)

DoubleClick and AdSense are definitely playing to different markets, according to Attributor's figures. DoubleClick dominated with larger sites, while AdSense did so for smaller sites.

It's not all good news for Google, though. Back in Janary, when Attributor last took a look at ad server calls, Google's AdSense and DoubleClick accounted for 69.7 percent share. That's a drop of more than 13 points.

Google didn't lose out to Microsoft or Yahoo, though. They also lost share. Instead, Google lost little bits to a lot of other players, including AOL and Revenue Science. The latter shot into the top five with 6.7 percent market share in October.

VB.NET - Resource Kit and other useful links to free resources on VB.NET

  • Here is a link to the VB.NET Resource Kit from Microsoft, which is free. It has hundreds of sample projects in it to illustrate various techniques.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic/vbrkit/default.aspx
  • Claity Consulting has a free downloable set of samples which is also real good:
http://www.claritycon.com/dotnet/samples.htm

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Download free book- .NET Domain-Driven Design with C#

Download free book- .NET Domain-Driven Design with C#


This first technical title of its kind, this is a revolutionary book for the object oriented developer. It takes the reader through the intense process of building a real-world application using Domain-Driven Design principles implemented in C# 3.0 (.NET Framework 3.5). The reader is introduced to a business domain of a real-world Construction Administration application for an architecture firm. The application is ma critical, legacy MS Access application that has outgrown MS Access and is ready to become a full-fledged enterprise application. In each chapter, the relevant part of the domain is modeled out via diagrams and code. The application is built using C#, Windows Presentation Foundation, and other Microsoft technologies and best practices. The main focus of the book is on designing and implementing the domain model and all of the supporting patterns and framework that are built in support of the domain model. The emphasis is on these theories in action through the working application, not on the tools used. The main goal is to show how to take a set of requirements and user scenarios and apply Domain-Driven Design principles to the requirements in order to create a domain model that satisfies both the user requirements and the system requirements. Various patterns are introduced along the way in order to aid with certain activities such as adapting the domain model to the user interface, synchronizing data between the client and the server, validation, mapping, etc. Although this particular application is a WPF application, most of the design patterns introduced and applied in the book can be used on other types of applications, such as web applications, web services, etc.

With the Problem-Design-Solution promise and approach, the chapters are broken down into their own modules where the intent is to take the reader through the process from beginning to end while building a complete project with each chapter module. Each chapter establishes the problem, what the reader wants to do, and why it is important, and then what factors and restrictions need to be taken into account. Next the chapter covers how the programmer will solve the problem with an adequate solution that will provide only the best results. Finally, the developer produces code and other materials to better realize the design and solution to the problem. This part of the chapter is where the reader gets hands-on practice at creating code that builds applications.

Download:
rapidshare.com/files/144866188/net-domain-driven-design-with-c-problem-design.pdf
Or
depositfiles.com/files/7907910

Download free book- .NET Domain-Driven Design with C#

Download free book- .NET Domain-Driven Design with C#

Download free book- .NET Domain-Driven Design with C#


This first technical title of its kind, this is a revolutionary book for the object oriented developer. It takes the reader through the intense process of building a real-world application using Domain-Driven Design principles implemented in C# 3.0 (.NET Framework 3.5). The reader is introduced to a business domain of a real-world Construction Administration application for an architecture firm. The application is ma critical, legacy MS Access application that has outgrown MS Access and is ready to become a full-fledged enterprise application. In each chapter, the relevant part of the domain is modeled out via diagrams and code. The application is built using C#, Windows Presentation Foundation, and other Microsoft technologies and best practices. The main focus of the book is on designing and implementing the domain model and all of the supporting patterns and framework that are built in support of the domain model. The emphasis is on these theories in action through the working application, not on the tools used. The main goal is to show how to take a set of requirements and user scenarios and apply Domain-Driven Design principles to the requirements in order to create a domain model that satisfies both the user requirements and the system requirements. Various patterns are introduced along the way in order to aid with certain activities such as adapting the domain model to the user interface, synchronizing data between the client and the server, validation, mapping, etc. Although this particular application is a WPF application, most of the design patterns introduced and applied in the book can be used on other types of applications, such as web applications, web services, etc.

With the Problem-Design-Solution promise and approach, the chapters are broken down into their own modules where the intent is to take the reader through the process from beginning to end while building a complete project with each chapter module. Each chapter establishes the problem, what the reader wants to do, and why it is important, and then what factors and restrictions need to be taken into account. Next the chapter covers how the programmer will solve the problem with an adequate solution that will provide only the best results. Finally, the developer produces code and other materials to better realize the design and solution to the problem. This part of the chapter is where the reader gets hands-on practice at creating code that builds applications.

Download:
rapidshare.com/files/144866188/net-domain-driven-design-with-c-problem-design.pdf
Or
depositfiles.com/files/7907910

Download free book- .NET Domain-Driven Design with C#

Free download book: PHP - a beginner's guide

Below is today's ebook

Learn how to build dynamic, data-driven Web applications using PHP. Covering the latest release of this cross-platform, open-source scripting language, PHP: A Beginner’s Guide teaches you how to write basic PHP programs and enhance them with more advanced features such as MySQL and SQLite database integration, XML input, and third-party extensions. This fast-paced tutorial provides one-stop coverage of software installation, language syntax and data structures, flow control routines, built-in functions, and best practices.

Designed for Easy Learning:

Key Skills & Concepts–Lists of specific skills covered in the chapter
Ask the Expert–Q&A sections filled with bonus information and helpful tips
Try This–Hands-on exercises that show how to apply your skills
Notes–Extra information related to the topic being covered
Tips–Helpful reminders or alternate ways of doing things
Cautions–Errors and pitfalls to avoid
Self-Tests–Chapter-ending quizzes to test your knowledge
Annotated Syntax–Example code with commentary that describes the programming techniques being illustrated

Download:
rapidshare.com/files/171463825/McGraw.Hill.Osborne.Media.PHP.A.BEGINNERS.GUIDE.Oct.2008.eBook-DDU.rar
Or
depositfiles.com/files/yjr0fu60a

Google snatches search share from rivals

Google snatches search share from rivals

Google's search share encroached on rivals, rising 0.4 percentage points to 63.5 percent from October to November.

Google's search share encroached on rivals, rising 0.4 percentage points to 63.5 percent from October to November.

(Credit: ComScore)

Google grabbed a chunk of market share from rival search engines in the United States in November, new figures from ComScore show.

Google's share increased 0.4 percentage points to 63.5 percent from October to November, while Yahoo dropped 0.1 percentage points to 20.4 percent and Microsoft dropped 0.2 percentage points to 8.3 percent.

Further down the pecking order, Ask.com dropped 0.2 percentage points to 4.0 percent and AOL rose 0.1 percent to 3.8 percent, ComScore said.

The total searches performed dropped 3 percent to 12.3 million, though, so even Google lost out in absolute terms even as it gained share. Each search holds the potential to show search ads, so the query total is financially significant.

Open ERP Solutions

Many Open Source ERP solutions today provide similar levels of functionality and features as offered by their commercial counterparts.
Plus, you have the source code to modify to suit your requirements.
Listed below are three popular OpenSource ERP Solutions:

1. OPENERP - www.openerp.com
2. ADempiere - www.adempiere.com
3. xTuple ERP (www.xtuple.com). The PostBooks Edition is available FOSS from SourceForge, and there are two commercial Editions with additional functionality for distributors, retailers, and manufacturers. (Thanks, Ned Lilly, xTuple, at whose suggestion i have added this to the list of solutions)

Search Cloudlet reveals better search terms

Search Cloudlet reveals better search terms


Windows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): Search Cloudlet adds a click-on tag cloud to your Google and Yahoo searches, helping you find deep-seated terms and phrases and refine your results, as you'll see below.

The free add-on, developed by the International Software and Productivity Engineering Institute, can adjust the number of keyword results you see below each search, and automatically re-searches as you click to add them in. Search Cloudlet ends up being pretty handy for searches where you don't quite know what you're looking for—because if you didn't, say, know what the big story about Macworld was, hitting the large-sized "Jobs" and then "Keynote" would deliver the goods in the search results.

Check out some of Search Cloudlet's additional features below:

When looking to narrow where your results are coming from—and, in some cases, exclude sites that spam up the findings—the Cloudlet's "Sites" button is quite handy:

Click over to Google News, and you'll get a different set of options, allowing you to refine by news source and locality. The same tools are also usable in Google's blog search.

Make Your Own Glass Whiteboard for Under $70 - A really useful innovation

Make Your Own Glass Whiteboard for Under $70- A really useful innovation

Purchasing a large commercial whiteboard can get expensive, but if you've got a home office or dorm room with a big white or dark solid wall, you can build your own glass whiteboard.

Instructables user johnpombrio did just that in his son's dorm room. The result could be a lot more finished, and you need a white or dark background behind the glass to see the writing on it, but at $65, the price is right. He writes:

Does it work? Yes. Is it the best whiteboard my son has ever used? No. It's the contrast. A white whiteboard with a black marker is, by far, the easiest to see and use. Unless there is a dark background or a white background, the writing is harder to see on a clear whiteboard.

Google Image Search Adds Search-by-Style Options

Google Image Search Adds Search-by-Style Options

Today Google has added clip art and line drawings to their image search criteria, in addition to photos and faces.

To restrict your search to either line drawings, clip art, photos, or faces, choose the style criteria from the drop-down on an image results page. (Alternately you can add the right parameter to your search URL to set up a keyword quick search; for line drawings, for example, it's&imgtype=lineart.) Check out a cool example search for Celtic art line drawings

Hybrid: A Cost-Cutting Open/Proprietary Approach

Hybrid: A Cost-Cutting Open/Proprietary Approach
 
In the time of global reccession where most businesses are working to find solutions to reduce capex and operational cost, netCORE has come up with an innovative concept -- called 'Hybrid Messaging Environment'. Hybrid means mixture/heterogeneous, hence Hybrid Messaging Solution is an integration or co-existence of netCORE's Linux Based Mailing Solution (EMS) with existing MS Exchange/Lotus Server.

"Given corporate's existing investments and their potential need to support additional Microsoft Exchange/Lotus compatible applications in the future, a Hybrid (open/proprietary approach) will work as it allows users to drop in an e-mail server without making changes to desktops or infrastructure," said the company.

Hybrid Messaging Solution supports a Linux-friendly messaging environment enables full Outlook functionality; enterprises can scale their e-mail systems and choose the most economical storage components; and the servers can communicate on a peer-to-peer basis with Exchange and the rest of the e-mail ecosystem.

Outlook on the desktop will 'think' it is talking to Exchange when it is really talking to the new Linux e-mail server, and end users do not know they are on a different server. IT professionals get a Linux e-mail server with higher performance, that uses lower-cost storage, and that works with existing datacentre applications such as Active Directory (ADS) so that user management becomes easier, said the company.

Non strategic user's mailboxes can be created on EMS and users can send and receive mails to users created on Exchange seamlessly. The Address Book across Linux and Exchange would be syncronised to give a single view to users.

netCORE's EMS has additional features like Proxy server, File transfer, IM chat which come bundled.

Spam rebounds - News article

Spam rebounds

Last month, McColo Corporation, a hosting firm that was linked to cybercrime including some of the largest spam and malware spreading botnets was shuttered. This event led to a sharp drop in the volumes of spam worldwide. Unfortunately, the relief was temporary and spam levels are heading up again. IronPort Systems data puts spam volumes at close to a 100 billion about two-thirds of what they were before McColo was shut down. In the immediate duration of the firm’s closure, spam levels were at a low of 42% of the peak of 150 million plus spam messages per day.

Spam remains a significant problem and McColo’s example suggests that shutting down hosting companies linked to the cyber criminals who dominate the market for spam and malware can help in this ongoing battle. The other part of waging war on spam remains to continue using efficient spam filters at the desktop and gateway levels of your company’s network.

On the global scale, Spamhaus maintains a list of the top ten countries that are spam havens and sadly, India makes the top ten. However, it is eighth on the list with 149 spam issues as against the US, which is top of the list with 1,486 followed by China with 483.

Would Machines Ever Overtake Humans?

Intel predicts that big changes are ahead in social interactions, robotics and improvements in computer's ability to sense the real world; machines might catch up with human reasoning capabilities by the year 2050.
Future is like a bend in the road, you never know what is ahead. However, you can always predict about future when it comes to technologies. That is something what Justin Rattner, chief technology officer, Intel Corporation, tried to do during the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. He gave us a glimpse of how technology will bring man and machine much closer together by 2050.

In terms of technology 40 years is a long period, much will happen in the next 40 years. And it's quite difficult to peep into the future. But Intel is one of those companies that are shaping the future, so what does Rattner think of future? "The industry has taken much greater strides than anyone ever imagined 40 years ago," Rattner said.

The first exciting demonstration that he made was related to wireless power transmission. Rattner demonstrated powering a 60-watt light bulb without the use of a plug or wire of any kind, which is more than is needed for a typical laptop. The demonstration was based on principles proposed by MIT physicists; Intel researchers have been working on a Wireless Resonant Energy Link (WREL).

The magic of WREL is that it promises to deliver wireless power safely and efficiently. The technology relies on strongly coupled resonators, a principle similar to the way a trained singer can shatter a glass using her voice. At the receiving resonator's natural frequency, energy is absorbed efficiently, just as a glass absorbs acoustic energy at its natural frequency. With this technology enabled in a laptop, for example, batteries could be recharged when the laptop gets within several feet of the transmit resonator. Many engineering challenges remain, but the company's researchers hope to find a way to cut the last cord in mobile devices and someday enable wireless power in Intel-based platforms.

Coming back to the point of reducing gap between humans and machines, Rattner demonstrated two working personal robot prototypes developed at Intel's research labs. One of the demonstrations showed electric field pre-touch that has been built into a robot hand. The technique is a novel sensing modality used by fish but not humans, so they can 'feel' objects before they even touch them. The other demonstration was a complete autonomous mobile manipulation robot that can recognize faces and interpret and execute commands as generic as 'please clean this mess' using motion planning, manipulation, perception and artificial intelligence.

Rattner said he believes more innovation will emerge to make human and machine interaction more robust. Randy Breen, chief product officer, Emotiv Systems, joined Rattner onstage to demonstrate the company's EPOC headset. The Emotiv EPOC identifies brainwave patterns, processes them in real time and tells a game what conscious or non-conscious thoughts the user has had, like facial expressions, conscious actions or emotions. A user with the headset could think about smiling or lifting an object, and an avatar in a game would execute it. EPOC can currently identify more than 30 different 'detections' through the 16 sensors on the headset.

Intel researchers are also investigating how millions of tiny micro-robots, called catoms, could build shape-shifting materials. If used to replace the case, display and keyboard of a computing device, this technology could make it possible for a device to change physical form in order to suit the specific way you are using it. A mobile computer, for example, could be tiny when in a pocket, change to the shape of an ear piece when used as a mobile phone, and be large and flat with a keyboard for browsing the Internet or watching a movie.

"There is speculation that we may be approaching an inflection point where the rate of technology advancements is accelerating at an exponential rate, and machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason, in the not so distant future," said Rattner.

So, we may expect some robots, giving keynotes at Intel's Developer Forum, some 50 years from now; much to the delight of Isaac Asimov!

Simple steps to enable Wireless Broadband & Modem Network Security



Described below are a few simple steps to make your wireless network (wi-fi) secure.

Wireless Broadband & Modem Network Security Glossary
Change Default Administrator Passwords (and Usernames) of Modem
At the core of Wi-Fi home networks is an access point or router. To set up these pieces of equipment, there is a Web page (http://192.168.1.1). These Web tools are protected with a login screen (username and password), so that only the rightful owner can do this. However, for any given piece of equipment, the logins provided are simple and very well-known to hackers on the Internet. Change these settings immediately.

Turn on (Compatible) WPA/WEP Encryption
All Wi-Fi equipment supports some form of encryption. Encryption technology scrambles messages sent over wireless networks so that they cannot be easily read by humans. Several encryption technologies exist for Wi-Fi today. WEP is not exactly good encryption.

Change the Default SSID
Access points and routers all use a network name called the SSID. Manufacturers normally ship their products with the same SSID set. True, knowing the SSID does not by itself allow your neighbors to break into your network, but it is a start. More importantly, when someone finds a default SSID, they see it is a poorly configured network and are much more likely to attack it. n Enable MAC Address Filtering

Each piece of Wi-Fi gear possesses a unique identifier called the physical address or MAC address. Access points and routers keep track of the MAC addresses of all devices that connect to them. Many such products offer the owner an option to key in the MAC addresses of their home equipment that restricts the network to only allow connections from those devices. Do this, but also know that the feature is not as powerful as it may seem. Hackers and their software programs can fake MAC addresses easily.

Disable SSID Broadcast
In Wi-Fi networking, the wireless access point or router typically broadcasts the network name (SSID) over the air at regular intervals. This feature was designed for businesses and mobile hotspots where Wi-Fi clients may roam in and out of range. In the home, this roaming feature is unnecessary, and it increases the likelihood that someone will try to log in to your home network. Fortunately, most Wi-Fi access points allow the SSID broadcast feature to be disabled by the network administrator.

Do Not Auto-Connect to Open Wi-Fi Networks
Connecting to an open Wi-Fi network such as a free wireless hotspot or your neighbors router exposes your computer to security risks. Although not normally enabled, most computers have a setting available allowing these connections to happen automatically without notifying you (the user).

Assign Static IP Addresses to Devices
Most home networkers gravitate toward using dynamic IP addresses. DHCP technology is indeed easy to set up. Unfortunately, this convenience also works to the advantage of network attackers, who can easily obtain valid IP addresses from your networks DHCP pool. Turn off DHCP on the router or access point, set a fixed IP address range instead, and then configure each connected device to match.

Enable Firewalls on Each Computer and the Router
Modern network routers contain built-in firewall capability, but the option also exists to disable them. Ensure that your routers firewall is turned on. For extra protection, consider installing and running personal firewall software on each computer connected to the router.

Position the Router or Access Point Safely
Wi-Fi signals normally reach to the exterior of a home. A small amount of signal leakage outdoors is not a problem, but the further this signal reaches, the easier it is for others to detect and exploit. Wi-Fi signals often reach through neighboring homes and into streets, for example.

Turn Off the Network During Extended Periods of Non-Use
The ultimate in wireless security measures, shutting down your network will most certainly prevent outside hackers from breaking in! While impractical to turn off and on the devices frequently, at least consider doing so during travel or extended periods offline. Computer disk drives have been known to suffer from power cycle wear-and-tear, but this is a secondary concern for broadband modems and routers.

Security at Stake - Vulnerability of Wi-Fi Networks

Security at Stake
Vulnerability of Wi-Fi networks increases manifold as basic measures like enabling a security code are ignored by both users and service providers

The pattern linking most of the recent blasts engineered in India is that they have been somehow connected to the Internet, and more specifically emails. Either before or after the blasts, terror suspects have sent emails to media and police claiming responsibility or giving prior information about blasts. The common thread to most of these emails was that suspects hacked into someones unsecured Wi-Fi network to send out terror emails.

Thanks to the availability of affordable Wi-Fi modems from vendors such as D-Link, UTStarcom, and Linksys (Cisco), there has been commoditization of these devices which are available for as low as Rs 1,500. This has made Wi-Fi networks common, and more vulnerable. All laptops available in the market today are Wi-Fi enabled. Adding to the increasing vulnerability of unsecured Wi-Fi networks are mobile devices with Wi-Fi capability. Ease of accessibility of wireless connections through large number of free Wi-Fi hot spots makes it easy to hack into unsecured networks and difficult to track offenders.

Why Unsecured?
Most Indian telecom service providers, particularly BSNL and MTNL, have not done much to ensure that wireless modems installed enable security, neither are the subscribers informed about the same. At times, the technical person who installs Wi-Fi connections does not know how to do it.

Another problem is that users buying wireless modems connect their Wi-Fi Internet connection without enabling even the basic security mechanism that is available. According to Manjula Sridhar, co-founder and chief technology officer of Aujas Networks, a digital security services company, The awareness level of a large section of Indian Internet users is very poor, and all they know is to switch on and switch off wireless modems. Another issue is that users do not want to complicate matters. By keeping it open everybody in the family can use it without getting into too much complexity of user IDs and passwords.

Large enterprise networks are more or less secure but it is the networks of the small and medium businesses and the end consumers that are prone to these attacks due to lack of expertise to secure the network. According to Sudarshan Boosupalli, country head, Ruckus Wireless, a provider of Wi-Fi LAN solutions, Most small and medium businesses have fallen prey to cheap Wi-Fi modems which do not offer adequate protection, thereby compromising security.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twitpay brings micropayments to Twitter - News

Twitpay brings micropayments to Twitter - NEWS

18 December 2008

The New York Times has a nice little writeup about Twitpay, an experimental new app that lets you send payments using Twitter.

Here's the premise: Sign up, put some cash in your Twitpay account through another payment service like PayPal, and then send out a "tweet" to another Twitpay member, structured like "@josh twitpay $10 for beers." Twitpay takes a five-cent commission. Its founders are hoping that, eventually, it can be used for charity and disaster relief payments.

It's a nifty idea, though not for everyone. You don't get cash out of it, for example--Twitpay reimburses you in the form of Amazon gift rewards instead. Also, I'm not sure I always want to make it public that I'm letting @josh pay for my beer (don't want my Twitter followers thinking I'm a lush and a mooch), and Twitpay doesn't work with direct messages or friends-only Twitter accounts. You can, however, go to the Twitpay homepage and use that in lieu of a formal tweet.

According to Twitpay's FAQ page, the app was created "because Silicon Alley Insider said it was a billion dollar business (and) a billion dollar business sounded good to us." Indeed, micropayments are a hot topic in the social media world as an alternative to advertising-based models--Facebook has had a payment system in the works for what seems like a zillion years.

And, perhaps, it's something on which Twitter itself, still lacking a concrete business model, could capitalize. The company already bought Summize to power Twitter Search; having a payment system on board could sure help with those marketing promotions that are all the rage these days.

YouTube launches HD video page - News

December 18, 2008 News:

YouTube announced Thursday that it has launched a new landing page to corral all the high-definition video uploaded to the site.

Along with the new page, YouTube's HD player now launches in a widescreen window that takes up the majority of the browser window. YouTube posted an FAQ on how to how to encode HD videos and how to avoid "windowboxing"--images that are surrounded by black bars.

The video-sharing site quietly rolled out HD-enabled videos earlier this month by adding a "watch in HD" option where the "watch in high quality" option usually appears. Last month, the site began expanding the viewable width of all videos appearing on the site, creating an image like that of a movie theater screen or high-definition television.

The site is also testing three new landing pages dedicated to the popular categories of news, movies, and music. Each page will be populated with the most popular content on the site related to that category, YouTube explained on a company blog:

The news page will be populated with breaking stories from around the world as well as news drawn from the Google News service; music will feature rising videos alongside playlists dedicated to different genres; movies will showcase some of the most popular short and full-length movies on YouTube today.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Interview with Dr. Rudi Studer on Semantic Search Technologies

DECEMBER 16, 2008

An Interview with Dr. Rudi Studer on Semantic Search Technologies

Dr. Rudi Studer is no stranger to the world of semantic search. A full professor in Applied Informatics at University of Karlsruhe, Dr. Studer is also director of the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute, an interdisciplinary center designed to spur new concepts and technologies for a services-based economy. His areas of research include ontology managementsemantic web services, and knowledge management. He has been a past president of the Semantic Web Science Association and has served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Web Semantics.

In addition to his duties as director of the KSRI, Dr. Studer is a vice president for Semantic Technologies Institute International and helped found ontoprise GmbH, an enterprise software company built around deploying semantic technologies. Dr. Studer recently gave a talk at Yahoo! about semantic technologies, and he was kind enough to answer a set of follow-up questions about the future of semantic search.

Yahoo! (Y!): Could you please tell us about your research on semantic search at the University of Karlsruhe?

Rudi Studer (RS): We look at semantic search as a process of information access, where one or several activities can be supported by semantic technologies. These activities include preprocessing and extraction of information, the interpretation of user information needs, the actual query processing, the presentation of results, and finally, the processing of user feedback for subsequent queries and to generate improved refinements. In all of these steps, semantic technologies can be exploited. For example, with respect to interpreting user information needs, we work on techniques to automatically translate information needs, expressed in either natural language queries or keyword-based queries, into expressive queries that are specified in structured query languages, such as SPARQL.

Y!: Early on, semantic technologies drew criticism for overestimating their own short-term impact and failing to embrace some of the realities of the Web. In what ways do you think the semantic web community has matured since then?

RS: It’s true that in the Semantic Web community a lot of emphasis has been put on Semantics rather than on Web aspects. But, important to note, semantic technologies are not only about the Web. Many of these technologies, e.g. in the context of Enterprise Information Integration, were indeed successful in closed and controlled environments. Now, we’re beginning to see that these technologies are more and more applied to open Web environments, as well.

Of course there have also been many developments that focus on Web aspects in particular. In the context of combining Web 2.0 and Semantic Web technologies, we see that the Web is the central point. In terms of short term impact, Web 2.0 has clearly passed the Semantic Web, but in the long run there is a lot that Semantic Web technologies can contribute. We see especially promising advancements in developing and deploying lightweight semantic approaches.

Y!: In principle, semantic technologies should be able to help search engines more precisely match the user’s intent with the content on the page. But again, this has proven to be harder to realize than originally expected. Are we getting closer to the solution?

RS: No one ever said that it was going to be easy! But yes, we are getting closer. As I indicated before, many of the technologies today work well in closed environments (e.g. Enterprise scenarios), but do not necessarily scale to the Web (yet). But of course there is improvement on that side as well. Powerset (acquired by Microsoft this year), for example, is a good indicator of where we’re headed and certainly a proof point that we’re getting closer.

Y!: The semantic web suffers from a chicken-and-egg problem, where developers are unwilling to create applications due to a lack of metadata, and publishers are unwilling to expose metadata due to a lack of applications. What are some of the ways to break out of this deadlock?

RS: There are two solutions to this: First, we need to make it easier for publishers to produce semantic metadata and second, we need to make the benefits more obvious for the application developers.

With regard to the first aspect, a lot of the data is already available in structured form (e.g. in databases of the deep web), and technically straight-forward to expose in the form of RDF. TheOpen Linked Data Initiative is a good example of large numbers of data sources that have been published as RDF data. Then there is the unstructured data. Technologies like semantic wikis (e.g. the Semantic MediaWiki) allow the easy and seamless construction of semantic metadata as the content is produced.

The benefits of semantic metadata are becoming more and more obvious. At this year’s ISWC the Billion Triple Challenge uncovered a number of useful applications that show the benefits of combining existing Semantic Web data sources in an intelligent way.

Y!: How do you think major search engines supporting semantic technologies might contribute to the growth of the semantic web?

RS: Once search engines index Semantic Web data, the benefits will be even more obvious and immediate to the end user. Yahoo!’s SearchMonkey is a good example of this. In turn, if there is a benefit for the end user, content providers will make their data available using Semantic Web standards.

Y!: What do you think are some of the commercial opportunities left to be explored by semantic technologies?

RS: So far, semantic technologies have been used in commercial products for data integration, enterprise semantic search and content management, etc. I expect this area to grow, but prospectively I see more and more potential for business opportunities in the combination of the social web and semantic technologies as well as in the context of mashups. An area that is also still largely unexplored is the area of advertisements in the context of semantic search.

Y!: What are some of the pitfalls that developers run into when they first start investigating or deploying semantic metadata?

RS: One problem in the early days was that the tool support was not as mature as for other technologies. This has changed over the years as we now have stable tooling infrastructure available. This also becomes apparent when looking at the at this year’s Semantic Web Challenge.

Another aspect is the complexity of some of the technologies. For example, understanding the foundation of languages such as OWL (being based on Description Logics) is not trivial. At the same time, doing useful stuff does not require being an expert in Logics – many things can already be done exploiting only a small subset of all the language features.

Y!: If you’re a front-end developer who’s interested in finding out more about semantic metadata, where should you get started?

RS: There are now numerous books out there, e.g. Antoniou/van Harmelen: A Semantic Web PrimerDavies et al. (eds.): Semantic Web Technologies, and Staab/Studer (eds.): Handbook on Ontologies. There is also a large collection of video lectures at videolectures.net.

Of course the W3C recommendations for RDFOWL and SPARQL are a useful reference. For inspiration, I recommend looking at some of the sites exploiting semantic technologies, e.g.semanticweb.orgTwine, or Freebase.

 
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