news

MORE HACKING ATTACKS

malwareThe Wall Street Journal reports today: “Hackers in Europe and China successfully broke into computers at nearly 2,500 companies and government agencies over the last 18 months in a coordinated global attack that exposed vast amounts of personal and corporate secrets to theft, according to a computer-security company that discovered the breach.”

This is apparently not related to the attacks from China that caused Google to make noises last month about closing its operations in that country.  In fact, the New York Times calmly notes that this is a relatively small blip in the world of compromised computers and botnets. […] continued

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UPDATES TO NEW YORK TIMES, GOOGLE

Two recent announcements.

newyorktimesskimmer

The New York Times officially added “Times Skimmer” to its family of web sites, with an attractive interface for browsing through news stories without scrolling. Here’s the announcement, and here’s more information about Times Skimmer. Make sure you’re also familiar with the standalone New York Times Reader, an even better way to read the news on a computer. […] continued

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FREEWAY COLLAPSE – WEB RESOURCES

This article has a nice collection of links to online information about the Bay Area freeway collapse – newspaper articles, Google satellite images, suggestions for alternate routes, and more.

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PEARLS BEFORE BREAKFAST

This has nothing to do with technology – it’s just a fascinating, thought-provoking story.

The Washington Post arranged for violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to play in a DC subway station during the morning rush hour, like any other street musician, and filmed the reaction. Joshua Bell is considered one of the best classical musicians in the world; he played beautiful (and difficult) music that morning on one of the most valuable Stradivarius violins ever made. […] continued

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NSL GAG ORDERS

On March 9 the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed that the FBI has been systematically abusing its expanded power to issue “national security letters” and obtain private information about US citizens and residents from telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit providers, and other businesses.

Between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands, without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval, to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. […] continued

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BETTING ON TERRORISM

The Pentagon’s plan to allow betting on terrorist acts through a quasi-stock-market will likely die an early death. Before it’s gone, take a look at the Policy Analysis Market web site set up for the program. Despite your instincts and the appearance of the site, this is not a joke. (According to the New York Times, some specific descriptions of potential betting events – hijackings, assassinations, and the like – were removed from the site yesterday morning.)

Admiral Poindexter, the director of the Terrorism Information Awareness Office and proponent of the Policy Analysis Market, has, umm, interesting ideas. […] continued

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SLATE – TODAY’S PAPERS

Every day the online magazine Slate presents a wonderful selection of articles on politics, news, and culture. It’s one of my daily stops. One of its best features is Today’s Papers, which analyzes and compares the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. […] continued

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THE SEVEN WARNING SIGNS OF BOGUS SCIENCE

Robert L. Park is a physics professor at the University of Maryland, and the author of Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness To Fraud. He has written a wonderful short article on how to recognize scientific nonsense – an important skill for all of us in these confusing times.

“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is investing close to a million dollars in an obscure Russian scientist’s antigravity machine, although it has failed every test and would violate the most fundamental laws of nature.

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CYBERTERRORISM AND FUD

More interesting reading: this Slate article casts a jaundiced eye at the “National Strategy To Secure Cyberspace” pushed out by the Bush administration last month. Part of a broader strategy to fill the airwaves and the public consciousness with FUD – “fear, uncertainty and doubt,” this time by painting a picture of computer-savvy regimes ready to knock out our electricity and phone lines and electric blankets from their remote terminals. […] continued

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CNET RADIO GOING OFF THE AIR

CNET Radio (AM 910) has been my constant companion for the last year or more. It’s delivered technology news and talk all day, every day – and now it’s closing up the radio station on January 31. Sad news for anyone who had stumbled on its wonderful programming in the San Francisco area, or nationwide on XM Radio. […] continued

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FCC TO PERMIT TELECOM, MEDIA CONSOLIDATION

An article in today’s Washington Post reviews some of the major decisions the Federal Communications Commission will be making in the next few months, moves that could fundamentally rewrite the rules for the broadcast media and Internet service providers. The likely result is that a handful of mega-corporations will control virtually all aspects of our entertainment and our online experiences. […] continued

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NIGERIAN FRAUDSTER BAITING

With the raging popularity of the Nigerian e-mail scam (see my writeup and links on October 24), a new sport has sprung up – Nigerian fraudster baiting, leading the scammers on the road to ridicule.

Here’s a wonderful example – an exchange of e-mails between “Dr. Graham Douglas” in Nigeria, and gullible victim Norman Bettison. […] continued

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LORD OF THE RINGS UPDATE

Getting ready for The Two Towers? Here’s an early look from Time Magazine, which notes that “Fellowship was often quiet and deliberately paced. Two Towers is an unabashed action film.” They predict that we’ll like it even more than the first film.

There’s no introduction in The Two Towers, no prologue to remind you where the first film left off. […] continued

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THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT

MSNBC has a wonderful article about an unexpected side effect of global warming – huge ice blocks, 22 lbs or more, which form in the upper atmosphere on clear days and fall to earth, smashing car windshields and ripping holes in houses. Don’t look at me like that – I’m serious. […] continued

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GOOGLE NEWS

Google is bringing its remarkable technology to harvesting the news. Here’s a link to Google News, presenting the top news stories of the moment without any human intervention. Google News software continuously crawls more than 4,000 Web news sources, looking for the most relevant articles from the most reputable sources. […] continued

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