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Posts from August, 2009

Personalized In-Game Advertising In Upcoming Titles

Aug 31

Scythal writes “In-game advertising provider Massive Inc., acquired by Microsoft in 2006, has signed up or renewed contracts with several publishers, notably EA, Blizzard Entertainment, THQ, and Activision. Eagerly anticipated games like Need for Speed: Shift will feature the technology that continuously collects ‘anonymous’ information about users, sends them to the Massive database for analysis, and downloads advertisements to be shown in the game. All that happens insidiously, without the users’ explicit consent and out of their control, which raises further concerns about privacy, security and quite frankly, customer abuse. Would you feel concerned about software that collects personal information and sends it so that you get more personalized ads in a game you paid for?” (More, below.)

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Where Have You Gone, Bell Labs?

Aug 31

theodp writes “Name an industry that can produce 1 million new, high-paying jobs over the next three years, challenges BusinessWeek. You can’t, because there isn’t one. And that’s the problem. So what’s the answer? Basic research can repair the broken US business model, argues BW, saying it’s the key to new, high-quality job creation. Scientific research legends like Bell Labs, Sarnoff Corp, and Xerox PARC are essentially gone, or shadows of their former selves. And while IBM, Microsoft, and HP collectively spend $17B a year on R&D, only 3%-5% of that is for basic science. In a post-9/11 world, DARPA’s mission has shifted from science to tactical projects with short-term military applications. Cutting back on investment in basic science research may make great sense in the short term, but as corporations and government make the same decision to free-ride off the investments of others, society suffers the ‘tragedy of the commons,’ wherein multiple actors operating in their self-interest do harm to the overall public good. We’ve reached that point, says BW, and we’re just beginning to see the consequences. The cycle needs to be reversed, and it needs to be done quickly.”

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Musician Lobby Terms Balanced Copyright "Disgusting"

Aug 31

An anonymous reader writes “While most of the attention at Thursday’s Canadian copyright town hall was on the recording industry’s strategy to pack the room and exclude alternate voices, the most controversial activity took place outside the hall. It has now been revealed that security guards threatened students and a Member of Parliament for distributing leaflets, and the American Federation of Musicians termed the MP’s leaflet, which called for balanced copyright, ‘disgusting’ and demanded a retraction and apology. At this point, such an admission seems unlikely.”

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Spammers Use Holes In Democrats.org Security

Aug 31

Attila Dimedici writes “According to Cloudmark, 419 spammers are using the democrats.org website to relay email and bypass spam filters. ‘The abuse, which dates back at least to the beginning of this month, helps evade filters that internet service providers employ to block the messages. … The messages were sent courtesy of this page, which allows anyone with an internet connection to send emails. The PHP script employs no CAPTCHA or other measure to help ensure there is a real human being behind each email that gets funneled through the service. The service allows messages to be sent to 10 addresses at a time and even provides a way for people to import contacts they have stored in their address book.'”

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Lori Drew Cyberbullying Case Dismissed

Aug 31

Trepidity writes “About seven weeks after the judge tentatively overturned Lori Drew’s guilty verdict for ‘cyberbullying’ following her online harassment of a teenager that was linked to the teenager’s suicide, the case was finally officially dismissed. In a 32-page opinion [PDF], the court avoided a minefield of possible follow-on effects that civil-liberties groups had warned of by holding that merely violating a website’s Terms of Service cannot constitute ‘unauthorized access’ for the purposes of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. 1030).”

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Nokia Makes LGPL Version of PyQt

Aug 31

EtaCarinae writes “Nokia didn’t succeed in convincing Riverbank to change its licensing terms on PyQt, and so decided to create their own LGPL’ed version of it. From the FAQ at the PySide site: ‘Nokia’s initial research into Python bindings for Qt involved speaking with Riverbank Computing, the makers of PyQt. We had several discussions with them to see if it was possible to use PyQt to achieve our goals. Unfortunately, a common agreement could not be found , so in the end we decided to proceed with PySide.'”

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The Story of a Simple and Dangerous OS X Kernel Bug

Aug 31

RazvanM writes “At the beginning of this month the Mac OS X 10.5.8 closed a kernel vulnerability that lasted more than 4 years, covering all the 10.4 and (almost all) 10.5 Mac OS X releases. This article presents some twitter-size programs that trigger the bug. The mechanics are so simple that can be easily explained to anybody possessing some minimal knowledge about how operating systems works. Beside being a good educational example this is also a scary proof that very mature code can still be vulnerable in rather unsophisticated ways.”

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Chinese Censor-Beating Software Resembles Malware, But Isn’t

Aug 31

coondoggie writes “Software designed to beat Chinese censorship may behave in ways that seem suspect, but it is all part of the application’s strategy to fool the Great Firewall of China, according to one programmer of the software. ‘There are many built-in tricks that do all kinds of things to confuse the firewall,’ says David Tian, a scientist for NASA who works spare-time on UltraSurf, the free software designed to promote unrestricted Internet access for citizens of China persecuted for being members of Falun Gang, the religious group the Chinese government is trying to suppress.”

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Security Test Prompts Federal Fraud Alert

Aug 30

itwbennett writes “Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute, took great interest in a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) warning issued earlier this week, thinking, ‘Finally this is in the wild, because I’ve only seen it in pen tests before.’ Unfortunately for Mr. Ullrich, the letter and 2 CDs that caused the kerfuffle were part of a sanctioned security test of a bank’s computer systems conducted by Ohio-based security company MicroSolved. ‘It was a part of some social engineering we were doing in a fully sanctioned penetration test,’ said MicroSolved CEO Brent Huston. For his part, NCUA spokesman John McKechnie did not have much to say about his organization’s alert, except that ‘at this point, it appears that this is an isolated event.'”

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Apple Kicks HDD Marketing Debate Into High Gear

Aug 30

quacking duck writes “With the release of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Apple has updated a support document describing how their new operating system reports capacities of hard drives and other media. It has sided with hard drive makers, who for years have advertised capacities as ‘1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes’ instead of the traditional computer science definition, and in so doing has kicked the debate between marketing and computer science into high gear. Binary prefixes for binary units (e.g. GiB for ‘gibibyte’) have been promoted by the International Electrotechnical Commission and endorsed by IEEE and other standards organizations, but to date there’s been limited acceptance (though manufacturers have wholeheartedly accepted the ‘new’ definitions for GB and TB). Is Apple’s move the first major step in forcing computer science to adopt the more awkward binary prefixes, breaking decades of accepted (if technically inaccurate) usage of SI prefixes?”

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