Updated 4:25 p.m. PST with additional Google comment.
Spammers have cracked the captcha mechanism Gmail uses to make sure you are a human before you can open an e-mail account, leading to a huge increase in the amount of spam sent from Gmail last month, security firm MessageLabs says.
We've all been subjected to captcha programs when signing up for Web services. They typically consist of a box with some characters, either distorted or displayed against some noisy background, and you have to type the letters and numerals in exactly as you see them before the system will accept your sign-in.MessageLabs created this graphic that shows how a bot fakes out a captcha and uses the newly created e-mail accounts to send out spam.
They are designed to catch, or stop, automated programs called bots that are written to create new accounts for spammers to use. Annoying as the captcha systems are, they have been successful in keeping bots out, until recently.
Yahoo Mail and Hotmail captcha mechanisms were broken in July 2007, according to MessageLabs. And now, Gmail has succumbed.
As a result, the proportion of spam sent from Gmail accounts doubled from 1.3 percent in January to 2.6 percent in February, mostly promoting adult-oriented Web sites, MessageLabs says.
A Google representative said she could not confirm or deny that the captcha method used in Gmail had been broken, but did confirm that there had been an increase in spam recently.
The Gmail captcha problem was reported in late February by another security firm, Websense .
Gmail is an attractive target for spammers because a Google account is free and offers access to a wide range of services. Also, Google domains are unlikely to be blacklisted, Websense says.
This screenshot shows network analysis of a bot cracking Gmail's captcha mechanism, a more sophisticated attack than one used to crack Live Mail's captcha technique, Websense says.
President Bush on Friday signed into law a bill that would facilitate the collection of data regarding broadband access in the United States, though most of the actions required by the law have already been accomplished by federal regulators.
The Broadband Data Act directs the Federal Communications Commission to redefine broadband, which was largely achieved earlier this year. The commission in March voted to consider 768Kbps, which is the entry-level speed offered by major DSL providers like Verizon, the low end of "basic broadband," a range that extends to under 1.5Mbps. For years, the commission had considered 200Kbps service to be "high speed."
The new law, introduced by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, in 2007, requires Internet service providers to give the FCC more detailed reports so the FCC can identify the actual numbers of broadband connections by customer type and geographic area. The FCC adopted this measure in March as well, though the act requires the commission to use the reports to collect demographic data for geographical areas without advanced telecommunications capabilities.
A few studies are required by the new law, such as an evaluation by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy on the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses. The bill also establishes a grant program for organizations to track and promote Internet usage.
A provision was also added to the bill by Congress to promote Internet safety for children. The law requires the Federal Trade Commission to establish a nationwide campaign "to increase public awareness and provide education regarding strategies to promote the safe use of the Internet by children."
Sometimes change--any change--is good.
For a company hobbled by cultural and management problems, a $44.6 billion hostile takeover bid from Microsoft may be just the kick in the pants Yahoo needs to rejoin the fight against Google--and potentially Microsoft.
That's at least some of the sentiment inside Yahoo in the days following Microsoft's unsolicited buyout offer. Many Yahoo employees don't want to join Microsoft's workforce, but they see the bid as a catalyst for change, one way or another. As a result, the mood is surprisingly buoyant and business as usual among some Yahoo executives, according to one source familiar with the company.
"Most people want to win and something bold needs to happen, so this could be the catalyst to make that happen sooner one way or another," said a source inside the company. "Either Yahoo steps up and does something bold, or Microsoft takes over. If Jerry's smart he could use this as a rallying cry."
Still, you could say the mood at Yahoo is mixed. For some who fear that they will be laid off in the coming 7 percent cutbacks , Microsoft's proposed takeover bid just gums up the works even more. Engineers and product managers who would like to see the company rally on new products say the thought of a drawn-out acquisition that raises more cultural and management questions than answers them is distracting.
"With the pending layoff...plus this acquisition stuff, it's hard to focus on anything," said one Yahoo employee who asked to remain anonymous.
The concern, specifically for some employees, is that if Yahoo management can't pose enough of a challenge to Google--and neither can Microsoft management--how can a combined entity with the same management mix best the search leader? "There's a need for a powerful rival to Google, but which management is finally going to do the job?" asked one Yahoo employee.
Some within Yahoo are just frustrated that the company has found itself in the situation.
"Everybody I work with is pretty disillusioned with Yahoo," said a Yahoo engineer, who asked not to be identified.
He predicted Yahoo will do anything it can to fight a Microsoft takeover, even if it means turning to Google for help. "I would assume having Microsoft take over would be Jerry's worst nightmare."
Topics: Microsoft , Yahoo , Workplace Tags: Microsoft-Yahoo merger Bookmark: Digg Del.icio.us Reddit cnet_news406:http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9864494-7.html
Nick Negroponte, founder and chairman of the One Laptop Per Child project, came out swinging at Intel on Friday, one day after the chipmaker decided to leave the group.
The OLPC 's goal of bringing low-cost technology to children in developing countries apparently conflicts with Intel's goal of running a business. Even though the two agreed to put aside their differences in July , it's pretty clear that they never actually became friends.
"We at OLPC have been disappointed that Intel did not deliver on any of the promises they made when they joined OLPC; while we were hopeful for a positive, collaborative relationship, it never materialized," Negroponte said in a statement distributed by the OLPC on Friday.
Intel cited "fundamental differences" in describing its exit from the group Thursday; this appears to be the classic "creative musical differences" breakup.Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of the OLPC
Quite simply, Negroponte wanted Intel to stop selling its Classmate laptop in regions where he was trying to sell the XO laptop. "Intel continued to disparage the XO laptop in developing nations that had already decided to partner with OLPC , with countries that were in the midst of choosing a laptop solution , and even small and remote places ," Negroponte said.
Intel has never been shy about its desire to sell the Classmate PC as one of many possible products for the developing world, and that seems to have offended Negroponte. "As we said in the past, we view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market."
But Negroponte also said Intel's version of the XO laptop just wasn't that good. "The best Intel could offer in regards to an "Intel inside" XO laptop was one that would be more expensive and consume more power--exactly the opposite direction of OLPC's stated mandate and vision," Negroponte said.
An Intel representative declined to comment on the cost or power consumption of any chips slated for the XO laptop, which currently uses a Geode processor made by Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices.
And so it goes. It's always heartening to see two organizations disparage each other over who has the more appropriate vision for saving the world through technology--which assumes, of course, that notion is even possible.
Few would argue that it's a bad idea to connect students in impoverished lands to the outside world, but should they use custom laptops designed specifically for their needs, running open-source software and free from the Microsoft monopoly? Should they have access to the same technology that's available at Best Buy, but at a more reasonable price? Would all this time and effort be better spent on technology infrastructure in some of these nations?
Negroponte seems to think that because he's running a nonprofit with a "mission," he's entitled to a lock on the developing world and that the XO laptop is the only thing that can bridge the digital divide. That, of course, is preposterous; competition between firms is what improves products and brings down costs over time, and to expect Intel and other companies to just pass on burgeoning demand for computers in developing countries is pretty naive.
But I agree with Charlie Demerjian over at The Inquirer : the tone of this squabble is beneath Intel. Negroponte's project is well-intentioned, and the XO isn't a terrible product. Sure, he doesn't seem to really understand how to run a business venture, and he seems to have a bit of a messianic complex , but he really is trying to improve the lives of poor children.
The developing world needs more than one laptop. The folks at the OLPC do not have a divine right to sell laptops to poor cities and towns, and Intel isn't winning a lot of PR points by slamming a nonprofit.
And maybe, just maybe, some enterprising engineer in one of those developing countries might actually come up with their own idea for a laptop best suited for the needs of their people.
What are Intel and the OLPC going to do then, belittle the first homegrown laptop designer in Mongolia? Perhaps the best way to help developing countries get in on the technology revolution is to teach them how to design--not merely assemble--their own products, rather than coming to them from lofty perches in Cambridge and Santa Clara saying, "Don't worry, we know best."
A story in The New York Times yesterday reports that the video game industry has finally woken up and realized that in order to stay strong going forward, it can't rely on 13-year-old pimple-faced kids to promote its agenda.
According to the report, Michael D. Gallagher, chief executive of the Entertainment Software Association , the industry's lobbying arm in Washington, told the Times that its political action committee will be up and running by the end of March and will represent Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, among others.
We will be writing checks to campaigns by the end of this quarter," Mr. Gallagher said. "This is an important step in the political maturation process of the industry that we are ready to take now. This is about identifying and supporting champions for the game industry on Capitol Hill so that they support us."
Am I the only person who thinks it's about time this industry has woken up and realize that political payoffs are the only way to get somewhere in this country? If you want to finally destroy these idiots who think we should kill creativity in video games, look no further than your friendly congressman from the 10th district with his hat in hand.
Gallagher claims that this newly formed PAC will donate between $50,000 and $100,000 to national candidates this year that the organization believes are more sympathetic to the needs and beliefs of the video game industry.
Sure, that doesn't sound like a ton of money to drop on your favorite politician, but what the video game industry has that Jack Thompson and the rest of his cronies don't is voting clout.
Think about it: when Nintendo released the NES to the United States, people who were trying to enjoy the '80s turned to Mario and his buddies to carry them through the night. Since then, these people grew into an extremely important demographic for lawmakers--the 25 to 40 group.
Let's face it: the old fools who have no idea what video gaming is all about are dying off by the minute and those people who actually value video games because they recognize the entertainment valued provided by them, should be around for quite a while to carry that torch. And in such an important political year that holds the next four years in balance, now is the perfect time for the video game industry to capitalize on the weakness of politicians who are looking for votes.
The video game industry has been walked all over by a bunch of so-called "political activists" for too long. First, these clowns claim that video games promote violence. Wrong. No study has ever corroborated that claim. Next, the idiots say that video games are stunting the growth of our children. Have they ever played Brain Age ? Finally, the fools tell us that obesity can be directly traced to video game playing, and parents have used them as a crutch to get away from little Johnny every now and then. First off, if you want to blame anything for obesity, call up fast food restaurants. Secondly, if parents want to use video games as a crutch, why should all video game players suffer? Hell, my parents tied a bone around my throat and told me to play with the dog. Was that a better crutch?
More than anything else, the video games industry's decision to get into the political game is probably one of the most important steps it has ever taken. When running loose like a band of geeks, it had no clout and politicians found it more politically behooving to support the anti-video game agenda than the ESA's. But now that we're in an important political year and even video games' most staunch critics like Hillary Clinton have gone agnostic, the tide may finally be shifting in the ESA's favor.
Something big may be in the works, and we have insider deals with crooked politicians to thank for it.
Yes, you read that right. After what seemed like ages , Verizon Wireless today officially announced the availability of the Samsung SCH-i760 smartphone.Samsung SCH-i760
A bigger, badder version of the Samsung BlackJack , this Windows Mobile 6 device adds a slide-out QWERTY keyboard with an external dial pad, a touch screen, and integrated Wi-Fi. If that weren't enough, it also serves up EV-DO, Verizon's V Cast services , Bluetooth with A2DP support, and a 1.3-megapixel camera.
Of course, all this goodness comes with a cost. The i760, available online October 19 and in stores November 2, is priced at $349.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates.
I just got this monster of a smartphone into my hands a couple of hours ago, and I know a lot of you have been waiting for it, so I'm going to work feverishly to get a full review out to you soon. Stay tuned, friends.
Update: In addition to the i760, Verizon also revealed plans to offer several other smartphones, including the Verizon Wireless XV6800, Palm Treo 755p, and Verizon Wireless SMT5800. We don't know availability dates or pricing on these devices yet, but will report back soon and give you some more details on the new models.Bonnie Cha is a senior editor for CNET, covering smartphones and GPS. When she's not testing the latest gadgets, you can find her chasing after her crazy lab or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California. E-mail Bonnie .
History professors at Middlebury College recently prohibited using Wikipedia as a research source in tests & essays. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales last year discouraged students from using Wikipedia--or any encyclopedia--as a reference for academic research.
The declaration has got scholars and other information professionals engaged in an interesting discussion about the best use of open-source content. How does this kind of information rate in the larger scheme of research? Can an open-source method be trusted to produce accurate, thorough, even-handed information?
Hackles are up and the debate is raging. Read on for a sampling.
Blog community response:
"I am not in favor of banning any source from student inquiry or citation--any form of censorship can quickly become a slippery slope that imperils the very notion of academic freedom. But I want my students to know that they are accountable for anything they cite, so they need to be rigorously aware of every source they consult, and they must engage in thoughtful, critical readings of those sources." -- Worshipping Paradise
"Wikipedia is great for organizing one's thoughts and to get an overall picture before delving into specific topics. Within seconds, one can get the gist of a subject and follow trails of inquiry from that subject to other related topics... Middlebury is doing the right thing. College students should be intellectually mature enough to not cite Wikipedia , in their papers. Faculty should be mature enough to see the value in Wikipedia." -- Constructitechnologeducationalism
"Wikipedia's official policy is that no article may contain information that isn't also published somewhere else. The correct response would be to follow the references cited in the Wikipedia article to the original source of the information. If no source is cited for a given piece of information, then it should not be assumed to be factual." -- Slashdot user Tyler Larson