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+ - The top underreported tech stories of 2009->

Submitted by GMGruman
GMGruman (1254692) writes "Think your wireless service is crummy? Just wait until next year when the spectrum drought really hits home. And maybe you've been telling your users that installing a graphics card in an office PC is a waste of money. If that's the case, you're missing a chance to make them a lot more productive (as long as the games stay at home). You've known about CMOS for years. But do you know that an emerging technology called PCMOS, which uses non-Boolean logic, is on the verge of slashing power consumption in ASICs? Those are just three of the 10 top technology stories of 2009 you probably haven't heard about but should have heard more of. Bill Snyder reports on all 10 of these stories that haven't gotten the media attention they deserve."
Link to Original Source
Science

+ - First Functional Molecular Transistor Comes Alive->

Submitted by Dananajaya Ramanayake
Dananajaya Ramanayake (666) writes "Nearly 62 years after researchers at Bell Labs demonstrated the first functional transistor, scientists say they have made another major breakthrough.
Researchers showed the first functional transistor made from a single molecule. The transistor, which has a benzene molecule attached to gold contacts, could behave just like a silicon transistor.
The molecule’s different energy states can be manipulated by varying the voltage applied to it through the contacts. And by manipulating the energy states, researchers were able to control the current passing through it."

Link to Original Source
Google

+ - What do you do when Google screws you? 8

Submitted by NEOGEOman
NEOGEOman (155470) writes "I work for a small company in Australia that sells a business product developed in Canada. We've come to rely on Google's AdWords system to bring us business — the vast majority of our new customers contact us because we came up near the top of their search for inventory control software. Google just cut us off, with an automated form letter that describes all kinds of offenses that don't apply to us (except perhaps our fairly unattractive landing page) and their stern wording and lack of response seems to indicate that there's no way to appeal or even find out what we did wrong. We've been AdWords users for years, and give Google a comparatively modest $1,000+ every month. Without this source of customers, we're kind of panicking. Our Canadian head office is panicking more, since their account is still active but their business is obviously the same. They have more staff than we do, and a lot more riding on continued AdWords success. We might fail without AdWords, but we WILL fail without our parent company.

My question for Slashdot is: If you're a legitimate small business selling legitimate software and Google cuts you off with the same letter they use to kill malware purveyors (Our software's might not be world-class but malware is a bit of a stretch!) what do you do?"

+ - Clubmixer Version 0.7.5 Released!->

Submitted by SF:slychief
SF:slychief (1478907) writes "The new version of the Clubmixer Suite provides major enhancements to all aspects of the software. Slychief Multimedia now hosts its own music metadata repository, which is made available at www.clubmixer.net. Now Clubmixer Server identifies the songs and requests additional music information from the Clubmixer Database. This metadata repository in synchronized continuously to detect relationships between the different titles. This information can be used by Clubmixer Server Queue Plug-ins to sort the playlists according your preferences."
Link to Original Source
Book Reviews

+ - Book Review: The Book of Xen

Submitted by swsuehr
swsuehr (612400) writes "The Book of Xen (Takemura and Crawford, No Starch Press, 2009) provides an excellent resource for learning about Xen virtualization. I frequently need to create test environments for examples that appear in various books and magazine articles (in the interest of full disclosure, I've never written for the publisher of this book). In the days before virtualization that meant finding and piecing together hardware. Like many readers, I've been using virtualization in one form or another for several years, including Xen. This book would've saved hours searching around the web looking for tidbits of information and sifting through what works and doesn't work in setting up Xen environments. The authors have done the sifting for me within the ~250 pages of the book. But far beyond, the authors also convey their experience with Xen using walkthroughs, tips, and recommendations for Xen in the real world.

"The Book of Xen", "A Practical Guide for the System Administrator"

As stated in the subtitle, The Book of Xen is written with the system administrator in mind; someone who is comfortable with tasks like installing Linux and working with the command line. While it wouldn't be impossible for someone completely new to Linux to accomplish the tasks in the book, a bit of experience would go a long way to both visualize and complete the installation and configuration steps shown in the book. As stated in the introduction, the book is organized "(mostly) alternating between theoretical and practical discussion [because] an admin needs both practical experience and a firm theoretical ground to effectively solve problems..." (xxiii).

The authors do an excellent job of explaining what Xen is and where it fits in the virtualization landscape. This explanation begins with the introduction where the reader gathers a brief history of virtualization along with Xen's place in the landscape. Xen's limitations and reasons for using Xen are also covered right in the introduction, along with an overview of the book.

Chapter 1 begins with a high-level overview of Xen. This discussion is excellent if only to get the readers on equal footing for the discussions to come later in the book. Included in this chapter is a discussion of various techniques for virtualization including Full Virtualization, OS Virtualization, and Paravirtualization. The section on Paravirtualization leads nicely into some of the underlying details of scheduling, interrupts, and memory, and other resource management which are handled by Xen and discussed later in the chapter.

Chapter 2 sends the reader down the path of installing and using Xen. It's a short chapter, coming in at about 9 pages, and the reader is expected to be able to handle an install of CentOS with just a bit of guidance from the authors on specific options to select. This is a key point for those among us who have a preference for a certain Linux distribution. The book isn't tied specifically to a single distro, as the authors note in the introduction, "[w]e've tried to keep this book as distribution- and version-independent as possible, except in the tutorial sections, where we try to be extremely specific and detailed..." (xxiv). The base or host system upon which the examples run is based on CentOS, which the authors acknowledge and highlight in Chapter 2, "[f]or the purposes of this chapter, we'll assume you're installing CentOS 5.x with the server defaults and using its built-in Xen support. If you're using something else, this chapter will probably still be useful, but you might have to improvise a bit" (13). There is discussion of the Xen-tools package in a later chapter which shows its installation under Debian Linux too. So far from being tied to one distro, the book is refreshingly neutral in this regard.

By the end of Chapter 2, the reader has a working Xen host system and a domain 0 or dom0 host upon which to provision virtual machines. Included in Chapter 3 is a discussion of how to provision guest operating systems, known as domU in Xen-speak. The authors devote a good number of pages to making this task clear, and work through examples of basic domU installation and the use of package management systems and Debian's debootstrap to create domUs. Additionally in Chapter 3 the reader learns how to convert VMware disk images to a format usable by Xen.

Chapters 4 and 5 examine details of the Xen backend, including storage and networking. Chapter 4 stands out for its recommendation of blktap and LVM (Logical Volume Manager) as the storage backend as well as an overview of LVM itself, along with the use of networked storage for Xen.

Chapter 6 looks at tools for management of Xen, focusing on Xen-tools, libvirt, and Xen-shell while Chapter 7 gives advice for hosting untrusted users with Xen. Chapter 8 discusses the use of Xen with Unix-like operating systems and includes sections on Solaris and NetBSD.

The ability to migrate the virtual machine from one physical machine to another is one of the advantages of virtualization. As pointed out by the authors, a virtual machine might be migrated to take advantage of newer hardware, to perform maintenance, or any number of other reasons. Chapter 9 is of interest for its discussion of Xen migration. Cold and Live migrations are examined and Footnote 1 on page 126 is interesting for its reference to the Kemari Project and Project Remus which are projects to add hardware redundancy to Xen.

Tools and techniques for the measurement of Xen performance are shown in Chapter 10, which walks the reader through basic usage of well-known tools such as Bonnie++, httperf, UnixBench, and others. More importantly for the Xen admin is the discussion of Xen-aware profilers like Xenoprof which is "a version of OProfile that has been extended to work as a system-wide profiling tool under Xen..." (151).

Chapter 11 covers the Citrix XenServer, which is the enterprise-grade commercial Xen product from Citrix. The authors summarized it best in the review of Chapter 11: "Can Citrix's product replace the open source Xen? As always, the answer is maybe. It offers significant improvements in management and some interesting new capabilities, but that's balanced against the substantial cost and annoying limitations" (174).

Chapter 12 begins the discussion of Hardware Virtual Machines (HVMs), which are virtualization extensions that enable "an unmodified operating system [to run] as a domU" (176). This means the ability to run an unmodified version of Microsoft Windows as a guest OS within a Xen environment. The HVM discussion in Chapter 12 leads nicely into Chapter 13, "Xen and Windows".

The main chapters of the book end with Chapter 14, "Tips", and Chapter 15, "Troubleshooting". Both chapters draw on the experience of the authors and provide value to the book for their recommendations. Though the tool of choice for troubleshooting is the nearest Google search box, it's still helpful to glance over the content in the Troubleshooting chapter if for no other reason than to maybe remember that it's there when you receive the dreaded "Error: DestroyDevice() takes exactly 3 arguments" error.

The Book of Xen is almost certainly a time-saver for anyone looking to implement Xen or virtualization with Linux. The back cover states "The Complete Guide to Virtualization with Xen". The book lives up to that statement and more."
Security

+ - SPAM: Thanksgiving webcam promo leads to malware

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "The $10 webcam that Anna Giesman bought her daughter at Office Depot over the Thanksgiving weekend sounds like one of those deals that's too good to be true. And for her, it was. A week later, she's worried and upset because a CD that came with the camera contained a Web link that apparently infected her PC with fake antivirus software. Her story shows how easily malware can get onto the computers of unsuspecting consumers in an era when cyber-criminals are becoming expert at hacking legitimate Web sites to prey on their visitors."
Link to Original Source

+ - Google Voice Transcribes "Night Before Christmas"->

Submitted by SkinnyGuy
SkinnyGuy (697369) writes "Google Voice's transcription technology is OK, but it can mangle some of the simplest phrases. Here, someone asks it to transcribe a voicemail of the entire "'Twas the Night before Christmas." With prhases like "so up to the house tops of course is a flu...with the sleigh full of toys in Saint Nicholas 2" the result is hilarious."
Link to Original Source
Science

+ - SPAM: Weird science: 2009's wackiest stories

Submitted by coondoggie
coondoggie (973519) writes "When hard core high-tech and humanity mix you can count on some wacky or just down-right cool things happening. What we have here is our list of 25 the wackiest stories from 2009 featuring everything from high-tech toilet battles and 1,000 mph cars to shape-shifting robots and levitating mice.
[spam URL stripped]"

Link to Original Source
The Internet

+ - In Search of the Mythical 'Bandwidth Hog'->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "Benoit Felten, an analyst in Paris, has heard enough of the elusive creature known as the bandwidth hog. Like its cousin the Boogie Monster, the 'bandwidth hog' is a tale that ISPs tell their frightened users to keep them in check or to cut off whoever they want to cut off from service. And Felton's calling them out because he's certain they don't exist. What's actually happening is the ISPs are selecting the top 5% and revoking service from them even if they aren't statistical outliers. Which means that they are targeting 'heavy users' simply for being 'heavy users.' Felton has thrown down the gauntlet asking for a standardized data set from any telco that he can do statistical analysis on that will allow him to find any evidence of a single outlier ruining the experience for everyone else. Unlikely any telco will take him up on that offer but his point still stands."
Link to Original Source

+ - So where are my technology e-books? 1

Submitted by darkeye
darkeye (199616) writes "With e-ink and e-books coming of age, it would be kind of obvious, that the first adopters of this technology would be tech enthusiasts themselves — who, for the most part, will be reading thick technology books, and also using them as reference. Anyone who has tried to travel with his tech books knows the weight of dead trees in their backpack, and would appreciate all that info in a single e-book, to be read on an e-book reader or on a laptop.

But — where are these e-books? Why is the paper edition still the default? Looking at major online book stores, either you're being forced into proprietary hardware & software like the Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Display-Generation/dp/B0015T963C/ref=amb_link_86172951_2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=1PQRCJAZ1HS0S6YHSB0G&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=502000191&pf_rd_i=507846 , or you're not offered an e-book at all (Barns & Nobles, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/ , despite having their own e-book reader, the Nook, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/ ), or you're stuck with viewing online and downloading a limited number of inconvenient watermarked chapters for a subscription fee (Safari online, http://www.safaribooksonline.com/ ). Publishers direct online stores usually don't offer e-books at all. It's only InformIT (http://www.informit.com/) that offers you e-books, at about a 20% discount when compared to the paper version.

So where are the e-books? When is it, that the default is going to be the environmentally friendly and convenient way of sharing written information? When are the reduced costs of this form of dissemination shared with the readers themselves?"
Yahoo!

+ - Law enforcement guidebooks leaked

Submitted by
sunbird
sunbird writes "Buried in comments to a blogger's post about his research regarding Sprint's release of GPS records to law enforcement are the law enforcement guidance manuals issued by yahoo (pdf), facebook (pdf), and myspace. (pdf) Each provides helpful hints for law enforcement regarding the specific data available (some of which may be obtained with a mere subpoena and without any judicial scrutiny), and even sample request language to use in different circumstances. According to the manual, facebook retains IP information about its users for 30 days and has an application called "Neoprint" to deliver a handy packet of information about subscribers, including profile contact information, mini-feed, friend listing (with friend's facebook ID), group listing and messages. There is little oversight of this practice in the U.S. because the Department of Justice does not report the number of pen registers issued, notwithstanding a 1999 law requiring reports, and there is no reporting requirement for court orders issued under the Stored Communications Act."

+ - Pub fined for illegal downloads over Wi-Fi-> 1

Submitted by atilla filiz
atilla filiz (1402809) writes "A pub has reportedly been fined £8,000 after a customer downloaded copyrighted material on its Wi-Fi connection. ...
Legal experts are baffled by the ruling. Internet law professor Lilian Edwards, of Sheffield Law School, told ZDNet that companies that operate a public Wi-Fi hotspot should "not be responsible in theory" for users' illegal downloads under "existing substantive copyright law"."

Link to Original Source
Google

+ - Google serving up Malware again? Tsk tsk!-> 2

Submitted by combatwombat_nz
combatwombat_nz (1320445) writes "I managed to land on this page tonight, when looking for IES4Linux...apparently the mighty Google has taken to marking their own servers as bad.

Preserved here, in case they get a clue:
Safe Browsing
Diagnostic page for query-google.com

What is the current listing status for query-google.com?

        Site is listed as suspicious — visiting this web site may harm your computer.

        Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 2 time(s) over the past 90 days.

What happened when Google visited this site?

        Of the 4 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 0 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2009-11-29, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2009-11-29.

        Malicious software includes 1 trojan(s), 1 exploit(s).

        This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS8001 (NET).

Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?

        Over the past 90 days, query-google.com appeared to function as an intermediary for the infection of 43 site(s) including macdunyasi.com/, pgs2.net/, scenespain.net/.

Has this site hosted malware?

        Yes, this site has hosted malicious software over the past 90 days. It infected 283 domain(s), including payamemojahed.com/, angolaxyami.com/, ze-games.net/.

How did this happen?

        In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.

Next steps:

        * Return to the previous page.
        * If you are the owner of this web site, you can request a review of your site using Google Webmaster Tools. More information about the review process is available in Google's Webmaster Help Center.

Updated 26 hours ago"

Link to Original Source
Yahoo!

Yahoo Downgrades MusicMatch Jukebox 217

Posted by kdawson
from the nice-while-it-lasted dept.
BanjoBob writes "MusicMatch Jukebox has been a bundle of great MP3 and music management applications in one package. Apparently, it is the end of life for this wonderful MP3 player, ripper, catalog, CD player, Internet radio player, purchase outlet, Auto DJ, Super Tagger, and music database. There was nothing not to like about the product. There is nothing to like about the new downgrade, Yahoo! Music Jukebox. MusicMatch users have been getting notices to 'upgrade'; those who have taken the bait are not pleased. The Yahoo! Music Jukebox feedback forum doesn't have much nice to say about the product. Lots of features have gone away and the 'free upgrade' costs about $20."
Security

Have Spammers Overcome the CAPTCHA? 330

Posted by kdawson
from the turing-in-his-grave dept.
thefickler writes "It appears that spammers have found a way to automatically create Hotmail and Yahoo email accounts. They have already generated more than 15,000 bogus Hotmail accounts, according to security company BitDefender. The company says that a new threat, dubbed Trojan.Spammer.HotLan.A, is using automatically generated Yahoo and Hotmail accounts to send out spam email, which suggests that spammers have found a way to overcome Microsoft's and Yahoo's CAPTCHA systems."

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