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Google

Submission + - Google Blockly - A Language With A Difference (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: There are aspects of Google that increasingly don't make sense. First they dump App Inventor — a graphical language for Android apps — in a fit of spring cleaning and closures — and now they have launched another Scratch like graphical language, Blockly.
However Blockly is different. It works like Scratch or App inventor but it is written in JavaScript. This means it can be included in any web page or web app very easily. This in turn means that it can be used for education, getting people to learn to program, or as an easy to use script generator for the app. The FAQ gives the example of automating GMail filters and mangement.
The additional difference is that Blockley can compile its programs to JavaScript, Dart or Python so you can take the script and develop it further.
This is a really good idea. As long as Google doesn't throw this one out in a fit of reorganization and spring cleaning, this is a welcome new language.
Good luck Blockly!

Security

Submission + - Report on DigiNotar hack indicts Iran (sophos.com)

xsee writes: A report released today by Fox-IT investigating the attack against certificate authority DigiNotar shows extremely poor security at DigiNotar and implicates Iran in the attack.

DigiNotar was using unpatched Windows servers with poor passwords and no anti-virus.

Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft outs Yahoo as bandwidth hog (guardian.co.uk) 1

markass530 writes: Microsoft and Yahoo have finally acknowledged that Yahoo is, as has long been suspected, culpable for Windows Phone 7's excessive data usage. Microsoft admitted to a problem a couple of weeks ago, faulting an a third-party service but infuriatingly refusing to specify which third party.

This silence was unfortunate, as it left users with no good way to avoid the problem: given the potential to run up substantial bills, this was indefensibly irresponsible of Microsoft. Now that Yahoo! Mail has been confirmed as the problematic provider, users can mitigate the issue by setting any Yahoo accounts to check for mail only manually.

Google

Submission + - Bing Is Cheating, Copying Google Search Results (searchengineland.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.
Technology

Submission + - Apple quietly goes after Mac Trojan with update (thinq.co.uk)

Th'Inquisitor writes: Apple's latest update to Snow Leopard included software to protect Mac computers from a Trojan. Strangely, Apple didn't mention this fact in its release notes.

The malware opens a back door to a Mac that can allow hackers gain control of the machine and snoop about on it or turn it into a zombie.

"You have to wonder," said Graham Cluley, spokesman for web security Sophos, "whether their keeping quiet about an anti-malware security update like this was for marketing reasons."

Botnet

Submission + - A stealthy and resilient Botnet using Skype (iseclab.org)

embyte writes: "We recently proposed and developed a sophisticated prototype that exploits the Skype application features and its P2P encrypted network to build a new generation of botnet that is at the same time stealthy, resilient and cost-effective.
Our research has been rewarded for its novelty and high impact on the security of Internet users by being accepted at the well-known security conference in "Detection of Intrusions and Malware & Vulnerability Assessment" (DIMVA) that will be held next July in Bonn.

I think the news is of great interest for the slashdot's users.

A brief summary:
Skype is one of the most used P2P applications on the Internet: VoIP calls, instant messaging, SMS and other features are provided at a low cost to millions of users. Although Skype is a closed source application, an API allows developers to build custom plugins which interact over the Skype network, taking advantage of its reliability and capability to easily bypass firewalls and NAT devices. Since the protocol is completely undocumented, Skype traffic is particularly hard to analyze and to reverse engineer. We propose a novel botnet model that exploits an overlay network such as Skype to build a parasitic overlay, making it extremely difficult to track the botmaster and disrupt the botnet without damaging legitimate Skype users. While Skype is particularly valid for this purpose due to its abundance of features and its widespread installed base, our model is generically applicable to distributed applications that employ overlay networks to send direct messages between nodes (e.g., peer-to-peer software with messaging capabilities). We are convinced that similar botnet models are likely to appear into the wild in the near future and that the threats they pose should not be underestimated. Our contribution strives to provide the tools to correctly evaluate and understand the possible evolution and deployment of this phenomenon.

Paper Link: http://www.iseclab.org/papers/skypebot.pdf
Conference Program Link: http://dimva2010.fkie.fraunhofer.de/program.html"

Communications

Submission + - Spam Causes Microsoft to Kill Newsgroups (theregister.co.uk)

eldavojohn writes: Some two thousand public and twenty two hundred private newsgroups devoted to and managed by Microsoft support are going to be phased out in favor of forums. The reason being? Newsgroup spam. The Register calls it "killing newsgroups" but Microsoft eloquently calls it "the evolution of communities." Always managing to spin it in a positive light! Let's hope the spam posts and voting bots in their forums remain controllable.
Apple

Submission + - Developer shows the realities of HTML5 on iPad (youtube.com)

virgilp writes: Some random guy actually experiments with HTML5 on iPad... .this is how Steve Jobs wants users to create cross-platform applications and games. Go figure.... it is even supported to work TODAY,
Also, watch his demo on the Nexus one, it actually performs better. This is in line with my own observations when playing with the iPad and Nexus one (on http://www.chromeexperiments.com) — I was actually surprised that no major news site seem to have noticed the big performance issues on the iPad (despite its — theoretically — more powerful processor)

Books

Submission + - Service Oriented Architecture with Java

Martijn de Boer writes: "The book has been written to provide the reader with a short introduction to the concepts of Service Oriented Architecture with Java. The book covers the theory and analysis from the start and is progressing to a more intermediate level slowly throughout the different chapters. This book has been written for software architects and programmers of the Java language who have an interest in building software using SOA concepts in their applications. The cover hints to a series called “From Technologies to Solutions”, and that is exactly what this book tries to do, it tries to explain the SOA technology with different case studies and a path for solutions for your applications.

When I ordered the copy of the book, I was under the impression that I was required some familiarity with terms used in the world of SOA but I was rather fond of the easy explanation of terms in the first chapter. The first chapter starts off with a small introduction to the role of software architecture when thinking about a software project. The chapter covers alternatives to SOA and tries to get the reader onto the right path for the rest of the book.

Later on in the book different subjects pass, the first few chapters start off with the basics of using XML as a communication layer. The third chapter introduces the audience to different implementations of web services in the Java world including the most familiar names as Apache Axis, Spring and XFire. The reader will be shown and guided to the install process of these web services and is being shown around the process of working with the software. The pros and cons of every piece of software are shown when following the steps throughout the chapters.

The book ends with chapters providing case studies of real world examples of SOA and alternatives. I have found this to be the most informative section of the book when looking to make decisions on how to architect a software project as it provides several examples on when to use which aspect of SOA. The different case studies allow you to put some weight and foundations into your decisions. The last chapter of the book is basically a conclusion of what we have learned throughout the book and provides a clear summary of goals of using service oriented architecture.

The reader is expected to have understanding of Java to follow the examples throughout the book. Examples are demonstrated on Windows machines, but could be followed on any other platform as well without having the hassle of setting up a different environment. That is one of the advantages of Service Oriented Architecture with Java, because it basically can be ran everywhere.
When you work your way throughout the book, you will discover different clearly illustrated diagrams and other informational graphics. There are more than enough images to make the image not a boring theory book, as the images often provide a better understanding of different explanations of architecture and setups throughout the book.

The book covers a small setup with Apache Axis 1.3 and mentions to use this opposed to the more recent 2.0 version because more software is being implemented on top of the 1.x series of said web service. However because the reader is starting to learn about SOA, it would have been great to see some of the differences and read why 2.0 hasn't been adopted much yet. I would have liked to see a bigger comparison between those two versions, but as the authors point out, there is a great community for both versions which provides a lot more background information if you want to look further into the more technical information that isn't provided in the book yet.
This book is a good way to get your feet wet in using web services to build and architect powerful Java applications for your business. I am no big Java developer yet, and I needed this book to navigate me through the different pieces of software available, it succeeded very well at that point. I was fond of the clear writing style, which has always been the case by books from Packt Publishing. The book also has been written in a logical order, putting case studies at the end of the book so they are better to follow. Most technical books I own are written in a way that allows you to jump from chapter to chapter in an order that you need them, but I found this book to be a solid line of information of which the difficulty grade builds up from beginning to end. As a developer and software architect I am really appreciating how well this book has been written for this audience, it's almost as if it was written especially for me and the knowledge I had of service oriented architecture before starting with this book.

http://www.packtpub.com/service-oriented-architecture-for-java-applications/book
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Service-Oriented-Architecture-With-Java/Malhar-Barai/e/9781847193216/?itm=2&USRI=Java%2CService+Oriented+Architecture"

Submission + - Open-sourcers back Oracle takeover of MySQL

CWmike writes: A number of influential members of the open-source community are raising their voices about Oracle's pending takeover of the open source MySQL database. Surprisingly, many are not opposing the shift in ownership that would come with the close of Oracle's $7.4 billion deal to acquire Sun Microsystems Inc., contending that it would not wound the open source database. Those supporters say that MySQL co-founder Monty Widenius, free software advocate Richard Stallman and others are whipping up unfounded fears about the future of MySQL in order to get the European Commission to either quash the entire deal or at least force Oracle to sell off MySQL. The EC launched an in-depth investigation into the planned merger this fall, citing "serious concerns" about how the deal would affect database competition. "I may be a contrarian on this, but I don't think Oracle will have any dramatically-enhanced market power," said Mark Shuttleworth, founder and CEO of Canonical, maker of the Ubuntu Linux. The latest Ubuntu Server 9.10 version includes a copy of MySQL. "The EU's sophistication on open-source matters may make them inclined to overreact. In fact, they have little to worry about," Shuttleworth said.
Software

Submission + - AbiCollab takes on Google Docs and Zoho Writer 1

msevior writes: Just released today, the Free Software AbiWord Word Processor, employed by the One Laptop Per Child project, tightly integrates with the new http://abicollab.net website to enable easy real-time collaborative editing of documents. The http://abicollab.net website also enables documents to be stored online, allows format conversion on the fly, stores the history of the docs in svn, provides direct links to HTML-ized docs that update as you save them and allows easy sharing of docs amongst friends and groups.

All in all, new competition for Google Docs and Zoho Writer but one that employs a real Word Processor rather than an app in a browser.
Earth

Submission + - Birth of a new African Ocean (sciam.com)

Khemisty writes: "Formation of an ocean is a rare event, one few scientists have ever witnessed. Yet this geophysical nativity is unfolding today in one of the hottest and most inhospitable corners of the globe. Africa is splitting splitting apart at the seams — literally. From the southern tip of the Red Sea southward through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, the continent is coming unstitched along a zone called the East African Rift."
Education

Submission + - Vatican to Hold Debate on God and Evolution

Hugh Pickens writes: "The Vatican is organizing an international congress on the evolution debate in Rome next year but organizers say the debate will not include proponents of creationism and intelligent design. Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc said that arguments "that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite" supporters of creationism and intelligent design. The organizers said that the Roman Catholic Church had never condemned either evolution or Charles Darwin and Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said that evolution was not "a priori incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church, with the message of the Bible". LeClerc said that a discussion of evolution was necessary because Darwin "is increasingly discussed in ideological terms rather than, as was intended, in scientific terms" adding that proponents of creationism and "intelligent design" had "generated much confusion, leading to a head-on confrontation between "creationism" and "evolutionism"."
Medicine

Safe Stem Cells Produced From Adult Cells 207

hackingbear writes "Wired, citing a paper published in Science magazine, reports that Harvard scientists may have found a safer way of giving a flake of skin the biologically alchemical powers of embryonic stem cells by turning adult cells into versatile, embryonic-like cells without causing permanent damage. The technique involves 'adding cell-reprogramming genes to adenoviruses, a type of virus that infects cells without affecting their DNA.' Four-month trials on mice demonstrated that the resulting stem cells are free from unpredictable cancer-inducing mutations. This is definitely a breakthrough in stem cell research." Additional coverage is available at Yahoo, and Science hosts the research paper, although you'll need a subscription to see more than the abstract.
Security

Fifth Cable Cut To Middle East 676

You may have noticed a number of stories recently about undersea cables getting cut around the world. Apparently the total is now up to 5, but the scariest part of this is that Iran is now offline. You can also read Schneier's comments on this coincidence. Update: 02/06 17:42 GMT by Z : As a commenter notes, though the country of Iran is obviously experiencing some networking difficulties, it is not offline.

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