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Submission + - Microsoft Patents AI To Monitor All Actions In Windows And Feed It To Bing (hothardware.com) 1

MojoKid writes: Microsoft has angered users over the past year for its willingness to push the boundaries of acceptable practice for promoting adoption of its operating system. Also, some feel it crossed that line with respect to user data collection and privacy concerns. However, Microsoft stands to garner a lot more criticism if its recent patent filing comes to life in a production software product. The title of the filing is "Query Formulation Via Task Continuum" and it aims to make it easier for apps to share data in real-time so that the user can perform better searches. Microsoft feels that the current software model in which applications are self-contained within their own silos potentially slows the user down. To combat this disconnect, Microsoft has devised a way to facilitate better communications between apps through the use of what it calls a "mediation component." This is Microsoft's all-seeing-eye that monitors all input within apps to decipher what the user is trying to accomplish. All of this information could be gathered from apps like Word, Skype, or even Notepad by the mediator and processed. So when the user goes to the Edge web browser to further research a topic, those contextual concepts are automatically fed into a search query. Microsoft says that this will provide faster, more relevant searchers to users. The company says the mediator can be introduced as an optional module that can be installed in an operating system or directly built in. If it's the latter, plenty of people will likely be looking for a kill switch.
Programming

Submission + - Manager's Schedule vs. Maker's Schedule 1

theodp writes: "Ever wonder why you and the boss don't see eye-to-eye on the importance of meetings? Paul Graham explains that there are Maker's Schedules (coder) and Manager's Schedules (PHB), and ideally never the twain shall meet. With each day neatly cut into one hour intervals, the Manager's Schedule is for bosses and is tailor-made for schmoozing. Unfortunately, it spells disaster for people who make things, like programmers and writers, who generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour, says Graham, since that's barely enough time to get started. So if you fall into the Maker's camp, adds Graham, you better hope your boss is smart enough to recognize that you need long chunks of time to work in. How's that working out in your world?"
Microsoft

Submission + - Linus: Microsoft Hatred is a disease 5

An anonymous reader writes: When asked for comments by linux magazine on Microsoft's move to contribute code to the linux kernel, Linus Torvalds responded: I'm a big believer in "technology over politics". I don't care who it comes from, as long as there are solid reasons for the code, and as long as we don't have to worry about licensing etc issues. I may make jokes about Microsoft at times, but at the same time, I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease. I believe in open development, and that very much involves not just making the source open, but also not shutting other people and companies out. . He also criticizes the free software extremists for being hypocritical, bashing Microsoft for contributing code (that enables linux to run better virtualized on their own virtualization platform), while at the same time praising other companies (like IBM) that do or have done similar things: I agree that it's driven by selfish reasons, but that's how all open source code gets written! We all "scratch our own itches" Interesting read.
The Internet

Submission + - Feds Seek Input On Federal Websites' Cookie Policy (informationweek.com) 1

suraj.sun writes: The government wants to use cookies to offer more personalized Web sites to citizens, better analytics to Webmasters.

Looking to take advantage of modern Web capabilities like personalization and improved Web analytics, the federal government has drafted changes to its outdated restrictions on HTTP cookies, and wants the public's input.

Under the plan, detailed in a blog post ( http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/07/24/cookiepolicy/ ) by federal CIO Vivek Kundra and associate administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's office of information and regulatory affairs Michael Fitzpatrick, federal agencies would be able to use cookies, as long as their use is lawful, citizens can opt out of being tracked, notice of the use of cookies is posted on the Web site, and Web sites don't limit access to information for those who opt out.

The Office of Management and Budget is considering three separate tiers of cookie usage that will likely have different restrictions for each, based on privacy risks. The first tier of sites would use single-session technologies, the second multi-session technologies for use in analytics only, and the third for multi-session cookies that are used to remember data or settings "beyond what is needed for Web analytics."

The OMB wants to get the public's take on basic principles governing the use of cookies, tiers of use, acceptable use and restrictions of each tier, the degree to which notice should be given of the use of cookies, and a number of other topics.

Office of Science & Technology Policy : http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/07/24/cookiepolicy/

Information Week : http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/policy/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=NE43DW5JXBFNOQSNDLOSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=218600614

Earth

Submission + - Activist Disrupts Detonations to Protect Cranes

The Narrative Fallacy writes: "Nature reports that on 14 July, Ingmar Lee broke into a buried explosive charge and cut the detonation cord, later claiming responsibility and giving television interviews threatening more damage at Denny Island, an isolated Canadian island in British Columbia about 500 km north of Vancouver where a team of geophysicists is studying granite formation. The aim of the seismic studies on Denny Island is to define the formation, growth and recycling of Earth's crust in that area — events that happened in the late Cretaceous, some 65 million years ago. After Royal Canadian Mounted Police declined to provide protection to the scientists, local residents rallied to guard them so that they could complete repairs and set off a targeted charge late on the night of 16 July and over the following two days, the team were able to set off the remainder of the charges at 15 other sites in a line moving inland through a river valley. Lee, a long-time forest-protection campaigner who lives 1 km from the blast site, says that "there has been no prior community information, consultation or discussion" of the detonations and that the reason he disrupted the detonations was to protect Sandhill crane nests located within 2 km of the Denny Island blast site whose recently hatched chicks are currently in their most vulnerable pre-flight stage. "This is a very specialized wilderness area," says Lee. "I was concerned for the sandhill cranes and salmon. I consider this non-violent civil disobedience." On 17 July, police charged Lee with one count of willful mischief endangering life for disrupting the seismic studies."
Microsoft

Submission + - Linus says "Microsoft Hatred is a Disease"

Hugh Pickens writes: "In the aftermath of Microsoft's recent decision to contribute 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community, Christopher Smart of Linux Magazine talked to Linus Torvalds and asked if the code was something he would be happy to include, even though it's from Microsoft. "Oh, I'm a big believer in "technology over politics". I don't care who it comes from, as long as there are solid reasons for the code, and as long as we don't have to worry about licensing etc issues," says Torvalds. "I may make jokes about Microsoft at times, but at the same time, I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease. I believe in open development, and that very much involves not just making the source open, but also not shutting other people and companies out." Smart asked Torvalds if Microsoft was contributing the code to benefit the Linux community or Microsoft. "I agree that it's driven by selfish reasons, but that's how all open source code gets written! We all "scratch our own itches". It's why I started Linux, it's why I started git, and it's why I am still involved. It's the reason for everybody to end up in open source, to some degree," says Torvalds. "So complaining about the fact that Microsoft picked a selfish area to work on is just silly. Of course they picked an area that helps them. That's the point of open source — the ability to make the code better for your particular needs, whoever the 'your' in question happens to be.""
Security

Submission + - More problems for SSL (blogspot.com)

xizhi.zhu writes: "More attacks against SSL/TLS would be presented in the Black Hat conference next week.

First, Moxie Marlinspike would extend his novel work on SSL Strip that new tools/tricks would be released against other SSL based protocols like imaps, pop3s, etc., ultimately providing highly effective attacks on SSL connections themselves.

Then, Alexander Sotirov and Mike Zusman would present their attack against Extended Validation SSL Certificate, a security-enhanced SSL certificate. They will show how any attacker who can obtain a non-EV SSL certificate for a website can perform completely transparent man-in-the-middle attacks on any SSL connection to that site, even if the website is protected is by an EV certificate and the users are diligently inspecting all information contained in the SSL certificates.

Besides, researchers from Carnegie Mellon found that for most times, the invalid certificate warnings one gets when visiting a secure web site are not useful. They found that as different browsers used different language to warn, they had different effects that 55% to 100% users ignored the warnings, among which FireFox 3 seems to be the best. They also found that people didn't really understand these warnings, e.g. many thought they could ignore the messages when visiting a site they trust, but that they should be more careful at less-trustworthy sites. Their finding would appear in the 18th USENIX Security Symposium next month."

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