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Programming

The Underhanded C Contest Is Back 88

Xcott Craver writes "After several years of inactivity, the Underhanded C contest has returned. The object is to write a short, readable, innocent-looking computer program that nevertheless performs some evil function for reasons that are not obvious under code review. The prize is a $200 gift certificate to ThinkGeek." The deadline is July 4th, so get to hacking.
Education

Learn Linux the Hard Way 185

An anonymous reader writes "Here is a free interactive beta of Learn Linux The Hard Way; a web-based virtual Linux environment which introduces the command line and other essential Linux concepts in 30 exercises. It's written in the style of Zed A. Shaw's Learn Code the Hard Way lessons. The authors says, 'You will encounter many detailed tables containing lists of many fields. You may think you do not need most of this information, but what I am trying to do here is to teach you the right way to approach all this scary data. And this right way is to interpret this data as mathematical formulas, where every single symbol has its meaning.' Of course, my first entry was rm -rf /* which only produced a stream of errors. I wish I had discovered something like a long time ago."
Facebook

Dozens of Tech Bigwigs Friend Facebook Spambot 81

jfruhlinger writes "If you've used Facebook or Twitter, you're almost certainly familiar with 'bimbots' — accounts that have profile pics of attractive women, but seem to exist only to send send spam links with varying degrees of subtlety. Henry Copeland, the founder of BlogAds, tracks the social network of one such Facebook bot, and finds that she's friends with a long list of influential tech and media folks. Copeland also tracks down the origin of the photo that accompanies the account."
Security

Schneier On Self-Enforcing Protocols 207

Hollow Being writes "In an essay posted to Threatpost, Bruce Schneier makes the argument that self-enforcing protocols are better suited to security and problem-solving. From the article: 'Self-enforcing protocols are safer than other types because participants don't gain an advantage from cheating. Modern voting systems are rife with the potential for cheating, but an open show of hands in a room — one that everyone in the room can count for himself — is self-enforcing. On the other hand, there's no secret ballot, late voters are potentially subjected to coercion, and it doesn't scale well to large elections. But there are mathematical election protocols that have self-enforcing properties, and some cryptographers have suggested their use in elections.'"
Mozilla

A Few Firefox 3 Followups 407

An anonymous reader writes "Using data generated by the Mozilla Firefox download pledge page, the map on this blog post ranks countries, not by absolute number of pledges made, but rather on a per capita basis. This analysis yields some interesting conclusions about where open source is strongest and weakest." Anonymous Warthog writes "That didn't take long. In a blog posting from the TippingPoint DVLabs security team (of Kraken and CanSecWest hacking contest fame), they confirmed that they reported a vulnerability in Firefox 3.0 to Mozilla a mere five hours after it was released. Additionally, there was a posting on the Full Disclosure security mailing list from someone that purports to have another vulnerability in the works as well. In the grand scheme of things, this probably means nothing to the general security of Firefox, but you can be sure the browser zealots on all sides will be watching carefully." Finally, from reader Toreo asesino: "Microsoft have congratulated the Mozilla team by sending them their second cake (minus recipe) to Mozilla's Mountain View headquarters to congratulate them on shipping FireFox 3, which went live right on time last night." Congratulations are indeed due on both the browser and the release process — looks like the Firefox fever (despite some seriously taxed servers) resulted in more than 8 million downloads in 24 hours.

Microsoft Wants To Give You A Rorschach 223

Preedit writes "Microsoft has set up a website that uses inkblot images to help users create passwords. The site asks users view a series of inkblots and write down the first and last letters of whatever word they associate with each inkblot. Then they combine the letters to form a password. Microsoft claims it's a way to create passwords that are easy to remember but hard to crack. But a word of warning, the story notes that Microsoft is collecting and storing users' word associations."

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