Friday, November 20, 2009

Warhammer 40K goes MMORPG

Games Workshop's sci-fi tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 is being turned into an MMORPG by THQ.

Reported on GameSpot, the revelation on massively multiplayer plans follows an extension of a licensing agreement on WH40K between the two companies.

The agreement covers "all systems, including console, handhelds, PC, wireless, and online, including massively multiplayer online titles", THQ's Kelly Flock, executive vice president of worldwide publishing, has explained.

We're therefore speculating that the WH40K MMORPG will come to console as well as PC.

Full details on the game have yet to be disclosed as it's still early in development, but Flock has promised that the title will stay "true to the rich universe Games Workshop has built - with scalable depth of characters and worlds that MMO fans have come to expect."

THQ plans to launch the MMORPG in North America, Europe, and Asia, Flock said, informing that development is being handled by the publisher's Austin-based studio, Vigil Games.

Former NCSoft staffer David Adams leads the dev team, which is "comprised of several MMO veterans from that community".

Games Workshop's head of group legal and licensing, Andy Jones, added that the company believes "very strongly that the Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property delivers opportunities for unique and innovative gameplay in the MMO space".

Kelly Flock was also queried on the future of the WH40K: Dawn of War RTS series. While there's nothing new to announce currently, Flock said THQ looks forward "to building on that franchise in the future". lancia TV, film di servizio

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TV Remote co-inventor dies aged 93

Eugene Polley and Robert Adler were two of a dozen engineers at Zenith Electronics Corporation tasked with creating a wireless remote control for the television. In 1955, Polley invented the 'Flashmatic', using photocells to transmit information to a television screen, somewhat reminiscent of the infrared technology used in many of today's lounge room remote controls.

In 1956, Robert Adler invented what he called the Zenith Space Command remote control which used ultrasonics, or high-frequency sound. This made the remote control more efficient, and in turn is mimicked today by some remote controls that use wireless technology to avoid the problem of needing to transmit and receive infrared signals.

In 1997, both Adler and Polley were honored with an Emmy Award for their work on creating the wireless remote control. Adler was an astounding inventor, with more than 180 US patents to his name – with the last issued as recently as February 1.

A CNN article from the Associated Press lists more of Adler's history which details his zest and ability for solving problems, and his history in World War II with military communications equipment and ultra high frequency signals.

Since the mid 1950s, today's remote controls have evolved into multi-buttoned affairs, with notable examples of a successful remote control including Apple's simple remote control included with all current Macintosh computers, desktop and laptop, and the easy-to-use TiVO remote control.

Advanced universal remote controls with various button arrangements, and some using a touch screen to offer advanced or self-created layouts continue pushing forward the boundaries of remote control design, although most remote controls still end up seriously over-buttoned and prone to easy loss under one of the couch cushions.

Arguably the most advanced consumer remote control is the Wii-mote, or the wireless control wand that comes with the Nintendo Wii console, allowing more realistic physical game play than previously possible without actually going outside and playing the real game itself. So far, the Wii has proven an enormously popular games console, and truly indicating how far the humble remote control has come.

Could we have modern civilization without it?


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

US Servers Need Equivalent Power of 4 Million Homes

The findings of the study, commissioned by AMD, were presented in a keynote address at the LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit in New York, by Randy Allen, corporate vice president, Server and Workstation Division of the chipmaker.

The study, authored by Professor Jonathan Koomey, staff scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and consulting professor, Stanford University, found that in 2005, in the US alone, data centers and their associated infrastructure consumed five million kW of energy, the equivalent of five 1,000 MW power plants.

The cost of US data centers is a large 37.5% chunk of the US$7.2 billion annual spend on global data centers.

"Though we have long known that data centers worldwide consume a significant amount of energy, AMD believes Dr. Koomey's findings are a wake-up call not just for the IT industry, but also for global business, government and policy leaders," said AMD's Allen in his address.

"This study demonstrates that unchecked demand for data center energy use can constrain growth and present real business challenges. New generations of energy-efficient servers are now able to help provide IT departments with a path to reduce their energy consumption while still achieving the performance they require."

Friday, November 13, 2009

How To Buy Popularity

Popularity was never easily measured, until the advent of social-networking sites. Now, prospective employers and others can gain some insights into an applicant's lifestyle and character by looking at a person's social-networking page, including the roster of friends.

So what if a job applicant's networking page lacks friends?

Enter, a business founded by Brant Walker, which offered users of and similar sites a way to enhance their page with photographs and comments from hired "friends" — mainly attractive models — for 99 cents a month each.

FakeYourSpace was doing very well, attracting 50,000 hits a day, until a service that provided the photographs of the models,, noticed that use and objected to it.

Kelly Thompson, iStockPhoto's vice president for marketing, said its licensing agreement did not allow Web sites to post photos that might lead the average person to "think that the model endorses" the product, Web site or person in question.

IStockPhoto's network of 30,000 photographers police the Internet for such contractual infractions. When they noticed how FakeYourSpace was using the photos, they reported it to iStockPhoto, which asked Mr. Walker to stop using the photographs.

He complied, and FakeYourSpace, while still viewable online, will not be fully operational again until Thursday. Mr. Walker is searching for models through agency and online auditions to replace those that had been provided by iStockPhoto, which was recently purchased by Getty Images.

But is FakeYourSpace's business legal? The site certainly misrepresents people, but Mr. Walker, 26, said he thought that its intent was more altruistic than fraudulent.

A graduate of Platt College, a graphics and multimedia specialty school in San Diego, Mr. Walker runs the site from his San Diego home with two employees. He said the idea came to him when he noticed, while browsing MySpace pages, that "some people would have a lot of good-looking friends, and others didn't."

His idea, he said, was "to turn cyberlosers into social-networking magnets" by providing fictitious postings from attractive people. The postings are written by the client or by Mr. Walker and his employees, who base the messages on the client's requests. FakeYourSpace says it does not post any messages that are threatening, pornographic or illegal.

MySpace and other social-networking sites appear to have no rules prohibiting Mr. Walker's idea. The leading sites, MySpace, Friendster and facebook, did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Walker's business is a variation on a growing phenomenon that Bruce Schneier, a blogger at, a Web site for the business technology magazine InfoWorld, refers to as "the social network reputation hack." and offer similar services, using fake cellphone calls scheduled in advance to provide an excuse to escape a tedious situation, like a bad date, or to make the subscriber appear in demand.

While they may be less than honest, FakeYourSpace and similar sites are currently legal, as long as the content they post is legitimately licensed. Mr. Walker said his second business, a Web site called that removes unwanted friends from a user's profile by third-party messenger, had yet to have any legal trouble.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tooth implant 'to release drugs'

Forgetting to take medicine may be a thing of the past as researchers close in on creating an artificial tooth which automatically releases medicine.

The Intellidrug device is small enough to fit inside two artificial molars in the jaw, the Engineer journal said.

European Commission researchers also believe it will benefit patients, such as those with diabetes and high blood pressure, who need doses in the night.

If human trials prove successful, the device could be available in 2010.

Dr Thomas Velten, from the Frauhofer Institute for Biomedical Technology in Germany, one of the 15 research bodies involved in the project, said: "It is important for some conditions that there is a constant level of drug in the blood.

"With this system, we can time the dosage to take place - even when the patient is sleeping.

"We can easily adjust the dosage in line with the patient's needs, dependent on sex or weight."

Intellidrug works by holding the drug in tablet form in a reservoir. The implant is held in place through a combination of clips and dental fixative.


Once in place, saliva in the mouth enters the reservoir via a membrane and dissolves the solid drug, forming a solution.

When the system is triggered by the electrical timing mechanism, a valve opens and allows a controlled amount of the solution to flow into the mouth where it is absorbed into the body.

The device is fitted with two sensors. The first is a fill-level sensor that measures the concentration of the drug in the reservoir.

It alerts the patient when the concentration of the drug falls below a certain level. At the moment enough medication can be contained for up to two weeks.

The second sensor monitors how much drug solution has been administered and a remote control allows the doctor to increase the dose of medication if necessary.

Matt Griffiths, prescribing and medicines manager adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Cost is an issue as to whether this would become widely available, but there is a cost benefit to improving medicines concordance.

"About 50% of people with chronic conditions do not take their medicines correctly and that in turn costs the health service money."

BBC News

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Winner of the Console War?

Do you know what the first condition of a perfect console launch is? Releasing enough units so that everyone can get one! Well, if not everyone, at least as many as possible.

Of the three competitors on the console market, Nintendo seems to be the only one to have understood this necessity. Sony would have certainly liked to have millions of consoles available for sale, but problems determined by the incorporation of the BluRay unit didn't allow the Japanese company such a luxurious release of its product.

Microsoft released Xbox 360 a year ago, however, as it didn't respect this condition, the unit was sold out shortly after its launch. Lucky for the Redmond company that they had a whole year at their disposal in order to solve this problem – now they can be proud of having sold 7 million consoles. Microsoft hopes to celebrate having delivered 10 million units to consumers by March 2007.

Nintendo Wii, deemed a bona fide outsider at the beginning of the console war, has already sold 700,000 models if we are to believe what the site monitoring console sales is saying.

In less than a week, Nintendo will launch another 400,000 consoles in Japan and another number of consoles in Europe, undisclosed for now, in an attempt to reach its goal of selling 4 million units by the end of the year.

Sony is in the paradoxical situation of being defeated by a console greatly inferior to PS 3 technically. PlayStation 3 is undoubtedly a must have for any self-respecting gamer, but Nintendo Wii does hold one advantage: it will be available for purchase in stores. Sony has sold out its few hundred thousand PS3s at launch and it is unclear when the next units will hit the market.

As the holiday season is only days away, it's hard to imagine that Sony will miraculously come forward with another couple of hundred thousand consoles, conjured out of thin air.

Surprising as it may be, the war of the consoles is not being fought over technical specs, as we'd expect it to be, but over availability. Whoever produces more units faster will win, and from this perspective, Nintendo is carefree.

Compared to Wii, Xbox 360 is no happier case. The console has already turned 1 year old and Microsoft will have to initiate a publicity campaign or price reductions in order to stimulate sales growth.

In case you've missed the most recent episodes of "Attack of the Next-Generation Consoles: Sony and Nintendo Counter-Attack", don't be mistaken into thinking Nintendo Wii will sell just because there's so much more of it than of its rivals on the market.

While Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were competing in categories such as "who can stuff more memory and processors per square centimeter", Nintendo bet on the human factor and instead of concentrating on graphics and processor power, it reinvented the magic wand, creating a wireless controller which allows gamers to make any kind of movements they desire while playing.

Is Nintendo the winner of the console war? It's still too soon to draw a conclusion, one way or another, especially since Sony will fight mightily to regain its footing. Wii certainly is this season's revelation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Google to start filtering YouTube videos

Mercury News

Google is set to start filtering videos and other content on YouTube for copyrighted materials, taking a key step in helping the online video-sharing site comply with one of the biggest complaints it faces -- rampant piracy.

The Mercury News has learned that Google will use technology from Los Gatos-based Audible Magic. That company's software was mentioned in the U.S. Supreme Court's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios vs. Grokster ruling as evidence that file-sharing services could keep pirated files off their networks.

Yet Google's move may simply drive YouTube's audience to other sites, where copyright violations are even more egregious. While YouTube imposes a 10-minute limit on uploaded clips, sites like in France or in Denmark screen full-length movies and pirated TV episodes.

YouTube is 'definitely going to lose popularity,' said Jesse Drew, acting director of the technocultural studies program at University of California-Davis. 'These things become popular because they are underground and free and accessible.'

YouTube had agreed in September to begin filtering videos, but implementation of a filtering system was delayed while Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt tried to hammer out licensing deals with major studios.

Some copyright holders complained that Google appeared to be using the filtering technology as leverage in negotiations. Earlier this month, Viacom demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 videos, including clips of shows like 'SpongeBob Squarepants,' posted on its site. NBC Universal and News Corp. also have requested that YouTube take down clips.

Last week, for instance, Richard Cotton, general counsel of NBC Universal, wrote Google a five-page letter demanding that Google use all available means to address copyright infringement on YouTube.

Users of Audible Magic's technology have included iMesh, a peer-to-peer music-sharing site, the PlayLouder MSP music service, and Grouper, a video-sharing site owned by Sony. MySpace recently announced a pilot program to use Audible Magic to prevent unauthorized videos from being posted by its users.

Neither YouTube nor Audible Magic would comment on the deal, which has not been publicly announced. The Mercury News spoke with two sources familiar with the deal who were not cleared to comment officially about it.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Google's Schmidt said filtering technology was one of the company's 'highest priorities.'

'It is going to roll out very soon,' Schmidt said.

In an interview with the Mercury News last week, Vance Ikezoye, chief executive of Audible Magic, said it takes 'a few days at most' for a site to begin filtering.

The system works by comparing the audio fingerprint of a video to a large database of copyrighted material. Founded in 1999, Audible Magic originally was focused on the problem of monitoring radio broadcasts. It purchased the technology for audio fingerprinting from Muscle Fish, a Berkeley software company that Audible Magic acquired in 2000.

One potential snag in implementing the company's technology at YouTube is that the database of audio for movies and television shows is incomplete. 'We have to have access to all the television and film content to be able to fingerprint,' Ikezoye said.

'It isn't that complicated of a process,' he added. 'It could be done in months.'

Meanwhile, Audible Magic is also working on a way to compare video images themselves. Ikezoye said that service should be ready later in the year.

Video fingerprinting has lagged audio fingerprinting because video files are far bigger and more complex than audio files, said Jim Hollingsworth, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Gracenote, a competitor to Audible Magic that is helping MySpace identify copyrighted music.

But being able to do so would fill some gaps in the audio-fingerprinting process. In the absence of video fingerprints, for instance, a TV show that is dubbed with a homemade soundtrack would not be flagged by a filter.

Still, representatives of entertainment companies said existing technology can go a long way to preventing copyright infringement and they want Google to implement it.

The news that Google was ready to start filtering, however, was greeted with skepticism. 'YouTube and Google have been promising filtering tools for many, many months, while the damage to copyright owners continues,' a spokesman for Viacom said.

Kann Red Hat Survive?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Nintendo Console

THE latest phase in the battle of the video game giants will begin in earnest this week with the official UK launch of the new Nintendo console.

Nintendo's Wii (pronounced "Wee") console involves a new design of motion-sensitive controller which executives believe will revolutionise gaming and revive the fortunes of the company which once dominated the market.

Suppliers have admitted that they have already run out of stocks of the new £180 gadget and those who did not pre-order their consoles some weeks ago can expect to be disappointed.

The rush for the new gizmo comes despite buyers being willing to spend up to £1,500 for the latest Sony console on the online auction site eBay. In the past fortnight, no fewer than 20 British consumers have shelled out more than £1,200 for Japanese versions of the new PlayStation 3 console, despite warnings from Sony that their warranties will not be valid on imported machines.

The top bid came out at £1,500 for a buyer who was unwilling to wait until March, when the machine is released in the UK.

This week, all eyes are likely to be on the Nintendo Wii, which features a controller that can be moved around to simulate the likes of a tennis racket, a golf club, a sword or boxing gloves. The computer can track the movements of the controller through the air and represent the actions onscreen.

Analysts believe the alternative to the traditional pressing buttons to represent actions and movement will prove a hit with consumers.

Brian Baglow, chief executive officer of technology and entertainment marketing company Indoctrimat, said: "I think it is going to be very big and very, very popular. The new controller feels great and they really are doing something totally new.

"They are taking computer gaming right out of the world of button-bashing and it'll appeal to people who have never been into gaming. I don't think it will displace the other consoles, though. I reckon the PlayStation 3 is still going to be very big with hardcore gamers."

Online supplier Amazon has already run out of all but pre-ordered stocks, and added that sales would be limited to one per customer to ensure as many as possible could have a Wii console in time for Christmas.

Once the number-one name in video gaming, Nintendo has found itself squeezed in recent years as Sony and Microsoft have sought to dominate the console market.

While the company's GameCube carved out a loyal following because of its innovative games, it only sold 21 million units worldwide, compared with 111 million PlayStation 2s and more than 24 million Xboxes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

TiVo For Amazon on Wednesday made its video download service available on all broadband-ready TiVo boxes, opening a channel for taking movies and TV shows from the Web to the big screen in people's living rooms.

The move places Amazon's Unbox in front of more than 1.5 million subscribers of TiVo's Series2 or Series3 digital video recorders. Before the launch, content could only be viewed through a PC. Amazon had been testing the download service since February with a small group of TiVo subscribers.

To entice potential customers, Amazon is offering $15 worth of free movie or TV show downloads to TiVo subscribers who register for the new service by April 30. TV shows cost $1.99 an episode, and movies sell for $9.99 to $14.99. Movie rentals are available starting at $1.99, with most costing $2.99 or $3.99.

To activate the service, TiVo subscribers have to register on's Web site to establish a link between their TiVo account and Unbox. In launching the service, and TiVo announced that Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios have agreed to offer movies to subscribers. Other content providers include CBS, Fox Entertainment Group, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Making the connection between the Web and the home TV is seen as a potential advertising bonanza. Other companies heading in that direction include Apple and Microsoft. The former is expected to ship in mid-March the Apple TV, a device that would bridge the company's iTunes music and movie download service with the TV. Microsoft, meanwhile, hopes to become a leading distributor of digital content through its broadband-ready Xbox 360 videogame console.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Kazaa’s Creators Do Latest Venture by the Book


Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis made names for themselves as renegade Internet entrepreneurs by taking conventional tasks like talking on the phone or listening to music and giving consumers an unconventional — and free — way to do it.

Sometimes that meant pushing legal boundaries.

But with their latest creation, a Web video venture called Joost, Mr. Friis and Mr. Zennstrom, who were behind the file-sharing service Kazaa and the Internet telephone service Skype, are doing everything by the book. Revenue-sharing agreements have been signed. Licenses have been granted.

"The reason we're doing this is because of our history," Mr. Friis said in a telephone interview last week. "We know how these things work. And above all, we know that we don't want to be in a long, multiyear litigation battle."

The two men met in the late 1990s at Tele2, a European telecommunications company then emerging as a serious competitor to Sweden's telephone monopoly. They left in 1999 to start their own Internet company.

Soon after, they developed the technology behind Kazaa. The music industry fought Kazaa with the same fury that it fought Napster, another file-sharing service that was forced to become a legitimate pay service after lengthy court battles.

Mr. Friis, a Dane, and Mr. Zennstrom, a Swede, sold Kazaa in 2002, but their legal worries did not end there. Movie studios and recording companies pressed ahead with their lawsuits, and for years neither man set foot in the United States.

In November, Kazaa's new owners settled the last of the lawsuits. In all, they have agreed to pay at least $125 million to the record industry and movie studios.

Today Mr. Friis and Mr. Zennstrom work out of Skype's offices in the Soho neighborhood of London. Though they sold Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion in 2005, they remain active in the company. Mr. Zennstrom is Skype's chief executive. Mr. Friis is the executive vice president for innovation, a job that has allowed him more time to spend developing Joost.

With the Kazaa lawsuits behind him, Mr. Friis's feet are back on American soil. He was in Los Angeles on Friday promoting his latest endeavor.

Joost (pronounced "juiced") said last week it had reached what amounts to the mother lode of television programming: agreements to broadcast programs from Viacom networks like MTV, Comedy Central and VH1. While the deal's terms were not disclosed, Viacom and Joost will share advertising revenue.

"We are very happy with the Viacom deal because it spans all their big properties," Mr. Friis said. "It has content from their biggest properties — MTV, Comedy Central — that are very good for our demographic." (Mr. Zennstrom was on vacation and unavailable to comment, a Joost spokeswoman said.)

The Joost-Viacom partnership gives Viacom a degree of control over its programming that it has been unable to obtain so far from the video-sharing Web site YouTube. Joost must have Viacom's approval to put a program online. In addition, Joost addressed Viacom's concerns about piracy and copyright infringement by designing a platform that Joost says is piracy-proof.

This month, Viacom demanded that YouTube, now owned by Google, remove more than 100,000 clips of its programming because the two companies could not reach an agreement on licensing and revenue sharing. That deprived YouTube of popular Viacom content like clips of "The Daily Show." YouTube responded by replacing some Viacom content with the message "removed at the request of Viacom International."

Just because YouTube does not have Viacom programming, however, does not mean it is at a disadvantage, analysts said. Joost "is not a competitor to YouTube in most ways," said Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner, a market research company in Stamford, Conn. "It's a competitor to cable television."

Joost is meant to replicate the way viewers watch television at home. It streams full-length programs in full-screen format. Users can flip through channels that offer everything from documentary news programs to videos on surfing. Programs can last a few minutes or more than an hour. (Viacom programming is not available now for the test phase, but Joost said it would be online by the time its software is introduced publicly, sometime before this summer.)

The Joost format differs greatly from YouTube's, which allows users to upload to the site snippets of television programs or self-produced content. "It's not Web video; it's TV," Mr. Friis said.

But some analysts said Joost had the potential to change how consumers watch television on the Web. It will have content that is, for now, unavailable elsewhere on the Web.

"Should YouTube worry?" said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a consulting firm. "I think YouTube is a legitimate channel in its own right. At the same time, I think any company that comes out there and lands big distribution deals with large content partners like Viacom is a serious competitor."


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wiki Fantasy

In a blink, the wisdom of the crowd became the fury of the crowd. In the last few days, contributors to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, have turned against one of their own who was found to have created an elaborate false identity.

Under the name Essjay, the contributor edited thousands of Wikipedia articles and was once one of the few people with the authority to deal with vandalism and to arbitrate disputes between authors.

To the Wikipedia world, Essjay was a tenured professor of religion at a private university with expertise in canon law, according to his user profile. But in fact, Essjay is a 24-year-old named Ryan Jordan, who attended a number of colleges in Kentucky and lives outside Louisville.

Mr. Jordan contended that he resorted to a fictional persona to protect himself from bad actors who might be angered by his administrative role at Wikipedia. (He did not respond to an e-mail message, nor to messages conveyed by the Wikipedia office.)

The Essjay episode underlines some of the perils of collaborative efforts like Wikipedia that rely on many contributors acting in good faith, often anonymously and through self-designated user names. But it also shows how the transparency of the Wikipedia process — all editing of entries is marked and saved — allows readers to react to suspected fraud.

Mr. Jordan's deception came to public attention last Monday when The New Yorker published a rare editors' note saying that when it wrote about Essjay as part of a lengthy profile of Wikipedia, "neither we nor Wikipedia knew Essjay's real name," and that it took Essjay's credentials and life experience at face value.

In addition to his professional credentials and work on articles concerning Roman Catholicism, Essjay was described in the magazine's article, perhaps oddly for a religious scholar, as twice removing a sentence from the entry on the singer Justin Timberlake, which "Essjay knew to be false."

After the article appeared, a reader contacted The New Yorker about Essjay's real identity, which Mr. Jordan had disclosed with little fanfare when he recently accepted a job at Wikia, a for-profit company.

In an e-mail message on Friday, The New Yorker's deputy editor, Pamela Maffei McCarthy, said: "We were comfortable with the material we got from Essjay because of Wikipedia's confirmation of his work and their endorsement of him. In retrospect, we should have let our readers know that we had been unable to corroborate Essjay's identity beyond what he told us."

The New Yorker editors' note ended with a defiant comment from Jimmy Wales, a founder of Wikipedia and the dominant force behind the site's growth. "I regard it as a pseudonym and I don't really have a problem with it," he said of Mr. Jordan's alter ego.

On Thursday, Mr. Wales, who is traveling in Asia with intermittent Internet connections, stuck by that view. In a statement relayed through Wikipedia's public relations officer, he said that at that time, "Essjay apologized to me and to the community at large for any harm he may have caused, but he was acting in order to protect himself.

"I accepted his apology," he continued, "because he is now, and has always been, an excellent editor with an exemplary track record."

But the broad group of Wikipedia users was not so supportive. Mounting anger was expressed in public forums like the user pages of Mr. Wales and Essjay. Initially, a few people wrote to express support for Essjay, along the lines of WJBscribe, who left a message saying: "Just wanted to express my 100 percent support for everything you do around here. I think you were totally entitled to protect your identity. Don't let all the fuss get you down!"

By Saturday, the prevailing view was summarized in subject lines like Essjay Must Resign, and notes calling Mr. Jordan's actions "plain and simple fraud."

Some Wikipedia users argued that Essjay had compounded the deception by flaunting a fictional Ph.D. and professorship to influence the editing on the site.

"People have gone through his edits and found places where he was basically cashing in on his fake credentials to bolster his arguments," said Michael Snow, a Wikipedia administrator who is also the founder of The Wikipedia Signpost, the community newspaper for which he is covering the story. "Those will get looked at again."

In a discussion over the editing of the article with regard to the term "imprimatur," as used in Catholicism, Essjay defended his use of the book "Catholicism for Dummies," saying, "This is a text I often require for my students, and I would hang my own Ph.D. on it's credibility."

Over time, Wikipedia users said, Essjay did less editing and writing and spent more time ensuring that the encyclopedia was as free of vandalism and drawn-out editing fights as possible.

By Saturday, Mr. Wales changed his mind about the episode. He cleared off the "talk" section of his own Wikipedia user page — usually cluttered with personal requests, policy debates and compliments — so that "this statement gets adequate attention" and announced that he had "asked Essjay to resign his positions of trust within the community." He said "that my past support of Essjay in this matter was fully based on a lack of knowledge about what has been going on."

Complicating matters for Mr. Wales was that Essjay had been hired as a community manager by Wikia, which Mr. Wales helped to found in 2004. Mr. Jordan no longer works for Wikia, the company said.

Mr. Snow said the Essjay case "is about the community, the trust the community depends on in terms of being able to review the work we each do."

"Even though you don't necessarily know these people personally," he added, "you see the work enough times and get to know that work."

Mr. Jordan announced his resignation from Wikipedia on his Essjay user page on Saturday night. In a brief note below, he said simply, "It's time to make a clean break."

That page had been a model of industry, with tallies of the more than 20,000 articles he edited and statements of personal philosophy and Wikipedia policy. Where there had been the motto in Latin, "Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito" ("Yield not to misfortunes, but advance all the more boldly against them," according to some translations), there is a stark rectangular black box with the word "retired" written in white capital letters.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Branson Takes On Web Gaming

Virgin Games has become the latest contender in the online gaming arena with its announcement of "A World of My Own," created in cooperation with Game Domain International. The service enters a market already packed with competing providers. One thing in the Virgin service's favor, however, is its aim to host tournaments and award prizes.

To outsiders, it may often seem that video gamers live in a world of their own. That perception will soon come closer to reality following the announcement Monday that Richard Branson's Virgin Games division has partnered with Game Domain International (GDI) to form a new PC game download service, "A World Of My Own" (AWOMO).

The service, set to debut in the second half of 2007, will offer gamers access to a variety of streamed games over a high speed delivery service, the companies said. Set within a virtual 3-D world, the AWOMO platform, according to Virgin and GDI, "aims to replicate the functionality of iTunes, making it quicker and cheaper for gamers to download their favorite games." AWOMO will initially charge gamers on a pay-per-game-play basis or on a subscription.

"This is a really exciting development for us, as it gives us the opportunity to do for PC games what iTunes has done for music," Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin, said. "The GDI technology will revolutionize how the mass market will play games and will give them more choice for less money."

It's a Gamers' World

The PC game market, with US$970 million in revenues in 2006, at times seems to be the ugly stepsister to the console game industry, which generated record breaking revenues of $12.5 billion in 2006, according to the NPD Group. However, GDI and Virgin believe that AWOMO will "significantly accelerate the growth of the total games market -- already valued at $25 billion."

Beleaguered by high distribution costs and piracy, the PC game industry has suffered a 44 percent decrease in sales Download 17 Rules of the Road for CRM. since its all-time high of $1.1 billion in 1999. AWOMO will remove some of the stress the industry has labored under by providing its users with rapid download speeds, increased security Barracuda Spam Filter – Free Evaluation Unit and an easy-to-use interface, the companies said.

Security is a major problem for the PC game industry, Michael Cai, an analyst at Parks Associates Latest News about Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld. Many PC games are trafficked on peer-to-peer networks. An online service with strong copyright protections would help to remedy the problem.

"There's a reason why you cannot rent PC games from Blockbuster -- gamers can copy those games onto their PCs," Cai explained. "Digital distribution of video games, combined with the right DRM technology, can help lessen this issue."
Same Service, Different Provider

AWOMO enters a market packed with major players. Several companies already offer their own online game services such as Extent Technologies, IGN Direct2Drive, Valve's Steam Engine and Real Networks Arcade. Digital distribution companies include Wild Tangent, MSN Latest News about MSN, Yahoo Latest News about Yahoo, Big Fish, AOL and others. On the surface, the new service does not seem to bring anything new to the digital distribution, according to Cai.

"Based on its claim of being the iTunes [of gaming], I assume it will focus on user interface design and perhaps support for portable gaming platforms," Cai suggested. "However, no one knows all the details at this point. This is just another big firm jumping into the gaming space."

One thing in AWOMO's favor, however, is its aim to host tournaments and award prizes. Those are great incentives for gamers to play online games, he noted.

As another player joins the digital download bandwagon, will CD-ROM-based games eventually become a nifty relic of the old gaming days? Retail PC games, Cai replied, have been falling year over year. Digital distribution of PC games is definitely growing rapidly, but the transition will be a long process.

"Publishers still want the marketing Email Marketing Software - Free Demo visibility at retail and they want to play it safe with the big retailers," he continued. "Plus, not everyone has broadband, yet."


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stock Trading Halted Because Of ... Spam

Last September, Internet spam messages touting the stock of Covina-based Healtheuniverse Inc. started landing in e-mail in-boxes across the country.

The "hot biopharmaceutical stock," the messages promised, was "getting ready to explode!!!"

It did — for two days. Amid a surge in trading volume, the share price nearly doubled, to 22 cents, before declining steadily over the following week and eventually falling below its pre-spam price.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday took a big step in its crackdown on the spam stock touts that crowd millions of in-boxes: The agency suspended trading in Healtheuniverse and 34 other obscure stocks for 10 days.

Regulators say the spam campaigns behind those and other stocks appear to be an electronic twist on the decades-old "pump and dump" scam, in which manipulators load up on a small stock, tout it aggressively and sell it at a profit after unsuspecting investors take the bait and pile in.

Some of the e-mails about the stocks suspended Thursday urged investors to "ride the bull" or get "fast money," the SEC said. One of the 35 companies claimed to be in the anti-spam business.

"When spam clogs our mailboxes, it's annoying," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said. "When it rips off investors, it's illegal and destructive."

The SEC described what it called Operation Spamalot — a reference to a hit Broadway play — as its largest crackdown on stock spammers. Investors in the 35 stocks lost tens of millions of dollars by jumping in, the agency said.

The SEC estimates that 100 million stock spam messages are sent every week.

R. Cromwell Coulson, chief executive of Pink Sheets, operator of an electronic market on which 34 of the suspended stocks traded, said that although some people who reacted to stock spam were simply foolish, others knew what the messages were but gambled that they could get out before a stock plummeted.

"It's people who say, 'Maybe I got the spam first. There may be more idiots after me,' " Coulson said. "If you're buying something because you got a spam e-mail, you deserve what you're getting."

The SEC said it suspended trading in the shares because it had questions about the adequacy and accuracy of information investors were given about the companies. The agency is trying to determine who sent the spams and whether any of the companies were involved, said Bruce Karpati, assistant director of the SEC's New York office.

The SEC is barred by law from imposing trading suspensions beyond 10 days. But if it determines that a company's statements are inadequate or misleading it can sue to revoke the registration of the securities.

Healtheuniverse did not respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

In a news release in August, Healtheuniverse said it sought to be "the first to commercialize stem cell applications in the $15-billion worldwide plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery market."

The stocks of two other Southern California companies were suspended: WayPoint Biomedical Holdings Inc. of Huntington Beach and Asgard Holdings Inc. of Escondido.

WayPoint sells Hangover-Free Patch, which people paste to their arms before drinking alcohol to prevent hangovers the next morning, said Steven Fox, its chief executive. It's sold at convenience stores, he said.

WayPoint noticed spam touting its stock a year ago and notified the SEC, Fox said. The company had nothing to do with the e-mails and has always given investors accurate information, he said.

"This is something that hurts the honest investor and has a negative effect on the companies," Fox said.

Asgard officials could not be reached for comment.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Google shuts down Cyfswatch website

Google has shut down the controversial Cyfswatch website because of threats posted on the blog site yesterday against Green MP Sue Bradford.

Google spokeswoman Victoria Grand said the US-based giant had previously censored postings that breached its terms of service but had now closed the site permanently because of "repeat violations".

She said Google investigated the site when the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development first complained about it last month, and again after the ministry lodged a new complaint about the postings threatening Ms Bradford yesterday.

Cyfswatch said yesterday that it had details of Ms Bradford's home address and would post them unless she withdrew her "anti-smacking" bill. The bill, removing a defence for parents against assault charges if they used reasonable force to "correct" their children, passed its second reading in Parliament by 70 votes to 51 last night.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Development said the ministry would not comment on the site's shutdown.

Cyfswatch, whose authors have always remained anonymous, issued a statement today saying Google's action was "a breathtaking display of socialist censorship".

It said a mirror site was now available.

Google's terms of service prohibit the posting of content that is "unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable".

The New Zealand Herald

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Next MySpace Killer

A new upstart in online social networking, Ning, launched Tuesday, saying it plans to leapfrog social networking powerhouses MySpace Latest News about MySpace and Facebook.

Cofounded by Marc Andreessen, who also cofounded Netscape, Ning is a platform that lets people create their own social networks. The next generation of social networks, Ning says, will be many focused niche networks rather than a single large network like MySpace.
Niches, Niches Everywhere

By using Ning's free tools, users can create public or private networks for anything, from whitewater kayaking to quilting, or design the network to more specific focus, like whitewater kayaking on the Payette River in Idaho or a quilting club in Omaha, Neb.

"Our goal has been to give anyone with an idea the opportunity to create their own social network for anything," Gina Bianchini, Ning cofounder and CEO, told TechNewsWorld. "More specifically, we've seen people like Dustin Thacker, a 28-year-old artist in North Carolina, create a social network because he and the other artists in his community were frustrated with the limitations of MySpace groups and the fact that other options cost a lot of money. So they used Ning to create a social network."

Currently, Ning boasts more than 30,000 social networks, nearly all of which were created prior to the company's official launch.

"These have taken off completely through word of mouth and blogs. Until yesterday, we did no marketing Email Marketing Software - Free Demo or PR," Bianchini said. "Interestingly, 50 percent of our traffic is outside the U.S. and we have registered users in over 176 countries, so viral growth on the Internet is truly global today."

Ning's current claim to fame is flexibility Get the Facts on BlackBerry Business Solutions and a broad array of tools that let users immediately build networking sites. With Ning, users can add videos, blogs, photos and discussion forums, customize the look and feel of the network, open it to the public or make it private for a select group of members. Users can add their own brands, as well as remove the Ning logo.

In addition, Ning gives users the option of using their own domain name, which costs US$4.95 a month.
Ning's Revenue Play

Ning currently runs ads along the right side of each page, which the company says represents its primary source of income. If users don't want to see ads, they can pay $19.95 a month to remove the advertisements -- or run their own.

Traditional media companies have been using MySpace as a marketing tool, creating sites for Hollywood summer blockbuster movies and television shows like Fox's immensely popular "24" and "American Idol." Many musicians -- popular and not-so-popular alike -- have MySpace pages, as well.

Earlier this year, CBS launched a Web site based on Ning. Keppler is a mysterious character who joined the network's "CSI" series mid-season. The Ning site provided details into Keppler's troubled past and generally worked to amp up interest in the CSI show.

CBS used the same basic tools that are available free to anyone, Ning noted on its company blog, but it did add domain name masking and ad-running features -- which are also available to anyone.
Challenges Ahead

Despite Ning's long list of launch features, it faces challenges, including the ability to massively scale its services as millions of people visit Ning sites, join and create their own social networks.

The day before launch, for instance, Ning accidentally introduced a database Make sense of your IT infrastructure - Click Here. bug that slowed Ning's sites to a crawl. The company managed to get it fixed before 9 a.m.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

US gaming console ownership rising rapidly

The Nielsen Company released a study revealing the number of homes with TV's and video game consoles has increased by 18.5 percent in the past three years.

The number of video game consoles in U.S. television households has expanded by 18.5% since the fourth quarter of 2004, according to a new report released by Nielsen Wireless and Interactive Services.

In the fourth quarter of 2006 there were 45.7 million homes with video game consoles, representing 41.1% of all TV households, compared to 39.1% (43 million) in 2005, and 35.2% (38.6 million) the previous year. The increase in both the number and the percentage of U.S. TV households with video game consoles is significant given that the number of total television households has risen 1.6% during the same period.

The report, "The State of the Console," incorporates extensive data on video game console usage from Nielsen's National People Meter (NPM) sample of television households as well as its quarterly Home Technology Report.

The study found that the number of connected console households (those subscribing to a service that links their consoles to the Internet) has grown to more than 4.4 million, even before accounting for the connectivity of the Playstation 3 and Wii platforms. During the fourth quarter of 2006, gamers in the top quintile (the top 20% of users based on average use over the quarter) accounted for 74.4% of total console usage.

According to Nielsen, by the close of 2006, approximately 148.4 million persons had access to at least one video game console system in their home. That represented more than half (52.4%) of the total U.S. television population. Two-thirds of all men between 18 to 34 living in homes with TV's also have gaming consoles. Not surprisingly, that number rises to 80 percent when surveying males ages 12 to 17.

According to the Nielsen Company, about 1.6 million people in the U.S. are using a video game console in any given minute of the day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NASA has plan for wacky astronauts


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- What would happen if an astronaut came unglued in space and, say, destroyed the ship's oxygen system or tried to open the hatch and kill everyone aboard?

That was the question on some minds after the apparent breakdown of Lisa Nowak, arrested in Orlando this month on charges she tried to kidnap and kill a woman she regarded as her rival for another astronaut's affections.

It turns out NASA has a detailed set of written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut's crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary.

"Talk with the patient while you are restraining him," the instructions say. "Explain what you are doing, and that you are using a restraint to ensure that he is safe."

The instructions do not spell out what happens after that. But NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said the space agency, a flight surgeon on the ground and the commander in space would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to abort the flight, in the case of the shuttle, or send the unhinged astronaut home, if the episode took place on the international space station.

The crew members might have to rely in large part on brute strength to subdue an out-of-control astronaut, since there are no weapons on the space station or the shuttle. A gun would be out of the question; a bullet could pierce a spaceship and could kill everyone. There are no stun guns on hand either.

"NASA has determined that there is no need for weapons at the space station," Hartsfield said.

NASA and its Russian counterpart drew up the checklist for the space station in 2001. Hartsfield said NASA has a nearly identical set of procedures for the shuttle, but he would not provide a copy Friday, saying its release had not yet been cleared by the space agency's lawyers.

The space-station checklist is part of a 1,051-page document that contains instructions for dealing with every possible medical situation in space, including removing a tooth. Handling behavioral emergencies takes up five pages.

The military has a similar protocol for restraining or confining violent, mentally unstable crew members who pose a threat to themselves or others in nuclear submarines or other dangerous settings.

Although Nowak performed her duties with aplomb during a short visit to the space station via the shuttle last July, and was not scheduled to fly again, her arrest has led NASA to review its psychological screening process.

A mentally unstable astronaut could cause all kinds of havoc that could endanger the three crew members aboard the space station or the six or seven who typically fly aboard the shuttle.

Space station medical kits contain tranquilizers and anti-depression, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications. Shuttle medical kits have anti-psychotic medication but not antidepressants, since they take several weeks to be effective and shuttle flights last less than two weeks.

The checklist says say astronauts who crack up can be restrained and then offered oral Haldol, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat agitation and mania, and Valium. If the astronaut won't cooperate, the drugs can be forcibly given with a shot to the arm. Crew members are instructed to stay with the tied-up astronaut to monitor vital signs.

Space station astronauts talk weekly via long-distance hook-up to a flight surgeon and every two weeks to a psychologist, so any psychiatric disorder would probably be detected before it became so serious that the astronaut had to be brought home, Hartsfield said.

No NASA astronaut at the space station has been treated in orbit with anti-psychotic or antidepressant medications, and no NASA shuttle crew member has required anti-psychotic medications, Hartsfield said.

Depression, feelings of isolation and stress are not unheard of during long stays in space in tight quarters.

A couple of Soviet crews in past decades are believed to have experienced psychological problems, and U.S. astronaut John Blaha admitted feeling depressed at the start of a four-month stay at the Soviets' Mir space station more than a decade ago. Antidepressants were not available.

"I think you have to battle yourself and tell yourself, `Look, this is your new planet ... and you need to enjoy this environment,'" Blaha told the AP last week. "You sort of shift yourself mentally."

During missions in 1985 and 1995, shuttle commanders put padlocks on the spaceships' hatches as a precaution since they didn't know the scientists aboard very well. Some crew members, called payload specialists, are picked to fly for specific scientific or commercial tasks and do not train as extensively with the other astronauts.

Would-be astronauts are carefully tested and screened to eliminate those who are unstable. But unless they are bound for the space station for a monthslong stay in orbit, they are not put through any regular psychological tests after that.

Astronauts selected for the space station get a psychiatric assessment six months and a month before launch.

Dr. Patricia Santy, a former NASA psychiatrist and author of the book "Choosing the Right Stuff," said there are no good studies of astronauts' stress levels or how they adapt psychologically to space.

U.S. astronauts at the space station keep a journal for a study by a Santa Barbara, Calif., researcher. But Santy said the diaries won't help detect mental illness.

"What astronaut is going to tell you they're feeling homicidal?" she asked. "They're very conscious that if they say the wrong thing they could get grounded."

Astronaut James Reilly, who is flying on space shuttle Atlantis next March, said it is unlikely a U.S. astronaut would lose it in space. Space tourists who pay the Russians $20 million to go to the space station are another matter, he said.

"I think we stand a greater chance of someone getting a little nuts with the space tourists that fly occasionally because it's less rigorous," Reilly said.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spyware Spammer Pays $1.5 Million In Fines

WASHINGTON — A company that caused Internet pop-up ads to appear on consumers' computers has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency said Friday.

The FTC charged that New York-based Direct Revenue and its four principals illegally downloaded advertising software, or adware, onto consumers' computers and made it difficult to locate and remove.

The case is the latest in a recent crackdown on adware companies by the FTC, which announced three settlements in November including a $3-million penalty levied against Zango Inc., formerly 180solutions.

The FTC said Friday that Direct Revenue offered consumers free content, such as screensavers and games, and included its adware with the applications without adequate notice. The software tracked consumers' Internet use and served them targeted ads, the FTC said.

The settlement bars Direct Revenue from downloading its adware without consumers' consent and requires the company to establish easy ways to remove the software from their computers. The agency also required the company to surrender the $1.5 million as ill-gotten gains.

Stuart Friedel, counsel for Direct Revenue, blamed third-party distributors of the company's software for running afoul of the FTC's rules. He said the company stopped using the distributors in 2006.



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Love Emails Of The Psycho Astranaut Are Released

Orbiting Earth at 17,500 mph may be considered enough to get anyone's pulse racing. But Bill Oefelein, the pilot of the space shuttle Discovery, had an added reason to be thrilled as he cruised 220 miles above the planet.

As he scrolled through his e-mail inbox, packed with complex instructions from Nasa controllers and memos about navigational coordinates, one e-mail in particular, entitled "I need a rub down", may have caught his eye more than most.

Sent by his new girlfriend, Colleen Shipman, an air force captain he had met just before his 13-day space mission last December, it raised the promise of a warm welcome when he returned home.

"Will have to control myself when I see you. First urge will be to rip your clothes off, throw you on the ground and love the hell out of you. Am anxious to get you alone," Ms Shipman, 30, wrote.

The steamy e-mail — and an admission by Mr Oefelein, 41, that he had two-timed her with fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak — was among documents released yesterday by prosecutors investigating how the love triangle prompted a showdown that has left Ms Nowak, 43, facing a potential life sentence. The mother of three was arrested in Orlando, Florida, on February 5 after driving nearly 1,000 miles (1,600km) from her Texas home — wearing a nappy to save delays en route — to attack Ms Shipman.

She was armed with pepper spray, an air gun, a knife and a steel mallet.

The papers reveal that Ms Nowak had been divorcing her husband of 19 years to be with her lover, but had gone off the rails after Mr Oefelein left her in early January. She found Ms Shipman's love notes on his computer during an apparent snooping session at his apartment, to which she had a key. Printouts from Mr Oefelein's inbox were discovered in Ms Nowak's car after her arrest.

Other documents released include a police statement in which Mr Oefelein admitted that a two-year affair with Ms Nowak had begun in 2004, a year before he divorced his wife of 15 years, and ended two months after he started dating Ms Shipman last November.

He claimed that the relationship with Ms Nowak had ended amicably early in January. Days before the attack Ms Nowak wished Mr Oefelein a "nice weekend", knowing that he was going to spend it with Ms Shipman, he claimed.

But other documents found in Ms Nowak's car suggest that she was still infatuated. In a letter to Mr Oefelein's mother, Billye, Ms Nowak raved: "Bill is absolutely the best person I've ever known and I love him more than I know possible."

Ms Shipman told police that she had felt uncomfortable over her boyfriend's continuing closeness to Ms Nowak. Her fears were confirmed one night, she said, when "we were laying in bed and he called me Lisa". Ms Nowak, who is on bail, has been charged with attempted kidnap and burglary with assault. She is on 30 days' forced leave from Nasa, which expires tomorrow and is expected to be renewed.

The scandal is said to have dashed Mr Oefelein's chances of another space mission. Even before the incident, he wrote in an e-mail to Ms Shipman that while Nasa had plans to return man to the Moon, hopes of him being involved were scant.

"Maybe I will be able to clean the toilets of those so fortunate to be chosen," he lamented.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

A New Serius Security Threat

Symantec announced that Symantec Security Response in conjunction with the Indiana University School of Informatics has uncovered a significant new security threat. In this attack, dubbed "Drive-by Pharming," consumers may fall victim to pharming by having their home broadband routers reconfigured by a malicious web site. According to a separate informal study conducted by Indiana University, up to 50 percent of home broadband users are susceptible to this attack.

With traditional pharming, an attacker aims to redirect a user attempting to visit one web site, to another bogus web site. Pharming can be conducted either by changing the host file on a victim's computer or through the manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS). Drive-by pharming is a new type of threat in which a user visits a malicious web site and an attacker is then able to change the DNS settings on a user's broadband router or wireless access point. DNS servers are computers responsible for resolving Internet names into their real "Internet Protocol" or IP addresses, functioning as the "signposts" of the Internet. In order for two computers to connect to each other on the Internet, they need to know each other's IP addresses. Drive-by pharming is made possible when a broadband router is not password protected or an attacker is able to guess the password -- for example, most routers come with a well-known default password that a user never changes.

Drive-by pharming involves the use of JavaScript to change the settings of a user's home broadband router. Once the user clicks on a malicious link, malicious JavaScript code is used to change the DNS settings on the user's router. From this point on, every time the user browses to a web site, DNS resolution will be performed by the attacker. DNS resolution is the process by which one determines the Internet address corresponding to a web site's common name. This gives the attacker complete discretion over which web sites the victim visits on the Internet. For example, the user may think they are visiting their online banking web site but in reality they have been redirected to the attacker's site.

These fraudulent sites are an almost exact replica of the actual site so the user will likely not recognize the difference. Once the user is directed to the pharmer's "bank" site, and enters their user name and password, the attacker can steal this information. The attacker will then be able to access the victim's account on the "real" bank site and transfer funds, create new accounts, and write checks.

Symantec Security Response recommends that users employ a multi-layered protection strategy:

- Make sure their routers are uniquely password protected. Most routers come with a default administrator password which is easy for pharmers to guess

- Use an Internet security solution that combines antivirus, firewall, intrusion detection, and vulnerability protection

- Avoid clicking on links that seem suspicious - for example, those sent to you in an email from someone you don't recognize

Existing security solutions on the market today cannot protect against this type of attack since drive-by pharming targets the user's router directly, and the existing solutions only protect the user's computer system. Symantec's Consumer Business Unit has been actively working on technologies to help address this problem using client-side technology. Symantec's goal is to develop the means to automatically impede the attack by using a number of embedded techniques running on the client, embedded in the network stack, and in the browser.

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