XML and software
XML, web and software in general, with notes on Radio Userland resources

Ken Novak's Weblog


daily link  Saturday, February 28, 2004


Michael Helfrich's Weblog: Groove and the Tactical Edge: Part 1: First installment of the story of how Groove came to be used for humanitarian operations in Iraq.  Starting in late 2002: "The day after Eric's talk, a very eclectic group of Groove employees formed for the first time to offer their evenings and weekends to develop Groove applications that could be used in disasters, both natural and man-made. We built 11 over the next six months. These ranged from applications to reunite families dispersed across refugee camps, to casualty evacuations to be used by coalition forces and NGO's. The final application was a set of capabilities in Groove that was used during the Super Bowl in January of 2003 to link first responders, California law enforcement, hospitals in San Diego, and Secret Service personnel in Washington...

[For Iraq, Eric's] challenge was a need to link 134 people from 43 different civil-military organizations, representing multiple nations, each on their own private, albeit it internet-connected networks. UNDP had managed to have all 43 organizations agree on a common data collection set that became what was known as the Rapid Assessment form [on] when and where relief supplies would be distributed..

On Sunday March 16th, Eric took delivery of a Groove-based Rapid Assessment form. .. By Thursday morning, 120 users in Washington, Qatar, New York, Washington DC, London, and Kuwait City were up and running in Groove, many of them were forward deployed near the Iraq border in the south.

Early in the morning on March 25th, a Groove notification fired in my Windows system tray. The first Rapid Assessment form had come in after coalition forces overran Talil airfield near Al-Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. Within minutes, almost 50 people had streamed into the Groove Rapid Assessment shared space and the chat pane exploded with message traffic. The UN, the Red Cross, 1st MEF members, and others had received the same notification and swarmed into the space to begin the task of getting humanitarian assistance into the area. As a technologist, it was an incredibly surreal moment to see our technology being used at such a historic moment..."

  11:14:35 PM  permalink  

Legal Services and Networking: How a law firm benefited from social networking software.  "One of your employees might be the golfing partner of a key contact at a prospect's company, and a point of leverage for closing a deal. Software from vendors like Interface and Spoke is meant to expose such connections by, inter alia, combing through Outlook folders to see who knows whom and render it searchable by others.

"In the past year, we've had a couple of instances where the software identified an existing relationship we'd never have been aware of otherwise," says Sobin. "One of those engagements generated more than a million dollars in new business.""  The software also distills a common view of the relationship with a customer from everyone's email files, so all staff are "reading from the same page."

  10:24:46 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, February 23, 2004


Spam zombies on home broadband: "Spammers increasingly are exploiting home computers with high-speed Internet connections into which they've cleverly burrowed... 

Steve Atkins, chief technology officer at the anti-spam consultancy Word to the Wise LLC, said some ISPs continue to be plagued by open-relay techniques, but spammers generally don't bother with them anymore because it's so much easier to have success with home machines. Where much of the spam previously flowed through China, South Korea, Brazil and other countries whose ISPs left many relays open, it's now being hastened by a North American trend: more high-speed cable and DSL connections at home. "

The Register reports on a ring of zombies:  "German magazine c't says it has evidence that virus writers are selling the IP addresses of PCs infected with Trojans to spammers. Spammers use these infected systems to unlawfully distribute commercial email messages, without the knowledge of their owners. 

The Trojan involved was spread by a virus called Randex. This small program contacted its 'master' through the chat protocol IRC. It was programmed to look for CD keys of games, or secretly load additional software. The Trojan was also able to install a proxy server which can be used to relay spam through the infected PCs.  

A college student managed to track down the distributor of a computer virus in the UK, and the editorial staff of c't was then able to buy access to the infected machines.  c’t passed on all the information to New Scotland Yard and several individuals in different countries have been arrested, the magazine claims."

It is also worth remembering that MyDoom installs a trojan that could be applied for this.

  6:15:09 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Phishing attacks up 50% in January: "Attempted email fraud and phishing attacks went up 50% in January compared to the month before. There were an average of 5.7 new and unique phishing attacks each day in January, according to research by the Anti-Phishing Working Group. There were 176 unique attacks in January, of which only 13.6% were 'repeats'. eBay was the most targeted company with 51 different emails purporting to come from the online auction house. Citibank and AOL were next with 35 and 34 attacks each. Financial services account for 40% of attacks; 34% appear to come from retailers; and 24% from ISPs"  9:30:58 PM  permalink  

Ecard-hijack spam: Anatomy of an e-scam.  A spam sent widely invites users to visit a supposed greeting card site. Once there, security holes in IE are exploited to cause many strange things to happen as a smokescreen.  Then, "this program attempts to hijack the user's personal login information as they log in to various popular Internet banking services."  Great detective work -- by a high school student.  9:27:18 PM  permalink  


daily link  Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Apache Lenya: "Apache Lenya is a Java-based Open-Source Content Management System. It is based on open standards such as XML and XSLT. One of its core components is Cocoon", an Apache web development framework.  2:04:32 PM  permalink  

The battle for the web server: History of Apache and IIS and their relative market shares.  2:03:06 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, February 16, 2004


SpamProbe - A Fast Bayesian Spam Filter: "SpamProbe relies on a Bayesian analysis of the frequency of words used in spam and non-spam emails received by an individual person. The process is completely automatic and tailors itself to the kinds of emails that each person receives.. SpamProbe is open source software and anyone is free to use it on their computers without any fees."  11:57:51 PM  permalink  

Jeroen Bekkers' Groove Weblog: I discovered many sources of Groove tools and extensions today, thanks to this weblog from Suite75, a developer of Groove and Flash tools.

  • SUITELAB, Suite75's collection (some of which are highlighted below), including shared Visio viewer, 3D molecule viewer, and shared blogger tool
  • CodeWeavers - Run Groove under Linux with other Windows apps
  • do-hyki: "dohyki is a simple experimental collaborative note-taking application. It's kinda like a small private wiki, and shares some of wiki's free-form ethos. .. Notes (pages) are stored in a Groove "files" tool which you choose. If there are other members of the Groove shared space, you can all work together at the same time."
  • Tim Knip's FlashHyki version of hyki in Flash
  • PowerTools for Groove, with improvements in Files and Chat, many in the free version
  • FileSyncWiz: Sync disk files with Groove spaces.  "Very useful in situations where all members do not use Groove, but must share files with other Groove users. This tool will pick up local changes and update into Groove or take new files that have been changed in Groove and update the local folders, so other members instantly get changed documents."  Could be used for web site production, esp with a CMS like Radio.  Rumored to be in v3 of Groove.
  • Groove Interop Tool for Radio, recently upgraded
  • GForce.Time time billing tool, costs between $50 and $75
  11:32:17 PM  permalink  

Smartmoney.com Map of the Market: Great way to visualize the market.  Have seen references to this sort of thing for looking at the contents of a disk drive, which would be very useful.  Wish it was as easy to load and run as this map!  Related:

  11:19:44 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, February 15, 2004


Instant message spam package: "Some users of the popular AOL Instant Messenger program were bombarded Wednesday with messages seemingly from friends that linked to a humorous Osama bin Laden game.  Downloading the game, however, installed a piggybacking program that broadcast the advertisement from the infected computer to all correspondents on its AIM buddy lists.

The software, called Buddylinks, is not technically a virus because users must accept its terms of service before it's installed. The small-print legal disclaimer states what's being installed, though users tend to click through such legalese without reading it. And that's one of the keys to its success.

The program is also clever in its use of social engineering to spread, extending a personal invitation that appears to come from what is typically a trusted friend. ..

Anti-virus expert Ken Dunham at iDefense called Buddylinks a worm, for its self-propagating properties, and said it was "gaining ground in the wild and may prove to be a serious pest over the next few weeks."

On Wednesday, Buddylinks' Web site contained a message denying the program is a virus. The home page also makes no mention that the program would in the future send out additional advertisements using the same method.  "Our games interact with instant messengers by promoting the game among the user's network of buddies," it reads. "Please understand, our flash games are in no way a virus. We simply combine peer-to-peer, social networking, and instant messaging into one spectacular technology."  10:55:24 PM  permalink  

Commercial Software Aided Reboot on Mars: Cool article on the hardware and operating system in use on the Mars rover.  Turns out they have more flash memory than ever used on these computers before, and had accumulated too many files at boot time to allow a proper boot.  A bit of file cleanup restored the rover to normal operation.  The operating system, vxworks, has an interesting history starting with Francis Ford Coppola in 1987, and many commercial applications at present.  10:07:34 PM  permalink  

Grid computing project hones smallpox research: "the Smallpox Research Grid Project harnessed the idle cycles of 2.5 million PCs in 190 countries. The grid effort, after 39,000 years’ worth of donated CPU time studying 35 million molecules, resulted in the identification of the most-promising 44 drug candidates that could be studied further in traditional laboratory experiments. Each of the 35 million molecules had at least 750 different shapes, resulting in more than 26 billion combinations that had to be studied, said Scott D. Kahn, chief science officer of Accelrys Inc. of San Diego."  On an average day "176 years worth of CPU processing was utilized. It took roughly 13 hours to generate the results for each of the 35 million molecules evaluated."

The project ran from Feb to Oct 2003.  "When United Devices announced the smallpox project in February, the company already had 1.75 million computers using its screensaver to search for cancer and anthrax remedies. Another 100,000 computers downloaded the screensaver in the first 48 hours after the smallpox announcement"

  9:38:40 PM  permalink  

Europe Exceeds U.S. in Refining Grid Computing: Concerns are cited about European research establishments being able to deploy large scale grid computing faster than the US, because it is more centralized.  Also mentions, "Novartis used software by United Devices of Austin, Tex., to link 2,700 desktop personal computers to help create drugs. This summer the company said that it had discovered several promising new chemical molecules with its grid and it planned to expand the system to its entire corporate network of 70,000 personal computers."  Elsewhere, it is reported that "the Novartis drug research software is loaded onto the desktops by way of a server running Grid MetaProcessor software from United Devices Inc. in Austin. By investing $400,000 in grid technology, Novartis avoided spending $2 million on a new Linux cluster. .. [Novartis found] 5 trillion floating-point operations per second of unused capacity in 2,700 desktop PCs at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland .. to run number-crunching supercomputer applications that model the interactions between proteins and other chemicals that might be used in drugs. "  That works out to about $160 per PC.  11:15:04 AM  permalink  

Grid.org "is a single destination site for large-scale research projects powered by the United Devices grid computing solution, Grid MP Global. With the participation of over 2 million devices worldwide, grid.org projects like Cancer Research, Anthrax Research, and the new Smallpox Research Project have achieved record levels of processing speed and success."  They have a download page to join by loading the United Devices software. One sponsor:  Accelrys -- Software for Pharmaceutical, Chemical, and Materials Research. Much Accelrys software is PC-based, rather than being oriented to grids.  11:02:42 AM  permalink  


daily link  Saturday, February 14, 2004


Googling for XML:  Neat collection of google search tricks to locate xml files of various types on the web.   Could be used to develop specialized search engines.  7:18:03 AM  permalink  


daily link  Friday, February 13, 2004


Activist Ads Dumped from Google: Google "has banned the ads of an environmental group protesting major cruise line Royal Caribbean’s sewage treatment methods, drawing interest to the editorial policies that control the popular Google AdWords program.

Last week, Oceana placed two advertisements with Google, the first describing Oceana’s mission and linking to the organization’s website, http://www.oceana.org, the second focusing on Oceana’s well-known campaign to stop cruise pollution. Google removed the ads after two days, citing the cruise pollution ad for “language that advocates against Royal Caribbean,” and the general ad for using “language advocating against the cruise line industry and cruisers.”  ..

If anything, Oceana has drawn more interest to their cause via today’s news than they normally would buying a limited amount of Google AdWords. When I search for “cruise line” on Google now, the top result shown is a Google News result for this same story in an online newspaper. Perhaps Oceana planned this…. if so GENIUS! If not, well… excellent way to capitalize on the story! "

  11:25:36 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Do It Yourself Venture Law: "Over a year ago a group of lawyers from throughout the venture community got together to create what they collectively believed were the model financing documents. After innumerable hours of drafting and arguing, they came to agreement on the documents and have now made them available to the public."  11:12:59 PM  permalink  


daily link  Wednesday, February 04, 2004


SMTP SPF: What SPF Is And Is Not: "Standard SMTP email is anonymous and forgeable. SPF closes this loophole. SFP is primarily an anti-forgery effort. Any benefits in the area of reduced spam, worms, viruses, etc are pleasant side-effects. That said, if SPF causes spammers to send mail from their own domains, we'll be better able to identify and block those domains."  10:03:30 PM  permalink  


daily link  Monday, February 02, 2004


Google Guide: Interactive Tutorial Making Search Even Easier: nice intro to how google works and how to use it well.  8:06:47 PM  permalink  


daily link  Sunday, February 01, 2004


genetic-programming.org and genetic-programming.com:  John Koza's sites for academic work and commercialization of GP:  "Genetic programming (GP) is an automated method for creating a working computer program from a high-level problem statement of a problem. Genetic programming starts from a high-level statement of “what needs to be done” and automatically creates a computer program to solve the problem.  There are now 36 instances where genetic programming has automatically produced a result that is competitive with human performance, including  15 instances where genetic programming has created an entity that either infringes or duplicates the functionality of a previously patented 20th-century invention, 6 instances where genetic programming has done the same with respect to a 21st-centry invention, and 2 instances where genetic programming has created a patentable new invention."  10:25:40 AM  permalink  

Imagination Engines, Inc.: "IEI's bleeding edge neural network technology represents "AI's best bet" at creating human level intelligence in machines. "  The principle is to introduce noise in a rigid rule-based neural network. This noise disrupts the connections and helps generating new ideas.  Inventions include the Oral-B CrossAction toothbrush and some industrial materials.  There's an uncritical article from his local paper, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The machine that invents."  The company website and FAQ lists several applications, many military or intelligence.

Stephen Thaler's words make him sounds like a bit of spacer.  But he does have a grid vision: "I am actively proposing and developing what can only be called a true world brain, wherein the TCP/IP nodes of the Internet are converted to neurons, forming a global neural network cascade that can then introspect on human-originated content. In this system, [the] numbers of interconnects exceeds that of the human brain.."

Also, it does self-improvement:  "Probably the most noteworthy accomplishment of the Creativity Machine Paradigm was the invention of a new neural network scheme called the “Self-Training Artificial Neural Network Object” (STANNO), a totally autonomous self-learning system that may clone itself ad infinitum to produce swarms of independent neural networks that may exhaust all potential discoveries within a targeted database. In this case, we have a prime example of a neural system inventing another neural system."  (Once again, thanks for the tip, Roland.)

  10:07:57 AM  permalink  

EarthBrowser: "EarthBrowser is a three dimensional model of the earth with constantly updating live information. Exploring the earth is fun and easy with a point and click interface that lets you rotate and zoom to any desired location."  Customizable too.  Pretty nifty.  12:25:23 AM  permalink  

Copyright 2005 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 11/25/2005; 12:02:15 AM.
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