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