26.04.2005 21:28

Search engines results' anomalies

Slashdot writes about a possibility that MSN search results are biased and favour sites running IIS. The research made by Ivor Hewitt suggest that it's possible. It can be caused by many other things, but the stats look strange.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Science and technology

25.04.2005 22:52

Encrypted white balance - update

I have written recently about encrypted white balance in certain Nikon digital cameras. It look that encryption is rather popular in different raw formats. It's used for example by Canon and Sony. I still don't understand why.

More about this at Dave Coffin's page.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Science and technology

24.04.2005 22:15

Problems with webd.pl

As hacking.pl and CyberCrime (both in Polish) write, hosting company webd.pl has been compromised and, as a result, all customer data (webpages, databases) is lost. The company has no backups (I've read their offer and rules and there's no signle word about backups).

Such problems happen, but this time it's a bad thing not only for the company and (especially) their customers, but also all cheap and small hosting firms.

Webd.pl had (to 04.02.2005, from their webpage) 5000 sites, 1000 .pl domains and 600 others.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Security

22.04.2005 21:57

GCC 4.0 is out

GCC 4.0 has been released (the official release data is April 20).

While waiting for first reviews (performance?) I'm wondering which mainstream linux distribution will be the first one to include it in stable release.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software

21.04.2005 22:14

Making the world a different place

I have downloaded an IETF raport Making the world (of communications) a differnet place (PDF, 140KB). It describes 10 things (ideas) that 'should' be in networks in 10-15 years.

I don't agree with all, especially those about security ('architecture that provides a coherent framwork for security'). Of course, bettwe security is needed, but something like 'new architecture' isn't possible in 10 years, IMHO. I agree with the report authors that security is a mix of technical, economic and social issues. It'll take 10 years to make people understand that security is not given for free - that it means less trust to unknown people, that it means just more thinking...

A good paper to start the discussion from.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Security, Science and technology

19.04.2005 23:35

Encrypted white balance

As PhotoshopNews (pointed by Slashdot) states, new Photoshop will not have support of white balance in raw format used by some Nixon photo cameras, because it's encrypted. The encryption doesn't protect anything, in fact, because keys are kept in the device. But the person who uses reverse-engineering to get the format details may be sued under (American) DMCA.

Of course, there's solution. No white balance, you need to adjust it yourself. I'm just wondering why to encrypt it...

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Science and technology

18.04.2005 21:45

FreeCiv 2.0.0 stable

FreeCiv (Civilization clone) 2.0.0 stable has been just released. Slashdot has the news and you can download it from the project site.

Good news, improvements look nice, but I was hoping for better graphics. Maybe in 3.0 :)

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software

16.04.2005 17:57

Dangers to be faced by Linux

George Weiss from Gartner had a talk about dangers for Linux (I can't find more official statement) on the enterprise market. He thinks that SCO and MS can't slow it.

What's more interesting, he shows 5 dangers Linux faces.

First one, fragmentation, has been mentioned for years. I don't know if he talks about Linux (kernel) or Linux (GNU/Linux - the whole system), but it's probably the second meaning. As I see it, most apps come from one source, sometimes projects divide. Kernel in nearly all distribution is heavily patched, but you can laways get the whole list and build your own, customized version.

Second, higher support costs. I don't think there's danger. Support prices going higher means more people getting in the field and doing support. Training for basic support doesn't take much time and there are enough people (IMHO) to deal with more compilicated cases.

Next problem - too many licences - may be really a problem. It requires people to know them and decide if to agree or find another program, with differnet licence. Also, the number of diffrent licences is going to drop.

Then there come problems with compatibility between versions. I don't experience this. If there are compatibility problems and many people want to stay with old version, someone decides to manage the old one (like with Apache 1.x and 2.x).

Last one is patent and copyright risk. It's mostly about patents (because all those crazy ones). It's hard to say which direction it's going.

Overall, Weiss thinks that there are no technological reasons to stop Linux and I agree.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software

13.04.2005 17:29

Scientific papers

I have just released my new three papers. Below there are their titles and abstracts. Full text is available only for one, more will follow.

A Case for the Lookaside Buffer

Cache coherence and gigabit switches, while technical in theory, have not until recently been considered technical. such a hypothesis might seem counterintuitive but is buffetted by previous work in the field. Given the current status of psychoacoustic symmetries, cryptographers daringly desire the construction of the producer-consumer problem. In order to achieve this goal, we explore new introspective symmetries (Merganser), demonstrating that the much-tauted perfect algorithm for the evaluation of Boolean logic by James Gray et al. is impossible.

Ful text (PDF, 70KB) is also available.

A Simulation of the Memory Bus

Unified semantic theory have led to many confusing advances, including erasure coding and Byzantine fault tolerance. Given the current status of metamorphic archetypes, futurists daringly desire the visualization of Web services. In this work, we use modular models to prove that 802.11 mesh networks and gigabit switches are regularly incompatible.

Construction of Internet QoS

The important unification of telephony and forward-error correction is a practical quandary. In this paper, we confirm the refinement of journaling file systems. In this work we use real-time epistemologies to prove that Internet QoS and context-free grammar can connect to overcome this grand challenge.

All three make no sense. There's even a reason - they're computer generated using SCIgen tool.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software, Science and technology

12.04.2005 23:25

Fighting spam

Scientific American has an article about fighting spam. Interesing read, intended for less technical audience.

What was not pointed strong enough, in my opinion, is that spam is very cheap to send and that it's very often sent from computers infected by viruses, worms etc (this wasn't even mentioned; because the authors are from Microsoft or it's just a coincidence?).

What is also worth saying is that the most dangerous spam, that's not filtred by many (all?) currently used programs, looks like legitimate messages. For example, the message I got not so long ago looks like a message from ebay. One thing is different - link, that points to fake website. If smap looks like an email from a company or organization that really notifies its customers by email and the person that gets the spam is really its client, the probability for the attack to work is much bigger. Spam may be also sent at the same time when DNS cache poisoning attack is launched (what means, in short, that user entering the right address will be redirected to a wrong server). Then the situation may be really dangerous. Especially, as usual, for the users that are not aware of the danger. So, spam fight will probably take much time...

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Security, Science and technology

09.04.2005 22:08

Portals and their HTML

I decided to see if the popular pages use correct HTML (XHTML etc) code. My validation tool was W3C validator.

I checked portals only. Don't have a source showing which pages are most popular, so I had to guess. More sites - possibly later. Also, portal sites are generated dynamicaly, so validation results change.


I started from google. Simple page design, should be correct. And? Suprise. No type definition and other erors. No doctype produces 0 errors. 51 errors with default settings.


Then, Yahoo. More compilcated page, more changes for errors. And more errors - 253.


Next page, MSN, identifies itself as XHTML strict. It doesn't validate, however. 22 errors, mostly not serious and easy to fix. So why not fixed?


BBC page code looks strange. It has a big number of empty lines, a number of empty tags and so on. Number of errors - moderate. Only 65.


CNN has page with more errors (106). Many of them are about missing picture descriptions. It's easier to read than the previous one, however.


So it looks that it's hard to find correct HTML on portal pages. Most of the errors are not serious and don't require much work, usually just changing one or two characters will fix it. It looks that no-one really cares...

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software

08.04.2005 21:05

About asking questions

I have translated into Polish my paper How to ask a question and be secure.

Polish version has also different formatting - in my opinion it's easier to read. Changes in English version planned.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Security

07.04.2005 23:14

Security terms not understood

A survey for AOL UK, which is covered by BBC, shows that users don't understand security terms.

84 percent doesn't know what one of the newest terms, phishing, means. It's not much better with spyware. 75 percent don't understand the term, but one in ten who think they know are wrong. Only 39 percent know what trojan means... And 16 percent doesn't know what's spam.

It's very likely that the people just don't know the name. It's harder for them, however, to find help when they don't know what to ask about.

Articles like that are needed. The same with lesson for journalists. BBC states that firewall is software to protect against hackers.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Security

07.04.2005 21:53

Mandrake renamed

Mandrake's changing its name after their marge with Connectiva. New name is Mandriva.

I'm not sure if it's a good move. Mandrake brand had a strong position. Connectiva the same, but in South America. New name is familiar only when you know that it's a mix of the two. It may cause problems for newbies. On the other hand, RedHat rename to Fedora went well.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software

06.04.2005 20:59

GPL criticism, again

Sun president, Jonathan Schwartz, has criticized GPL. My favourite piece is

a rather predatory obligation to disgorge all their IP back to the wealthiest nation in the world

Yes, but also to poor nations. GPL may not be good for him, but it's good for other people :)

Zdnet has a longer article with more cites.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software, Science and technology

05.04.2005 22:39

WEP again

It's known from quite a long time that wireless networking is not secure. Most networks use no encryption at all and still, if present, encryption can be easily broken. As shown here it's possible in 5 to 10 minutes using common tools.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Security

03.04.2005 15:42

Website scalling

Many websites don't scale correctly for higher (higher than 1024x768) resolutions. I've made a fast search (using 1280x1024) and here are my findings.

News sites and portals

Not computer related news sites usually don't scale well. Examples: gazeta.pl (Polish daily) - empty area at left and right side of the text (it's approx 800 pixels wide), rzeczpospolita.pl (another Polish daily) - big white area on the right. Also big international news sites don't scale, as BBC, CNN, New York Times (all have white area on the right)

Portals have design very similar to news sites. All well-known Polish portals don't scale: Onet, Wirtualna Polska, o2.pl and Interia. International ones are no better. Yahoo uses approx 60 per cent of the screen. MSN is different, because it has dark blue empty area instead of white. CBS has it black and smaller than the previous ones.

From the sites I have visited, only Google news scales correctly.

Technical news

It's much easier to find a technical news site that scales. Famous Slashdot scales well, the same with heise.de. Not all look correctly, however: Linux.org has yellow area on the right, Linux.pl - white on both sides.

From Polish FLOSSnews sites 7thguard scales, but Linux news not. New design of hacking.pl doesn't scale, either.


Before checking big companies I throught that those technology-related have websites designed better. And the result: Microsoft, IBM, Intel, NVidia, Dell, HP and Apple have websites that don't scale. The only exception is AMD.

It looks there's much to improve. I'm wondering if the sites are use correct HTML/XML etc. Will probably check it.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: Software, Science and technology

02.04.2005 22:19

After April 1

There were no interesting jokes on April 1 this year, only tdt.org.pl (but it was published earlier, in fact) and Flash version of news site 7thguarda.

Less orginal ones: Microsoft bought Linux (in Polish), EU bans Mac and UN closes the Internet.

As usual, there's a big choice of links at Slashdot.

Posted by Mara | Permalink | Categories: General