Racefan’s Ramblings

Collecting my thoughts, news and inspirations on Tech, Psychology, Motorsport and … well anything!! . . . . . . . . . STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN LIMITED SPARE TIME!

Archive for the ‘Computers & Internet’ Category

News and views on Hardware, software and developments

Why do all our gadgets break?

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 29, 2006

I agree 100% with this story on Crave (Cnet.com). I have been through so many mobiles, they make them with the screens easily scratch, weak pivots, and electronics that break when you drop them in your pocket!!
From the article

Why do all our gadgets break?“Of course, we live in an upgrade culture, in which mobile phones, laptops and iPods are discarded for cosmetic reasons as much as technical. But there is a
splinter cell whose members don’t want to upgrade their current product, yet is forced to by the increasingly poor build quality of many modern consumer electronics.

… Engineers have built obsolescence into mass-produced technology since the 1920s. There are two kinds of planned deterioration in a product: one is technical, the other is stylistic.
The fashion industry relies on your eagerness to keep up with changes in style to keep their new products selling, while the technology industry used to rely on the simple fact that computers were never
quite fast enough for the average user.

And the kicker

The electronics industry has clearly spotted this problem, [how to get people to keep buying their products when they havn’t improved much] and has worked out a simple way to make you upgrade even if you’re not a slave to fashion: your gadgets will simply break within the year. The evolution of the microchip to a point where the average consumer cannot tax it technically has ushered in The Age of the Flimsy — delicate, beautiful supermodels that can’t go the distance.

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Whats with all the spam?

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

A Slashdot link this morning, explains a few things. A friend of mine, whose husband recently got a tad tiddly and went surfing, ended up turning their computer into a spam-bot. She is NOT impressed.

“…a Network World article about soaring spam levels, confirmed now by researchers, IT managers, and security vendors. So, indeed, it’s not just you: October was a spammy month.

From the article: “Levine’s assumption is this spike in spam levels is a result of a new generation of viruses and zombies that can infect PCs more quickly and are harder to get rid of. In its October report, messaging security vendor MessageLabs says the spike is largely due to two Trojan programs, Warezov and SpamThru.

Others say a new breed of spam messages called image spam — messages with text embedded in an image file that evade spam filters, which can’t recognize the words inside the image — is responsible.”

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The Hacker Profiling Project

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

Interesting story on Slashdot yesterday. The one thing I think is, umm, good luck. From what I understand they are prone to change methodology as soon as there is a whiff of getting blocked/cought or new tech comes into play!

“NewsForge is running a story about a project aiming to profile hackers like the police do with common criminals. Not based out of the U.S. per se, this project falls under the auspices of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
Newsforge; What would the project concretely produce as final output?
Stefania Ducci: The final goal is a real and complete methodology for hacker profiling, released under GNU/FDL. This means that, at the end of our research project, if a company will send us its (as detailed as possible) logs related to an intrusion, we — exactly like in the TV show C.S.I. when evidence is found on the crime scene — will be able to provide a profile of the attacker. By ‘profile’ we mean, for example, his technical skills, his probable geographic location, an analysis of his modus operandi, and of a lot of other, small and big, traces left on the crime scene. This will also permit us to observe and, wherever possible, preview new attack trends, show rapid and drastic behavior changes, and, finally, provide a real picture of the world of hacking and its international scene.”

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Aggressive Botnet Activities Behind Spam Increase

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 11, 2006

Are we going to get MORE? There is now apparantly 4 times more than last year thanks to some Trojan Viruses! On Slashdot I found this

“A spam-sending Trojan dubbed ‘SpamThru’ is responsible for a vast amount of the recent botnet activity which has significantly increased spam levels to almost three out of every four emails. The developers of SpamThru employed numerous tactics to thwart detection and enhance outreach, such as releasing new strains of the Trojan at regular intervals in order to confuse traditional anti-virus signatures detection.”

The original was ineresting to

Australia, previously at the bottom of the list, saw the biggest increase in viruses to rank 12th in October, increasing by 0.4 percent to 1.2 percent (1 in 84.1) of email traffic.Spam: In October, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and unknown bad sources was 72.9 percent (1 in 1.37 emails), an increase of 8.5 percent on the previous month. This is the sharpest rise in spam levels since January 2006, when an increase of 9.2 percent was experienced.

[full report available at] http://www.messagelabs.com/Threat_Watch

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Reading the Terrorist Mind

Posted by Pat Kershaw on November 10, 2006

I find this a very timely piece. With al the “war on terrorism, and associated hype, how do you get into their minds” The following excerpts are from The Frontal Cortex : Reading the Terrorist Mind . November 8, 2006 10:35 AM, by Jonah Lehrer

I’m skeptical of these sorts of psychological models – an important part of the terrorist strategy is to not have a coherent strategy – but it’s certainly a noble effort:

“Imagine that we had a mathematical formula that could be applied to Israel’s enemies to predict their course of action?

Prof. Alex Mintz of Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya claims to have created just that. Mintz has developed a formula to map how terrorist organizations make their decisions. His theory can be applied to any leader in the world, whether heads of state or terror masterminds. …”

“How does this formula work? It mimics the decision-making process of a terror organization, involving thousands of minute details. The process is twofold: first the leader rules out the options that his group cannot carry out, and then the organization maximizes “specific dimensions on the remaining alternatives.”

This is all plugged into his custom-designed computer program, which takes into account funds, weapons, opposition, elections and the most heavily weighed factor, politics. The algorithms do the rest.

What separates Mintz’s calculations from those of other experts in the field? In the world of game and decision theory there are two basic camps: the rational approach, with roots in economics, and the cognitive approach, which is rooted in psychology. Mintz’s theory is one of the first that “combines elements of both in an attempt to bridge the gap between the rational and cognitive in decision-making.”

It should also be noted that Mintz isn’t the first scientist interested in deciphering the inscrutable decisions of terrorists. I’ve got a short article on Neil Johnson in the next Seed, so I won’t describe his research in too much detail here. But Johnson has constructed a model of the terrorist mind using some techniques from the physics of complex systems. After analyzing the casualty counts and battlefield reports from several major conflicts (from Iraq to Indonesia to Columbia), Johnson realized that all the conflicts looked the same. The terrorists were all operating from an identical playbook. “In every war we looked at,” Johnson told me, “we saw the same basic patterns. On the one hand, there were lots of little clashes that had very few casualties. As you increase the number of casualties, the number of clashes is much fewer. But the really surprising thing is the way in which every war goes between these two extremes.” When Johnson graphed the relationship between the number of clashes and the number of casualties per clash, he discovered a striking consistency between totally unrelated wars. “The numbers fall perfectly on this straight line called a power-law function,” he says. “When you measure the slope of the line, you find that the number is right around 2.5. It doesn’t matter if it’s for Iraq, Columbia, Senegal or Indonesia. The line never changes.”

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