Chinese finalists lead way in TopCoder contest

A Chinese teenager won the most coveted prize in the TopCoder Open software contest last week, leading a large contingent of Chinese finalists. Bin Jin, 18, who goes by "crazyb0y," won the algorithm competition, which included solving three problems labeled easy, medium, and hard. Roughly 4,200 people participated in the contest, with 70 finalists chosen for a tournament in Las Vegas. Of those finalists, 20 were from China, 10 from Russia, and two from the US. The contest is sponsored by the US National Security Agency, which often hires people who perform well. (Computerworld)

Canada won't regulate Internet content, for now

A Canadian regulator ruled Tuesday that Internet streaming is considered broadcasting and can be treated the same way as television and radio, but turned down a levy proposal that would have required ISPs to contribute funds for creative content. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) upheld a regulartory exemption for Internet in place since 1999, deciding that regulation would curtail innovation in a medium that is still growing. Many ISPs and companies, such as Google, that opposed the levies were pleased with the decision, but the CRTC left open the possibility that the levies could be introduced some time in the future. (Ars Technica)

China to require Web-filtering program on all computers

China is requiring all computers sold in the country after July 1 to have a government-approved Web-filtering program installed or come with a CD-ROM including the software, according to reports. Called Green Dam Youth Escort, the program blocks Web sites containing pornographic content and can be disabled by parents, who can filter content by keywords. China has aggressively tried to block content it deems inappropriate, including access to Microsoft's Bing search engine, Twitter, and Hotmail last week. (The Associated Press, Computerworld)

Hackers claim massive T-Mobile breach, security experts doubtful

A group of hackers on Saturday claimed that it had breached T-Mobile security and stolen a large amount of information, including databases, programs, and customers' financial documents. The group posted a message on the Full Disclosure security mailing list, saying that it had initially offered the information to T-Mobile's competitors, and is now offering it to the highest bidder. T-Mobile said that it is investigating the matter. However, some security experts doubted the claim and believed it to be a hoax, noting that the public offer actually devalued any stolen information by giving T-Mobile time to implement coutermeasures and change passwords. (CNet)

Studios experiment with Epix movie streaming service

Three movie studios have collaborated to launch Epix, a new streaming service intended as a new distribution model through cable and Internet services that will offer pre-DVD films. Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate funded the new 720p high-definition service, which will be offered as part of cable companies' regular service, avoiding a separate monthly charge or advertising. Movies available on the cable service will also be streamed on demand at Epixhd.com through a Flash player that checks bandwidth every 10 seconds and adjusts accordingly. Epix, which is rolling out in an invitation-only beta, will only be offered to customers who sign up for cable companies' full television and Internet package. The company is exploring additional collaboration with ISPs by installing caching servers in data centers to cut down on bandwidth. (Ars Technica)

Louisiana pushes Internet surcharge to fight sex crimes

Louisiana lawmakers voted Thursday to implement a US$0.15 monthly surcharge for Internet access throughout the state to raise funds for combating online sex crimes. Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell would manage the funds, estimated at $2.4 million per year beginning in 2010, as part of an online crimes division. Public libraries and schools would be exempt from the surcharge. House of Representatives backers said the bill was necessary to protect children, but opponents called it an Internet tax that might violate a federal law against such taxes. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal also said he opposes the bill, which will move on to the Louisiana Senate. (The Associated Press)

Yahoo adds applications to email service

Yahoo on Friday launched 11 new email applications in an effort to let users do more on the site, including a PayPal widget and several photo services. The applications are only available as part of a limited beta in the US, and Yahoo said it will begin rolling them out to all visitors in select markets later in the summer. The applications include Picnik photo editor, Xoopit photo management, Photobucket, and Zuma Drive, which lets users send attachments up to 100 Mbytes. (Yahoo)

FTC shuts down rogue ISP

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shut down an ISP that allegedly hosted botnets, phishing sites, child porn, and other illegal activity. The company, Pricewert, operated under several names, including 3FN and APS Telecom. According to the FTC, Pricewert actively encouraged criminal activity with its service, often ignoring take-down requests from security companies and transferring users to new ISP addresses to shield them. The FTC also filed instant-messaging transcripts with a San Jose, California, district court showing senior Pricewert employees discussing botnet configurations. All of Pricewert's upstream providers have shut off Internet access. (Daily Tech)

DirectX vulnerability could lead to QuickTime attacks

Microsoft has released a security advisory that details a vulnerability in its DirectShow platform that could let attackers take control through QuickTime playback plug-ins. Microsoft security researchers warn that the vulnerability is in the quartz.dll and attacks could be launched even if QuickTime isn't installed. A patch isn't yet available, but Microsoft recommends workarounds such as disabling QuickTime parsing of content in quartz.dll, modifying the Access Control List on quartz.dll, or unregistering quartz.dll. (Beta News)

European researchers develop thought-controlled virtual reality applications

As part of the Presenccia project, researchers have developed brain-computer interface (BCI) technology that lets people control electronic devices in virtual environments. The researchers created a virtual home environment in which people can move, change TV channels, and turn applications on and off via their thoughts. Prior to entering the virtual home, researchers use electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment to monitor users' brain activity and train the BCI systems to recognize neuronal patterns. In addition, the technology could be used in rehabilitation efforts, such as learning to use a wheelchair or prosthetics. The researchers demonstrated the technology at the CeBIT conference in March, and they will use it in a smart home as part of the SM4all project. (Science Daily)

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