IBM develops tool that scans code as it’s written and flags errors


The Rational Software unit of IBM has developed the Rational Software Analyzer, a tool that flags errors as programmers write their code. The tool is similar to Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar checker. It flags problematic code and lets programmers click on help boxes that include suggestions for fixing the code as well as sample code. Programmers can configure the tool to flag known security weaknesses too. Developer and enterprise editions are available now. (Computerworld)

HP, Intel, and Yahoo team up for cloud computing testbed


Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Yahoo have joined together to form the Cloud Computing Test Bed, a research environment aimed at open source collaboration. The companies will also join forces with US universities, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, and Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority to set up six data facilities to research cloud computing. The data centers will be equipped with HP hardware using Intel processors. The machines will run open source software including Apache Hadoop and Pig, a programming language that Yahoo’s research unit developed. The group plans to have the centers up by the end of the year, at which time it plans to invite more universities and companies to participate. (Computerworld)

India plans $10 laptop for students


At the e-India 2008 digital learning conference in New Delhi, India’s Minister of State for Higher Education, D. Purandeswai, said the country hopes to provide school children with US$10 laptops. The Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology are researching the government-sponsored initiative. Along with the laptops, the government plans to provide free bandwidth for education purposes. (PC World)

Oracle issues security alert for WebLogic server


A vulnerability in the Apache plug-in for Oracle’s WebLogic Server and Express products has prompted the company to issue a security alert while it works to create a patch. The vulnerability could lead to attackers “compromising the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the target system,” the company wrote in a blog posting. Attackers can launch the exploit over a network without usernames or passwords, the advisory said. The flaw is severe enough to score a 10.0—the most serious rating—on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System. Oracle advises network administrators to use its recommended workaround until a patch is released. (Computerworld)

New computer language models proteins


Researchers at Harvard Medical School have developed little b, an open source computer language that describes biological complexities such as proteins as biologists would. The researchers used Lisp to create little b. In a demonstration, the researchers used little b to build models of kinase activity. The modeling language was able to understand the property of kinases and build models of their activity. The researchers plan to develop a simple interface that’s easy to use and will let scientists use the modeling system without having to learn little b. The system gets smarter as more scientists use it and it assimilates the input into its language. The end goal for the researchers is a virtual cell that “lives” in software. (Science Daily)

New search engine looks to unseat Google


A former Google employee has launched Cuil, a new search engine, which claims to have indexed roughly 120 billion Web pages to Google’s 40 billion Web pages. Cuil (pronounced “cool”) assigns priority to pages based on content, whereas Google prioritizes content based on inbound links (its PageRank algorithm). Cuil sorts search results into categories and displays the results in different tabs. It also displays images related to search terms. Pages are displayed in two- or three-column format based on user preference. Other features include roll-over definitions, navigation suggestions, and drilldown panels that suggest search refinements. (Computerworld)

DNS attack code released


Security researchers released attack code that exploits the Domain Name System (DNS) vulnerability discovered by Dan Kaminsky. HD Moore and a hacker that goes by “l)ruid” released attack code for two exploits. The first exploit poisons a DNS server’s cache with a single malicious entry. The second lets attackers poison several domains in one attack. HD Moore, creator of the Metasploit open source security project, noted that the first exploit gives attackers more anonymity, whereas the second requires attackers to use real DNS servers that host providers could trace back to them. (Computerworld)

Google makes Gmail encryption easier


Google announced on its blog that it’s now easier for Gmail users to encrypt their emails. The company has added an option that always uses HTTPS. Previously, Gmail users wanting to encrypt their email would have to type in, rather than The new option will automatically add the HTTPS. Google is pushing out the new option to all Gmail and Google Apps users. If users don’t have the option yet available when they login, the company says they can continue to go to Google points out that encryption adds extra security from prying eyes but also might make mail delivery slower. (Google)

Leaner MySQL coming


The Drizzle project, an offshoot of the open source MySQL community, will attempt to build a leaner version of MySQL for Web applications. The project is a response to the developer community’s call for a lightweight database system that recalls MySQL’s earlier days. Drizzle will use a micro-kernel architecture and move higher-end features to modules that developers can add or remove as needed. Features that will be modularized include triggers, views, stored procedures, access control lists, and some data types. According to Brian Aker, MySQL director of architecture, the Drizzle project will be mostly independent from Sun, which purchased MySQL in April 2008. The code will be available under the GPL v2 license. A timetable for Drizzle’s release has yet to be decided, but developers interested in contributing to the project can find instructions on Drizzle’s wiki. (InfoWorld)

UK ISPs to send file sharers warning letters


Six of the UK’s largest ISPs—BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Tiscali, Sky, and Orange—have agreed to send warning letters to customers who share copyrighted material. The country’s record label association, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), will identify the illegal file sharers by scouring illegal file-sharing sites and tracing IP addresses back to specific users. On behalf of UK record companies, the BPI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ISPs; the MOU wasn’t signed by ISPs O2/Be and Thus/Demon, however. As it stands, users who receive warning letters won’t face further legal penalties. However, the BPI has outlined a procedure to combat illegal file sharing. Under the BPI’s plan, illegal file sharers would first receive a warning letter. Their accounts would be suspended if they continued their activities and then cancelled if they still continued to share copyrighted material. (ZDNet UK)

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