Google wants to watch you over home networks

A Google researcher has coauthored a paper that proposes collecting data on users’ activities at home through their home networks. The paper suggests that monitoring could be beneficial to users by reminding them to take critical medicines or helping them recall important information. Also, such monitoring could recommend behavioral changes, such as reducing television viewing. (InformationWeek)

Unix bug fixed after 33 years


OpenBSD developer Otto Moerbeek has found and fixed a bug in Unix software that he traces back to 1975. The bug could cause large C++  projects to fail while compiling on the Sparc64 platform using a new version of malloc, a memory allocator. Moerback traced the bug to yacc, a parser generator that Stephen C. Johnson developed at AT&T in the 1970s. Moerbeek notes that the new malloc implementation triggered the bug because the allocator’s new features catch buffer overflows better. Moerbeek has released a fix here. (Techworld)

Yahoo opens up search API to developers


Yahoo has released the Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS) API, which will let developers use its Web services platform—search infrastructure and algorithms—to create customized search services. In exchange for access to its search tools, Yahoo retains the right to run ads next to the results from search engines built with the BOSS platform. Yahoo also plans to add revenue sharing in the future and take a percentage of the revenue the sites generate. Social search site Me.dium and natural language site Hakia are among those trying out the API. (Computerworld)

Researchers shrink chips down to 25 nanometers


MIT researchers have developed a new technique that uses nanotechnology to reduce the size of computer chips while making them stronger and cheaper. The researchers used nanoscale lithographic technology to make finer line patterns on the circuits and longer wavelengths to reduce the space between lines to 25 nanometers. The resulting pattern density lets the researchers pack the chips with wires, conductors, and transistors that make them faster and more powerful. The process, researchers say, might be able to produce chips even smaller then 25 nm. (Computerworld)

DreamWorks moves to Intel chips for 3D animation


Over the next 18 months, DreamWorks Animation studios will switch from AMD chips to Intel chips in its workstations and servers. The move will make 3D animation processing—which can take up to 16 hours for one frame—quicker, the studio said. The Intel chips that DreamWorks will use in its workstations contain eight processing cores while the servers will run chips with between 10 and 100 cores. Intel expects to release the workstation chips commercially by the end of the year and the server processors in 2009 or 2010. (The New York Times)

Synchronized patching plugs DNS hole


A DNS cache-poisoning flaw prompted several IT vendors—Microsoft, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, and others—to release patches on Tuesday in a united effort to mitigate possible problems. Dan Kaminsky, a researcher at IOActive, discovered the flaw earlier this year but kept the vulnerability under wraps until vendors could ready their patches. The flaw could let attackers send users to phishing sites even if they typed the right URLs into their browsers. Kaminsky discovered the flaw by accident and plans to present a paper about it at the upcoming Black Hat USA convention in August. (Computer World)

Google and eBay launch antiphishing program


Google announced it will work with eBay and PayPal to help protect Gmail users from phishing emails. The companies will use email authentication technology from DomainKeys to keep phony emails from entering Gmail accounts. The technology will authenticate emails coming from the and domains before passing them to users’ inboxes. Emails that can’t be authenticated will be automatically deleted. (BetaNews)

Google releases its XML alternative


Google has released Protocol Buffers, its alternative to XML. According to Google’s documentation, Protocol Buffers differs from XML in that it’s based on procedural logic rather than structural declarations. Unlike XML, Protocol Buffers contain a file with the .proto extension that houses class declarations. The .proto file uses object-oriented languages—C++, Java, or Python—to define structural prototypes for tables. Each default value for members of a class is set to digits or values that determine where the class member falls within a sequence. Google says the buffers offer several advantages over XML, including simplicity and speed. However, the buffers wouldn’t work well to model text-based documents and aren’t human-editable in their native format. (Beta News)

HealthMap trolls Internet to track infectious diseases


Researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School have developed an automated data-gathering system that monitors infectious disease outbreaks around the world in real time. HealthMap combs online news sources, discussion forums, and listservs for data on disease outbreaks. It integrates this data with information from official releases from agencies such as the World Heath Organization to provide a comprehensive global view on emerging health issues. The data is displayed by location using Google Maps. (Science Daily)

Microsoft Access vulnerable to ActiveX attacks


Microsoft has warned that a vulnerability in the ActiveX control for the Snapshot Viewer in Access 2000, 2002, and 2003 could let attackers gain access to machines and remotely execute code. However, the attack would have to be targeted; users would have to visit a Web site that exploits the flaw for it to work. Microsoft advises users to configure their browsers to disable Active Scripting or ask before running ActiveX controls. (ZDNet)

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