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Yahoo Asks – Who’s The BOSS?

Yahoo is offering a new search service called BOSS [Build your Own Search Service] which is an open source answer that allows innovation for developers, start-ups and large Internet companies.  Yahoo is touting the fact that users will be able to access all of Yahoo’s features such as relevant algorithms, ranking, indexing and a host of other powerful infrastructure features. In addition Yahoo states that:

Search APIs are nothing new, but typically they’ve included rate limits, strict terms of service regarding the re-ordering and presentation of results, and provided little or no opportunity for monetization. These constraints have limited the innovation and commercial viability of new search solutions.

BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) is different – it’s a truly open API with as few rules and limitations as possible. With BOSS, developers and start-ups now have the technology and infrastructure to build next generation search solutions that can compete head-to-head with the principals in the search industry. BOSS will grow and evolve with a focus on providing additional functionality, tools, and data for developers.

Though I can see where Yahoo is heading with this new feature, it begs to answer the following questions. Why wasn’t this done long ago, before Microsoft make their takeover overtures?  Will Yahoo be able to attract anyone to the new service with the threat of Yahoo being consumed by Microsoft?

I don’t believe if in fact Microsoft takes over Yahoo search, that the company will allow BOSS to proceed.

But what do you think? Is Yahoo’s BOSS program just a little late in coming?

Comments welcome.



iTunes App Store Day One: My Sacrifices

I was very happy with my jailbroken iPhone. I was using more apps than I ever had. Today, as I browse the iPhone App Store (just search for AOL in iTunes 7.7), I realize, at least on Day One and the immediate short term, I am giving up certain things, hopefully not for good though.

Losing – Twinkle. Awesome location based Twitter app with picture attaching.

Gaining – Twitterific. What seems to be a plain Twitter client.

Losing – Mobilescrobbler. The fantastic app that helped me scrobble more tracks than ever with super functionality. Reading lyrics to songs that the iPhone was playing was pretty damn cool.

Gaining – Pandora. Totally different service.

Losing – Mobilechat. aim/chat client with horizontal orientation.

Gaining – Official Aim client. Not sure if it gets horizontal.

Losing – iFlickr. I only took pics with this program.

Gaining – Mobile Flickr.

Losing – uSirius. I was able to go to a restaurant on lunch and listen to Howard Stern while I ate over EDGE!!

Gaining – Nothing.

Losing – Summerboard. My PRECIOUS UI! Icons and wallpaper. Some sick themes.

Gaining – Nothing. This could be the biggest loss because I don’t see an Appearance, UI, or Tweak cateogry in the App Store.

NemusSync – gCalendar sync

Gaining – Nothing

So those were my main ones. Other than that I think overall:

Losing – Fully free software, constantly updated apps, unofficial OS tweaks and fixes

Gaining – Better game selection, a “funded” development community,

In the end, I hope it’s just a matter of time before my truly favorite apps are sent to the App Store because the ones I’ve listed are the ones I will spend cash on without batting an eye. I really am not optimistic about Summerboard though.

Google Fighting Fake eBay And PalPay Messages

Google is taking another step in the fight against philshing and is authenticating any messages from eBay or PayPal. The system will try and prohibit fake messages from either company, from reaching consumers.

Gmail does its best to put a red warning label on phishing messages, but it can be hard for us to know sometimes and we can’t be 100% perfect. So, for the fraction of a time when Gmail misses it, you may end up squinting three times and turning the message sideways before suspecting that it’s phishing. Wouldn’t it be better if you never saw phishing messages at all, not even in your spam folder? Since 2004, we’ve been supporting email authentication standards including DomainKeys and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to verify senders and help identify forged messages. This is a key tool we use to keep spam out of Gmail inboxes. But these systems can only be effective when high volume senders consistently use them to sign their mail — if they’re sending some mail without signatures, it’s harder to tell whether it’s phishing or not. Well, I’m happy to announce today that by working with eBay and PayPal, we’re one step closer to stopping all phishing messages in their tracks.

Now any email that claims to come from “paypal.com” or “ebay.com” (and their international versions) is authenticated by Gmail and — here comes the important part — rejected if it fails to verify as actually coming from PayPal or eBay. That’s right: you won’t even see the phishing message in your spam folder. Gmail just won’t accept it at all. Conversely, if you get an message in Gmail where the “From” says “@paypal.com” or “@ebay.com,” then you’ll know it actually came from PayPal or eBay. It’s email the way it should be.

Authentication should be used by ALL ISP’s. It is time to start and take spam and phishing emails seriously and to protect the consumer from fake messages. To many people fall for the deceitful emails sending personal information to the bad guys.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Luggage Fees Among the Increases at Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines announced staff reductions and increased fees:

“…Northwest will begin charging many customers $15 for a first checked bag and up to $100 for redeeming frequent-flier miles. Charges to change some domestic tickets will jump to $150, up from $100. Some international change fees will rise even more.”

link: NWA slashes 2,500 jobs, pumps up ticket, bag fees

US Airways will remove video systems from their aircraft. Removing the in-flight movies is another way to reduce weight, in an attempt to meet the rising cost of fuel. Even experienced travelers are asked to check the web site of the air carrier that they are using. New regulations and fees are being added without much notice. The airlines have little choice in order to survive.

Catherine Forsythe

Nanotechnology Oversight: An Agenda For The New Administration

Few domestic policy areas that the new administration must address will have greater long-range consequences than nanotechnology — a new technology that has been compared with the industrial revolution in terms of its impact on society. If the right decisions are made, nanotechnology will bring vast improvements to almost every area of daily living. If the wrong decisions are made, the American economy, human health, and the environment will suffer.

Nanotechnology can have a major impact on many of the most important problems facing the United States. It can reduce dependence on foreign oil, help deal with global climate change, improve the country’s health system, strengthen national defense, help fight terrorism, and make a major contribution to the national economy. Nanotechnology is also important as a prototype of the technological opportunities and challenges that will characterize the 21st Century. The country needs to learn how to deal with potential adverse consequences of new technologies and how to make sure that the technologies best serve society’s needs.

On Wednesday, July 23, 2008, from 12:30 – 1:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time), join former Environmental Protection Agency official J. Clarence Davies, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on environmental regulation and policy, at the release of his new report that identifies the steps the incoming president must take to deal with the potential risks posed by nanotechnology.

[Colin Finan @ Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies]


Aerosol Toxins From Red Tides May Cause Long-Term Health Threat

NOAA scientists reported in the current issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that an algal toxin commonly inhaled in sea spray, attacks and damages DNA in the lungs of laboratory rats. The findings document how the body’s way of disposing the toxin inadvertently converts it to a molecule that damages DNA. Human inhalation of brevetoxins produced by the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, is an increasing public health concern.

The scientists, led by John Ramsdell of NOAA’s Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, S.C., determined that brevetoxins react with DNA of lung tissue and attach to the DNA-bases that code genetic information. The linkage of chemicals in the environment to DNA is a first step for many cancer causing agents and can lead to mutations in genes that normally prevent the formation of cancers.

The red tide toxin, brevetoxin, has long been recognized as a cause of both neurotoxic poisoning after both consumption of toxic shellfish as well as a respiratory irritation after inhalation of toxic sea spray. Groundbreaking research, leading to this third potential form of poisoning, identified that metabolism produces chemically reactive forms of the toxin. Recognizing the potential of these metabolites to attack DNA, NOAA scientists analyzed the DNA after the toxin was metabolized in the lung. Scientists have not yet determined if brevetoxin damaged DNA accurately repairs itself or if gene mutations result. Brevetoxin has been measured in air during red tide events and human exposure levels have been reported; however, the long-term health risk associated with inhalation of brevetoxins remains to be defined. Individuals are continually exposed to environmental chemicals capable of damaging DNA like carcinogens found in tobacco smoke and air pollution. It is possible that exposure to brevetoxins can add to the cumulative amount of chemically altered DNA in the lungs; an indicator of cancer risk.

"This represents a significant breakthrough in defining the metabolic transformation of brevetoxins and the potential long-term health effects of red tides. It should change perceptions of risk and management of inhalation exposure to harmful algal blooms," notes Ramsdell.

Red tides in the Gulf of Mexico are common, and often persistent, naturally occurring events that release toxins into sea spray aerosols. These aerosols are a particular problem at beaches, as they can cause respiratory distress to lifeguards and beachgoers. Although these shorter-term effects of the airborne toxin are well characterized, potential longer-term effects remain a concern to health officials and coastal communities.

cientists, in NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative, are studying long term health consequences of harmful algal blooms, to predict how the condition of the coastal waters affect human health and how to reduce or eliminate health risks.

[David Hall @ NOAA Headquarters]


Special Horseshoes Measure Acceleration In Horses

The most frequent injuries that horses suffer are derived from pressure exerted by riders, and knowing which forces are involved when horses move can prove highly informative when considering treatment for such injuries. A team of scientists from Wageningen University, led by Professor Johan van Leeuwen, has carried out studies both into the advantages of different rider techniques in reducing injury risk, and into the benefits of a method of equine rehabilitation. By using computer modelling and specialist horseshoes to measure acceleration, these investigations suggest that aqua-training rehabilitation is beneficial due to lower impact accelerations. However, rising trot may not be as advantageous as previously thought.

Rehabilitation after equine joint and muscle injuries, including those of the back, shoulders and legs, now often involves ‘aquatraining’, whereby horses move in water-filled treadmills. Due to buoyancy, this treatment is currently thought to reduce weight-bearing forces, which can otherwise have detrimental effects on joints, but to date there has been a virtual absence of studies into the magnitude of these benefits. Professor van Leeuwen’s team has used special horseshoes to measure accelerations of horses undergoing aquatraining, as well as walking normally, which provide a good indication of the impact forces involved. "Our results, based on data from seven horses, show the accelerations are significantly lower during ‘aquatic walking’," he asserts. "We will be carrying out further experiments to confirm these results, but at this stage, it appears that aquatraining may indeed be beneficial for rehabilitation after joint injury."

Professor van Leeuwen and his colleagues have also used specialised force gauges to measure the strain placed on the backs of horses through the saddle and stirrups. These measurements have been combined with the output of computer models to provide insight into the mechanisms that a rider can use to respond to the movements of a horse, and to prevent injury. "We have given particular attention to the comparison of sitting and rising trot, as it is broadly accepted in the equestrian world that rising trot imposes less loading on the back of the horse," Professor van Leeuwen explains. "However, our results have not been able to confirm the belief that rising trot is mechanically less demanding for the horse. Looking at back extension, which is most often related to back injuries, we found that the extension of the back is similar in rising and sitting trot."

[Holly Astley @ Society for Experimental Biology]


At Least One Region Is Safe From Surprise Uploads

This must be good news, right? Not being responsible for illegal uploads when your connection happens to be the source in Germany. But here in the States, things not quite as fancy free from what I have heard. In some locations, there has been news of people being held outwardly responsible for securing their connection as they are the one that shows up on the bill at the end of the month.

Honestly, it’s a tough sell either way as far as I am concerned. On the one hand, it is not fair to be held responsible for something that you did not actually do. But on the other hand, should we not be taking responsibility for our own Internet connections? I certainly cannot speak for everyone, but I believe that it is insane not to have routers request outwardly to use a WPA encryption during the setup. Routers I have used make it available, but they fail to explain its importance.

What do you think? Should we begin seeing more responsibility on the end users despite the obvious fact that routers are not making securing one’s network a big deal during setup? Hit the comments, tell me your thoughts.

Getty Images Partners with Flickr

Flickr Getty ImagesToday, Flickr announced that they are partnering with Getty Images to license photos to the stock photography juggernaut.  Soon, Getty Images may be paying you for some of your images if used by their client base.  Flickr has posted an FAQ to answer some of the questions to come up.

Top 10 Modern Business Information Security Risks

You have firewalls and anti-malware system, video surveillance and monitoring systems for network traffic to and from the Internet. But look at eWeek’s semi-smart list of the top ten infosec risks workers pose to your business today, and you may need to rethink your plans.

I call this a “semi-smart” list because it’s practical and real-world, and doesn’t assume the “standards” out there cover all the bases. But, at the same time it doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions, which always frustrates me (and it misses some key points, especially related to intentional worker behavior, as opposed to neglect, and how it can substantially enhance the potential associated with these risks).

Point is, each of the items pointed out is very much worth considering and reviewing in your business security program. Just don’t forget to look at them in the big-picture perspective of the business.

And now for the list:

  • USB Flash Drives
  • Laptops
  • P2P
  • Web Mail
  • Wi-Fi
  • Smart Phones
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Social Networks
  • Unauthorized Software Updates
  • Virtual Worlds

Pretty much every modern technical productivity enhancer. Before anyone starts screaming the alarmist song, think about not only how these things can be used for good, but also about how they could be used to to Very Bad Things.

How many of those technologies are specifically and can be proven effectively covered under your infosec policies? How many have you tested in the real world to see what your compliance profile really looks like? Could you meaningfully test for these threats, even if they were on your plan?

You can check out the eWeek article here.