Monday, September 27, 2010

HTML is Not Harmless – Email Security Update � The Barracuda Labs Internet Security Blog

HTML is Not Harmless – Email Security Update � The Barracuda Labs Internet Security Blog:
“What harm can an HTML file do?

The answer is

Attracting attention by latching on to the latest breaking news is a technique that attackers have been using for quite some time. In fact, several examples of SEO poisoning and search malware are explored throughout and this blog. Google hot topic search results frequently are littered with links to hacked sites that serve up malicious JavaScript. Now, the attackers are taking that a step further and not requiring the user to come to their hacked sites but rather simply emailing the same malicious JavaScript sites straight to an inbox.



“These emails are presented as something just innocent enough that a user might allow curiosity to overrule caution and click “open”. However, once that happens, the HTMLs suddenly don’t seem so harmless.”


Opened in a browser window, this JavaScript sends the browser to a variety of destinations depending on the spammer

Read the article at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No Need To Fix That Bridge?

Economics and Politics - Paul Krugman Blog -

“An important new report from EPI on why you shouldn’t believe the hype about structural unemployment.
Why is this so important? Claims that there has been a huge jump in structural unemployment — that is, unemployment that can’t be cured by increasing aggregate demand — are playing a large role in the argument that we should basically do nothing in the face of a terrible economy. No need for the Fed to do more; no need for more fiscal stimulus — hey, it’s all about defective labor markets, and we should work on structural reform, one of these days. And don’t expect improvement for years to come. Structural unemployment is invoked by Fed presidents who want to raise rates, not cut them, by economists who want austerity now now now, and in general by almost everyone in the pain caucus.”
The question is, why on earth would you believe that structural unemployment is our main problem right now?

Basic textbook macro tells you how to distinguish between slumps brought on by supply shocks and those brought on by demand shocks: look at inflation. If you have stagflation, rising unemployment combined with accelerating inflation, that’s the signature of a supply shock; if you have unemployment with disinflation, that’s the signature of a demand shock. And guess what we see?
Now, you might second-guess this basic observation if there were strong direct evidence of some kind of labor mismatch — layoffs in some industries combined with labor shortages in others; high unemployment for some types of labor combined with tight markets and soaring wages for others; high unemployment in some regions but exceptionally good hiring in others. But as EPI documents, none of these things are, in fact, visible.
Is it possible that there has been some rise in structural unemployment that’s swamped by a much larger rise in cyclical unemployment? Yes, conceivably. And let’s talk about that when unemployment gets below, say, 7 percent — which at current rates of progress will happen, well, never.

I really don’t think there’s any way to make sense of the fuss about structural unemployment unless you posit that a lot of influential people are looking for reasons not to act.
So, why don't Republican'ts see the need to fix our bridges?
Why won't they repair our roads and upgrade our rail system?
Why aren't they able to call investment in future tech anything but waste?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Harsh Thing I Should Have Said (Martin Peretz Dept) Updated - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

A Harsh Thing I Should Have Said (Martin Peretz Dept) Updated - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic image
James Fallows
The upsurge in expressed hostility toward Muslims -- not toward extremists or terrorists but toward adherents of a religion as a group -- creates an American moment that isn't going to look good in historical retrospect. The people indulging in this kind of group-bias speech deserve to be called out.


A Primer on Bigotry - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic

Sep 17, 2010 ... Why it's as wrong to talk about "the Muslims" as about "the blacks" or "the Jews
“…one obvious truth is that the more populous the category, the less it tells you about any individual within it. Yes, "men" are all a certain way. But there are three billion of us, and Kim Jong-Il doesn't have that much in common with Lance Armstrong -- or either of them with Benedict XVI or Stephen Hawking or Lil Wayne. Another obvious truth is that the less contact you have with individuals, the more you necessarily rely on group traits -- or stereotypes - for your images.”

I suggested that if such a person were any less well-connected, or if the sentiment had been about any other religious or racial group, he would be taking much more heat. (See: Marge Schott, Al Campanis, Trent Lott, Mel Gibson, Pat Buchanan, Dinesh D'Souza, Helen Thomas, etc. Think even of the flap over Lawrence Summers's comments about gender differences in math-and-science skills, or James Watson or William Shockley on racial differences in IQ. Try to find in one of these cases something approaching "Group X's life is cheap.") The question was all the more salient because, when called on this claim by Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times column, the editor doubled down and said that "Muslim life is cheap" was "a statement of fact."

The dissenting mail I've gotten has fallen into two main categories. Category one: He's right! Islam is a culture of violence, and Muslim life really is cheap! Category two: That was an unfortunate statement, but he's a great guy with a big heart.

Stories about Quran Burning Reveal Shortcomings of U.S. Media's Coverage of Islam

Stories about Quran Burning Reveal Shortcomings of U.S. Media's Coverage of Islam
Arsalan Iftikhar
An estimated 6,000 Muslim Americans serve in the U.S. military, many of them in Afghanistan. If any media outlets, including the many with embedded reporters, asked those troops what it's like to be facing the threat of riots and violent action against them in Afghanistan while worrying about hate discrimination and hate crimes against their loved ones at home, I didn't see it.

Reporters "know better than to ever say, 'Christianity says ...' because we recognize there is diversity inside the Christian faith."

The news media must generate as much discussion and critical thinking about issues concerning Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment as it does with politics, the White House, and other topics that receive more critical coverage,
Asra Nomani

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Google Instant Is Cool, But Check Out YouTube Instant

Google Instant Is Cool, But Check Out YouTube Instant

You’ve heard of Google Instant, well, how about YouTube Instant? Yes, this is a novelty toy built by a college student (Feross Aboukhadijeh of Stanford University), but it’s a pretty fun way to pass a lazy Friday morning.

Way cool.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The future of the internet: A virtual counter-revolution | The Economist

The future of the internet: A virtual counter-revolution | The Economist: "

It is telling that net neutrality has become far more politically controversial in America than it has elsewhere. This is a reflection of the relative lack of competition in America’s broadband market. In Europe and Japan, “open access” rules require network operators to lease parts of their networks to other firms on a wholesale basis, thus boosting competition. A study comparing broadband markets, published in 2009 by Harvard University’s Berkman Centre for Internet & Society, found that countries with such rules enjoy faster, cheaper broadband service than America, because the barrier to entry for new entrants is much lower. And if any access provider starts limiting what customers can do, they will defect to another.

America’s operators have long insisted that open-access requirements would destroy their incentive to build fast, new networks: why bother if you will be forced to share it? After intense lobbying, America’s telecoms regulators bought this argument. But the lesson from elsewhere in the industrialised world is that it is not true. The result, however, is that America has a small number of powerful network operators, prompting concern that they will abuse their power unless they are compelled, by a net-neutrality law, to treat all traffic equally. Rather than trying to mandate fairness in this way—net neutrality is very hard to define or enforce—it makes more sense to address the underlying problem: the lack of competition.
It should come as no surprise that the internet is being pulled apart on every level. “While technology can gravely wound governments, it rarely kills them,” Debora Spar, president of Barnard College at Columbia University, wrote several years ago in her book, “Ruling the Waves”. “This was all inevitable,” argues Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired, under the headline “The Web is Dead” in the September issue of the magazine. “A technology is invented, it spreads, a thousand flowers bloom, and then someone finds a way to own it, locking out others.”
Yet predictions are hazardous, particularly in IT. Governments may yet realise that a freer internet is good not just for their economies, but also for their societies. Consumers may decide that it is unwise to entrust all their secrets to a single online firm such as Facebook, and decamp to less insular alternatives, such as Diaspora.
Similarly, more open technology could also still prevail in the mobile industry. Android, Google’s smart-phone platform, which is less closed than Apple’s, is growing rapidly and gained more subscribers in America than the iPhone in the first half of this year. Intel and Nokia, the world’s biggest chipmaker and the biggest manufacturer of telephone handsets, are pushing an even more open platform called MeeGo. And as mobile devices and networks improve, a standards-based browser could become the dominant access software on the wireless internet as well.
The danger is not that these islands become physically separated, says Andrew Odlyzko, a professor at the University of Minnesota. There is just too much value in universal connectivity, he argues. “The real question is how high the walls between these walled gardens will be.” Still, if the internet loses too much of its universality, cautions Mr Werbach of the Wharton School, it may indeed fall apart, just as world trade can collapse if there is too much protectionism. Theory demonstrates that interconnected networks such as the internet can grow quickly, he explains—but also that they can dissolve quickly. “This looks rather unlikely today, but if it happens, it will be too late to do anything about it.” "

Technology changes — Society changes

How we communicate has always had a profound effect on both the structure of our societies and our personal opportunities. Freer, wider communication gives us power to improve and damage the institutions that affect our lives and livelihoods, even in societies that tightly regulate speech and behavior.

For example, without direct dialing, there would have been no Montgomery bus boycott and probably no Southern Christian Leadership Conference without Martin Luther King's resulting prominence. Civil Rights in the United States would have progressed on a different, likely slower, path. The shape of legislation would differ. Court decisions would happen later and happen in different order.
Would Barack Obama be President? Or even a Senator?

Can we afford to let a few corporations control how far and whom our voices reach? Control how much we have to say? How often? How loud?

I don't think so. How about you?
– Al Ingram
con·cept: September 2010