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Technology news today

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Typical news sites run thinly disguised advertisement campaigns for consumer electronics in their “technology” sections. Ever wonder what the real news about technology actually is? I looked at IEEE Spectrum for news about real cutting edge tech which will never make it to Google News or CNET.

Here are the headlines, follow them if you are interested:

Read the above, but also look at non-media sources. If you take a close look at what is not being reported in mass media, you will find that it is often about developments which are not sufficiently commercialized yet, or could potentially threaten enormously commercialized business. It seems that the job of the media has moved from protecting democracy by informing people to protecting crony capitalism by choosing not to publish news.


Mariposa can no longer create a storm

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Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly

The backstory of the long hard fight against a botnet was carried by PandaLabs:

In May 2009, Defence Intelligence announced the discovery of a new botnet, dubbed “Mariposa”. This discovery was followed by months of investigation, aimed at bringing down the criminal network behind what was to become one of the largest botnets on record.

Initial steps involved the creation of the Mariposa Working Group (MWG), comprising Defence Intelligence, the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and Panda Security, along with other international security experts and law enforcement agencies. The aim was to set up a task force to eradicate the botnet and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The aim, in all cases, was clearly to profit from the botnet. The criminal gang behind Mariposa called themselves the DDP Team (Días de Pesadilla Team – Nightmare Days Team in English), as we discovered later when one of the alleged leaders of the gang slipped up, allowing us to identify him.

Tracking down the criminals behind this operation had become extremely complex, as they always connected to the Mariposa control servers from anonymous VPN (Virtual Private Network) services, preventing us from identifying their real IP addresses.

On December 23 2009, in a joint international operation, the Mariposa Working Group was able to take control of Mariposa. The gang’s leader, alias Netkairo, seemingly rattled, tried at all costs to regain control of the botnet. As I mentioned before, to connect to the Mariposa C&C servers the criminals used anonymous VPN services to cover their tracks, but on one occasion, when trying to gain control of the botnet, Netkairo made a fatal error: he connected directly from his home computer instead of using the VPN.

Netkairo finally regained control of Mariposa and launched a denial of service attack against Defence Intelligence using all the bots in his control. This attack seriously impacted an ISP, leaving numerous clients without an Internet connection for several hours, including several Canadian universities and government institutions.

On February 3, 2010, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested Netkairo. After the arrest of this 31-year-old Spaniard, police seized computer material that led to the capture of another two Spanish members of the gang: J.P.R., 30, a.k.a. “jonyloleante”, and J.B.R., 25, a.k.a. “ostiator”. Both of them were arrested on February 24, 2010.

And that leads to today’s news from Computer World

Slovenian police will hold a press conference on Friday to discuss the arrest of three men in connection the massive Mariposa botnet that was disabled late last year.

A 23-year-old man was arrested in Maribor, Slovenia, about 10 days ago, said Leon Keder, press officer for the Slovenian National Police. He has been released but is expected to be charged with computer-related crimes, Keder said. The U.S. Federal of Bureau of Investigation confirmed the arrest on Wednesday morning.

Two others were also arrested. Their names can’t be released due to restrictions under Slovenian law, Keder said.

Millions of computers worldwide were infected with the Mariposa botnet code, which allowed hackers to siphon information from those machines and launch denial-of-service attacks against others.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said in March that Mariposa had infected the computers of Fortune 1000 companies and major banks. Mariposa’s authors changed the botnet’s code as frequently as every 48 hours in order to go undetected by security software.

eweek summarizes:

According to the FBI, the Slovenian Criminal Police identified and arrested a 23-year-old known as “Iserdo,” who stands accused of creating malware known as “Butterfly Bot” that was used to build the Mariposa botnet. Mariposa is believed to have infected between 8 million and 12 million computers. The malware’s target: credit card and bank account information, as well as passwords for Websites and financial institutions.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

July 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Cheaper than a steak dinner

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Kapil Sibal showed off a cheap slate in a press conference. The Guardian carries a report:

India has developed the world’s cheapest laptop – a touchscreen device which resembles Apple’s wildly popular iPad but will cost just £23.

The prototype was unveiled today by Kapil Sibal, the country’s human resource development minister, who said 110 million Indian schoolchildren would be the first recipients.

Then, from next year, the device – designed to bridge the digital divide and boost India’s economy – will become available to students in higher education.

Sibal said: “The solutions for tomorrow will emerge from India. We have reached a stage that today, the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35 [£23], including memory, display, everything.”

Past low-cost technologies produced by the country include the £1,450 Tata Nano car and a mobile phone costing less than £11. The iPad retails at about £429 in the UK – 18 times the cost of the Indian laptop.

The tablet computer, developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science in Bengalooru, will eventually be made available to the public. It will run on an open source Linux operating system with Open Office software and can be powered by solar panel or batteries as well as mains electricity. It will have no hard drive but users will have access to a USB port, 2GB of memory and a video-conferencing facility, internet browsing.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

July 25, 2010 at 6:01 am

The beginning of the beginning

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About the recession in the US Slate reports:

The long-leading index—which goes back to the 1920s and doesn’t include stock prices but does include measures related to credit, housing, productivity, and profits—hits bottom and starts to climb about six months before a recession ends. The weekly leading index calls directional shifts about three to four months in advance. And the short-leading index, which includes stock prices and jobless claims, is typically the last to turn up.

All three are now flashing green. According to Achuthan, the long-leading index growth rate has been recovering since November 2008, the weekly leading index has been recovering since last December, and the short-leading index growth rate bottomed in February 2009. In sequence, each turned up, “and by April the three Ps had all been satisfied.” Sure, corporate profits continue to disappoint, and the unemployment rate is climbing. But for ECRI, which navigates by relying exclusively on its instruments, that’s only a part of their picture. They’re the Spocks of the economic forecasting crowd—unemotional, uninvested in anything but the logic of what history and their dashboard tell them. “From our vantage point, every week and every month our call is getting stronger, not weaker, including over the last few weeks,” says Achuthan. “The recession is ending somewhere this summer.” In fact, it may already be over.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

July 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Attacked in Australia

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From TOI (June 22):

The Supreme Court directed the Centre to explain by June 26 the steps initiated to ensure safety of Indian students facing racial attacks in Australia and Canada and the measures taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

A vacation bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Asok Kumar Ganguly also asked the Attorney General of India to assist the court in the matter which was posted for further hearing to June 29.

The bench, which asked the Centre to file its response in an affidavit, said the direction was being passed since the incidents had not stopped despite the fact that “the Union of India might have taken up the matter at the highest level.”

From ET (June 23):

In the backdrop of racist attacks on Indian students in Down Under, India on Tuesday asked Australia to set up some kind of regulatory mechanism to keep an eye on agents of universities whom students contact and ensure proper wage for students who does part-time jobs there.

New Delhi’s demands were put across by Union Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi when Australia’s Secretary of Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Lisa Paul met him at his office here.

Paul, who is on an official visit, is expected to convey the actions taken by Australia to ensure safety of Indian students, who were attacked there in the recent past. Australian High Commissioner John McCarthy was also present at the meeting.

“They (Australia) want to make some kind of a better regulated way of doing things for students going there. We have told them that there should be some kind of regulation in monitoring agents for Australian universities,” Ravi told reporters after the meeting.

An earlier item in Hindu:

Terming the attacks on Indian students as “unfortunate”, former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh on Tuesday said his countrymen too were disappointed over the recent spate of violence.

“We as Australians are very disappointed with what has happened. We do not expect that to be happening in our country,” Waugh told reporters here.

“The situation is now very much stable. It is pretty unfortunate. I do not like to see and no Australian would like to see that happening. I myself is a parent. Safety of your children is most important to you. So I can understand why the emotion is running high,” he said.

14 Indian students have been victims of racial attacks in Australia during the past one month.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

June 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Green electronics

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The Greenpeace India ranking of green electronics

The Greenpeace India ranking of green electronics

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

April 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

The not is the computer

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From Techtree:

After being bombarded with various media reports about India’s very own $10 laptop, its time to get real.

The much-touted cheap computing device named “Sakshat” turned out to be a fancy “pen-drive” as The Times of India put it, with some bells and whistles. The details of the product, which are still not available, were unveiled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development at Tirupati recently.

As for the product, what you get for Rs.500 are the following: 2GB of storage memory, WiFi connectivity, Ethernet port(s) and USB connectivity. This is a far cry from the laptop it was touted to be. For starters, there is no screen on this one — so there goes the computing device mumbo-jumbo. What this means is that for it to display data stored on it, it will need a compatible output device (which could be a laptop!).

The “Sakshat” measures 10″x5″ and will be priced at $10 even though the manufacturing costs had reached almost $30. But then, thanks to a considerable cost cutting endeavor, the cost was finally bought down to $10.

So, will this be a threat to those other wannabe low cost computers some publications in the US had thought of? No way! However, it is important to understand the purpose of the device, which seems to have been nagged by an identity crisis ever since its initial announcement. While the Sakshat does a bad job of being a laptop, it does make sense if you consider the intentions behind the device. The Sakshat has been designed as a pure educational gadget to offer downloadable lessons and make online textbooks easily accessible. The aim was to set up electronic classrooms and make online textbooks freely available for download across 18000 colleges and 4 000 universities across India. That sounds good doesn’t it? However, it was projected as a computing device, which we now know, it hardly is!

The Sakshat will be made available to the student community soon with the first lot reaching the colleges affiliated to The University of Andhra Pradesh soon.

Unveiled at Tirupati! I thought they only “unveiled” skulls there.

It is possible that there was some hard thinking about what the device was supposed to be, and how it fitted into the process of education, and that the “laptop” bit was unfortunate hype. I don’t know. I hope there is a follow-up piece in six months or so about how the Sakshat fits into college education. Anyone from the media listening?

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 7, 2009 at 3:43 am

Posted in education, electronics, India

Tagged with , , , ,

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