SearchWiki is intended to give you the ability to fine-tune your search results and eliminate irrelevant or obsolete results. However, some critics are worried about how SearchWiki works. To find out what they're concerned about, join us after the jump.
With proper filters in place, you may not even have noticed that spam levels have dropped off recently. It isn't that the scumbags sending out the unsolicited emails have gotten into the holiday spirit and decided to take a break from their operations, and instead the drop off was a result of the FTC shutting down McColo Corp., the web hosting service believed to be responsible for 75 percent of the world's spam.
The two-week hiatus appears to be over. According to Symantec's MessageLabs, spam emails are increasing at twice the volume after McColo went offline. Following the FTC bust, MessageLabs says that spam levels dropped precipitously by 80 percent. But now the remaining 20 percent has increased to 37 percent, indicating that the botnet owners have found new ISPs for their operations.
"The Asporx and Rustock botnets are back with a vengeance after having found new command and control," MessageLabs' Matt Sergeant said.
It looks like fruitcakes won't be the only unwanted gifts this holiday season.
On Wednesday of last week, Microsoft rolled out its long anticipated dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console. Among other things, the update incorporated support for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account to be able and stream the online rental service's catalog of downloadable movies and TV shows through the Xbox 360, some of which is in high definition. With consumers slow to warm to Blu-ray, the Netflix capability could potentially nudge undecided console owners in Microsoft's direction rather than opting for Sony's Playstation 3 + Blu-ray combo. But does Sony feel threatened?
Officially, the answer is 'no.' Following the dashboard update, Sony films pulled a disappearing act from Xbox's Netflix streaming service prompting all kinds of speculation and conspiracy theories. And all of it wrong, according to Sony.
"This issue is not specific to Xbox or any other individual platform," Sony said in an email statement. "Sony Pictures is currently in discussions with the relevant parties to resolve certain licensing matters related to the distribution of its motion pictures. Given the ongoing nature of these discussions, we don't think it is appropriate to comment further at this time."
Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey didn't wish to comment on any specific studio licensing deals either, saying only that titles "come in and out of licensing all the time." And that's where things currently reside in the standoff between Sony and Netflix. Some Sony films have reappeared on the streaming service, but neither Sony or Netflix are saying when the rest might return.
Thanks to NBC, there's probably not anyone left who hasn't been Rickroll'd. It started out innocently enough as the characters from Cartoon Network's Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends strolled through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But during one of the stops in which the creatures were in the middle of a song, 80s pop star Rick Astley emerged out of nowhere and started belting out the all too familiar "Never Gonna Give You Up." At the end of the song, one of the creatures exclaims "I like Rickrolling!" Apparently, so does NBC.
This isn't the first time event goers have unwittingly been Rickroll'd offline. In 2007, the New York Mets organization held an online contest intended to let the team's fans determine what would become the Mets' traditional eigth-inning sing-along. Instead, online pranksters sabotaged the poll and voted up Rick Astley's former hit song. Realizing what had happened, the Mets decided to play the top six selections, including "Never Gonna Give You Up," and let the crowd's reaction decide the winner. Not surprisingly, the crowd broke out in a chorus of 'boos' when Rick Astley's song started playing.
For a long while, Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor remained a popular choice in the DIY community. The 2.4GHz chip, helped in part by an aggressive round of price-cuts, brought quad-core computing to the mainstream. It became even more popular when Intel released the G0 stepping, which ushered in lower temps and higher overclocking potential.
But there's no looking in the rear-view mirror for Intel, and with the chip maker's Core i7 stepping into the limelight, it's come time to retire the aging 65nm Q6600. Citing un-named sources at PC vendors, DigiTimes reports that Intel plans to phase out the vintage quad-core chip in Q1 2009 by issuing a product discontinuance notice.
The Q6600's impending end-of-life could come as good news to those in need of a quad-core upgrade while remaining fiscally responsible. In all likelihood, vendors will again cut the Q6600's price as they look to clear out inventory before the end of the year. Stocking stuffer, perhaps?
There are a few things you can count on happening every Thanksgiving holiday. Eating too much turkey and pumpkin pie? That's a given. Arguing with the in-laws? Only if they're invited. Watching the Detroit Lions lose to ____ (fill in the blank, as the opposing team is irrelevant to the outcome)? You can count on it. And finally, should you decide to venture out on Black Friday, encountering a horde of shoppers more frightening than anything you're likely to encounter in Left 4 Dead? That's an understatement.
But while the pushing and shoving and the sheer number of shoppers isn't likely to let up, the spending just might. According to a new survey by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the outlook for technology and media sales looks pretty grim as six out of ten U.S. consumers plan to cut back spending (PDF).
Desktop PCs, notebooks, media players ,and digital cameras look to the take the biggest hit, with over half of the survey's respondents saying they plan to spend less on such devices in the next year, resulting in a 10 percent drop in sales. Oliver Wyman notes that promotional pricing would increase unit sales, but it wouldn't be enough to justify broad discounts.
"Price discounts should be used cautiously and targeted at on-the-fence purchaser segments when used," Wyman analyst Mark Teitell said. "There's a risk of cannibalizing revenue from consumers already intending to make the purchase, without drawing sufficient new buyers to increase revenues overall."
The survey warns that consumers are being selective in where they pull back, such as delaying the purchase of an electronic device rather than downgrading a subscription service, such as broadband internet or a mobile phone data plan. With that in mind, those tantalizing sale prices might not come as often next year. That almost makes you want to brave the crowds on Black Friday. Almost.
Are you smarter than a 5th grader? No, we're not talking about the TV game show, and instead we're referring to little Arjun Mehta, who while in 5th grade came up with the idea for PlaySpan and founded the in-game commerce network the next year. The service now serves as a micro-transaction payment system for virtual goods in over 200 different games.
Little Mehta and his father Karl Mehta, the company's CEO, received a big cash infusion for PlaySpan, announcing this week the company has raised $16.8 million in Series B funding from Easton Capital Group, Menlo Ventures, Novel TMT Ventures, and STIC Investments, in addition to other undisclosed investors. That brings PlaySpan's total funding up to $24 million, which the company says will used to expand into Europe and Asia, and grow its global publisher and userbase.
"Online games publishers and social media application developers are looking for new sources of revenue byond traditional advertising and subscriptions," said Karl Mehta (PDF). "We are enabling a new business model in the form of micro-transactions for users that prefer the pay-as-you-go model."
While the free-to-play genre has turned into a bit of a misnomer given the prevalence of cost-driven upgrades and character capabilities, PlaySpan represents an improved business model over earlier attempts that were often setup without the publisher's permission and plagued with fraud.
Earlier in the week, reports of a supposed newly discovered Gmail vulnerability started making the rounds on the web. The proof of concept was first posted on GeekCondition.com and showed how a hacker, with a bit of effort and persistence, could potentially infiltrate a user's Gmail account, create a malicious filter to forward emails to the hijacker, and top it off by stealing any domains the victim may have registered. But is the proof of concept truly indicative of a security flaw in Gmail?
While it's true that there have been users affected by the scheme, Google ascertains the root cause has more to do with phishing than it does with Gmail.
"With help from affected users, we determined that the cause was a phishing scheme, a common method used by malicious actors to trick people into sharing their sensitive information," Google wrote in a blog post. "Attackers sent customized emails encouraging web domain owners to visit fraudulent websites such as 'google-hosts.com' that they set up purely to harvest usernames and passwords. These fake sites had no affiliation with Google, and the ones we've seen are now offline."
As is often the case when it comes to security issues, a combination of common sense and safe computing habits remains your best defense.
While drowning in an ocean of famished zombies attempting to grind your brains to make their bread, paying attention to the blips and bloops of tiny achievement indications is a tad difficult. Fortunately, according to Valve's newly released list of Left 4 Dead achievement statistics, you're not missing much.
Oh sure, Valve has loaded its game with wacky (and easily pun-able) methods of undead dead-making, but at this early stage of the game, only a small percentage of players have truly lived during their short spurts of undeath.
Especially noticeable, not a single player has managed to slay their way to the "Zombie Genocidest" achievement, which forces players to sacrifice 53,595 hapless zombies in order to appease its dark whims.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, 73.9% of players have laid claim to the "Drag and Drop" achievement -- wherein, you're simply required to chop through a Smoker's tongue before one of your buddies takes any damage.
So, which L4D achievements adorn your trophy case? Is your zombpocalypse training nearly complete, or are you only beginning to learn your ABZ's?
Just a few months ago, we could have summed up the browser wars in single word: BORING! That's not to say we haven't appreciated the new features that accompany each new release of Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but the results and the competitors always remained the same. It's become far too easy to predict how each new round will go - Firefox will add new features, get a little faster, and inch ever so closer in market share, while each new IE release will suck a little less than the last and continue to be the most widely used browser on the planet. At least in the chip wars, AMD and Intel have taken turns putting the smackdown on one another accompanied by the occasional trash talk.
It took a surprise release by an unlikely newcomer to finally get us excited about the future of browsers again. Google's Chrome seemingly came out of nowhere and has the potential to turn what has been a stale two-man scuffle into a three-way battle royal. Along with greater stability, Chrome's claim to fame is that it can render web pages faster than the competition, and indeed a recent benchmark comparison has pegged Chrome as the new speed king. But in order for anyone to truly take Chrome seriously, Google has to put extension support at the forefront of development, and it appears they're doing exactly that.
Hit the jump to see what Google is doing to add extensions to Chrome, and how it will differ from Firefox.