Beautiful Virii And Malware at RSA

Beautiful Malwarefrom CRN.com

They’re frightening, yet strangely beautiful. They spread and infect and replicate and continually wreak havoc. While viruses and malware steal copious amounts of information and compromise an untold number of machines every day, these treacherous security threats are unseen to the naked eye. Until now.
Malware MyDoom For the first time ever, images have been developed that visualize a wide range of these pernicious, but hidden, threats. Researchers at MessageLabs, the vendor behind the project, disassembled malicious code from a variety of well-known threats to render it inoperative. The researchers then passed the code along to computational artist Alex Dragulescu, who applied specially built application to analyze the code and used its values to create a 3D entity. That entity was then transferred to modeling software, where it was positioned and lit to capture the aesthetics of the model. Dragulescu then used his artistic touch to prepare the final image for its presentation April 7 at the Varnish Fine Art Gallery in San Francisco.

Free Shipping + save 10-50% at the Best Choice Sale, starting today!

So I received another marketing email from Macy’s today, and finally I have had enough. The subject of the email is listed in the title of this post. So I’m thinking, Free Shipping, and 10-50% off? Wow, that’s an amazing offer. So I opened the email and read this headline that jumps out from the top.

Macy’s Deceptive Email Advertising

Hmm. Did you catch the fine print in lowercase type at least 5 times smaller than the UPPERCASE SALE MESSAGE that adds with $100 purchase. enter promo code CHOICE. excludes mattresses, rugs & furniture. other exclusions apply”. Are you having any trouble reading that? Well in normal print size that starts with “with $100 purchase”.  That’s a pretty big gotcha and should definitely be included in the subject line of the email and in a font size equal to the offer in the headline. Please let me be clear. I’m not faulting Macy’s for making this minimum purchase requirement a part of the offer. It is totally within their rights to determine the qualifications for any promotion that they choose to run. But any retailer should be very, very clear about what the terms of any stated promotions and should go out of their way to avoid the appearance of impropriety, especially that which borders on fraudulent behavior. Should a consumer read this offer, visit Macy’s website, add a bunch of items to their cart, then attempt to checkout with this promo code in order to be warned that there was a $100 mininum purchase? Maybe enough buyers won’t care and will continue with their purchase. But how many will be upset that these details weren’t more up front and abandon the cart as swiftly as they arrived? I know I will be reading the fine print of all future marketing I receive from Macy’s (which will be much less now that I have unsubscribed from their mailing list). This type of behavior should not be tolerated.

Google Unleashes Web Services: Google App Engine

Google App EngineGoogle unleashed their Amazon Web Services killer today called Google App Engine. Right now the development kit is limited to Python (and the Django Web Framework built on Python), the Google BigTable database and the GFS file services but this will undoubtedly change the game for Amazon Web Services and the paid providers that have been built around managing AWS. Here are more details from the announcement on TechCrunch.com

Google isn’t just talking about hosting applications in the cloud any more. {Google is} launching Google App Engine, an ambitious new project that offers a full-stack, hosted, automatically scalable web application platform. It consists of Python application servers, BigTable database access (anticipated here and here) and GFS data store services.

At first blush this is a full on competitor to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers) and SimpleDB (database).

Unlike Amazon Web Services’ loosely coupled architecture, which consists of several essentially independent services that can optionally be tied together by developers, Google’s architecture is more unified but less flexible. For example, it is possible with Amazon to use their storage service S3 independently of any other services, while with Google using their BigTable service will require writing and deploying a Python script to their app servers, one that creates a web-accessible interface to BigTable.

What this all means: Google App Engine is designed for developers who want to run their entire application stack, soup to nuts, on Google resources. Amazon, by contrast, offers more of an a la carte offering with which developers can pick and choose what resources they want to use.

Google Product Manager Tom Stocky described the new service to me in an interview today. Developers simply upload their Python code to Google, launch the application, and can monitor usage and other metrics via a multi-platform desktop application.

An Entire Apartment’s Furniture in One Small Box

from TreeHugger.com

RoomInABox2 This little box becomes…Complete Room

It might not look like it, but inside this box, there’s an armoire, a desk, a height-adjustable stool, two more stools, a six-shelf bookcase, and a bed with a mattress. Casulo, the brilliant, modular setup designed by Marcel Krings & Sebastian Mühlhäuser, hides furnishings enough for an entire room — or, heck, an entire apartment — in a small 31″x47″ (that’s 80 cm x 120 cm) box. Two people can lift, carry, and assemble (and then disassemble, when it’s time to move) each piece of furniture within the Casulo in about 10 minutes — it requires no tools for assembly — and every part of the boxy exterior is used, negating any need for extraneous, wasteful packaging. Smart.