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26. 12. 2008

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No Evidence of Domain Snatching

February 16th, 2008 · No Comments

(AP) — An Internet committee investigating suspicious domain name transactions has found no evidence that insider information is being used to snatch desired Internet addresses to make money off the individual or business that actually wants to register them.

The committee said the 120 claims of “domain name front running” it reviewed generally resulted from misunderstandings about how the domain name industry works.

“When Internet users are unable to distinguish among different market activities, they often appear to conclude that they have fallen victim to a domain name front runner,” the committee said in a new report.

In some cases, however, the committee found that a separate practice of domain name tasting may be causing problems. That refers to someone testing the financial viability of a name for up to five days and then returning it for a full refund, using a loophole in registration policies. Domain tasting can tie up millions of Internet addresses, including ones someone checks but does not buy.

The Security and Stability Advisory Committee of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which has oversight of domain name policies and is known by its acronym ICANN, recommended better education so consumers know what to expect.

The report, brought before the ICANN board in New Delhi on Friday, did not examine a controversial practice by domain name seller Network Solutions LLC of grabbing names that people search for on its Web site but don’t immediately register.

The company said it did that to keep the names from front runners. But the practice shared similarities with what Network Solutions was trying to prevent. It has made some changes in response to complaints, and its discussions with ICANN continue.

The ICANN committee said cases suspected of front running often turned out to be coincidence, with multiple parties interested in the same names.

Separately, ICANN has floated a proposal to charge its existing fee of 20 cents per domain name even if the name is returned, making tasting masses of names more expensive.

During ICANN meetings in New Delhi this week, many parties complained that the fee would penalize legitimate returns, such as ones to correct for typos, said Paul Twomey, ICANN’s chief executive. The board took no action Friday.

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Zvents releases open-source cluster database to beat Google!

January 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Moving the project from in-house to open source is a way for a relatively small company to get the infrastructure software it needs, Judd says. “We aren’t in the database business. this is the kind of infrastructure that should be in open source. This is not company proprietary stuff,” he says.

The current Hypertable version is a 0.9 alpha release, and has been tested on about 10 nodes so far, Judd says. But Yahoo developers have expressed in interest in “kicking the tires” and testing on more nodes. Yahoo developers are already involved in another way: Hypertable stores its data on a distributed filesystem, and the database developers are currently using the Apache Software Foundation’s Hadoop, which Yahoo supports by employing lead Hadoop developer Doug Cutting and his team and with infrastructure.

The Google database design on which Hypertable is based, Bigtable, attracted a lot of developer buzz and a “Best Paper” award from the USENIX Association for “Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data” a 2006 publication from nine Google researchers including Fay Chang, Jeffrey Dean, and Sanjay Ghemawat. Google’s Bigtable uses the company’s in-house Google File System for storage.

The API for Hypertable is slightly different from Bigtable’s, Judd says. Although it is not a full SQL database, it is more featureful than a simple key/value store such as Brad Fitzpatrick’s memcached. Memcached is widely used along with a conventional SQL database in high-traffic web sites, to cache chunks of HTML and XML and save an application from having to query the main database.

Brian Aker, director of architecture for open source database supplier MySQL AB, says that he can see a development path that would bridge the gap from the Hypertable API to a full SQL database. In an email interview, he wrote, “Someone could turn this into a backend for MySQL without a lot of effort. You would gain an SQL interface by doing this.” For Hypertable as is, Aker says he can see several applications. Besides log data, Hypertable could be useful for image and object servers, and for pre-rendering responses to Representational State Transfer (REST) queries produced by web applications. By Don Marti, LinuxWorld.com,

EST, explained in one of last year’s hot web development books, RESTful Web Services, is a design philosophy for web applications that exposes a web application as a large tree of URLs. Since a client could potentially request or post data to one of many URLs, each responsible for a small piece of information, Hypertable could be a useful way to scale the REST server to handle more traffic.

→ 1 CommentTags: Technology News · Webmaster News · Internet Terminology · Online Marketing


Google uses Code Jam as job interview

December 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

Polish university student Marek Cygan has won this year’s Google Code Jam, the annual programming contest held last Friday at the California headquarters of the search firm.

Dutch student Erik-Jan Krijgsman finished second, followed by Petr Mitrichev from Moscow’s State University.

Cygan beat 99 fellow programmers from 32 countries to the first price of $10,000. The contestants were selected from a group of 14,500 hopefuls from around the world who entered the contest through the internet.

The programmers had 75 minutes to create a solution for three problems, followed by a 10-minute final round. Contestants were allowed to use the Java, C++, C# or VB.NET programming languages.

During an interview at the event, Google declined to provide details about the tasks as the competition was still running.

Previous contests involved contestants creating an application to calculate the shortest route through a maze, and to devise an application that would determine the largest group of people that know each other in a social network.

Another provided the coder with the weight of several children and asked them to create an application that would spread them on a seesaw so that the device would balance.

The tasks are not picked randomly, but are linked to problems that Google itself is facing with its applications.

“Things like finding the fastest way out of a maze is not that different from computing directions in Google Maps,” Jeff Huber, vice president of engineering at Google, told vnunet.com.

The competition helps the company identify programmers who are good at solving such problems and thereby acts as a recruiting tool. About a third of the 100 finalists also had a job interview scheduled.

Huber stressed, however, that winning the competition did not guarantee a job and that Google still followed its regular recruiting procedures. “This is a nice introduction, but not a shortcut,” he said.

This year’s competition marked the first time that a woman made it to the final round. Although Google declined to comment on Stefanie Leitzka’s performance, Huber hoped that the German student’s participation would encourage other women to start a career in computer sciences.

“We have a long way to go to improving the diversity that we should have in the field and the industry,” he acknowledged.

Huber could not provide a percentage of women software engineers in Google’s workforce, but said that the company is “healthy” relative to the industry.

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Google Hijacked — Major ISP to Intercept and Modify Web Pages

December 12th, 2007 · No Comments

Greetings. Pleas be aware that the welcome page for Google Canada has been defaced by ISP-related verbiage taking up the top third of the page? Why would Google ever give an ISP permission to muddy up Google’s public face that way?

Well, as you’ve probably already guessed, Google didn’t give this ISP any such permission. The ISP simply decided to modify Google on their own, demonstrating a real world example of ISPs Spying On and Modifying Web Traffic that I was discussing yesterday.

Just brought to my attention today by a concerned reader who chose Google for his example, what you’re looking at is reportedly an ongoing test by Rogers in Canada, scheduled for deployment to Rogers Internet customers next quarter.

In case you’re curious, “ISNS” on the test Google interception page apparently stands for Internet Subscriber Notification System. For the morbidly curious, here’s the javascript and associated code that enables this procedure, which can presumably be applied to any http: (unencrypted) traffic.

While Rogers’ current planned use for this Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and modification system (reportedly manufactured by “In-Browser Marketing” firm “PerfTech”) is for account status messages, it’s obvious that commercial ISP content and ads (beyond the ISP logos already displayed) would be trivial to introduce through this mechanism. By the way, PerfTech is even using Google for one of its linked promotional examples on the PerfTech home page. I wonder if they bothered to ask Google’s permission for that?

Anyway, the fact that there’s an opt-out present for future account status messages on the Rogers page insertions hardly changes the extremely problematic and network neutrality unfriendly aspects of such situations, as I noted in yesterday’s blog item.

Question: Will Web service providers such as Google and many others, who have spent vast resources in both talent and treasure creating and maintaining their services’ appearances and quality, be willing to stand still while any ISP intercepts and modifies their traffic in such a manner?

I can’t say for sure of course, but I suspect that a likely reaction might be discerned by paraphrasing Bugs Bunny: “Eh, he don’t know them very well, do he?”

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Google to bid for 700MHz spectrum

November 30th, 2007 · No Comments

Google intends to bid on wireless spectrum in the 700MHz band when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission begins auctioning that resource in late January, the company announced Friday.
On this topic

FCC awards spectrum to public safety group
Google needs telco partner for 700MHz bid, say analysts
E.U. releases telecom review, proposes spectrum shakeup

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Google has previously expressed interest in the spectrum, which is being made available as U.S. television stations move to all-digital broadcasts by February 2009. Earlier this year, Google joined consumer and public-interest groups in calling for the FCC to impose open-access rules on part of the 62MHz of spectrum to be auctioned. In July, the FCC voted to require open-access rules, which would require the winning bidder to allow outside devices and applications on the network.

“We believe it’s important to put our money where our principles are,” Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Consumers deserve more competition and innovation than they have in today’s wireless world. No matter which bidder ultimately prevails, the real winners of this auction are American consumers who likely will see more choices than ever before in how they access the Internet.”

Google’s recently acquired interest in wireless spectrum has led it in several directions. The company launched the Open Handset Alliance, an open-development platform for mobile phones, earlier this month.

Google has also supported efforts to push Congress to pass net neutrality requirements, which would prohibit broadband providers from blocking or slowing Web content not approved by them. Google’s interest in the spectrum came after AT&T and other large broadband providers expressed interest in recent years in getting Web-based businesses to pay more for their customers’ use of the broadband networks.

Google will file an application to participate in the 700MHz auction on Monday, the company said in a news release. Google’s application will not include any partners.

In July, Google promised the FCC that it would bid at least US$4.6 billion for a block of spectrum. The FCC later set a reserve price of $4.6 billion on the so-called C Block of spectrum, the 22MHz block where the commission required open access. If the reserve price isn’t met, the FCC would re-auction the spectrum, presumably without the open-access rules.

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