Tech Niti - Tech for the business user
Friday, December 31, 2004
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Web site designs using CSS
In today's age of competition, packaging is as important as the product. A great product is useless without eye-catching presentation and effective marketing. If you are like the growing number of bushiness community, you will display your products on a web site. How do you tell a good web site from a bad one?
CSS Vault to the rescue. This is a site that explores good web site designs using the CSS technology. CSS is a way to skin websites so that you can change the look and feel completely without changing the content. For example, all the L&F for this site is generated automatically using a template provided by Blogger. So is the L&F for my other blog. My friend TNO has his other blog here. As of today, it shares the same L&F as my site with a few minor changes done by me to my site.
Consider using CSS exhaustively to design your web site so it helps you with continuous improvement without wasting time.
CSSVault - The Web's CSS Site
Santy variants are here
Within a weeks time the variants of the Santy.A worm have appeared. The worm scripted in perl, attacks vulnerable versions of the PHP Bulletin Board (phpBB) software. Now along with Google they are using others like AOL and Yahoo Search to find vulnerable installations of phpBB.
Days after Google acted to thwart the Santy worm, security firms warned that variants have begun to spread using both Google and other search engines.
Read more at Google worm targets AOL, Yahoo
Monday, December 27, 2004
The Search Engine Of The Future
The New York Times is reporting that IBM has come up with a search engine that makes use of semantics for doing its searches.
Yahoo is an example of the first generation search engines. It used simple keywords to do its searches. Second generation engines like Google and Ask Jeeves used some processing logic to reply to searches. These engines have been great at searching structured random data. What has been missing is the discovery of information. The human mind can scan data and implicitly deduce relations in the content. This discovery process has been sorely lacking in current generation search engines.
IBM's search engine goes one step further. It can deduce relations based on context. For example, after scanning a news article about Canadian politics, IBM's system responded correctly to the question, "Who is Canada's prime minister?" even though those exact words didn't appear in the article. IBM's search engine searches across multiple languages and provides translations. It can thus create context in across languages and random data.
Google and Yahoo are working hard on providing ability to search in non text data like audio and video. Those search capabilities combined with the semantic search
unveiled by IBM will form the future of searching.
Pair this search with one more phenomenon making the rounds - Social Networks. These depend on the so-called FOAF - Friend of a Friend. The idea is to build a web of trust. The trust is strongest between two acquaintances and diminishes with distance. This idea can be extended to identify trustworthiness of documents. If a document from a trusted person refers to another, then that too can be considered trustworthy and so on down the line.
With these tools linked together and fully implemented, one could ask a theoretical question, say, "Is company X worth investing?" The 3G search engine will go and trawl through all available information building context. The FOAF filter will be applied to the information to cull the useful data out of it. Finally, an accounting and financial rules AI engine can be applied to the data to come up with an answer. With the incredible leaps in CPU processor speed and the cheap disk space available, this could soon be a reality for consumers.
At I.B.M., That Google Thing Is So Yesterday
Wireless LANs help reduce clutter and simplify working. Some of my collegues they will never go back to wired LANs again. Security in the wireless world should be given a lot of importance by most businesses today.
Read about how the new generation of hacking tools puts many more Wireless LANs at risk at the blog of George Ou.
http://www.cleansoftware.org/ lists software for Windows which has no nagware, spyware or any other insidious features.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Tool for Information Architects
If you are a Web marketeer, you might need the Tinderbox.
Spare GMail invites
I have about six GMail invites available. If you need an invite drop a line and I will send you one.
Another Free Image Manipulation Program for Windows
Paint.NET v2.0 is an open source image and photo manipulation software that works on Windows XP and has been developed at Washington State University.
Check it out.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Free Image Manipulation Program
If your business uses image manipulation and you find Adobe Photoshop too expensive, there is a free alternative available.
The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a very high quality program that has a very rich subset of Adobe Photoshop functionality. The current version is always available at the GIMP website at http://www.gimp.org
Give it a try.
Friday, December 24, 2004
Update for Google Desktop Search and More
If you are using Google Desktop Search, you should have been automatically updated with a software fix. To confirm, go to the Desktop Search home page, click the "About" link and verify that you are using the new Beta 121004 version.
Google Desktop Search security
Google Desktop Search Version Information
Google has also released the most popular Google queries for the year 2004. The most popular query is britney spears. You can view them here.
On a humorous note, you can read about an email and Google’s reply on the Google doodles on their blog at Polar expression.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Amazon.com's open business plan
Amazon.com has opened it's entire business information through Web services to anyone interested in writing an interface to it. It demands just one thing - that purchases be completed through the company's web site. This model is quite counter-intuitive since it allows for competition to take advantage of the system. It is exactly what Amazon wants. It's opening the Web Services has created a mini-cottage industry of developers and entrepreneurs around it.
Visit Amazon Light at www.kokogiak.com/amazon4, and you’ll see a plain search box that allows you to locate any product in Amazon.com’s database. Click on an item, and you’ll be taken to a page with the usual product image, price information, and customer reviews, and, of course, the familiar “Buy This” button. Amazon Light’s pages are deliberately less cluttered than those at Amazon itself, but the family relationship is obvious.
Look closer, however, and you’ll spot some distinctly non-Amazonian features. If the item you’re viewing is a DVD, for example, there will be a button that lets you see in a single click whether the same disc is for rent at Netflix. If it’s a CD, you can check whether Apple’s iTunes music store has a downloadable version. And if it’s a book, Amazon Light will even tell you whether it’s on the shelf at your local public library.
What’s going on here? Surely, executives at Seattle-based Amazon would never condone an online service that encourages people to buy things from sites other than Amazon?
Actually, they would. Amazon Light, created by former Amazon programmer Alan Taylor and hosted on his personal website, kokogiak.com, is one of thousands of independent sites incorporating the product data and programming tools that Amazon has been sharing freely since July 16, 2002. That’s the day Amazon celebrated its seventh anniversary—and unveiled a startling new project, called Amazon Web Services, that promises to change, once again, the way retailers of all stripes think about reaching their customers.
Amazon: Giving Away the Store
More news on Google
A new worm Santy.A was using Google search engine to identify potential sites to attack. Google has managed to put up filters to stop the worm spreading on the same day itself. Read more about it in the articles below.
When the Santy.A worm started spreading on Tuesday, Mikko Hypponen knew he had a way to stop the worm in its tracks. The only problem: He had trouble finding the right people to talk to at Google.
Google's search for security
A Web worm that identifies potential victims by searching Google is spreading among online bulletin boards using a vulnerable version of the program phpBB, security professionals said on Tuesday.
Net worm using Google to spread
Google has responded to calls from antivirus companies to stop the advance of an Internet worm that was using the search engine's technology to spread among online bulletin boards.
Google squashes Santy worm
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
More on Google Desktop Search
Google Desktop Search had a flaw! Its fixed now. You can read about it in the following articles.
Google says it has fixed a flaw that could have allowed hackers to search the contents of PCs running the company's desktop search tool.
Research company Gartner has issued a statement warning businesses to steer clear of Google's desktop search tool until a more robust, enterprise-ready version is released.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Techniti on Yahoo Finance
Came across this company called Message Cast that promises to deliver messages to members in real time on devices of their choosing. They provide an edition to integrate with Blogger. Do not know anything about the company but the product can definitely be used to reach customers.
Google Desktop Search and Security
Google Desktop seems to be a powerful tool. The ability to search your hard disks using the Google technology will be useful to many.
But before you go and install it, take some time to understand the security implications of using it. While Google Desktop by itself is secure, it exposes vulnerabilities on your computer that you didn't know about. Read about it from by favorite and highly respected author who is also a internationally renowned security technologist, Bruce Schneier.
Desktop Google Finds Holes.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Extending the boundaries of Skype
On the surface, Skype is a tehnology that enables calling others for free using a computer. In his blog, Om Malik has identified futher uses of Skype.
Skype is adding collaboration features like chat and voicemail which make it more useful and a viable replacement for a telephone. People have been writing useful extensions for Skype. One sucj application is Jyve, which enables a users website to collect Skype information from visitors for their own directory.
Looking at the future, Skype has many uses. one of which may be a revolution in the call centre industry. Companies can save a bunch of money to use Skyple(-like) technology to position their call centre users across the globe and redirect calls to the appropriate location using VoIP. They can even create a communication channel with customers by creating an option for customers to leve callbak numbers for the companies to offer their exciting new products. The possibilities are endless.
Passwords are important as they are used for identification and to protect our sensitive data. But how do you select good passwords? There is a useful article Secrets to the best passwords.
For the more technically inclined a brief impact of size and composition of password is available here http://www.safescrypt.com/resources/PasswordWhitePaper.pdf
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Use of blogs for marketing and spreading information
LexBlog is reporting that when Stoneyfield Farms wanted to increase the sales of its products, it used blogs to generate marketing buzz and traffic. This approach was far more successful that its web site promotions.
Blogging's usefulness and importance in the coming days has been recognized by Time Magazine. This year, it has created a category called 'Blog of the Year' and awarded it to a blog called Powerline Blog. Time magazine puts lot of thought in its categories and winners and people should take note of its latest move.
Hotmail hates competition
I sent numerous invites to my friend The Nameless One at the Hotmail address provided by him/her/it. All messages went down th gulch that is the Emptiness Beyond. Had to finally send the invite to the Yahoo address. We had a similar experience when sending GMail invites to Hotmail and Yahoo addresses
Lesson learned, do not send invites use competitiors services to free accounts. The service providers hate that and reserve the right to smack you on the upside.