database

Microsoft Store hacked in India, passwords stored in plain text

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/12/microsoft-store-hacked-in-india-leaked-passwords-stored-in-plai/

Frequenters of India’s online Microsoft Store were briefly greeted with the suspicious visage of a Guy Fawkes mask this morning, following a hack that compromised the site’s user database. According to WPSauce, Microsoft Store India’s landing page was briefly taken over by a hacker group called Evil Shadow Team, who, in addition to putting a new face on Windows products, revealed that user passwords were saved in plain text. The group’s motivations are unknown, though the hacked page warned that an “unsafe system will be baptized.” The store is now offline, suggesting that Microsoft may have regained control. Read on for a look at the compromised password database.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Continue reading Microsoft Store hacked in India, passwords stored in plain text

Microsoft Store hacked in India, passwords stored in plain text originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 12 Feb 2012 14:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday, February 12th, 2012 news No Comments

Yikes! Oracle Issues Emergency Fix For A Big Fat Security Problem (ORCL)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/yikes-oracle-issues-emergency-fix-for-a-big-fat-security-problem-2012-1


larryellison oracle tbi

Oracle today warned customers that they need to fix a major hole in its flagship database or risk downtime and hacker attacks, reports Infoworld.

In a weird twist of events, the hole was actually found by Infoworld, a news site that covers the tech industry. Oracle even gave the publication a public credit for finding and reporting the hole — and waiting to publish the story until Oracle could issue a patch, which it did today.

The flaw had to do with time stamp technology that acts like an internal clock. This clock is the key to keeping data synchronized and safe. When multiple databases are linked together the clock could be manipulated to be inaccurate. This is one of those critical systems that was difficult to fix and affected a long list of Oracle’s products.

The critical patch sent out today fixes a whole bunch of other flaws, too. Some 78 holes will be patched across all of Oracle’s major product families.

Inforworld contends that Oracle executives knew about the time stamp problem and not only downplayed it, but issued a workaround fix that could have caused customers even more headaches and money. Oracle seems to have gotten its act together and really fixed the security flaw this time, Infoworld says.

 

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Android App Tells You If Your Fruit Loops Are Safe To Eat

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5576191/android-app-tells-you-if-your-fruit-loops-are-safe-to-eat

Android App Tells You If Your Fruit Loops Are Safe To EatKellog’s [sic] Recalled Products is a new Android app. It lets you scan the barcodes on Kellogg’s items, with the results compared against a recalled products database—so you know what’s edible and what may contain traces of glass/metal/human skin.

It exists because Kellogg’s recently released a product recall for a wide range of its cereal products, thanks to buyers reporting an “uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner”—this app will help you avoid such instances of breakfast unease. App developers think of everything. [Android Pit]

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 digital No Comments

Google’s New Indexing System Is Fully Caffeinated

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5559015/googles-new-indexing-system-is-fully-caffeinated

Google's New Indexing System Is Fully CaffeinatedGoogle’s latest web indexing system, the tool that pre-scans the entire web to have a ready answer to your search query, promises “50 percent fresher results for web searches.” It’s called Caffeine. And it comes with staggering Google search stats.

The main difference with Caffeine is that, rather than search one entire group of sites (represented in that lead graphic as a layer), then another, less prioritized group of sites, then yet another less prioritized group of sites, everything with the Caffeine algorithm is pretty much indexed constantly. Teased for several months now, Caffeine is the sort of update Google needs to follow the pace of searching services like Twitter. And indeed, Google will need to maintain/continue such innovations to keep up—our world is translated from analog to digital in more, quicker ways every day.

So now for those wicked Google stats:

• Every second Caffeine processes hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel.
• If this were a pile of paper it would grow three miles taller every second
• Caffeine takes up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database
• Caffeine adds new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day.
• You would need 625,000 of the largest iPods to store that much information
• If these iPods were stacked end-to-end they would go for more than 40 miles.

[Google]

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Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 digital 1 Comment

How Google Crunches All That Data

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5495097/how-google-crunches-all-that-data

If data centers are the brains of an information company, then Google is one of the brainiest there is. Though always evolving, it is, fundamentally, in the business of knowing everything. Here are some of the ways it stays sharp.

For tackling massive amounts of data, the main weapon in Google’s arsenal is MapReduce, a system developed by the company itself. Whereas other frameworks require a thoroughly tagged and rigorously organized database, MapReduce breaks the process down into simple steps, allowing it to deal with any type of data, which it distributes across a legion of machines.

Looking at MapReduce in 2008, Wired imagined the task of determining word frequency in Google Books. As its name would suggest, the MapReduce magic comes from two main steps: mapping and reducing.

The first of these, the mapping, is where MapReduce is unique. A master computer evaluates the request and then divvies it up into smaller, more manageable “sub-problems,” which are assigned to other computers. These sub-problems, in turn, may be divided up even further, depending on the complexity of the data set. In our example, the entirety of Google Books would be split, say, by author (but more likely by the order in which they were scanned, or something like that) and distributed to the worker computers.

Then the data is saved. To maximize efficiency, it remains on the worker computers’ local hard drives, as opposed to being sent, the whole petabyte-scale mess of it, back to some central location. Then comes the second central step: reduction. Other worker machines are assigned specifically to the task of grabbing the data from the computers that crunched it and paring it down to a format suitable for solving the problem at hand. In the Google Books example, this second set of machines would reduce and compile the processed data into lists of individual words and the frequency with which they appeared across Google’s digital library.

The finished product of the MapReduce system is, as Wired says, a “data set about your data,” one that has been crafted specifically to answer the initial question. In this case, the new data set would let you query any word and see how often it appeared in Google Books.

MapReduce is one way in which Google manipulates its massive amounts of data, sorting and resorting it into different sets that reveal new meanings and have unique uses. But another Herculean task Google faces is dealing with data that’s not already on its machines. It’s one of the most daunting data sets of all: the internet.

Last month, Wired got a rare look at the “algorithm that rules the web,” and the gist of it is that there is no single, set algorithm. Rather, Google rules the internet by constantly refining its search technologies, charting new territories like social media and refining the ones in which users tread most often with personalized searches.

But of course it’s not just about matching the terms people search for to the web sites that contain them. Amit Singhal, a Google Search guru, explains, “you are not matching words; you are actually trying to match meaning.”

Words are a finite data set. And you don’t need an entire data center to store them—a dictionary does just fine. But meaning is perhaps the most profound data set humanity has ever produced, and it’s one we’re charged with managing every day. Our own mental MapReduce probes for intent and scans for context, informing how we respond to the world around us.

In a sense, Google’s memory may be better than any one individual’s, and complex frameworks like MapReduce ensure that it will only continue to outpace us in that respect. But in terms of the capacity to process meaning, in all of its nuance, any one person could outperform all the machines in the Googleplex. For now, anyway. [Wired, Wikipedia, and Wired]

Image credit CNET

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 news No Comments

How Major Labels Cook the Books with Digital Downloads [Digital Downloads]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/jl5xTTh-ZxM/my-6247-royalty-statement-how-major-labels-cook-the-books-with-digital-downloads

Tim Quirk was the singer of punk-pop outfit Too Much Joy, signed by Warner Bros. in 1990. Now he’s an executive at an online music service, giving him insight on digital sales data and just how labels fudge their numbers.

I got something in the mail last week I’d been wanting for years: a Too Much Joy royalty statement from Warner Brothers that finally included our digital earnings. Though our catalog has been out of print physically since the late-1990s, the three albums we released on Giant/WB have been available digitally for about five years. Yet the royalty statements I received every six months kept insisting we had zero income, and our unrecouped balance ($395,277.18!)* stubbornly remained the same.

Now, I don’t ever expect that unrecouped balance to turn into a positive number, but since the band had been seeing thousands of dollars in digital royalties each year from IODA for the four indie albums we control ourselves, I figured five years’ worth of digital income from our far more popular major label albums would at least make a small dent in the figure. Our IODA royalties during that time had totaled about $12,000 – not a princely sum, but enough to suggest that the total haul over the same period from our major label material should be at least that much, if not two to five times more. Even with the band receiving only a percentage of the major label take, getting our unrecouped balance below $375,000 seemed reasonable, and knocking it closer to -$350,000 wasn’t out of the question.

So I was naively excited when I opened the envelope. And my answer was right there on the first page. In five years, our three albums earned us a grand total of… $62.47.

What the fuck?

I mean, w! e all kn ow that major labels are supposed to be venal masters of hiding money from artists, but they’re also supposed to be good at it, right? This figure wasn’t insulting because it was so small, it was insulting because it was so stupid.

Why It Was So Stupid

Here’s the thing: I work at Rhapsody. I know what we pay Warner Bros. for every stream and download, and I can look up exactly how many plays and downloads we’ve paid them for each TMJ tune that Warner controls. Moreover, Warner Bros. knows this, as my gig at Rhapsody is the only reason I was able to get them to add my digital royalties to my statement in the first place. For years I’d been pestering the label, but I hadn’t gotten anywhere till I was on a panel with a reasonably big wig in Warner Music Group’s business affairs team about a year ago

The panel took place at a legal conference, and focused on digital music and the crisis facing the record industry**. As you do at these things, the other panelists and I gathered for breakfast a couple hours before our session began, to discuss what topics we should address. Peter Jenner, who manages Billy Bragg and has been a needed gadfly for many years at events like these, wanted to discuss the little-understood fact that digital music services frequently pay labels advances in the tens of millions of dollars for access to their catalogs, and it’s unclear how (or if) that money is ever shared with artists.

I agreed that was a big issue, but said I had more immediate and mundane concerns, such as the fact that Warner wouldn’t even report my band’s iTunes sales to me.

The business affairs guy (who I am calling “the business affairs guy” rather than naming because he did me a favor by finally getting the digital royalties added to my statement, and I am grateful for that and don’t want this to sound like I’m attacking him personally, even though it’s abo! ut to se em like I am) said that it was complicated connecting Warner’s digital royalty payments to their existing accounting mechanisms, and that since my band was unrecouped they had “to take care of R.E.M. and the Red Hot Chili Peppers first.”

That kind of pissed me off. On the one hand, yeah, my band’s unrecouped and is unlikely ever to reach the point where Warner actually has to cut us a royalty check. On the other hand, though, they are contractually obligated to report what revenue they receive in our name, and, having helped build a database that tracks how much Rhapsody owes whom for what music gets played, I’m well aware of what is and isn’t complicated about doing so. It’s not something you have to build over and over again for each artist. It’s something you build once. It takes a while, and it can be expensive, and sometimes you make honest mistakes, but it’s not rocket science. Hell, it’s not even algebra! It’s just simple math.

I knew that each online service was reporting every download, and every play, for every track, to thousands of labels (more labels, I’m guessing, than Warner has artists to report to). And I also knew that IODA was able to tell me exactly how much money my band earned the previous month from Amazon ($11.05), Verizon (74 cents), Nokia (11 cents), MySpace (4 sad cents) and many more. I didn’t understand why Warner wasn’t reporting similar information back to my band – and if they weren’t doing it for Too Much Joy, I assumed they weren’t doing it for other artists.

To his credit, the business affairs guy told me he understood my point, and promised he’d pursue the matter internally on my behalf – which he did. It just took 13 months to get the results, which were (predictably, perhaps) ridiculous.

The sad thing is I don’t even think Warner is deliberately trying to screw TMJ and the hundreds of other also-rans and almost-weres they’ve signed over the years. The reality is more boring, but also more depressing. Like I said, they don’t actually ow! e us any money. But that’s what’s so weird about this, to me: they have the ability to tell the truth, and doing so won’t cost them anything.

They just can’t be bothered. They don’t care, because they don’t have to.

“$10,000 Is Nothing”

An interlude, here. Back in 1992, when TMJ was still a going concern and even the label thought maybe we’d join the hallowed company of recouped bands one day, Warner made a $10,000 accounting error on our statement (in their favor, naturally). When I caught this mistake, and brought it to the attention of someone with the power to correct it, he wasn’t just befuddled by my anger – he laughed at it. “$10,000 is nothing!” he chuckled.

If you’re like most people – especially people in unrecouped bands – “nothing” is not a word you ever use in conjunction with a figure like “$10,000,” but he seemed oblivious to that. “It’s a rounding error. It happens all the time. Why are you so worked up?”

These days I work for a reasonably large corporation myself, and, sadly, I understand exactly what the guy meant. When your revenues (and your expenses) are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, $10,000 mistakes are common, if undesirable.

I still think he was a jackass, though, and that sentence continues to haunt me. Because $10,000 might have been nothing to him, but it was clearly something to me. And his inability to take it seriously – to put himself in my place, just for the length of our phone call – suggested that people who care about $10,000 mistakes, and the principles of things, like, say, honoring contracts even when you don’t have to, are the real idiots.

As you may have divined by this point, I am conflicted about whether I am actually being a petty jerk by pursuing this, or whether labels just thrive on making fools like me feel like petty jerks. People in the record industry are very good at making bands believe they deserve the hundreds of thousands (or sometimes millions) of dollars labels advance th! e musici ans when they’re first signed, and even better at convincing those same musicians it’s the bands’ fault when those advances aren’t recouped (the last thing $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man yelled at me before he hung up was, “Too Much Joy never earned us shit!”*** as though that fact somehow negated their obligation to account honestly).

I don’t want to live in $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man’s world. But I do. We all do. We have no choice.

The Boring Reality

Back to my ridiculous Warner Bros. statement. As I flipped through its ten pages (seriously, it took ten pages to detail the $62.47 of income), I realized that Warner wasn’t being evil, just careless and unconcerned – an impression I confirmed a few days later when I spoke to a guy in their Royalties and Licensing department I am going to call Danny.****

I asked Danny why there were no royalties at all listed from iTunes, and he said, “Huh. There are no domestic downloads on here at all. Only streams. And it has international downloads, but no international streams. I have no idea why.” I asked Danny why the statement only seemed to list tracks from two of the three albums Warner had released – an entire album was missing. He said they could only report back what the digital services had provided to them, and the services must not have reported any activity for those other songs. When I suggested that seemed unlikely – that having every track from two albums listed by over a dozen different services, but zero tracks from a third album listed by any seemed more like an error on Warner’s side, he said he’d look into it. As I asked more questions (Why do we get paid 50% of the income from all the tracks on one album, but only 35.7143% of the income from all the tracks on another? Why did 29 plays of a track on the late, lamented MusicMatch earn a total of 63 cents when 1,016 plays of the exact same track on MySpace earned only 23 cents?) he eventually got to the heart of the matter: “We don’t normally do this for unrecouped bands,” he ! said. “B ut, I was told you’d asked.”

It’s possible I’m projecting my own insecurities onto calm, patient Danny, but I’m pretty sure the subtext of that comment was the same thing I’d heard from $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man: all these figures were pointless, and I was kind of being a jerk by wasting their time asking about them. After all, they have the Red Hot Chili Peppers to deal with, and the label actually owes those guys money.

Danny may even be right. But there’s another possibility – one I don’t necessarily subscribe to, but one that could be avoided entirely by humoring pests like me. There’s a theory that labels and publishers deliberately avoid creating the transparent accounting systems today’s technology enables. Because accurately accounting to my silly little band would mean accurately accounting to the less silly bands that are recouped, and paying them more money as a result.

If that’s true (and I emphasize the if, because it’s equally possible that people everywhere, including major label accounting departments, are just dumb and lazy)*****, then there’s more than my pride and principles on the line when I ask Danny in Royalties and Licensing to answer my many questions. I don’t feel a burning need to make the Red Hot Chili Peppers any more money, but I wouldn’t mind doing my small part to get us all out of the sad world $10,000-Is-Nothing-Man inhabits.

So I will keep asking, even though I sometimes feel like a petty jerk for doing so.


* A word here about that unrecouped balance, for those uninitiated in the complex mechanics of major label accounting. While our royalty statement shows Too Much Joy in the red with Warner Bros. (now by only $395,214.71 after that $62.47 digital windfall), this doesn’t mean Warner “lost” nearly $400,000 on the band. That’s how much they spent on us, and we don’t see any royalty checks until it’s paid back, but it doesn’t get paid back out of the full price of every album sold. It gets paid back out of the band’s share of every albu! m sold, which is roughly 10% of the retail price. So, using round numbers to make the math as easy as possible to understand, let’s say Warner Bros. spent something like $450,000 total on TMJ. If Warner sold 15,000 copies of each of the three TMJ records they released at a wholesale price of $10 each, they would have earned back the $450,000. But if those records were retailing for $15, TMJ would have only paid back $67,500, and our statement would show an unrecouped balance of $382,500.

I do not share this information out of a Steve Albini-esque desire to rail against the major label system (he already wrote the definitive rant, which you can find here if you want even more figures, and enjoy having those figures bracketed with cursing and insults). I’m simply explaining why I’m not embarrassed that I “owe” Warner Bros. almost $400,000. They didn’t make a lot of money off of Too Much Joy. But they didn’t lose any, either. So whenever you hear some label flak claiming 98% of the bands they sign lose money for the company, substitute the phrase “just don’t earn enough” for the word “lose.”

** The whole conference took place at a semi-swank hotel on the island of St. Thomas, which is a funny place to gather to talk about how to save the music business, but that would be a whole different diatribe.

*** This same dynamic works in reverse – I interviewed the Butthole Surfers for Raygun magazine back in the 1990s, and Gibby Haynes described the odd feeling of visiting Capitol records’ offices and hearing, “a bunch of people go, ‘Hey, man, be cool to these guys, they’re a recouped band.’ I heard that a bunch of times.”

**** Again, I am avoiding using his real name because he returned my call promptly, and patiently answered my many questions, which is behavior I want to encourage, so I have no desire to lambaste him publicly.

***** Of course, these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive – it is also possible that labels are ! evil and avaricious AND dumb and lazy, at the same time.

Reprinted with permission from Too Much Joy.


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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 digital No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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