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The Buzz

FDLE unveils cyber-security Web site

Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2003


The Florida Department of Law Enforcement last week unveiled a "one-stop-shopping" cyber-security Web site to be run by the state of Florida in partnership with the state's business community.

SecureFlorida.org is designed to help small businesses and residents better protect themselves against everything from hackers and computer fraud to unwanted ads, FDLE executive director Tim Moore said.

Moore called the site part of a bigger domestic-security initiative to protect all sorts of infrastructure from roads and bridges to seaports and airports. Computer infrastructure is important, too, but no figures were available for the amount of economic damage done to Florida businesses by hacking and other forms of data loss, he said.

People can register on the site to receive e-mail alerts on the latest virus attacks and other problems. Those are the same alerts the FDLE and other state agencies get to help protect their systems, Moore said.

Hotmail cools outgoing e-mail volume

To cut down on junk e-mail, Microsoft is capping the number of e-mails that users of its free Hotmail service can send each day.

By limiting to 100 the number of messages that could be sent in a 24-hour period, Microsoft's MSN division hopes to stop people from using its service to send the unsolicited messages, known as spam.

"MSN is strongly committed to helping stop the widespread problem of spam and this change is one way we are preventing spammers from using Hotmail as a vehicle to send the unwanted e-mails," said Lisa Gurry, MSN lead product manager.

Microsoft said it viewed the limit as a reasonable cap that would affect less than 1 percent of its active subscriber base of 110-million. The company would not disclose its previous cap.

The limit took effect this month. It does not apply to MSN 8 subscribers or those who purchase extra storage on Hotmail.

Making the most of Google searches

Google scans a mind-numbing 2.4-billion Web pages for every search. Now a new book, Google Hacks ($24.95, published by O'Reilly and Associates), discloses a bag of tricks that will keep hard-core Google buffs tapping away well into the wee hours.

Offering 100 inside tips, authors Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest outline jazzy ways to improve Google searches.

Tips include searching by date ranges, turning Google into a stock-tracking tool and searching on just one site rather than the whole Web.

Like eating potato chips, nobody's going to stop after sampling just one of these gems. Check out the publisher's Web site (www.oreilly.com) for a few free tips.

'Wrist-top' computer golfers will love

Suunto Corp., a high-tech sports equipment company in Finland, offers a "wrist-top computer" with global positioning capabilities that the company says can improve a golfer's game.

Punching a few buttons similar to the controls of a digital watch tells the 2.7-ounce G9 Personal Golf Instrument to pinpoint its location based on global positioning technology. By recording where you tee off and where your ball lands, the gadget can tell the golfer how far the ball traveled and the distance to the hole and suggest which club to use.

As the golfer continues to use the device, the G9 builds up a database of how the golfer performs under various circumstances and with various clubs. Once home, the golfer can upload the data into a home computer to analyze his game.

The $729 gadget (www.suunto.com) also functions as a watch, barometer, thermometer, altimeter and three-dimensional compass.

A new picture for PDA security

Hardly anybody uses passwords on handheld Palm and Pocket PC personal digital assistants. Enter Pointsec Mobile Technologies Inc., a Walnut Creek, Calif., company (www.pointsec.com) with a solution.

Its 128-bit encryption scheme, called PicturePIN, lets you tap out a succession of pictures displayed on the screen as your password. There are pictures of a man, a woman, a dog, a heart, a flower, a laptop, a cup of coffee and others. You make up a sentence out of pictures to remember the sequence. Two dogs and a man and woman shared a cup of four roses, for example.

Or is that four dogs and a man and a woman shared a cup of two roses?

Explaining .NET and other 'dumbest moments'

Business 2.0 just released its third annual "101 Dumbest Moments in Business," and a well-known Redmond, Wash., software giant was ranked fifth, 11th, 41st and 48th to 51st on the list.

A few highlights:

No. 5: Microsoft senior vice president Brian Valentine for eloquently selling his company's wares. Commenting on operating-system security, he says, "Every operating system out there is about equal. . . . We all suck."

No. 41: Microsoft plasters Manhattan traffic signs and sidewalks with hundreds of butterfly decals promoting its new MSN 8 software. When the city threatens to fine the company $50 per decal, Microsoft apologizes and removes the stickers.

No. 48: Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, explaining the company's .NET initiative at a July briefing: "One question might be, and I'll be as direct as I can be about this, what is .NET? Unlike Windows, where you could say it's a product, it sits in one place, it's got a nice little box. In some senses, it's a very good question."

Nos. 49 and 50: More attempts to explain .NET.

No. 51: Ballmer explaining .NET yet again, this time in an October interview with News.com: "It's about connecting people to people, people to information, businesses to businesses, businesses to information, and so on. That is the benefit."

-- Compiled from Times wires

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