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Buzz: MIT researcher makes 'paintings' from code for cyber threats

Cyber threats like NetSky, Mydoom and Parite are the bane of IT departments around the globe, but artist Alex Dragulescu has found subtle beauty deep within the dangerous computer code that can bring down networks and bombard

e-mail inboxes with murderous spam. •

Dragulescu ( has peeled back the code behind the world's worst tech bugs and rendered stunning images from it. • The Romanian-born MIT researcher and artist was commissioned to fashion the artwork by MessageLabs, a computer security company that sought to put a face — or at least a shape — on computer viruses. • Dragulescu found interesting, recurring patterns. He used the data to coax pointy green tentacles from the dreaded "Mydoom" e-mail worm and grew pretty peach petals from the epicenter of the "Degreediploma5" spam file. • "I think there is beauty in their complexity," Dragulescu said at a gallery debut in San Francisco.

A landline that can read the Internet?

Traditional wireline provider Embarq Corp. ( is offering a new cordless home phone that includes Internet-powered features it hopes will help it hold on to customers. The company lost 6.3 percent of its access lines in 2007 — ending the fiscal year with 6.47-million. Embarq began losing customers well before Sprint Nextel Corp. spun it off the local-phone division in 2006, but it remains the nation's fourth-largest traditional phone provider. (It serves many parts of Florida, though not the Tampa Bay area.) The Embarq eGo works like a regular phone but has a video screen and can hook into a high-speed Internet connection. Customers can use it to check weather, sports and news and scroll visually through voice mail and frequently called numbers.

Magnavox, Philips brands licensed

Netherlands' Royal Philips Electronics NV plans to transfer its consumer TV activities in the United States and Canada to Japan's Funai Electric Co. Philips will receive royalty payments in exchange for Funai's right to use the Philips and Magnavox names for its consumer TV offerings in North America. North American TV sales brought Philips about $1.57-billion in 2007, the company said. Philips said the move is among steps it is taking to make its global supply base more efficient and to focus its TV business on the strongest markets, especially in Europe and some developing countries. The agreement takes effect Sept. 1 if it meets with regulatory approval. Philips said it will continue to manufacture, market and sell its other products in North America.

New mobile service fights speed traps

You can now warn fellow drivers with a cell phone or personal digital assistant about speed traps, red-light cameras and other threats to ticket-free driving. And as you approach one, a free Web service sends audio alert on your mobile device. The developer of Trapster (, Pete Tenereillo, said the system, which requires punching in a few keys such as "#-1" to submit information to Trapster's database, should comply with laws banning talking on cell phones. The service can automatically detect location using mobile devices' GPS capabilities or tap their Wi-Fi and get location from a database run by Skyhook Wireless. Information about red-light cameras and where police tend to operate speed traps is kept in Trapster's database.

Heat from data center warms a pool

A new computer center in Switzerland is making novel use of the hot air thrown off by its servers and communications equipment: The heat is being funneled next door to warm the local swimming pool. When computing companies talk about "greening" their energy-guzzling data centers, that usually means powering the centers with renewable sources or using more efficient servers. In a few cases, the heat produced by the computers is used to warm nearby offices. In what appears to be a first, the town pool in Uitikon, Switzerland, outside Zurich, will be the beneficiary of the waste heat from a data center recently built by IBM Corp. for GIB-Services AG. Air conditioners blast the computers with chilly air to keep them around 70 degrees — and pump hot air out.

Buzz: MIT researcher makes 'paintings' from code for cyber threats 04/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:31am]
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