How Easy Will it be for XP Owners to Upgrade to Windows 7?

Very easy. Unless you want to keep all your personal files and programs:

The system for upgrading is complicated, but Vista owners can upgrade to the exactly comparable edition of Windows 7 while keeping all files, settings and programs in place.

Unfortunately, XP owners, the biggest body of Windows users, won’t be able to do that. They’ll have to wipe out their hard disks after backing up their files elsewhere, then install Windows 7, then restore their personal files, then re-install all their programs from the original CDs or downloaded installer files. Then, they have to install all the patches and upgrades to those programs from over the years.

John Scalzi Reviews Google Wave

I’m out of it this week. This is the first I’ve even heard of Google Wave:

Google Wave basically strikes me as an innovative small business collaboration tool somewhat amusingly miscast as ZOMG THE THING WHAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE FOREVER, AMEN. Well, no. Google Wave will not replace your e-mail, paint your house, give you a kidney or push us all headlong into the singularity, to be translated into the vasty holds of Google’s data servers, where our virtual lives will be as in Azeroth, when we’re all leveled up and the griefers have been banished forever into a Atari 2600 Adventure cartridge. If you have a (preferably modest-sized) group of people you want to collaborate with on a project or document or online event, Google Wave could be a good and useful environment to do that work in. If you’re looking for it to do anything else, there are probably other things out there that do the job better, at least for the near-term future.

Researchers hijack botnet, score 56,000 passwords in an hour

From Ars Technica:

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have published a paper (PDF) detailing their findings after hijacking a botnet for ten days earlier this year. Among other things, the researchers were able to collect 70GB of data that the bots stole from users, including 56,000 passwords gathered within a single hour. The information not only gave them a look at the inner workings of the botnet, they also got to see how secure users really are when it comes to online activities. (Hint: they aren’t.)

The botnet in question is controlled by Torpig (also known as Sinowal), a malware program that aims to gather personal and financial information from Windows users. The researchers gained control of the Torpig botnet by exploiting a weakness in the way the bots try to locate their commands and control servers—the bots would generate a list of domains that they planned to contact next, but not all of those domains were registered yet. The researchers then registered the domains that the bots would resolve, and then set up servers where the bots could connect to find their commands. This method lasted for a full ten days before the botnet’s controllers updated the system and cut the observation short.

During that time, however, UCSB’s researchers were able to gather massive amounts of information on how the botnet functions as well as what kind of information it’s gathering. Almost 300,000 unique login credentials were gathered over the time the researchers controlled the botnet, including 56,000 passwords gathered in a single hour using “simple replacement rules” and a password cracker. They found that 28 percent of victims reused their credentials for accessing 368,501 websites, making it an easy task for scammers to gather further personal information. The researchers noted that they were able to read through hundreds of e-mail, forum, and chat messages gathered by Torpig that “often contain detailed (and private) descriptions of the lives of their authors.”

The Cost of Running YouTube

From Slate:

Everyone knows that print newspapers are our generation’s horse-and-buggy; in the most wired cities, they’ve been pummeled by competition from the Web. But it might surprise you to learn that one of the largest and most-celebrated new-media ventures is burning through cash at a rate that makes newspapers look like wise investments. It’s called YouTube: According a recent report by analysts at the financial-services company Credit Suisse, Google will lose $470 million on the video-sharing site this year alone. To put it another way, the Boston Globe, which is on track to lose $85 million in 2009, is five times more profitable—or, rather, less unprofitable—than YouTube. All so you can watch this helium-voiced oddball whenever you want.

YouTube’s troubles are surprisingly similar to those faced by newspapers. Just like your local daily, the company is struggling to sell enough in advertising to cover the enormous costs of storing and distributing its content. Newspapers have to pay to publish and deliver dead trees; YouTube has to pay for a gargantuan Internet connection to send videos to your computer and the millions of others who are demanding the most recent Dramatic Chipmunk mash-up. Google doesn’t break out YouTube’s profits and losses on its earnings statements, and of course it’s possible that Credit Suisse’s estimates are off. But if the analysts are at all close, YouTube, which Google bought in 2006, is in big trouble. As Benjamin Wayne, the CEO of the rival video-streaming company Fliqz, pointed out in a recent article for Silicon Alley Insider, not even Google can long sustain a company that’s losing close to half a billion dollars a year.

(via GeekPress)

China’s Electronic Waste Village

A photo essay from Time about the town in China where 80% of discarded circuit boards, cellphones and other electronics from the US end up. (Be sure to read the captions that accompany each picture.)

The city of Guiyu is home to 5,500 businesses devoted to processing discarded electronics, known as e-waste. According to local websites, the region dismantles 1.5 million pounds of junked computers, cell phones and other devices a year.

Spam Gets 1 Response per 12,500,000 Emails

From TechRadar:

A new study details how spammers – the bane of our email inboxes – still make pots of money, despite only receiving a response to one in every 12,500,000 emails they spam out.

The study, by a team of seven computer scientists from University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego (UCSD) infiltrated the Storm network, which uses hijacked home PCs to relay much of the junk email you spend your days wading through while wondering ‘who the hell responds to this stuff?’

Well. Now you know. One gullible idiot in 12,500,000 recipients. Or thereabouts.