TODAY, Google has opened up registration for Google Code Jam 2012. This year thousands of students, professional programmers and freelance code wizards will pit their ingenuity against a new set of algorithmic challenges concocted by our tireless team of red-eyed, LED-illuminated problem writers.
Last year’s champion, Makoto Soejima, was asked to build a house for kittens, serve food to hungry mathematicians, escape from a shady casino and help Goro control his anger. Who knows what our problem writers have on their minds this year?
Code Jam is a world-wide programming competition in which contestants may use any programming language to solve algorithmic problems. The qualification round takes place April 13, followed by three online rounds in the following months. At the end of it all, the top 25 contestants will be invited to Google’s New York office on July 27 for a final match up and a chance to win $10,000. If you are up for the challenge,throw your hat into the ring now.
Registration will open March 13, 2012 and will close on April 15, 2012. To view the schedule, frequently asked questions and more information, please visit the Google Code Jam Page.
FEEDS from thousands of Trendnet home security cameras have been breached, allowing any web user to access live footage of their camera without needing a password.
Internet addresses which link to the video streams have been posted to a variety of popular messageboard sites.Users have expressed concern after finding they could view children’s bedrooms, among other locations. US-based Trendnet says it is in the process of releasing updates to correct a coding error introduced in 2010.
It said it had emailed customers who had registered affected devices to alert them to the problem. However, a spokesman told the BBC that “roughly 5%” of purchasers had registered their cameras and it had not yet issued a formal media release – despite being aware of the problem for more than three weeks.
“We first became aware of this on 12 January,” said Zak Wood, Trendnet’s director of global marketing.
“As of this week we have identified 26 [vulnerable] models. (In) seven of the models, the firmware has been tested and released.
“We anticipate to have all of the revised firmware available this week. We are scrambling to discover how the code was introduced and at this point it seems like a coding oversight.”
Mr Wood added that the California-based firm estimated that “fewer than 1,000 units” might be open to this threat in the UK, but could not immediately provide an exact global tally beyond saying that it was “most likely less than 50,000”.
Tech news website The Verge first publicised the issue last week after discovering a blog which had published details of the vulnerability on 10 January. The author discovered that after setting up one of the cameras with a password, its video stream became accessible to anyone who typed in the correct net address.
Trendnet says it is in the process of releasing firmware updates for its devices. In each case, this consisted of the user’s IP address followed by an identical sequence of 15 characters.
The writer then showed how the Shodan search engine – which specialises in finding online devices – could be used to discover cameras vulnerable to the flaw. “Last I ran this there was something like 350 vulnerable devices that were available,” the author wrote at the time. However, it appears that others then took advantage of the technique to expose other links and uploaded them to the net. Within two days, a list of 679 web addresses had been posted to one site, and others followed – in some cases listing the alleged Google Maps locations associated with each camera.
Messages on one forum included: “Someone caught a guy in denmark (traced to ip) getting naked in the bathroom.” Another said: “I think this guy is doing sit-ups.” One user wrote “baby spotted”, causing another to comment: “I feel like a paedophile watching this.”
Some screenshots have also been uploaded.
The firm – whose slogan is “networks that people trust” – said it had halted shipments of affected products to retailers and that any delivery received since the start of this month should be safe. However, it said that items delivered at an earlier date might need a firmware update.
“We are just getting to that point to be able to succinctly convey more information to the public who would be concerned,” said Mr Wood.
“We are planning an official release of information to the public concerning this, but in advance I can tell you that this week we are targeting to have firmware to all affected models.”
At the time of interview, Trendnet’s home page and its press release section made no mention of the problem.
However, a warning was lated added to its front page linking to a statement that says: “It is Trendnet’s understanding that video from select Trendnet IP cameras may be accessed online in real time. Upon awareness of the issue, Trendnet initiated immediate actions to correct and publish updated firmware which resolves the vulnerability.”
This week Apple introduced a new feature for the iPhone in its Apple Store app. The feature, called EasyPay, it allows people to take a picture of the bar code of a product with the phone’s camera and then buy the product on the spot, using your iTunes account.
An Apple store clerk assured me that Apple would “never, never, never, ever” use the product for big ticket purchases, like computers, as these are expensive items that Apple doesn’t want customers walking off with.
That shouldn’t make Google feel a lot better. In May, Google announced its payment system, Google Wallet, with support from MasterCard, among others. In September, the service became available on a Nexus phone, available through Sprint. The advantage of Google Wallet is supposed to be near field communications technology, or N.F.C., which enables payment by tapping the phone onto specially equipped readers at checkout counters. In videosshowing the service, people make low-price purchases, as they can with the Apple app.But with one app, Apple has started to move on Google’s payments plan, with potential distribution far greater than anything Sprint will be able to do with Nexus. Google had a very tight-lipped “no comment” on Apple’s move.
This change will be very interesting to see where it goes. And how it might affect retail checkout in the future.
Q: Do you think this change is good? Will it work? (Leave in comments)
THE site is QRCodes.co, no not .com. Basically what they have thought of, is a way to have a “virtual expansion” to your business card. First you must sign up (which is free) and then decide how you want your “page” that gets opened once your business card is scanned, to look like. Then you must of course add content. But when you are all done designing it, you get to share it on a number of social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more. You also have the option to download it, and/or print it on a piece of paper or right on your business card.
Go ahead and check them out!