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Webstractions - Web Development & Design News

Commentary on new events and information concerning web development, design practices, search engines, SEO, tools, news story headlines and what's new at WebStractions.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin released a statement today on the future of Google and their decision to file for an IPO. The letter was inspired in part by Warren Buffet's essays in his annual reports and his “An Owner’s Manual” to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.

Many points are covered from their Coorporate structure at Google to their long-term plans. The full letter can be read at Financial Times.

Discuss the article and the IPO at Band of Gonzos Forum
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Today Robin Good posted an article about a website that offers you the opportunity to "try out" some of the best open source and free php/mysql based content management systems in the world. You can log in as the administrator to any site here, thus allowing you to decide which system best suits your needs."

The site is OpensourceCMS and it provides you with all the tools and information to try out any of these systems. Over 60 different systems are presented and made fully accessible including Drupal, WordPress, pMachine, Nucleus.

Thanks Robin!! Nice find.

Labels:

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It's Official: Google Files for IPO says the Associated Press. Search giant Google Inc. finally made it official Thursday. It filed the paperwork for its much-anticipated initial public offering that could raise as much as $2.7 billion and is expected to be a bellwether for the technology industry.

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., plans to offer shares of stock through an auction-based process on either the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange, according to its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Google did not provide a planned stock symbol or a target date for its public listing.

Read the full story at eWeek

Discuss at Band of Gonzos Forum
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USCITY.NET has blocked questionable activity by Overture's AlltheWeb.com crawlers for not playing by the rules

"USCITY.NET has been crawled 24/7 for the past 3 months by the spiders of AlltheWeb.com, owned by Overture," said USCITY.NET's Mary Crawford. "Despite all of their interest in our site, USCITY.NET fails to show up in a search of their databases."

USCITY.NET has logged over 22 gigabytes of data pulled by AlltheWeb's crawlers attempting to harvest USCITY.NET's member links. AlltheWeb's dysfunctional crawlers also generated over 12,000 errors on USCITY.NET servers scavenging for pages that don't exist. Repeated attempts to contact AlltheWeb and Overture about its questionable crawling yielded no response.

"We've had enough," said Ms. Crawford. "We have no choice but to block AlltheWeb until it cleans up its act."

Read the full story at CBS Marketwatch

Along Come the Spiders

There seems to be an ongoing pattern for the now defunct spiders from the search engines that Yahoo has acquired. Even the FAST Enterprise crawler has been crawling into places it never had before. Although the FAST Enterpise spider has nothing to do with Yahoo, it's previous affiliation with AllTheWeb may still have some residual contracts to fulfill.

Just as in the AllTheWeb incident at USCITY.Net, the FAST Enterprise crawler harvested one page per minute (as per their crawler FAQ) for a solid day and a half at the Band of Gonzos website. Attempts to contact FAST were not responded to and the spider was blocked.

In a WebMasterWorld thread last month the question was raised about the FAST Enterprise crawler showing up in numerous logs. The thread confused the FAST Enterprise division of FAST Search with Yahoo's acquisition of AllTheWeb and it's spider which was controlled by FAST Search.

Tim Mayer of Yahoo responded by saying, "You are confusing the crawlers from the old web/ATW division of fast which is now owned by Overture/Yahoo and the enterprise Division which is still a Norwegian Company. They are two different companies with different crawlers and end products." In the FAST Coorporate FAQ though they list Overture as a "key customer". They do not call it the web for nothing and Mayer's usual responses never confirm or deny anything, they tend to leave you with more questions than answers.

It is deeply concerning that there is a rise in spider activity from companies that no longer exist (on paper) or from companies that would not normally crawl a site that has not paid for the inclusion. Asking or trying to find verification of who owns the errant spiders and what purpose they are for is tough. Trying to find the information on the FAST crawler was easy enough to do last month, but now the page for it has disappeared.

Read and discuss this story at Band Of Gonzos Forum
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Two anti-spyware bills are being readied in time for a hearing Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The measures, one sponsored by a California Republican and the other by a Washington Democrat, take different approaches toward software that lurks on a computer and serves pop-up ads or transmits personal information. But both make the same point: Official Washington is becoming officially fed up with the proliferation of spyware and adware. The new attention paid to malicious software follows last fall's unprecedented focus on unsolicited commercial e-mail.

"It may be this year's spam, if you will," Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said in an interview. "We're recognizing that we have privacy rights at stake that could be abused and you have this increasing infestation of pop-up ads. That's a great impediment to people's use of this technology." Computer makers and security firms say that spyware and adware problems have increased nearly tenfold in the last year.

Inslee's bill punishes malicious spyware authors with criminal penalties, grants state attorneys general the power to bring civil cases, and regulates the use of spyware technology by federal police like the FBI. In 2001, news leaked out that the FBI was reportedly developing spyware technologies to remotely install surveillance programs on suspects' computers.

Read full story at CNET News.com
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If Google Inc. opens its books this week as many still expect, its rivals will be hoping to unravel one of Silicon Valley's most closely guarded secrets: how much it makes every time someone on the planet Googles.

Larger competitors, such as Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. , are likely to seek clues on Google's profitability and how much the secretive firm is investing in new technology, as they seek to carve out a chunk of the online search market, analysts said.

Smaller competitors said they are expecting Google's financial data to show that it is more profitable than it has suggested in the past, a sign that there is plenty of money to be had for niche players in the Web search market.

Read the full story at Reuters
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U.S. authorities charged four people in Detroit on Wednesday with e-mailing fraudulent sales pitches for weight-loss products, the first criminal prosecutions under the government's new "can spam" legislation.

Court papers identified the four as Daniel J. Lin, James J. Lin, Mark M. Sadek and Christopher Chung, all believed living in suburban Detroit. They were accused of disguising their identities in hundreds of thousands of sales pitches and delivering e-mails by bouncing messages through unprotected relay computers on the Internet.

Read the full story at DailyPress.com
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Microsoft has said it will use more dialogue boxes in future software releases to educate users on 'safe practice' computing

At the InfoSecurity show in London on Tuesday, Microsoft said it hoped that new versions of its Windows and Office products will educate customers about security through the use of dialogue boxes and warning messages, and by offering to automatically configure the user's security settings.

In January 2002, Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates launched the trustworthy computing initiative, which fundamentally changed the way that Microsoft develops software by making security its No.1 priority. In June, Microsoft will launch Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, which is designed to increase the operating system's security and make it easier for end users to control and manage their security settings.

Read the full story at ZDNet UK
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In an article issued by Garrett French at WebProNews he reported that GoogleBot's been requesting non-existant files from root directories lately, leading some to suspect that Google's planning a blog search addition to their results, possibly even a new link above the search box.

Matthew Mullenweg's (Photo Matt blog) report was the basis of the article in which he said that he has been getting random requests from Googlebot for atom.xml and index.rdf files on his blog site and others. Other random activity was also reported by Mullenweg such as issuing calls to non-existant subdirectories, usually /blog or similar. Since the sites run WordPress and there is no mention of or links to atom.xml or index.rdf anywhere, then he is assuming that Googlebot is guessing that these files will be there.

This activity does seem to come on the heels of My Yahoo's recent inclusion of RSS feeds that can now be added to any personal pages. Yahoo Search is also featuring RSS Feeds in their results along with an easy to click option for adding those feeds to My Yahoo. Yahoo Search does not include feeds for Atom which is the XML standard for Blogger.com which is owned by Google.

Dave Winer, a proponent of RSS, is crying foul and almost accusing Google of anti-trust illegalities and a PR disaster in the making. Winer says, "I never in a million years thought Google would stoop this low, even Microsoft on its worst day never played this dirty."

In a follow up comment, Greg R. of Ten Reasons Why rationally states "A simple, non-conspiratorial explanation is that googlebot is attempting to find RSS 1.0 and Atom feeds on sites that don't have those feeds linked."

Greg adds, "Assuming Google wants to index all feeds (and it doesn't appear that Google has ceased indexing RSS 2.0 feeds), if googlebot came across a site that had an RSS 2.0 feed, it makes sense to take a random stab at the common RSS 1.0 and Atom URIs to see if those feeds are also present. (Since some tools, like MT, generate them automatically, I find that people will quite frequently still have a live Atom feed on their site, even if they've only linked the RSS 2.0 page.) This theory is supported by PhotoMatt (http://photomatt.net/archives/2004/04/20/google-cooking/) who points out that when searching for index.rdf and atom.xml, googlebot is always checking the root directory or any obvious sub-directory (like /blog). That indicates to me that they're just scouring for feeds by looking in the obvious locations."

As plausible as this sounds, I tend to agree with it (for now anyway). What is intriguing about this is that Google never takes "random stabs" at anything. This is by all rights a unique event in Googlebot crawling history. It is unprecedented in fact. But these are not the same situations that Google was in a year ago, they did not have Yahoo (and MSN) breathing down their necks. Anyone of them could topple Google, both of them together just might do that.

Interesting thought to ponder for right now rather than conspiracy theories -- random stabs. Now that is something to talk about.
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SEO Roundtable has reported that a large number of PSA's have been seen while looking at other sites that Published Google Ads. The article Google AdSense Server Broken? Serving Up PSAs also reported that many forums are speculating that the Google Ad server is broken (for lack of a better way of describing it).
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Forum Systems Inc. last week announced a partnership with Oracle Corp. to provide additional security for production Web services.

The partnership enables customers of Forum to use the company's XWall appliance to share identity information across operating systems and computing environments.

Forum's XWall Web Services Firewall with XML Intrusion Prevention (XIP) now supports Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g against SOAP and XML vulnerabilities.

Read the full story at ChannelWeb
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Two major security issues affecting routers hit the Internet community within hours of each other last week, sending administrators and network operators scurrying to get updated software to protect their devices before an expected wave of attacks begins.

The more serious of the two problems is a critical vulnerability in Cisco Systems Inc.'s Cisco IOS Software, which runs the company's routers and switches. When trying to process certain types of SNMP requests, the software mishandles the messages and resets the device. As a result, an attacker could cause a DoS (denial-of-service) condition on any vulnerable device.

Plan of attack

Details of new Internet security flaws
  • Cisco IOS SNMP flaw
  • Can lead to router crashes, DoS
  • Considered easy to exploit


TCP attack
  • Can disrupt TCP sessions
  • Affects all TCP devices
  • Can be difficult to perform


Read the full story at eWEEK
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With Symantec Client Security 2.0, Symantec Corp. extends its desktop-based defenses against blended attacks by offering stalwart anti-virus protection, much-improved firewall and intrusion detection capabilities, and even a handy new ad-blocking engine.

With SCS 2.0, IT administrators will find deployment and ongoing management of remote clients greatly enhanced, particularly for the firewall component.

Read the full review at eWEEK.
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Trend Micro Appliance Blocks Viruses

Trend Micro Inc.'s Network VirusWall 1200 is a rackable 1U (1.75-inch) appliance that, as the name implies, is a virus-stopping tool that performs basic vulnerability assessment on Windows clients and virus cleanup.

We'd like to see more extensive vulnerability assessment in the appliance, as well as the ability to simultaneously work on several virus or worm outbreaks, but eWEEK Labs' tests showed that Trend got it mostly right, right out of the box.

Read the full review of Network VirusWall 1200 at eWEEK.
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Internet Systems Consortium, the nonprofit programming group in charge of the Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) software, has begun selling commercial support for the widely used but low-profile open-source product. BIND endows a computer with Domain Name Service support, which translates textual Internet addresses into the numerical counterparts needed to send data; ISC estimates BIND is used on three-fourths of Internet servers.

ISC announced the commercial support in conjunction with the release of BIND version 9.3 last week. The organization offers three levels of support with varying prices, response times and consulting help. Annual contracts start at $5,000.

Read the story at CNET News.com
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aQuantive, one of the Web's largest advertising companies, has formed a new operating unit to profile Web surfers and deliver targeted online ads.

Called "Drive Performance Media," or Drive PM, the initiative was created earlier this year and in recent months has been slowly gathering customers. aQuantive, formerly known as Avenue A, is expected to announce the project Monday.

The company wouldn't name specific publishers or advertising customers. But Drive PM's general manager, Scott Howe, said the project relies on partnerships with top-tier sites. aQuantive buys unsold ad inventory from various sites. Using visitor data from these sites in conjunction with various tracking technologies, it then profiles surfers as they jump from one site to the next. The company creates a composite of visitors' demographics, behaviors and interests, but without using identifiable data about specific people. That data is then used to tailor ads.

Read the story at CNET News.com
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Yahoo on Monday will launch a makeover of its popular instant-messaging software, just days after similar moves by rivals America Online and Microsoft.

Called "The All New Yahoo Messenger," the upgrade is one of its most dramatic makeovers to date. Cosmetically, the service will have a new look and feel that focuses more on graphics and animation, the company said. The service also has folded in features pulled from other areas of Yahoo's Web site, such as photo sharing, the address book, user-to-user video games, Internet radio from its Launch subsidiary, and online search results.

Read the full story at CNET News.com
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A persistent new spam campaign that purports to show recipients pictures of Osama bin Laden being captured is in fact a ruse that could lead victims to download a malicious Trojan.

The e-mails have been flooding inboxes all over the Internet since Thursday, carrying a subject line that reads: "Osama bin Laden Captured." The sending address is spoofed, and the messages often appear in tightly grouped batches of eight or 10 e-mails at a time. The text of the message is as follows:

"Just got this from CNN Osama Bin Laden has just been captured! A video and some pictures have been released. Go to the link below for pictures, I will update the page with the video as soon as I can: http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xx/pics/ God Bless America!"

Read the full story at eWeek.com
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Phishing has increased about 1,200 percent in the past six months, according to MessageLabs Inc.

In September of 2003, the company's system logged 279 different phishing e-mail attempts around the Internet. By January, the number of scams numbered 337,050.

Consulting firm iDefence said the reported statistical increase may be due to an increase in the tracking of phishing attacks.

"Clearly several organizations are now tracking phishing attacks with a rather new data set," said Ken Dunham, director at iDefence. "As a result the baseline is not as reliable as compared to say five years worth of data with a similar data collection effort."

Read the full story at InternetNews.com
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The Associated Press is reporting that AXA, the world's No. 3 insurer, is taking Google Inc. to court next month in the latest trademark challenge to threaten the heart of Google's business model—advertising.

Google is already embroiled in litigation on both sides of the Atlantic over claims that its pay-for-placement service, Adwords, lets clients hijack their competitors' trademarks.

See story at eWeek - New Trademark Lawsuit Challenges Google
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With Amazon introducing the A9 search engine of late and Alexa Internet providing some of the data for the results, the search engine game has another player in the field. One aspect that is hard to pin down is Alexa's Traffic Detail and how it will affect those results -- will it be the equivalent of Google PR?

The Alexa Traffic Detail ranking is derived in part from tracking data that is sent back by users of the Alexa Toolbar. It is well known how easy it is to shoot your ranking up with use of this toolbar.

To prove that fact, please note the following chart which is the work of two individuals. I know this to be true, for I am one of them and I know who the other one is. I also know that it is only two people because the site was not officially open until March 15th, yet the site was already in the high 50's in late February.




This brings me to one of the funnier theories I have seen to date to justify Alexa Traffic Detail. It is a persons attempt to come up with a mathematical formula to predict Alexa Traffic Details. In fact in the footnotes of this chart it admits to taking out "some outliers so that the trend line represents the relationship 58% of the time."

They have asked not to copy the chart to your site (not that I would), so I will leave it up to you to view the chart and look at the blue dots close to the 0, 0 axis point. Hopefully you will see a blue dot that represents the 3 month average of 51,000 and approximately 100 unique visitors per day. This may be considered an "outlier" and not be included into the formula.

Many website owners use the Alexa Traffic Details for trend analysis. This practice can and will lead them to believe something that really is not there. The ease at which the ranking can be influenced by a wide assortment of outliers. One scenario is the direct correlation of finally achieving a PR4 or PR5 on your site and then a noticeable spike will appear on your Traffic Details. This is usually attributable to a competitor checking your site out for their own reasons, one may be they are looking for a link exchange because of your new found PR boost.

I was corresponding with another website owner through email back in November of last year while helping him with a few problems on his site. This involved quite a few page views of his site during the process. At that time he noticed that his Alexa Ranking went up. I boldly told him that I could predict his ranking for the next week, and he bit. I turned off my Alexa Toolbar during the following week and his levels went back to right about where I told them they would be. He was in shock. Dan if you are reading this, now you know the rest of the story!

So what good is the Alexa Traffic Details? Nothing that I can see. But if you have a good one, might as well flaunt it. Just don't do it in front of me and expect me to fall for it though.

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Sharing Is The Real Marketing: The Cheapest Way To Move From Unknown To Known

Robin Good lays out his ideas on what he calls a "sharing economy" that is fueled by the Creative Commons license which encourages artists to share and distribute their work for free. He believes that first fame then fortune appears to be the correct mantra for the emerging independent artist. Becoming known first on a global scale may be the key to a new multibillion-dollar industry in the making.

Robin appears to be one smart chap! Read his article at Sharing is the Real Marketing.
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TM Domain names can be used internationally to promote trademarks and products on the Web in every specific language or script. Registration is available now and for everyone from then www.Secure.TM site

The .TM suffix, the internet name space of choice for companies with Trademarks involved in e-commerce (www.Domain.TM) now allows its customers to promote their products and brands as Internet addresses written in their clients' specific languages or scripts.

See PRweb for the complete Press Release
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This is quite a unique story, and it deserves all of your attention if you are a web site owner or manager, utilizing WebSideStory Hitbox to live track your site visitors. If you are one such person and have been experiencing a sudden drop of visitors to your site according to your Hitbox dashboard, breathe again. What you are looking at is not true!



If you are not a Hitbox Professional user you may skip this story unless you want to learn what are the customer support issues that may alienate a large portion of any company client base from one day to the next.

Robin Good investigated this "technical problem" and has some answers for what is going on. Read the full article at Lost Your Web Traffic? Ask Hitbox Customer Love
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Forgent Networks said Friday it sued 31 major hardware and software vendors, including Dell and Apple Computers, for allegedly infringing on its claim to an algorithm used in the popular JPEG picture file format.

If the suits are successful, they could lead to an increase in prices for tools and software used to create and modify images -- or even lead the industry to abandon the JPEG format altogether.

See story in Wired News : Forgent Sues Over JPEG Patent

Update - JPEG Patent Could Impact The Gimp

I was reading a post by Timothy at Slashdot in which he states that Gimp may be affected by the patent.

A Newsforge article gets into some of the details and asks whether open source tools like the Gimp could be liable as well. To add fuel to the fire, the Joint Photographic Experts Group's committee thinks that some of the patent may be invalid. The p2pnet.net story mentions that the FTC has some skepticism as well.

Read timothy's post at Slashdot : JPEG Patent Could Impact The Gimp

Discuss the patent lawsuit at Band of Gonzos Forum : Forgent Sues over JPEG Patent
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Gmail, Google's new Web-based e-mail service, has sparked commentary, controversy and even calls for congressional action. eWEEK's Steve Gillmor explored the perils and possibilities of the free software-as-service in an exclusive conversation with Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

The interview at eWeek : Google's Brin Talks on Gmail Future
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Multinational swoop on Fairlight pirates

Police in 11 countries have carried out a total of 120 searches and numerous arrests to crack a piracy organisation called Fairlight.

More than 200 computers were seized worldwide, including 30 servers used as storage and distribution hubs. One of the servers seized in the US contained an estimated 65,000 pirated titles and police estimate that hundreds of thousands of illegally copied titles are held on the seized machines.

'Operation Fastlink' was coordinated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which carried out raids in 27 states in the US.

In the UK, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit worked with the Business Software Alliance and the Federation Against Copyright Theft to provide information for search warrants.

More on the story at Silicon.com : Multinational swoop on Fairlight pirates

'Operation Fastlink' Is The Largest Global Enforcement Action Ever Undertaken Against Online Piracy

Washington -- Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced the most far-reaching and aggressive enforcement action ever undertaken against organizations involved in illegal intellectual property piracy over the Internet. Beginning yesterday morning, law enforcement from 10 countries and the United States conducted over 120 searches worldwide to dismantle some of the most well-known and prolific online piracy organizations.

More on the story at LinuxElectrons

Local newspapers account for how far-reaching the raids were

I started to look into the local news reports for 'Operation Fastlink' and found many references to the raids that were carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies. Each news agency put their local twist on the raids.

The University of Maryland's independant student newspaper, 'The Diamondback', reported a frat house being raided. FBI agents with a search warrant entered a boarder's room in the Kappa Alpha fraternity house at 1 Fraternity Row and confiscated a computer and PlayStation 2.

Early Wednesday morning, FBI agents executed a search warrant at a Deer Valley Unified School District administrative building in Arizona and two other sites in the State. Although no computer equipment was confiscated, about 20 Deer Valley employees were questioned Wednesday when FBI agents appeared at the district's technology center with a sealed warrant.
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Google is updating the PR and backlinks at it's datacenters. I have noticed them fluctuating over the past couple of days. Now it appears to have settled down and at it's final resting place.

Discuss at Band of Gonzos Forum - Google Adjusting PR
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The Apache Foundation announced Version 1.1 of its Java library has been released, which includes a beta implementation of XML Encryption.

The XML Security Project is a volunteer group within the Apache Foundation dedicated to implementing W3C security standards in XML. This latest beta release of the library includes implementation of pluggable algorithm handlers plus support for encryption and decryption of XML-based messages. The release also includes bug fixes to the Digital Signature implementation released in a previous version of the Java Library A C++ library is also available from the XML Security Project.

For further information on this release, contact the XML Security Project of the Apache Foundation.
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The U.S. Senate is slated to vote this week whether or not to renew a ban that keeps state and local governments from taxing Internet access. But Internet services, particularly VOIP, are likely to get snared in the debate as a potential tax target not to be covered by the ban.

The Internet access tax moratorium, first enacted in 1998, expired in the fall. As senators look to renew the ban, they have to consider the changes in broadband technology that have made high-speed access affordable to small and midsize businesses.

See story at eWeek : Senate Mulls Internet Tax Ban
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Speakers at this year's Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference said privacy concerns about Google's upcoming Gmail service are mostly overblown, but they said the controversy over the free Web-based e-mail service has forced the industry to address several murky legal questions about e-mail scanning and storage.

These include questions about why communications providers have the right to scan for spam, but not for ad triggers; whether Gmail's scanning sets a precedent for government initiatives to search all e-mail for incriminating keywords; and whether corporations have the responsibility to tell their customers that their stored e-mails have little protection from law enforcement.

See story in Wired News : Gmail Still Sparking Debates


Google Defends Scanning E-mail for Ad Links

A Google Inc. executive on Friday told a conference of privacy advocates here that the company's plan to electronically scan messages sent through its new Gmail service so it can link advertising to message content is a necessary tradeoff.

"To have free e-mail, you have to have ads," Nicole Wong, senior compliance counsel for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, told attendees at the 2004 Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy here. "Ads are a great way to support free e-mail," she said.

Privacy advocates peppered Wong with questions about whether it is right to scan e-mail that comes to Gmail subscribers from other mail systems and whether the very act of scanning e-mail compromises users' privacy.

See story in eWeek : Google Defends Scanning E-Mail for Ad Links
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Security experts are monitoring what appears to be a coordinated effort to exploit a known vulnerability in the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) implementation in Windows, and say that there may be a worm doing some of the work.

The vulnerability in the SSL library in Windows has been known for some time, and there is a patch available. However, experts say that on Wednesday someone released working exploit code for the flaw and there has been a marked increase in the amount of attacks against this vulnerability since then, according to experts at VeriSign Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif.

See story in eWeek Security News - Compromise Likely of Serious Windows SSL Vulnerability
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Spammers who get caught flooding American inboxes with junk mail could find themselves facing prosecution twice -- once at the federal level and once at the state level -- thanks to a largely overlooked clause in the U.S. Can-Spam Act. This according to Wired News.

The clause, noted in 28 words near the bottom of the nation's first federal law against spam, prevents the Can-Spam Act from pre-empting state laws that prohibit "falsity and deception" in commercial e-mails. In other words, states are free to keep certain portions of their existing antispam laws, or even form new ones -- contrary to statements made by critics of the Can-Spam Act.

Full story at Wired News : Taking a Second Shot at Spammers
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The Wall Street Journal is reporting the people familular with the Google IPO matter are saying that the Internet-search pioneer Google Inc. plans to announce within days that it will push forward with an initial public offering. Many financial and news reporting agencies are carrying the story, but nothing else is known at this time.

The announcement is linked to the fact that Google will soon be required to disclose publicly more information about its business, under a Securities and Exchange Commission rule triggered after closely held companies surpass a certain size. Google is expected to have to make such disclosures as early as next week. Lawyers have said that the disclosure requirements can be a trigger for companies to list their shares.

While most news agencies are citing the source from the Wall Street Journal, the Mercury News is citing that all they have is an AP story that is saying the company appears poised to file the papers for the much-anticipated initial public offering of stock next week because of an obscure SEC rule affecting companies with at least 500 shareholders

More on the stories at Google IPO Imminent
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The Web Standards Group, known best for their evangelism of standards both online and in the sunny climes of Australia, have posted their Top Ten Questions for Eric Meyer.

Eric discusses his new CSS books, along with his opinions on CSS3, where CSS has been, and where it's going There are tips for new developers, alongside Eric's take on image replacement and CSS hacks.

Read the interview at http://webstandardsgroup.org/features/eric-meyer.cfm

Visit Eric Meyer's website at http://www.meyerweb.com/
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You probably have heard that Yahoo!Search is beta testing a new service that allows users to add RSS feeds to their My Yahoo page directly from their search results. If a feed is available from a site, then the search result will contain a link to the XML page for you to view and a link to automatically add the feed to your My!Yahoo personal page.

You can take advantage of the public beta stage and have an opportunity to provide your website with another avenue to increase it's Internet presence. Headline syndication is a great way to build awareness of your content and your brand, drive traffic to your site, and serve your existing readership -- with relative ease and without expense. Invest a small amount of time to create your RSS file and you can essentially distribute headlines to many sources with very minimal ongoing work and virtually no overhead.

Not only can syndication help build stronger relationships with existing readers who want to know as soon as new content gets posted, it will also help attract new readers. And now, with My Yahoo! introducing the RSS format to its broad audience, publishers and bloggers who choose to syndicate will gain access to the millions of readers who visit My Yahoo! every day.

Yahoo is also maintaining an RSS feed directory in parallel with the service. The current RSS versions that it supports are RSS 0.90, 0.91, 0.92, 1.0, and 2.0. To date, this directory includes thousands of the most popular blogs and web sites that publish RSS feeds, but it is by no means exhaustive.

Getting into the the directory is very simple. If you have a My!Yahoo account, then all you have to do is add your RSS feed to your personal page. Each time you add a feed to My Yahoo!, the RSS directory is automatically updated. Once the feed in the directory anyone can discover it via the RSS search function.

Millions of Internet users visit My!Yahoo each day. To take advantage of that you can promote the fact that your content is available to be added to their personal page. Yahoo makes it easy for your visitors to add your headlines to My!Yahoo by putting a simple "Add to My Yahoo!" button on your site.

Once your feed is published at Yahoo, you will want to make sure that your latest posts appear immediately by using Yahoo's API. Yahoo's system will schedule an immediate refresh of your site so that My Yahoo! has the most up-to-date version of the RSS feed. The two interfaces currently available are: REST and XML-RPC. Example request and response.

If you publish a weblog (blog) or personal web site, consult the FAQs associated with your publishing software or hosting service to learn how to enable RSS on your platform. Many programs and services offer built-in tools to publish and update your RSS file easily. Yahoo does not support ATOM feeds -- but plans to expand other formats in the future. It is not clear whether this will be one of them. ATOM feeds are the standard for blogs created at Google's Blogger.com website.

If you are a webmaster or developer who manages a more robust or custom content management system, there are several tutorials that can help you get started. Here are just a few existing resources:

For the complete FAQ for RSS Publishers at Yahoo, visit http://my.yahoo.com/s/publishers.html

Further information can be found at http://www.bandofgonzos.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=495
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Gallery v1.4.3 is now avaliable for download. It is a combination of lots of bug fixes and several new features.

Some of these include:
  • Compatibility with register_globals turned off
  • GeekLog, phpBB2, MamboServer, and NSNnuke integration
  • Image watermarking
  • Fullscreen fit-to-screen slideshow Java applet
  • Java applet for uploading
  • Various security enhancements

See Source Forge entry for Gallery 1.4.3
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More than 80% of Internet users don’t look beyond the first three pages of search results, underscoring the importance of placing high in searches, according to survey findings from search engine marketing firm iProspect.

More on the story Search Marketing Success
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The News, One Entry at a Time
By Mark Baard - Wired News

01:03 PM Apr. 19, 2004 PT

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts -- Blogs are giving a voice to many people, including former journalists, who have been shut out by the mainstream media, said bloggers meeting last weekend at Harvard University.

Some of the bloggers in a group that included former career journalists from NPR, CNN and the New York Daily News also suggested that traditional journalistic standards and ethics should not apply to blogs, because readers of Web content crave more than the rote reporting of events and issues.

Interesting story. For the rest of the story, see The New, One Entry at a Time

Discuss at Band of Gonzos Forum
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Mark Carey's site GoogleGuy Says tracks the words of a Google employee known as GoogleGuy. GoogleGuy is a Google employee who is very helpful in responding to questions and providing information to webmasters about changes at Google.

Now GoogleGuy has requested that Carey stop posting his comments on his site.

Read Carey's statement at GoogleGuy Says Stop
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Sun Microsystems Inc. officials on Monday will use its iForce partner summit in San Diego to announce a special promotional program to let companies with less than 100 employees sign up for a free, one-year runtime license for its Java Enterprise System software.

That license, subject to certain criteria, terms and conditions, excludes outsourcing and service providers, government agencies, or educational institutions and does not include any support, service or maintenance.

Details of the offer can be found here

Discuss the offer at Band of Gonzos Forum
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Users want to know if security features will interfere with antivirus, firewall apps.

Paul Roberts, IDG News Service
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Executives from Microsoft's security group demonstrated some of the new security features planned for the next major Windows XP software update, known as Service Pack 2, and faced persistent questions Tuesday from customers about whether the new features will interfere with other security technology.

Speaking at the company's monthly Executive Circle Web cast, Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Security Business and Technology Unit (SBTU) showed off new features designed to simplify the management of security technology like antivirus and desktop firewalls, and to protect users from malicious e-mail attachments.

Nash also summoned other security group executives to talk about the company's plans and to field questions from customers curious about whether the new version of XP will interfere with network and desktop security products that are already being used.


Release Schedule
Rebecca Norlander, group manager for the SBTU, spoke with Nash and confirmed that a second test version of Service Pack 2, known as Release Candidate 2 (or RC2) will be released in May, and that the final version of XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) is still on schedule for the first half of the year. More release candidates are possible after the RC2 release, depending on customer feedback, Norlander said.

Demonstrating XP SP2 for Nash, Norlander displayed the new Windows Security Center, which consolidates security configuration information, and displayed features in the Outlook e-mail client that will strip out malicious attachments or warn users when unknown and potentially harmful programs are trying to run.

In a question-and-answer session, Nash and Norlander responded to frequent questions from customers, submitted electronically, about how third-party antivirus products and firewalls would work with the new Windows version.

A query from a customer named "Pablo" asked Norlander whether the Windows Firewall will work with common third-party firewalls like those by Network Associates and Zone Alarm.

Microsoft is working hard on compatibility testing, but it is ultimately up to customers to make the Windows Firewall run alongside another firewall product, Norlander said.


Added Security
Microsoft encourages all XP customers to run the new version of the Windows Firewall so they can benefit from boot time security, a new feature in XP SP2 that protects Windows systems from attack while they are booting, she said. Customers who encounter compatibility problems between the Windows firewalls and other firewalls should report them to Microsoft and to the firewall vendor, she said.

A similar question was asked about whether third-party antivirus products automatically appear in the new Security Center. Microsoft responded that the company expects around 70 percent of commercial antivirus products to be recognized by Windows XP SP2 and to appear in the new Security Center management interface when XP SP2 is released.

Customers who experience problems with their existing antivirus package were also told to contact Microsoft and the antivirus vendor and report the problems.

Asked whether new security features make desktop antivirus and firewall products unnecessary, Nash said that companies should understand what security features are in Windows XP SP2 and to "evaluate your security products to see what's right for your environment," but that Microsoft is working to make Windows interact with and manage a variety of third-party products.

There has been speculation within the information technology community that Microsoft's tougher stance on security in XP SP2 might cause some applications to stop working. In an interview with IDG News Service in March, a Microsoft product manager warned that changes to default settings in Windows XP SP2 could affect the way older applications run.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, is reaching out to developers and large software vendors with training courses to discuss the impact of XP SP2 on existing applications and help making software applications compatible with the new version of XP, Microsoft says.

Nash and others encouraged Microsoft customers to download and test the first test release of Windows XP SP2, and to report any problems they encounter to the company.

Source: PC World Microsoft Questioned on XP SP2

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Both the AP and eWeek are running reports stating that researchers have uncovered a serious flaw in Internet technology that could allow hackers to knock computers offline and interupt Internet operations for hours.

Click here for the AP story Internet technology vulnerablity at ABC25.com

eWeek's story goes into quite a bit of detail in describing the attack. See Flaw Leaves Internet Open to Attacks


Discuss this article Internet technology vulnerable to hackers - Flaw in TCP
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Source: Timesofoman.com

Is Google Inc. quietly arming itself to challenge Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software by developing an operating system that lives on the Internet?

The closely held search-engine company has been clear all along about its goal of organising the world’s information.

But followers of the Mountain View, California, upstart have been seeing that lofty mission statement in a new light since the company unveiled plans this month for a free e-mail service with enough storage space to save nearly 500,000 pages of messages.

The Gmail service, combined with Google’s enormous cluster of computers that use Linux, a free operating system, to process hundreds of millions of search queries each day, has some technologists panting over what the ambitious company may do next.

"Who needs Windows when anyone can have free unlimited access to the world’s fastest computer running the smartest operating system?" Jason Kottke, a New York City web designer, wrote in his influential web log at Kottke.org.

More of the story, see Internet operating system may be in Googles' sites

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Bank customers are being warned again about "phishing" scam e-mails, after a recent increase in those falling victim to the internet menace.
Internet security firm MessageLabs said it had stopped 215,643 "phishing" e-mails last month compared with just 279 last September.

Phishing is used by fraudsters and organised crime to gain bank details. "You just send out loads of spam emails and hope that 1% of them will hit", says a Spokeswoman for the National High-Tech Crime Unit.

Read the Article in BBC News World Edition Renewed warnings over 'phishing'

Discuss this article at the BoG Forums Renewed phishing warnings
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In another attempt to bring broadband Internet coverage to rural areas, the Federal Communications Commission is proposing letting wireless providers offer service on airwaves currently used by satellite companies.

By collecting comments from the public, the FCC hopes to explore ways that wireless broadband companies and satellite service providers could share the 3.65- to 3.7-GHz band of spectrum without interfering with one another. The FCC's proposal (FCC News Release PDF) for a change in the rules is the latest in a series of ideas, including offering broadband over power lines, aimed at bringing high-speed Internet access to rural areas.

Complete article at Wired News: Rural Folk May Yet Get Broadband

Discuss this article at the BoG Forum Rural Folk May Yet Get Broadband
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I found an article of such value that I felt the need to pass it on. It was written by a woman named Tamra who runs the website TMV Online which offers web services. I cannot vouch for the services, but if this article is any indication of her abilities -- then it is worth a look.

There is a definite resolution to spam

I usually have to send one complaint and it gathers attention and ceases the problem immediately, and 90% of the time I get a mail back from the host/network provider with an apology and a direct address to contact again if it ever happens. The mail you're receiving is against the law. Distribution of pornography, esp. to a minor is illegal and those online drug solicitation emails are the boldest form of drug trafficking and illegal. Deliberate virus transmissions are also illegal.

The easiest thing to do is go to http://www.whois.sc* and conduct a lookup on each IP address listed in the received portion of the email header & forward the mail to the abuse/hostmaster/admin address.

The other thing to do which can take a few minutes but guarantees relief:

For starters, I DON'T ever view the email. When you view the email which contain images that are pulled from a server, you're sending a hit back to the sender to let them know their mail is being viewed along with your IP address/network information, so they keep sending. I always view the RAW message source of the email, which most all email programs will allow you to do, except AOL users (but that's another nightmare). But if you have to view the mail normally, quickly change to raw message source view. You'll get to see the URL's associated with the mail and more.

I then use a Network utility (if you have Linux or an Apple computer, you can use the built in Network Utility application) to do a "Lookup" on the web address, even if it's a bogus looking one. That will then give you the DNS information for the website's host, which usually has to adhere to state and federal laws. Once you get the IP address of the DNS server, go to http://www.whois.sc and conduct a lookup.

From there, send a complaint to the abuse/hostmaster/website contact and MOST IMPORTANT, cc: the uce@ftc.gov & sentinel@ftc.gov and if it's really crazy and scary, cc: askdoj@usdoj.gov (Attorney General's Office, which is actively prosecuting spammers). And for those never-ending drug solictations send those directly to webcomplaints@ora.fda.gov (Food & Drug Adminstration). They are in the process of shutting these services down as well as prosecuting.

Notes:

* I revised the web address of the lookup service Tamra had previously listed in her article to the one noted above.
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One of the most crucial aspects of optimising your site is choosing the right keywords that you want to rank for. Evaluating the importance of keywords requires a tool that will show you how frequently certain keywords are searched on the web.

In order to help inform you of the keyword frequencies, I will list a couple of keyword suggestion tools that are available for use on the Internet. Please note that these tools are what the individual services have been tracking and may not be representative of keyword searches on the whole -- they are suggestive. By combining the knowledge of all of these tools together, you will at least have a more clearer picture of keyword usage in search queries overall.


Another tool, is offered by WordTracker. Wordtracker's data is mainly derived from US meta crawlers, so mainly useful for US sites. They offer a Free Trial to evaluate their service. http://www.wordtracker.com/trial/index.php3


After determining what keywords you will likely be using, find out what the competition on those keywords are by searching for them in the Search Engines. Do not stop with just Google either. Yahoo and MSN combined can be just as formidable as a Google search.

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In a recent interview with James Atkinson, a founder of phpBB discusses what is in the works for the next version release. He states that the new version 2.2 is soon to be released. phpBB 2.2 should further improve administration functionality, while adding popular new features to make the product even stronger. With the release of version 2.2, the phpBB development team will start development of a portal based around the core features of product. This portal project will likely help phpBB gain even more popularity among the Webmaster community.

More on the Interview at the Band of Gonzos Forum - Sneak Peak at phpBB2 Version 2.2 Release Features

phpBB is a high powered, fully scalable, and highly customisable open-source bulletin board package. phpBB has a user-friendly interface, simple and straightforward administration panel, and helpful FAQ. Based on the powerful PHP server language and your choice of MySQL, MS-SQL, PostgreSQL or Access/ODBC database servers, phpBB is the ideal free community solution for all web sites.

The phpBB are a group of individuals based internationally who believe in opensource software. The project has been stable since its creation in June 2000 without changes in licencing, leadership or corporate associations. The goals remain unchanged and clear, to continue developing and supporting a stable, free, opensource forum system.

Today, phpBB is one of the most popular boards on the Internet, powering communities of thousands of sites. Unlike most available scripts, phpBB is open source, and is provided for free under the GPL. It serves as a great example of a successful open source project, functioning just as well as, if not better than, its commercial counterparts.

While phpBB boasts impressive features and great performance, one of the biggest advantages is its helpful community. The product has established a great following, which guarantees that experienced help is only a quick search away.



Gallery v1.4.3 Release Candidate 1 Available

SourceForge has just announced that Gallery v1.4.3 Release Candidate 1 is now available.

Gallery is a web based software product that lets you manage your photos on your own website. With Gallery you can easily create and maintain albums of photos via an intuitive interface. The software offers integration for popular software such as phpBB2, GeekLog, Mambo Server, and NSNuke.

Photo management includes automatic thumbnail creation, image resizing, rotation, ordering, captioning, searching and more. Albums can have read, write and caption permissions per individual authenticated user for an additional level of privacy. You can also give accounts to your friends and family and let them upload and manage their own photos on your website!

This is the second *release candidate* for Gallery v1.4.3. which fixes some issues with watermarking and also includes the Java applets was left out of the previous release.

Short summary of revisions:
  • Lots of bug fixes, minor feature enhancements, and increased security
  • Gallery works when register_globals is turned off
  • GeekLog, phpBB2, Mambo Server, and NSNnuke integration
  • Image watermarking
  • Fullscreen fit-to-screen slideshow


For the project page at SourceForge, visit Gallery v1.4.3 Release Candidate 1 Available!


Links to websites mentioned in this article:
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A List Apart


This month A List Apart, a veteran in the use of Cascading Style Sheets as part of standards-based web design has published some exceptional demonstrations of the power of CSS.



Table Row Highlighting

With a bit of JavaScript / DOM sorcery, we can provide our visitors with row highlighting for long data tables in HTML, by applying rollover states to the rows. This could be implemented tediously by hand, of course, but it would be silly to do so. Instead, we will use the DOM to find the rows to highlight on mouseover.

To see the effect in action

Read the article by Christian Heilmann - The Table Ruler


CSS and Email

Most people who’ve attempted to recreate a sophisticated design in HTML email have run into a wall when using CSS, either in the form of inexplicable mangling by email clients or a pronouncement by an email administrator stating that CSS is “against the rules.”

Despite prevailing wisdom to the contrary, you can safely deploy HTML emails styled with good old-fashioned CSS. Not all attributes will be invited to the party, but many of them work flawlessly with this method. If you’re not content to roll over and use font tags in your HTML emails, read on.

Read the article by Mark Wyner - CSS and Email, Kissing in a Tree


CSS Sprites: Image Slicing

Say goodbye to old-school slicing and dicing when creating image maps, buttons, and navigation menus. Instead, say hello to a deceptively simple yet powerful sprite-based CSS solution. This article will demonstrate using CSS to create hover buttons, mapping links, and defining irregular shapes. It follows up with the design benefits and pitfalls.


Read the article by Dave Shea - CSS Sprites: Image Slicing’s Kiss of Death



Rounded Corners in CSS

Part II : Dynamic CSS layouts with customized borders and corners, advances to the next level, extending the technique to work with more complicated backgrounds such as gradients and patterns.

Rounded Corners in CSS Demo

Read the article by Soren Madsen - CSS Design: Creating Custom Corners & Borders Part II




More articles on CSS can be found at A List Apart

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4/10/2004

Internet News

Turning Search Into a Science
By Kristen Philipkoski

When genetic researchers do a Web search for Dolly, the subject of their query probably doesn't have the last name Parton, nor is it likely a magazine for the fun-loving Australian girl who wants to know the latest on everything from fashion and beauty to entertainment news.

But a Google search will turn up these results and lots of other noise, unless the researcher specifies that results should not include Parton or fashion but must include cloning. Instead, a scientist could use a search engine like Scirus, which specifically taps science resources and publications.

See Turning Search Into a Science at Wired


W3C Link Checker Released

W3C is pleased to announce the first standalone release of the W3C Link Checker. Started by Hugo Haas in 1999, the project is now managed by Ville Skyttä and the W3C Quality Assurance (QA) Activity. Documentation and source code are available. Comments are welcome on the www-validator@w3.org mailing list (archive).

See W3C Link Checker Released at the W3C Website
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Making the transition from tables to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can be a frustrating process, with cross-browser compatibility one of the major stumbling blocks. But in my opinion it is all worth it. It separates the presentation from the content, and leaves your Html cleaner and easier to read from a spider standpoint.

Changes to the presentation such as font styles, column positioning and dimensioning, border thicknesses and colors, margins, and wide variety of other element attributes are all handled through one external file. Do a View Source on the page you are reading right now, and you will see that there are no tables in this document. You can actually almost read the content with some degree of ease -- and so will the spider. The spider will see more content and less garbage cluttering it's way.

I have found three sites that will get you well on your way to understanding a little more about CSS. The first one is a little old, but the techniques used still apply. What is unique about it is that the CSS is displayed in a text box at the bottom of the page so that you can study it and compare to the actual page. The second one offers a variety of common and useful applications of CSS. And the third, is for more advanced techniques and offers CSS masterpiece showcases to demonstrate just how far you can go with this style of coding.

glish.com - CSS Layout Techniques
If you are looking for help making the transition to CSS layout (Cascading Style Sheets), then go to Eric Costello's glish.com - CSS Layout Techniques. Eric is cataloging many useful cross-browser CSS layout techniques that he can find. All the examples on this site have been reduced to only their essential code, and you will find the source displayed on each page to hopefully make it quick and easy to understand the inner workings of the CSS.

Eric started this collection because of the lack of resources he tried to find when he went looking for information on how to translate typical table based layouts to CSS layouts. You will also find links to various online CSS resources and tutorials, appropriate for both the novice and the seasoned CSS veteran.

The Imposter's Fun with CSS
A well organized list of some of the more common everyday uses for CSS, such as roll-over menus and trees, box positioning, and dynamic stylesheet switching. This gallery of CSS demos can be found at Fun with CSS : Experimental.

There is one bad CSS demo in this collection and that would be the Rounded Edges page. While it is true that CSS will remove the presentation from the page, there are some limitations to it. This demo states that it is a relatively painless way of creating image-free rounded edges with just CSS. It is far from painless, actually it is downright ridiculous when you look at it. You will see what I mean when you see the coding for it. Let's just say that this is a good CSS example of a bad CSS example.

Mezzoblue's CSS Zen Garden Resources
For the intermediate coder, there is Mezzoblue's CSS Zen Garden -Resource Guide. By no means exhaustive, this list has been put together to reconcile helpful CSS tips web-wide in one spot. Expect it to expand over time.

The CSS Resource Guide is just the tip of this iceberg. You will have to visit the their Zen Garden - The Beauty of CSS Design site, it will rock your world. An awe inspiring showcase of what CSS is capable of. Look over on the right side of this page for a list of other CSS showcase sites of which are equally amazing.

Where to go from here
It would be advisable to procure a CSS editor of some type to facilitate the creation of your stylesheets with. I use BradSoft's Top Style Lite which is integrated into my Html authoring software. It does not have as many features as their Pro Version, but it gets the job done and makes a lot of hand typing process easier by auto-filling it in for you. Top Style Lite download page. Top Style Pro is also available for purchase on this same page.

Finally, after you have fooled around and experimented with CSS for a while and you need some advice -- visit the Band of Gonzo's CSS Programming Support Forum where there are several people around who will be able to answer any of your questions.

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Building a website starts with the basics -- structure. I found an excellent article that should be on everyone's reading list. It is very well written and thought out to explain how to structure your site for ease of navigation not only for your visitors, but for the spider too.

Source: Search Engine Guide - Search engine optimization for today's search engine robots requires that sites be well-designed and easy-to-navigate. To a great degree, organic search engine optimization is simply an extension of best practices in web page design.

This approach ties well into the notion of long-term search engine marketing success. Rather than trying to "psych out" the ever-changing search engine algorithms, build pages that have good text and good links. No matter what the search engines are looking for this month or next, they will always reward good content and simple navigation.

Full article at SEO's Relationship With Website Architecture

If you would like to discuss this article -- visit the Band of Gonzos Forum. Any and all questions will be answered.
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The next weapon in the war against junk e-mail could be built into the core of the Internet's inner workings if a group of anti-spam vigilantes gets its way.

The weapon in question is called "dot-mail," a proposed new Internet domain like dot-com or dot-org. If approved by the Internet's addressing authority, direct mailers and other companies could use it to send their e-mails straight to users' in-boxes without fear that they will be quarantined or discarded by software filters that confuse those e-mails with spam.

See the full story a WashingtonPost.com
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Never say ... never!

According to MacCentral, Macintosh security specialists, Intego on Thursday issued a security warning to its customers for the first Trojan horse to affect Mac OS X. Intego has dubbed the Trojan MP3Concept (MP3Virus.Gen). The Trojan horse exploits a weakness in Mac OS X where applications can appear to be other types of files, according to the company.

I do not wish a virus upon anyone ... but this is one worth laughing about. With all the Mac owners touting how secure their systems are from attack, this Trojan sneaks in on an MP3 music file.

Complete story can be found in the Virus Alert area at the Band of Gonzos website.

See MP3Virus.Gen - Mac OS X Trojan Horse warning
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