When you’re the distant second player in web search, you’ve got nothing to lose by making bold moves. So it makes sense that Yahoo has adopted an open strategy with the following idea in mind: woo developers to build on top of your technology, and then display your advertisements to more eyeballs throughout the long tail of the web.

Yahoo takes a large step in that direction today by announcing a radical and historical initiative called BOSS, which stands for “Build Your Own Search Service” and basically turns web search into a web service by inviting developers to leverage Yahoo’s core search technology and build their own web search implementations. Hakia and Me.dium are among the first to switch over and use Yahoo to power their web results (in Hakia’s case, as a supplement to its own search technology).

BOSS allows developers to submit queries (and their associated parameters) via an API to retrieve up to 50 web, image, news, or spelling results in XML or JSON format at a time. Per Yahoo’s policy, developers will be required to display its ads next to, or within, their results (although this requirement won’t be imposed until later, Yahoo plans to offer CPM fees as an alternative, and academics will be exempt from any such attempts at monetization completely). Yahoo won’t require anyone to mention that they are using its technology, as it doesn’t intend to drive traffic back to Yahoo proper – just spread its technological influence throughout the web. Nor will it impose any caps on daily queries, or impose standards on the design of results pages.

The self-service BOSS API can be used directly or via a mashup framework that simplifies the process of aggregating data from across the web. When using the API, developers can choose to filter porn from web results, specify the dimensions of image results, and retrieve only news results from within a certain number of days. The order of Yahoo’s results, however, can only be changed after they are retrieved (you cannot pass Yahoo parameters that tweak its standard relevancy model and return reordered results).

If you want to incorporate ancillary data with the results from Yahoo’s main index, the Mashup Framework simplifies the process by which developers conduct joins on web data (in formats like XML, JSON, RSS, or RDF). For example, it can be used to generate results with information from both Summize and Yahoo Search, Digg and Yahoo Search, or pretty much any API and Yahoo Search. The framework will work only through Python constructs to start, but more languages should become supported in the future.

All of this forms just the first half of Yahoo’s intentions with BOSS. In a few months, Yahoo will also release APIs for what it’s calling “BOSS Custom”. This version of BOSS will allow developers to actually push data to Yahoo’s servers for indexing, and then perform highly customizable search queries against them.

So in a way, BOSS starts by opening up web search to 3rd parties, but it will go far beyond that by providing cloud-based search for all imaginable types of data. Yahoo has already enlisted a handful of partners for BOSS Custom, including us here at TechCrunch. We’re working on a search implementation that will enable readers to conduct searches across the entire network and retrieve results that have been weighted using a custom relevance model. Readers will also be able to drill down by author, comments, date, and other criteria.

BOSS is the second concrete product to come out of Yahoo’s Open Strategy. The first was SearchMonkey back in April.

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Firefox 3.5 brings the world’s second-most popular browser up to speed with most current browsing technology and trends. Private browsing, better history management, geolocation, and fast rendering times for both JavaScript and HTML keep it in the game. It also introduces extensive support for HTML5, embedded video and audio courtesy Ogg Vorbis, and CSS media tags. However, Firefox 3.5 is by no means the leap ahead that its predecessor Firefox 3 was, and it’s clear that the competition isn’t going away anytime soon.

Now a month and a half after Mozilla issued a significant update to its open-source Web browser, the organization has begun encouraging users of Firefox 3 to install version 3.5.

Firefox 3.0.13 users will see an offer to download the latest iteration of the newer version, 3.5.2, according to mozilla developers Firefox 3.5.2 is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Users can go ahead with the update, postpone the reminder, or shut it off altogether, but don’t expect this latter option to permanently mute the reminder. Firefox 3.0.x will stop receiving stability and security patches in January, so further coaxing will be likely.

Mozilla touts better performance in version 3.5, along with various features to make the browser a better foundation for running Web applications. But getting people to upgrade can be a problem. One of the biggest obstacles for Firefox, aside from the universal hassle of upgrading, is that Firefox extensions often break with a new version.

Mozilla, though, said more than 90 percent of Firefox’s add-ons now work with Firefox 3.5. Meanwhile, Mozilla coders are at work on Firefox 3.6, code-named Namoroka.

Browser upgrades can be a tricky issue. Microsoft is trying to coax users off Internet Explorer 6, a product now 8 years old.  Google’s newer Chrome browser, by contrast, automatically updates itself to the newest version with no user intervention, though IT administrators can throttle the behavior.

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MSI has announced five new additions to their C-Series notebook line that promise a decent selection of specs and starting prices as low as $549. There are three 16-inch models (the CX600, CR600-013, and CR600-017) all of them offering a 1,366 by 768-pixel display resolution and weighing in at 5.4 pounds, while a pair of 17-inchers (CX700 and CR700) sport 1,600 by 900-pixel displays and weigh just under 6 pounds.

All five laptops ship with Vista Home Premium pre-installed, a 320GB hard drive, 4GB of memory, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, and a 6-cell battery, as well as other laptop standards like a 1.3 megapixel webcam, 4-in-1 card reader, and 3 USB ports. The 16-inch CR600-017 even includes a Blu-ray drive for some HD movie watching. It costs $649 and carries a 2.1GHz Pentium Dual Core T4300 processor, whereas the remaining four models pack a 2GHz Pentium Dual Core T4200.

On the graphics front, budget-conscious shoppers looking for some light gaming capabilities will appreciate the Radeon HD4330 discrete graphics on CX models. Meanwhile, the CR line settles with Nvidia GeForce 8200M G integrated graphics but also offer an HDMI output that could come in handy with that Blu-ray equipped model. Overall, there’s not much to get excited about here but with prices between $549 and $799 there’s not much room to complain either.

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Comcast has dealt with a lot of negative press in the past few years after it was revealed that they were partaking in traffic throttling. The FCC got wind of it and investigated the matter, ultimately dictating that what Comcast was doing is illegal. For a quick recap of where they stand now, you can take a look at numerous past articles covering the respective actions of both sides.

After the FCC found Comcast to be at fault, it was rumored that the ISP giant fight back. This started last year, when Comcast began their appeals, and now the company is continuing the fight by taking the FCC to court.

The premise behind their legal move is that the FCC has no real authority on the situation, relying on “imaginary” laws to prosecute them. Comcast argues that sanctions against it were based on a list of network neutrality principles but denies doing anything wrong in the first place, network management-wise.

What’s Comcast up to? Clearly, the company wants to set the record straight and ensure they can govern their network how they see fit. If Comcast broke no laws, the courts might shut down the FCC’s order. However, this may also come back to bite them in the future, as the current administration seems to support net neutrality principles and new legislation to enforce it has recently been proposed in congress.

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It is my opinion that there has been more controversy over Windows 7’s pricing than any other aspect of its coming launch – especially with Apple to offer Snow Leopard upgrades for $29. If you act quickly, though, you have an opportunity to snag a copy of Microsoft’s upcoming operating system free of charge.

The company is hosting The New Efficiency launch events across 25 US cities between September 28 and November 9 of this year for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Exchange 2010. Attendees will receive a free copy of Windows 7 Professional. Granted, that doesn’t consider travel costs but registration and entry to the event is absolutely free.

Have a look at the event dates, times and locations after the jump (via Ars Technica).

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As a computer tech guy, two things that I find very important is the
speed of solving a computer problem and also convenience. I don’t want
to be wasting the whole day trying to solve one problem and the
customer sees me as unprofessional. Convenience in a way I don’t want
to tire myself in opening up dirty and dusty computer case, swapping
hard drives and etc. Very frequently I had to reinstall Windows for people. One very common annoying problem that I always face is the user lost his license sticker and I had to spend more time in retrieving the genuine Windows product key. There are a few ways to do it and most of them involves me having access to another working computer. For example, taking out the hard drive and fix it to a working machine, load the registry and retrieve the product key.  Or I can boot up PCRegedit, load the registry
and then decrypt the key from a working computer. All those steps are
very time consuming and troublesome.

I tried very hard to look for a linux live CD that can retrieve thewindows-license-sticker
license key but I couldn’t find one. But here’s my opinion on the simplest and most convenient way to retrieve XP or Vista product key from an unbootable machine.

All I need to do is set up a UBCD4Win livecd, boot up the computer with
it and run either Joshua’s Key Reader or Keyfinder. Setting up UBCD4Win
could take a while, so here’s a guide on how to create your UBCD4Win
livecd.

1. Download UBCD4Win (250+MB) and install it on your computer.

2. Run UBCD4Win.

3. You need to select the source at UBCD4Win. Insert Windows XP
installation disc and select your CD drive. If you don’t have Windows
XP installation disc but your manufacturer provides a i386 folder in
your C drive, then select C:\i386

ubcd4win-keyfinder

4. Insert a blank CD, select Burn to CD/DVD and click Build. The whole process should take a while so go have a coffee.

Now to recover Windows product key, all you need to do is boot up
the unbootable computer with UBCD4Win. Follow the instructions until
you get to a part where it looks like Windows. Go to Start >
Programs > System Information > Info. and Diag. Tools > You
can either use Joshua’s Key Reader or Keyfinder

A. If you run Keyfinder, go to Tools > Load Hive… and select the Windows folder which is normally at C:\Windows and the genuine Windows Key will be display at the right pane.

B. If you run Joshua’s Key Reader, click the Read Remote Key button. Same thing as above, select Windows folder which is normally at C:\Windows. The Windows Product Key will be shown.

This method confirm to work on Windows XP and Vista 32-bit because I’ve
tested it. See, all it took is one CD to do the job. Don’t need to have
access on another working computer to decrypt the ProductID, or the
hassle of taking out the hard drive and fixing on another computer. I
noticed something weird on my Acer laptop running Windows Vista. The
product key that is retrieved from the registry hive is different from
the license sticker at the bottom of the laptop and I am very sure that
the Vista is installed from the recovery partition. Anybody knows
anything about this?

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The X-51A WaveRider is one step closer to its inaugural test flight later this year, now that airmen at Edwards Air Force Base have successfully “mated” the scramjet-propelled vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress.

In December, an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 is scheduled to papoose the X-51A to 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean before cutting it loose. At that point, a solid rocket booster from an ATACMS missile will fire up, accelerating the X-51 to about Mach 4.5. That’s when the supersonic combustion ramjet kicks in, pushing the WaveRider to more than Mach 6 for up to five minutes, longer than all of its predecessors combined. NASA tests have reached Mach 9.6, or nearly 7,000 mph, according to some reports, but not for very long. The previous record was less than 10 seconds. Flight data will be telemetered back to Edwards Force Base before the X-51A test vehicle crashes into the Pacific.

A scramjet is an air-breathing engine that burns regular jet fuel, and may be the key to allowing airplanes to travel at speeds normally reserved for rockets. The engine requires no onboard oxidizers, but rather uses its own forward motion to compress air for fuel combustion. The X-51’s chiseled nose allows it to “ride” shock waves that would pulverize a lesser craft. The X-51 was developed by Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and DARPA in order to “demonstrate a reliable system capable of operating continuously on jet fuel and accelerating through multiple Mach numbers.”

“The heart of this aircraft is its engine,” said Charlie Brink, X-51 program manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“We’re really breaking new ground in our understanding of hypersonic propulsion, but our four planned test flights will also enhance our knowledge of airframe-engine integration, high-temperature materials and other technologies. Together they will help us bridge air and space.”

Future applications for the scramjet include access-to-space, reconnaissance and speedy, global strike capability.

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