Autohacking, OOXML, and Killer Robots Too!

Some days we laugh our way to the news desk with all the zany antics that come off the wire. Today is no different, so here's your morning helping of the interesting, intriguing, and downright inexplicable.

Leading off this morning is news from the land across the sea, where the ISO is giving Microsoft a second chance at screwing us all over with OOXML. The international standards body is holding a meeting in Geneva this week to reconsider the resounding smackdown served to the flawed standard last year, a comeuppance delivered despite Big Evil's not-so-secret attempts to buy off the ballot. That's Microsoft for you: Paving the road to hell, one standard at a time.

Meanwhile, Yahoo — the lovely morsel Microsoft has its dirty eye on — has been spitting out new features faster than a geek with an esspresso habit. Their latest announcement? The Hoo is opening up the Holy Grail itself, their search results, to third parties, in order to provide "the next generation of search results." If you've ever wished that the bland search page in front of you had a bit more pizazz, then this is your lucky day, because in the not-too-distant future, you'll be staring at search results with all the secondary information you could ever want. Whether the page will say "Brought to you by Yahoo" or "Courtesy of the Source of All Evil" remains to be decided.

Meanwhile, things are getting interesting in Googleland, with the release last Friday of a tool designed for "automated Google hacking." Fear not, though, it's not about psychotic Manson-esque rampages at the Googleplex, but rather an Open Source package that promises to help tech staff scan their sites for weaknesses via special Google searches. Proffered by well-known hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow, the tool acknowledges its potential for insidious use, the bovine brotherhood professes the hope that it will be used for good, rather than evil.

Speaking of being used for evil, a British robotics expert has sounded the alarm on the potential for extremists to adopt "killer robots" as a preferred means of attack. Citing the exponential growth in robot technology and the relatively low cost, the University of Sheffield professor argues that it won't be long until droids of doom will be in the hands of terrorists everywhere, and we'll all be running for our lives. For our part, we think he may have spent a bit too much time hiding from the Daleks behind the sofa, but to each his own.

And now, if you'll excuse us, we're needed behind the sofa with our sonic screwdriver.

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