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Mark Ward | 16:48 UK time, Thursday, 6 May 2010

Vinyl singlesOn Tech Brief today: hardware hacking with a cleaver, DIY social networking and Chinese password crackers.

• Google has quietly changed what users get when they type in their keywords and hit return. Veteran search-industry analyst John Battelle detects a significant shift in the tiny tweak:

"Bing (and Ask before it) has built a service on top of commodity search results, one that does not require you to go back and forth, back and forth, but rather instrument your search session using intelligent, persistent navigation. This is exactly what Google's new UI lets you do."

• Geeks tend to love their tools, but few have put a meat cleaver to such a novel use as John Benson. The owner of an iPad from the US, he realised that it would only work with a Micro SIM memory card - a format that is not available in the UK. He did, however, have a larger memory card:

"So what's the solution? Get a chopping board, a meat cleaver and a pair of scissors - simples!"

• Blue Destiny Records usually releases songs dealing with life's darker moments, but it may soon be singing about its own sorrows. The label is to face net giant Google in court over whether links to file-hosting sites aid piracy. Andrew Orlowski in The Register deconstructs the deal, noting that Google's "annual revenue is larger than the entire global record industry" and:

"Victory would ensure a significant area of liability for Google would be removed. But even Reuters is moved to describe Google's response as 'hubristic'."

• Cracking the passwords used to keep wi-fi data secure seems a formidable task for all but the most tech-savvy hacker. Not any more:

"With one of the 'network-scrounging cards', or 'ceng wang ka' in Chinese, a user with little technical knowledge can easily steal passwords to get online via Wi-Fi networks owned by other people."

Four self-confessed nerds from New York University have hatched a plan for a social network, called Diaspora, that puts its members in control. It will be built up by members connecting their seed (a personal server) to those of their friends.

"We think we can replace today's centralized social web with a more secure and convenient decentralized network. Diaspora will be easy to use, and it will be centered on you instead of a faceless hub."

If you want to suggest links or stories for Tech Brief, you can send them to @bbctechbrief on Twitter, tag them bbctechbrief on Delicious or e-mail them to techbrief@bbc.co.uk.

Links in full

John Battelle | Searchblog | Google steps gingerly toward search as application
John Benson | Johnbenson.net | Convert a sim to a micro sim with a meat cleaver
Andrew Orlowski | The Register | Google sues tiny indie label
Owen Fletcher | Network World | Wi-Fi key-cracking kits sold in China
Maxwell Salzberg | Diaspora | More about the project


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