Saturday, January 31, 2004

Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools

Kevin Kelly has a web log of "Cool Tools" to do all sorts of things. It's curious and, to me, a grand diversion from the everyday. This is not earth-shaking stuff; Just a good way to waste a little time and see good ways to go about things. I know this isn't computer stuff, but this one is simply too entertaining to not pass it on.

I check this about once per week, just to see what's happening.


Hack anything.

Have you ever wanted to tear stuff apart to find out how it works, change how it works or use it in some way Dr. Strangelove would approve of? This is the book for you. I won't tell you more. There's a one page article at
Wired News that does a fine job of explaining it all. I want a copy of this book. (hint, hint)

An FBI agent talks computer security and crime

An article in SecurityFocus by Scott Granneman details a visit to a computer science class by an FBI agent and what this man had to say about computer security. It's a short read; scary and enlightening, at the same time. I recommend it highly. See it here. This is really scary stuff. Frankly; the average PC user has no idea how bad things have gotten.

Here's another story on the same sort of theme by the same author. This one is also worth a read. In fact; I'd take a copy and send it to all the clueless users you run into. See it here.

John C. Dvorak on Linux desktops

John C. Dvorak tells a bit about IBM's version of Linux and their desktop, which they do not plan to roll out for a significant while, and then explains why IBM should scrap their plans and get it out, NOW. See the article at PC Magazine, here. This is a thought provoking bit for those of us who anxiously await either a standardized Linux desktop or a fully suppported one (apart from Sun's Java Desktop).

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Register

Control-Alt-Delete inventor retires. I had originally thought he had died, but he has merely retired. I'm glad to hear he's good for a few more reboots.
Attrition Security Rant: Anti-Virus Companies: Tenacious Spammers

This is both very sad and very funny. If you are a regular reader of Slashdot you've already seen it, so this is for those of you who don't read /. - New Explorer hole could be devastating

Our own Gari (Javabeanz) sent this to me yesterday. Give it a read and then do (or not) what you gotta do. Yep -- pretty scary stuff. I shudder to think what the bad guys can do with this one. As we learned this week our anti-virus is only as good as our defs are. Okay as good as our defs and our brains are. While the worm was a worm to the most casual observer geek -- what caught my attention was not that I had been sent a worm, but that my anti-virus didn't notice it was a worm. I can't believe that folks unzipped it and executed it, but then again, most folks don't first screen their e-mail in a plain-text/source environment like I do. The way I was looking at it made it all to plain what it was -- I never even saw it in a form where I could unzip it, no less execute it.

Sigh -- this is getting less fun by the day. Russian mafia releasing a worm to take over people's machines and create a spam flood with a DOS on SCO as cover? -- sounds like the script of a B movie.

I've got to get a life, or high speed access, one

I just read my logs and I'm in shock!

Though I am technically within the boundaries of the city of Fort Worth, Texas, in actuality I am in a semi-rural location. The only Internet access we can get is dialup. Oh, satellite is available, but my wife and I cannot currently afford that. The wireless provider we were going to sign up with went bust before we could contribute our fees to them and though they've restarted under new owners (apparently with sufficient funding) we're too poor to do that one, too.

I have a good dialup connection, using Fry's low-cost ISP service. Most of my connections are at 45k or better and occasionally I top 50k. The connection is stable and eminently usable. But high speed is not a term one associates with dialup. Persistence is, at least in my case. I am a dogged downloader, to say the least.

My logs show me that from 1 January, '04, to 31 January, '04, I downloaded 7.1 GIGABYTES of stuff on my dialup! This even though I spent 6 days in the hospital during that time. (Even with the vacation at the quack shack, this is my highest up and download totals for any month, ever.) About half of the stuff I transferred was Linux stuff for my own and my client's use and the rest was Windows executables for installation and test for the show. I also uploaded 704 MB of files in January; web sites and large graphics and CAD files for a client.

Like Microsoft's new offering of Unix tools (which they have decided to distribute for no charge). That download alone was about 200 MB. I have it on file, here, though I've not installed it yet because I'm also installing my Linux boxes again and downloading updates for them.

I've got to do something about this. I've even recently been tossed off an ISP because of the amount of time I spend connected; often 3 full days at a shot. Either that or find something to occupy the time, besides the boob tube and pestering my wife.
Latest worm has professional twist

Well, here's an interesting story about mydoom or whatever one of it's many names you want to call it. From it's first showing it appeared to have a spammer motive. I see some of the experts concur.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I Blew It, Again

On last Sunday's show, I told how I'd installed the 2.6.1 Linux kernel on one of my machines and speculated that the new kernel would make it's first debut in a distribution in Red Hat's Fedora Core 2 in a couple months. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Turns out that Conectiva Linux already has it out in a development/testing version.

Conectiva Linux doesn't get much press here in North America, but is one of the most widely used distributions in South America, having excellent localization for the languages spoken in those parts and being a truly high-quality distro. You can visit them at and see for yourself.

The version in question is called "Conectiva Linux 10 Technology Preview 2" and has been out long enough to have been downloaded thousands upon thousands of times. It includes the 2.6.1 kernel, KDE 3.2 RC1, Gnome 2.4, OpenOffice 1.1 and a lot more.

My apologies to the folks at Conectiva.

New virus infects PCs, whacks SCO | CNET

New virus infects PCs, whacks SCO | CNET

I've seen more than a few of these "virii" this afternoon. They were easy to spot as a worm even before the anti-virus companies released defs and then updates to those defs this afternoon.

I expect to read about this in the mainstream press tomorrow.

I hope you haven't caught this one, but if you haven't done a virus scan lately, now's the time to get the updated definations and scan away. If you need to check right away try Housecall.