Saturday, September 03, 2005

WinFixer Popup Problem

This article in the LangaList Std Edition 2005-09-01 outlines the WinFixer spyware problem and gives some links about fixing it.

Just an aside, I've subscribed to the pay version of Langalist for several years, but the free version is also very useful and well, it's free. If you never have, now is a good time to check it out.

Firefox 1.5 Beta Expected Soon-PC World

Firefox 1.5 Beta 1 will be available September 8, according to a posting in the section of the Mozilla Foundation's Web site devoted to developer news.

Theft You Don't Even See

From the article:

"How's this for a one-two punch -- software that secretly alters your Google search results, then tries to drop nasty programs on your computer by luring you to a bogus eBay link?"

I've got to give these malcreants a "C" for clever. Just be aware.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Yahoo IM users get more than they bargained for

From the article:

"By accepting Yahoo's 'typical' installation of YIM with Voice, it will also download Yahoo's Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up software, desktop and system tray shortcuts, as well as Yahoo Extras, which will insert Yahoo links into the Internet Explorer browser. The IM client also contains 'live words,' which will automatically show an icon when the user highlights words online and then hyperlink to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools. Finally, the installation will alter the users' home page and auto-search functions to point to Yahoo by default.

To avoid these changes, users must actively choose the 'custom' installation and uncheck five boxes."

I thought "we" (the collective computer using community) had made it crystal clear to companies that these kinds of tactics would cause us to abandon using their services and software. Since they need us to use their services and software in order to advertise to us, this is very counterproductive.

Trusted Computing Best Practices

Further info on a topic Jack and Peter have discussed on the show, by Bruce Schneier, with some informative links, in my opinion.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

GM drives Hummer-branded laptop

In my opinion a rugged computer is a useful thing. Hummer branding and styling? Ho-hum.

Computer saves drowning girl

I saw this story yesterday but didn't blog it until I read it today. This is truly amazing. After reading this story, I have little doubt that the computerized alert system really did help save this girl's life.

Internet rallies for storm relief

A story about the good use of the Internet.

Scammers Hit Web In Katrina's Wake

A story about the bad use of the Internet.

Creative MP3 players ship with virus

This seems like a rather amazing story. I would think that their production computers would be isolated from this sort of thing. Since this virus surfaced in 2003, it's not like definitions weren't out there.

I've heard of official releases of software containing viruses before, but that was a long time ago and I would have thought that security awareness was a bit higher now. I guess not. All I can do on this one is to sit here and scratch my head.

Yet another reason to continuosly run a high quality, up-to-date anti-virus scanner.

Free Ubuntu CDs!

Courtesy of, which I found from listening to this podcast.. Since Jack is so enthusiastic about this linux distro, I thought I'd pass on this link. FYI.

Sorry for the long history, but I want to give credit where credit is due. ;)


OT: the blogger button is working great now! Not sure what the issue was, but I'm giddy!

Please don't forget the people on the gulf coast need our help, for info and ways to donate, go here.

Hollywood, Microsoft align on new Windows

Here's what we have to look forward to:

"Although ordinary MP3 files and DVDs will play without any difference, the deep changes in the way the operating system handles some entertainment content will come with costs. The most obvious of these may be the risk of compatibility problems between some older monitors or TVs and Vista computers, particularly when trying to play high-quality video. Vista may also make it harder to do some casual copying, such as recording Internet audio"


Linux 40 percent cheaper than Windows, exclaims IBM

Are you as tired of all the TCO "studies" between operating systems as I am? I hardly ever read them, any more. As far as I'm concerned, none of them, including this one, are worth the paper they're written on.

While the cost of software and operating systems is certainly important, the only way to know what fits is to study your own needs and operations and see what meets your requirements, then put out for that. On such a basis, winners will emerge from all over the spectrum of offerings. There is no one clear winner, across the board.


Massachusetts Plumps for Open Document Standards

We reported last January that Massachusets proposed to move all documents produced by the State and any local governments within it to formats conforming to open standards. At the time there was a lot of thought that Microsoft and other vendors would oppose this.

While opposition did arise, Massachusetts stuck to their guns and after repeated rounds of public comment, has implemented their plan. Conversion is to be complete by 1 January, 2007. This specification is open for a last round of public comment now and is expected to be implemented in it's current form, with the planned timing.

Application vendors who do not currently support the required formats are expected to offer plug-ins or other revisions to their products to comply. Microsoft is rumored to already have the required changes made in recent versions of Office ready to go.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hidden-code flaw in Windows renews worries over stealthy malware

I mentioned the over-length registry key as a way of hiding malicious code from various system protection utilities on Sunday. The link above is to a story in The Register which contains a bit more information, along with links and pointers to more information.

This is a serious problem, though Microsoft does not see it as an operating system vulnerability (and they may well be correct in this). It can and does mean such things as keystroke loggers are invisible to some security and system health monitoring software. The Internet Storm Center has a partial list of such software. Undoubtedly patches will be issued and at least most of the affected programs updated to handle this. Until that happy day, this story warrants your following it and taking whatever steps are necessary if you are depending on the affected applications for your security.


Outsourcing warning on Indian law changes

This report in the Australian paper, The Age, says that India is thinking of weakening it's cybercrime laws, as recommended by an expert committee.

India already has serious privacy and data theft problems in the sector of business out-sourced from the US and Europe. Now they intend to further weaken the laws against unauthorized intrusions to a network. They have a real problem.

It is obvious India is not after anything but the money and really doesn't care about the people their businesses serve. They get the technologies and get paidto learn how to use them, then do as they will, allowing profiteers of all sorts to take advantage.

It is time to start telling businesses that you will not deal with them if they outsource to India - period. No exceptions.


Katrina Disaster

I probaby don't have to blog this because our little On Computers family has a lot of heart and I'm sure most of you have already done something to help out. This is a disaster of epic proportions and has wiped out much of 3 Southern states. The destruction of New Orleans is being compared to the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. I'm pleased to report that when I tried to access a disaster relief agency the secure server was so busy that the Web site couldn't respond. I had to phone it in, which is a good thing.

If you want to help out and haven't yet here are some links to get you started:

American Red Cross

Salvation Army USA

Our best wishes and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected, as well as to their concerned friends and family.

BBC: Apple iTunes phone due to launch

Made by Motorola the handset will have Apple iTunes onboard and will be available via the US Cingular phone service.

The Great Firewall of China

I found this article by Scott Granneman particularly interesting because I remember checking my router/firewall logs several times recently and noticed that it was dropping a rather large number of unsolicited packets from Chinese IP numbers. I recall thinking "What the heck is going on in China, and why?" This may give a little further insight, check it out if you're interested. John B.

WinFS Beta Released. Questions Immediately Arise

After pulling WinFS, a new relational file system, out of the Longhorn/Vista beta, Microsoft has released it as a beta in it's own right. Immediately, analysts and pundits question where it fits in the scheme of things. Fair questions, I should think, though perhaps a bit premature.

The link above is to an article at and I recommend you read it, but withhold your judgements until we see where things are heading.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Zotob worm writer caught by FBI

And more news on the Zotob front this morning...

It is good to see that causing real havoc is resulting in real arrests. Microsoft did have a hand in helping investigators track down the culprits.


"Microsoft's Smith attributed the fact that relatively little damage was caused by the worms to two things: consumers are becoming more savvy to threats and taking more precautions to shield their software from viruses, and Microsoft is making good on its commitment to create more secure products."

Some XP Users at Risk From Zotob Worm

"Users running certain configurations of Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 1 beware: That pesky Zotob worm that hit Windows 2000 users last week could affect your systems, too. This week, Microsoft issued a new advisory on the expanded Zotob threat. Windows XP SP2 users are not vulnerable to the Zotob attacks, Microsoft said."
I hope you have SP2 installed!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 08-28-05

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 08-28-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.
If you the FTP link doesn't work because of the server problems, please right click on the podcast link above and save as. We will be moving to the new server in the next few weeks.

Boy Was I Dumb | this WEEK in TECH

Leo has an issue with feedburner, and I believe its an interesting discussion...

OT: When did the blogger button in the google toolbar quit putting the url in the url box???? Boy that irritates me


Big Bait Sinks Alleged Phisher - Los Angeles Times

"The 22-year-old Iowa man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of scamming computer users with fake e-mail notices from Microsoft Corp. Authorities said his scheme backfired when the software powerhouse contributed the legal legwork that led to his arrest." Score another one for Microsoft!

Sirius Satellite to Sell Portable Player - Los Angeles Times

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., the No. 2 U.S. pay-radio company, will begin selling its first portable device to compete with larger rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and products such as the iPod.
I have4 XM Radio what do you have?

Alleged Spyware Mastermind, Buyers of the Program Indicted - Los Angeles Times

Alleged Spyware Mastermind, Buyers of the Program Indicted - Los Angeles Times: "Loverspy allowed its users to learn about the e-mails, website visits and passwords used on other people's computers by sending an innocuous-looking electronic greeting card. Every keystroke on the victims' computers was recorded." the Loverspy phenomenon caused a buzz among those in computer security. Companies have cited Loverspy as the reason computer users need anti-spyware and anti-virus software.
The on computers show recommends NOD32 The Anti Virus that works!