Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hard drive manufacturer accidentally slips trojan onto drives

DOH! First creative now, hard drives are infected with viruses(sp?), Sunbelt blog has the link to the article, and the source for him. :)


EPIC West: Hoofnagle's Consumer Privacy Top 10

This is a great list of tips that are very low cost. Link courtesy of Bruce Schneier's blog.


That's the list, details on how, are at the link in the title.
Go :)


Friday, November 25, 2005

Xbox 360 crash fix found

No one seems to know what percentage of XBox 360 freeze-up and crash problems this will help. I only know two people with the consoles and it has eliminated the problem entirely for both of them.

Evidently, the power supply simply cannot dissipate the heat it generates when laying on a surface. Elevate it to all it's surfaces are exposed to open air and the XBox is much more stable.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Comment Moderation

I have enabled comment moderation on this blog. That means that non-member's posts will have to be approved by admins before they appear. Admins will receive an e-mail when a comment needs to be moderated. I believe that there are enough admins that comments will be moderated in a timely manner.

I wish this meant I could disable the word verification but these are two different safeguards.

Drat the comment spammers!

I apologize for the inconvenience to the non-member posters (members will still be able to post comments unmoderated). On this blog at least, moderation is being instituted because of comment spam, not in order to stifle legitimate free speech. As Peter once pointed out, all you have to do is pay someone and you can spread a lot of human generated comment spam. We had one get through this morning and I have a feeling it is the beginning of the next wave. Since they comment on very old posts, hoping we won't notice, it will be easier to catch them in the first place.

Thanks for your patience and understanding. Hopefully some day we will find more effective ways to prevent all forms of blog spamming, but until then we will rely on human filters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

E-mail Scammers Pose as FBI, CIA

From Yahoo news:
SAN FRANCISCO-- The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation today warned computer users not to open a widely circulating e-mail that falsely claims to have been sent by U.S. authorities. The e-mail attempts to trick users into installing a variant of the Sober worm by telling them that they have been spotted on "illegal Web sites," and asking them to click on an attached "list of questions."
Be warned.

Apple OSx86 10.4.3 security still wide open

Crackers have turned their attention to Apple's OS X for x86 with an intensity I could not have imagined. Their goal is to make it run on x86 hardware other than Apple branded kit. So far, they have succeeded without much apparent effort.

I doubt Apple can implement any scheme to restrict their operating system to their hardware alone with a real expectation of success over the long term. Whatever they do will be broken, and probably sooner rather than later.

In my not so humble opinion, Apple will be forced to release OS X to all comers, and soon, to avoid losing literally millions of sales. There is a great hunger for their operating system in the computing world, but much less inclination to pay for it if Apple is not going to approve their use of it.

Apple does not wish to write drivers for all sorts of hardware. I can appreciate that. But they don't really have to do anything but approve drivers and they can charge for that, as Microsoft already does.

If Steve Jobs wants to become an influential player, instead of stay marginalized and labor as an idea factory for others to copy, this is his chance. It is not unreasonable to see OS X with a 20% market share in the 18 months after release. Sales of Apple hardware would grow, as well, due to the "halo" effect, much as the iPod has sold a lot of Macs since it's introoduction. Apple's almost universally acknowledged expertise at design could be used to differentiate their machines and justify the higher prices they seek to get for their products. And at over $100 a throw, OS X would fly off the shelves.

C'mon, Steve; Get with it.


New RISC OS machine coming soon

It is not for everyone and it's not even ready yet. But the new ARM powered RISC OS A9 looks rather like it might be one possible shape of the future.

The desktop PC is very much ready for an evolution into something smaller, more secure, etc, etc. The Mac Mini and several other machines show us that. The A9 is far different from what we have now, but it is fast, efficient and miserly in terms of power consumption. I almost want one.


Dimpled Fan Breaks New Ground

Golf balls fly dramatically further because of the dimples in their surface, which manipulate the boundary layer of air flowing around the sphere in such a way as to reduce drag. has an article about the Sharkoon Silent Eagle 2000, which apparently uses this same effect to move much more air. It's not too noisy or expensive. This one is worth a read, though four pages on a fan is a bit much, imho.


A Truce in the Standards Wars?

Microsoft's decision to "open" their Office document formats seems to have begun a truce period in the wars over document standards. It is only a truce. Believe me when I say that Microsoft's recent actions will satisfy only some of those concerned with this issue. This is to tell you both why that is so and how it may be a non-issue from here on out. Only time will tell; as customers vote with their adoption of software, be it Microsoft's or some other productivity applications.

Of course; this all started when the State of Massachusetts decided to adopt Open Document Format and Adobe's PDF as the "official" document formats for the State's business, whether incoming or outgoing. This was done with the best of intentions. They wanted to assure that documents could be read in a hundred years. Documents put up in a proprietary format could not guarantee that and, in fact, still can't. But if the standard is sufficiently open, there will be no problem.

Of course; the definition of "open" takes some discerning. Some would have us believe that being open means the standard itself evolves by community input. Microsoft's file formats fall short when using this definition. Microsoft is the sole arbiter of what goes into them.

Massachusetts did something rather canny and wise, though. They decided to take Adobe's PDF as the baseline of their definition of open. There is a tendency to see Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) as wholly proprietary. After all; Adobe alone decided and will continue to decide what goes into it. However; the format is well documented (and in a timely manner) and, should I decide to build an application which uses it in any way, the license says I am free to do so. I don't even have to ask Adobe or tell them I'm doing it. (Though I once had a conversation with an Adobe developer who said they would like an email or a post card so they can see where the format is being used and how- for reference purposes. In fact; no one does it.) This liberal licensing is thought to be open enough to guarantee the ability to read the documents over the [very] long term.

At the very first; this setting of standards for document formats did in fact exclude Microsoft, who are pledged not to support the ODF. But, if Microsoft opens the document format they use and cooperates in documenting it, that should be good enough. They have to license it liberally enough, but with their announcement of today, that seems something they are pledged to do, and quickly.

I know that Office file formats have long been something of a moving target, changing frequently. This has made for compatibility problems with other applications. However; Adobe seems to have managed to evolve PDF in such as way as to only rarely cause compatibility problems. As those changes were quickly documented, developers using PDF in their applications had only small problems and readily available ways to solve them. Microsoft can surely do the same, if they will. Combine this with Office 12's inclusion of the ability to format documents in PDF and save them that way, and Microsoft seems to have hurdled the bar.

I am one of those proponents of completely open standards, such as the ODF. I am also a pragmatist and I have long believed that the way Adobe has handled PDF is "good enough". I will say that if Microsoft follows that same path with their Office file formats, that will be good enough for me. And I believe it will be enough to make formatting a non-issue with most customers. For the rest, there are readily available and compatible solutions.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Netflix fix is in - The Red Tape Chronicles

This is apparently a regular column on about "unmask[ing] government bureacracy, corporate sneakiness and outright scam artists."
The reason I post this, you ask? Well, I subscribe to netflix and have the option to participate, I know of at least a couple other people, that SHOULD read this blog ;) that also could be participants.
Netflix was sued recently because the DVDs were taking longer to arrive, than promised. Part of the settlement includes one month of upgraded service. Which means you can have one more DVD at home, at a time, basically. It was news to me about the upgraded service continuing (with an email reminder) at the higher level of service that you may get as a result of the settlement. I reviewed the email I got about the settlement, and they are correct, and if you don't notify them after the "free month" then your service level and charges will change. The lawyers will receive $2.5 million dollars in fees, and all I get is a hassle, it seems to me. There are more details and a website where you can join a group of 300 to comment on the settlement.


Zero-Day Exploit Targets IE

"Exploit code for a critical flaw in fully patched versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser has been released on the Internet, putting millions of Web surfers at risk of computer hijack attacks."

Cleaning Up Sony's Rootkit Mess

From Ben Edelmen who've we interviewed on the show before, an excellent solution for Sony to communicate to people who have not returned their rootkit CDs for replacement.
tech.memeorandum links to the discussion here.

Check it out.


Best Christmas lights ever!!

This is a fantastic video that I'm gonna try and put up as a picture, so y'all can see this.
VERY impressive! Of course, my kids said "Lets do THAT!" lol
RocketBoom is a daily (M-F) short (usually about 5 minutes) VideoBlog (Vlog?) that covers a bunch of eclectic topics. I saw Amanda at the ConvergeSouth blogger con I went to.

P.S. first attempt didn't work, trying flickr now. Too big a file for flickr. Well I guess the only alternative is to go to the video link above.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Attack code released for IE hole | Tech News on ZDNet

"Exploit code for a new flaw in Internet Explorer could put systems at risk of remote attack, security experts warned Monday."

Cingular will be sold under name of AT&T

Being a customer of AT&T, Cingular, now apparently back to AT&T. I thought AT&T was dead. Apparently it has enough name recognition that it will never die.


P.S. The transition was painful, the first time, much less this time... SHEEEESH!!

UPDATE: Engadget refers to a post at "SAN ANTONIO-SBC Communications Inc. is reportedly planning to launch an AT&T branded wireless service that will use the network of SBC's current wireless joint venture, Cingular Wireless L.L.C. SBC's plans follow the closing last weekend of its $16 billion acquisition of AT&T Corp.

Contrary to published reports, Cingular said it is not changing its name to AT&T." Additional details at

One Possible Version of Sony's Copyright Woes

If the open-source developers involved take the offensive, a lot could change.


Texas Sues Sony Under Anti-Spyware Law - Yahoo! News

I'm not sure if this is the first lawsuit on this, but its the first one I've seen.

I'm sure this will be the first of many......

LinuxWorld | US prevails in Internet governance struggle

I hadn't heard this little nuggets of news until I listened to TWiT this morning. I listen to the podcasts, so you don't have to (though you're missing so much!).

"The United States has prevailed in the controversial fight over Internet governance and will retain overall control of the Internet's DNS, root servers and ICANN for the foreseeable future.

Rather than the new body or oversight body that many countries had been pushing for, a deal was finally struck that will see the creation of a new Internet Governance Forum (IGF) comprising governments and public and civil society but, crucially, will not have decision-making powers.

At the same time, governments also agreed to work within existing structures, meaning that plans to give part of the Internet's stewardship to another body were also stymied. Instead ICANN will remain in general overall control of the Internet and other countries will have - at the moment at least - work within its Governmental Advisory Committee. "


P.S. I can't help but notice Jack's posting about windows, and I'm posting articles from linuxworld, will wonders never cease? ;)

FireFox Support at Windows Live

Well, I guess I need to admit I was too harsh regarding progress at during today's show. The site now works in every way with Firefox, both on Windows and Linux! No longer do I see the little warning box saying support is on the way and it works right!

Click on the "what's new" link at the upper left of the home page. Up comes a very interesting list of what either is or will be available soon. They've obviously put a lot more thought into things than I accused them of. The OneCare and Office Live look good and I'm sure they'll evolve to be more attractive still.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Trouble With the Uninstaller for Another Sony DRM. This Time it's SunComm's MediaMax

This story at the Freedom to Tinker blog is very much like the ones for Sony's XPM copy-protection. The uninstaller leaves a gaping security hole.

Read it and weep.


OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-20-05

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-20-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp. We have lots of Give aways between now and the last LIVE show this year, you might want to listen live for the next 6 weeks.

Hyperthreading hurts server performance, say developers

Intel's HyperThreading looked like a really good deal, initially. And I must admit that in some applications it really was a help. My favorite example was encryption/decryption on a file server I set up.

Turns out that in at least some heavily threaded software, such as Microsoft's SQL Server, HyperThreading is a big liability and can actually limit performance. Who would have guessed?

The link above is to an article at ZDNet UK. More information can be found here.


This weeks winners are!

Congratulation to our winners for this week. We will pick the winner for our email contest next Saturday and post it here on our Newsgroup and web site.

Jim Weir
Grass Valley CA
Won Audio Cleaning Lab 10 from

Tom lane
Sparta, Wi
Won 10 pack of Digital Movie DVDR Media from Verbatim

Good luck!

Verbatim Digital Vinyl Winner

Congratulations to Ken in maryland for winning the Verbatim Digital Vinyl CDR media.

Be sure to listen to the show to see what else we are giving away and how to enter.