Saturday, April 07, 2007

Legally blind Texans may use lasers to pick out prey - Engadget

Legally blind Texans may use lasers to pick out prey?!?!?!!?! Whoa! I wondered if Riley had ever hunted game. :)
Completely bypassing the stunning fact that (legally) blind Texans are actually allowed to wield a weapon and fire at will during regular hunting seasons, a new piece of legislation could allow these folks to see what they're aiming at a wee bit better,.....

Jack might want to stay out of the way during hunting season. :)
Legally blind Texans may use lasers to pick out prey - Engadget

Friday, April 06, 2007

Patch Tuesday Comes Twice in April - Security Fix

Brian Krebs at WaPo was the first place I ran into, in my rss feeds, about what was coming up on the official "Patch Tuesday." In the equal time category, he also writes:
Microsoft may not be the only large software vendor issuing updates next week. A number of other companies, most notably Apple, have been known to take advantage of "Patch Tuesday" to issue their own security updates. Microsoft took a pass on Patch Tuesday last month, but Apple used the occasion to push out fixes that plugged at least 46 individual security holes. Apple also issued another bushel of patches on February's Patch Tuesday.

Patch Tuesday Comes Twice in April - Security Fix
Then right after that (at least in my list (Security Fix, Welcome to the MSCRC(its alphabetical))), the MS Security Response Center blog posts the "'AS IS' with no warranties notification" about next weeks "Patch Tuesday."

P.S. Sorry about the nested parens.
P.P.S. Has anybody had trouble with the patch issued Tuesday, MS07-17, I've noticed a couple of news stories about it, and wondered about our reader's experience.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

WEP security totally broken

We all knew WEP was not terribly secure. Now there is proof it is nearly worthless in the face of a skilled attack.

Even so; I still recommend WEP with a 128 bit key (up from my past recommendation of a 64 bit key) for home users. In addition, I tell folks to run an intrusion detection utility. eEye Digital Security's "Blink" intrusion detection is available free in a home version for Windows XP and Vista and I have been testing that. (No results to report, yet. But I will say that you are going to have some fun getting it to run in the presence of an anti-virus program, hence the long test period.)

If you have sensitive data, use WPA1 or 2. (2 is preferable.) Better yet, encrypt your data and forget about wireless entirely.


PowerPoint presentations a 'disaster'

I have friends, clients and acquaintences who seemingly cannot live without PowerPoint or other presentation software. This is going to break their hearts.

As soon as I see a PP presentation beginning, I start to fall asleep. This seems to be a common reaction and I have long suspected people generate these things because they do not trust themselves to speak or write well enough to get their point across. It has always been my position that a well done PDF with a few illustrations (when absolutely necessary) does the best job of carrying the point.

Now I have scholarly evidence! :)


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Two free games based on the Quake 3 engine tip up

The link above is to The Inquirer, which has an article on this.

It seems that since the source code for Quake3 was released under the GPL the folks at the "ioquake3 project" have been hard at work. First, they had to bring the Quake game engine up to date, and they seem to have done a sterling job of it, including support for OpenAL sound, which gives these new games surround sound and full support for Ogg Vorbis.

If the screenshots I have seen are any indication, the graphics of both games are very good. You will have hours of good game play ahead of you when you've downloaded them. I have both downloads running now. Not only do they have LinuxPPC ports, but the site accurately detected my platform and directed me to the correct download; a first.

Game download links are given at the bottom of the article. Enjoy!


Python on Planes

First was Microsoft's .NET development platform for web apps. To be blunt, it still leads the field and there was not much other than it to choose from.

Along came Ruby on Rails; the Ruby scripting language and the Rails development environment. That was as much a revelation as Microsoft's offering as the Rails RDE (Rapid Development Environment) was wonderful. The problem was the Ruby language, whose performance reminded (and still reminds) me of BASIC on an 8088.

Now comes Planes, which utilizes the Python scripting language and runtimes and whose output can be compiled to byte code, as well. If the Planes RDE is the equal of Rails, this one should win on performance. I've heard good things and am unhappy the Planes site seems to be overwhelmed by demand. It hasn't been working for hours.

I post this for those of you who may wish to fool with Rails, under Windows or Linux. Other platforms available soon. You might just be fooling around with the next big thing in web app development.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Cursor hole puts Windows PCs at risk -

This is a couple days old, but not an April Fool's joke. Beware (by the way!).
A new security vulnerability puts Windows users at risk of serious cyberattacks, Microsoft warned late Wednesday.

The vulnerability affects all recent Windows versions, including Vista, which Microsoft has promoted heavily for its security. The operating system software is flawed in the way it handles animated cursors, Microsoft said in a security advisory.

An attacker could exploit the vulnerability through a Web page or e-mail message with rigged computer code, Microsoft said.

"Upon viewing a Web page, previewing or reading a specially crafted message, or opening a specially crafted e-mail attachment, the attacker could cause the affected system to execute code," Microsoft said in its advisory.

Such holes are often exploited by cybercrooks to do "drive-by" installations of malicious software. Spyware and remote control tools that turn PCs into drones for the attacker are silently loaded onto vulnerable computers by tricking people to visit a rigged website or hacking a trusted site. The website for the Super Bowl stadium is a recent example of a drive-by attack.

Cursor hole puts Windows PCs at risk -
Update: Microsoft's Advisory on the vulnerability, updated yesterday, Mar. 31.
Additional Update: : Latest on security update for Microsoft Security Advisory 935423 There's an update coming 4/3 from MS, currently, on this vulnerability.
Third Update: Steve and Leo have a 10 minute podcast about this vulnerability.
And in other security vulnerability risks. Cross scripting vulnerability discussion (part 1) by Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte on Security Now.

(picture from an Aussie Computer Lock Company)

MS plans emergency update to fix blinking cursor bug

MS is going to fix it in a hurry. I'm a little surprised, but quite grateful.

Now we have to ask why they can't get other zero day flaws fixed in shorter order. They have some which have been outstanding for months.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 04-01-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 04-01-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.
If you are coming to Boston for Geek Meet `07 please send an email to If you want us to pick you up at the airport or train station, we need to know.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) This first one is a interesting site about Saturn. An article caught my eye talking about pictures of a large hexagon at the North Pole of the planet taken by NASA’s Cassini space craft. This got me looking around; I found this site where you can see a movie of the phenomenon, very odd the hexagon stays still while the clouds race around its borders, not mentioned, there is square shape over the pole, which also remains motionless. I also found it intriguing that the Voyager photographed the same feature 20 years ago on its fly-by, in 1980. While you are there click on the Cassini Photo Essay, top right, I was particularly struck by the size of one of the craters on the moon Mimas, and the variety of the shapes the moons have evolved into.

2) On this one I am not going to comment very much, as I’m trying to stay neutral when relating to any thing religious, or political, and this probably qualifies as a little of each. If you heard about the supposed miracle peace sign, on the White House lawn, and want to read up on it here is a link, personally I’m not sure how to take it, my only comment is the disclaimer at the bottom of the page that says picture number three, digitally enhanced.

3) The third link this week is compliments of our man Jack he sent me an email with a very nice URL included, one he found in Wired Magazine, and he thought it would fit nicely into the Gregg Zone. I think it is a perfect fit; it deals with what seems to be a small, but growing cadre of "fusioneers" building "Fusors" in their basements and garages. This web site is where these backyard experimenters who might be determining the future of our planet, exchange ideas, and swap notes. Might keep an eye on them with a small penny stock portfolio in mind, just in case, somebody is going to crack the puzzle one of these days. Thanks Jack for a great link, I am always looking for interesting stuff, so don’t be bashful, got something good , pass it on.

4) The last one I got for you this week is also thanks to Jack, I found it at the fusion site. No matter how you feel about electric cars, this one might have you intrigued. How do you feel about 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, with a range of 250 miles on a charge, and only 3.5 hours for a full recharge; 100% torque immediately they say their favorite thing to do during a demo is ask the passenger to turn on the radio, then step on the accelerator, and watch them try to reach the knob. And it is a very nice looking car, a little pricy, but that may come down as fast as plasma T.V.’s once the technologies are out in the main stream.

5) Okay, okay one more Joe tells me it is April Fools Day, sorry I was reminded to late to come up with a tricky prank type thing this year, maybe next year, be warned. But in looking around, for something tricky I found this site with the top 100 April Fools Day pranks, I thought it was interesting, and entertaining reading. So I thought I would let my self off easy this time, and just put it up here.

How To Choose CD/DVD Archival Media

Here is a good one. The title says it all.


PC Makers to Microsoft: "Vista Is Not a Seller. You Suck"

I don't agree with this article. Yes, everything in it may well be true. In fact; I'm pretty sure it is. What I don't agree with is the tone. I cannot see Vista as a failure, even though I don't care for it. It was released too early and still has a number of unresolved issues. So what? 95 and 98 had their own problems, too, and became runaway best sellers. I figure Vista will do that, as well.

Not that success won't take time. It will. And in all liklihood, a relaxation of the DRM contained in Vista's heart will have to take place. But MS will indeed make a success of Vista. Don't make a mistake thinking otherwise. MS is not staffed or led by stupid people and they will get it right. At least right in their own eyes and as their standards are pretty high, with the exception of the DRM fiasco, Vista will get a lot better.

In the mean; Vista gets painted as the Titanic of software.