Saturday, April 09, 2005

Yahoo! News - Fake Microsoft Security Trojan on the Loose, Antivirus Firm Says

It is important to remember: MS never emails the end user of Windows Updates (unless you are signed up on one of their distribution lists). Unless there is a major issue, updates are only released on the second Tuesday of the month. Also, you should only access Windows Update either via Automatic Updates running on your computer which will automatically download the updates when you specify, or via the Windows Update link on the Start Menu. Accessing Windows Update any other way could lead to viruses.


Wired 13.04: VIEW

Wired 13.04: VIEW
What If Every Kid Had a Computer?

The MIT Media Lab's plan for a $100 laptop.

Will you get your kid a $100 Laptop?

Sounds like a great idea to me! :)


eyYahoo! News - Software Helps Track Child Pornographers

Yahoo! News - Software Helps Track Child Pornographers

What else are they keeping track of?

Don't use a credit card if you have a record!


Paint.NET - Download

Paint.NET - Download

Another from the newsletter:
Paint.NET is image and photo manipulation software designed to be used on computers that run Windows XP. Paint.NET is jointly developed at Washington State University with additional help from Microsoft, and is meant to be a free replacement for the MS Paint software that comes with all Windows operating systems. (Tim)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Macromedia - Flash Player : Settings Manager

Macromedia - Flash Player : Settings Manager

This is from a newsletter I receive called CrackTalk by Terry Blount:
Tim Writes:

58% of web surfers deleted cookies from their system in 2004. This has sent a loud message to marketers in regard to consumer's preference as to tracking their online activities. The marketers have responded with PIE. Persistent Identification Element (PIE) is a technology that uses Macromedia's Flash MX to track you even without using cookies.
Macromedia has created a page to instruct users on how to disable this.

Yahoo! News - Judge Sentences Spammer to Nine Years

Its about time. A spammer that wasn't fined an inconceivable amount of money for what they did. They got good hard jail time. The question is, will the appeals court uphold the sentence?

Least-Privilege User Accounts To Be Part of Longhorn Security

The idea of limiting user priviledges on a system or within a network has been around forever. You can do it now in Windows 2000 and XP to an effective degree, though most users ignore this and log on with priveledges far in excess than necessary.

Apparently Microsoft is going to modify their implementation of this to allow regular user accounts easier access to some management features while still seriously curtailing access to the heart of things. Software developers will have to go along to make things work as intended, but this shows to me that MS is serious about tightening up their OS.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

iPod Sells Mac Mini at Best Buy

As we have discussed on the On Computers radio show, Apple is on a renaissance roll, driven by the widespread adoption of the iPod. This week, Best Buy said it would give retail shelf space to Apple's Mac Mini -- the lowest priced model of the Macintosh family which debuted in January. This is a proof for our point of view that Apple's iPod will indeed drive sales of PCs and other products (e.g., accessories).

Peter S. Kastner

NetApp & IBM Partner on Networked Storage

Interesting deal, and not unexpected. IBM fills holes in its mid-range storage product line, while NetApp gains IBM's superior tape technology and will plug Tivoli for storage management, a NetApp hole.

The conventional analysis is correct: EMC is regaining momentum lost in the early 2000's with strong hardware and software offerings tied to the best storage vision in the industry. That makes partnerships to confront EMC an act of self-preservation. Since storage is virtually the tail wagging the enterprise dog these days in growth terms, the big computer vendors have to have a competitive storage line of products. I expect more such partnerships and realignments this year.

Peter S. Kastner

PC Market Growth Slows

We told you earlier this year on the radio show that PC growth this year was unlikely to meet market research forecasts of 10%. A 10% year would mean another 19-20 million units sold. Sorry, Charlie, no deal. Kevin Rollins, CEO at Dell, confirmed our analysis yesterday in this story.

"As we have come into (the first quarter), it's become clear things are a bit slower (than last year), a little bit slower than maybe we had even thought," Rollins said, referring to the 10 percent forecast by research group IDC. On Wednesday, Dell left its own revenue and outlook profit unchanged for its first quarter ending later this month, saying it expects revenue of $13.4 billion, up 16 percent from a year ago, and 37 cents a share in profit, up 32 percent.

Don't forget, we are now in earnings season, so surprises are to be expected. Next week will be full of earnings announcements.

Peter S. Kastner

All Hell Will Break Loose on April 12th

On April 12, Microsoft Corp. is scheduled to turn on its Automatic Update service, which will deploy the XP Service Pack 2 to all PCs connected to the Internet regardless of whether corporate IT departments or individual PC users have prepared for it. With the upgrade deadline looming, one study shows that the vast majority of companies running XP have actively avoided the upgrade or simply ignored the problem. The study, by AssetMetrix Research Labs of Ottawa, Canada, showed that only 24 percent of Windows XP PCs have been upgraded to SP2.

This one could be bad news for IT departments that have been in denial since last September. The auto-updating will, however, put a strain on LANs and WANs as tens of millions of PCs start downloading hundreds of megabytes of SP2 code apiece. It's not inconceivable that the Internet will dim next week as all this traffic gets pushed around country by country, but the likelihood is the download process itself will take a couple of weeks. During that time, IT department help desks will have to deal with lots of phone calls about slow response times, the need to reboot, "a virus called SP2 just took over my machine" -- you get the idea.

For Microsoft, this is a tough call. Customers are going to be angry in a major way due to the disruption, in spite of all the warnings to be prepared. But after all the dust settles, Microsoft's support job will be considerably easier and the Internet will be a somewhat safer place with millions more hardened and firewall-secured PCs.

Peter S. Kastner

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Microsoft Pushes Back Debut of Compute Cluster Edition

Technewsworld has an article about this. Microsoft has bitten off a big chunk by invading what is primarily a Unix world inhabited by anti-Windows techs and managers. It's not really surprising they can't deliver on the original schedule and I doubt anyone except a dedicated Microsoft hater will see this as a genuine setback. They're just not releasing until they think they have it right.

When MS first announced they were shooting for cluster deployments there was a LOT of [shall we say] skepticism. Since then, it's become apparent that MS has selected a rather more realistic target; the smaller clusters operated by engineering departments and other such small to medium sized entities. Even here, MS is the world's largest underdog. Still, there's no reason why they can't deliver a usable and efficient product and the tools necessary to develop for it and manage it.

This is going to be fun to watch.


SANS - Internet Storm Center - DNS cache poisoning

Can spammers and other Internet miscreants be more evil? Of course they can and here is one way they are doing it.

New Linux Show by the Susitna Linux Users Group

Susitna Linux Users Group

There is a new Linux show that is broadcast from the Susitna Linux Users Group. On Computers will rebroadcast their show on its regular feeds every Tuesday starting at 5:00pm PST. For more information, please see Also, visit their chat room on server, channel #SLUG.

Note: The show will only be broadcast on the MP3, OggVorbis, and Windows Media LOW streams. The regular high speed Windows Media stream will continue to rebroadcast last week's On Computers show.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Finally, A Fast Recharging Battery is on the Way

According to Toshiba, the 3.8mm thick, 62mm high and 35mm deep prototype lithium-ion battery takes only a minute to charge up to 80% of its 600mAh capacity. For comparison, the battery inside a 4th gen iPod holds 950mAh, takes an hour to charge up to 80%, and roughly 4 hours to reach a 100% charge. According to Toshiba, its new battery "takes only a few more minutes" to reach a full charge.

It does not take a world-class analyst to see the implications of this important innovation. Battery technology has lagged the digital consumer revolution by leagues. The ability to charge up your MP3 player, cell phone, camera, notebook in minutes would allow for usage changes which make these devices, well, just more useable. I can't wait!

Peter S. Kastner

Intel Dual Processor Performance Revealed

The AnandTech article here represents about a week of human effort compressed into three days. The report is invaluable to PC aficianados who are interested in how Intel (and be implication AMD's) forthcoming dual core processors will perform in lab and real world benchmarks.

In a major break with history, Intel sent selected PC editors an evaluation kit for the not-yet -announced dual core Pentium D (3.2 GHz with no Hyperthreading) and Pentium Extreme Edition (3.2 GHz with HT). Thus, we all can digest what these products will do even though they are not yet launched.

Here's what Anand concludes after some three dozen tests:
- In general use of the system, the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 felt just as fast as the 3.73GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. In multitasking, there was no substitute for the dual core Pentium Extreme Edition.
- Hyper Threading made a decent impact on our usage, even on the dual core platform. However, the benchmarks show that Hyper Threading on dual core doesn't always result in a performance boost. That being said, we'd still opt for Hyper Threading as it just seems to make things smoother than without on the dual core chip. - all users could benefit from its presence on their dual core platforms.

The ExtremeTech review is here. (Read the AnandTech review first)

Dual core processors such as the Pentium Extreme Edition tested in these benchmarks will force the software industry to rewrite code to take advantage of resources that in the past were only available on big-iron servers. The rewrite will take years, but will be worth it.

That makes the introduction of dual core processors for personal computing this spring not just another product launch but a landmark in the history of the information technology industry.

Bottom Line: intense computing users who do lots of multi-tasking will "feel" better performance in every day work with a dual-core processor, even though some individual tasks may take longer.

Peter S. Kastner

Your Computer Legal Rights and Responsibilities

We talk about digital rights management, computers and the law frequently on the radio show. I thought this article was worth clipping as a backgrounder on the changing legal scene related to computers and online activities.

Peter S. Kastner

Monday, April 04, 2005

Florida files multimillion-dollar spam suits

Florida, best known for beaches, DisneyWorld and spammers, is taking on the spammers.

Do I have much hope of this being effective? No.

Do I wish Florida the best? Yes.

Company Bypasses Cookie-Deleting Consumers

Don't like being tracked on the Internet? All you cookie deleters have made an impact. Now the marketers are going to be tracking you using the other internet tool used for invasive marketing -- Flash. Macromedia as posted a way to disable this feature so read and disable if you don't want to be tracked in this way. Indeed Macromedia is looking like the good guys in this by having as a goal allowing computer users control their own machine. How novel a concept is that?

USB Repeater Cable

I saw this article in The Inquirer and immediately called a friend who has, until now, been unable to structure his office as he wishes, due to limitations imposed by cable length requirements in USB 2.

For those of you who have never run into this, USB can't use a cable more than about 40 feet long. (The actual figure varies according to situational factors. The USB standard says "15 meters".)

Previously, the inelegant solution was to place powered USB hubs at intervals along the cable. It looked bad and was troublesome, in my limited experience. Now, you can use a repeater to boost signals along the cable. Very neat idea.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

OC Podcast

This is the On Computers podcast for 04-03-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.


Microsoft Files Suits Against Phishing Sites/Owners

I'm not sure whether to take this as of benefit to the public or just as MS defending their trademarks, but the company has filed suit against over 100 "John Doe" defendants and evidently there is more to come.


How to Hack Your GPS

ZD's touting a new book on how to creatively hack your GPS for fun and more personal operations.

You must be careful when making any changes or modifications to the firmware of your GPS because there is a risk that things can go wrong and render the GPS inoperable. And sorry, I won't go sailing with you and your hacked GPS.

Peter S. Kastner