Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mark's Sysinternals Blog

According to Mark, this is just the beginning: "Attention now needs to turn to the broader issues that go beyond DRM to software in general. They include acceptable behavior of commercial software, from both legal and ethical standpoints, and appropriate disclosure of software behavior. We’ve been living in a world of hazy laws surrounding EULAs and ideally this case will lead to more clearly defined laws and standard judicial principles.[and he closes with]. Of course, this first victory would not have happened without your participation in bringing the story to the attention of the media both in this blog and in other publications. I congratulate everyone that voiced their concern over the trend Sony’s software portended and I encourage you to continue to fight for a long-lasting resolution on the issue of software installation and disclosure."
I really agree with him, it was the repetition, that made the "non geek public" aware, and outraged. This resulted in a temporary solution, but no guarantees of future protection. As they say in disclaimers "Past performance is no guarantee of future results."


10 Reasons Why Intel Won't Benchmark Paxville

Okay. This is definitely a low blow to Intel from AMD. Still, it was so funny, I found myself laughing long after leaving the page.

Enough said;


Sony BMG CD’s Containing XCP Content Protection Technology

According to Sony this is the complete list of CDs that installed a rootkit on your computer, IF you have autorun enabled. If you would like to change that, see Joe's post below.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Windows Live Ideas � Product Page

Microsoft's Windows OneCare is going to Public BETA soon, if you would like to join the BETA team as soon, you can go to the above web site and look for the box with: "Coming soon Get this beta when it's ready. Sign up" You can sign up and get on the Public BETA team to test this new service from Microsoft.

I'm BETA Testing it now and it works very well.

� How do you stop Sony's rootkit at the office? | AskBloggie |

"Stop CDs from auto-playing which allows something like Sony's rootkit to install on their computers. The solution is actually quite simple and effective "

Security Watch: To be "0wned" by Sony - CNET reviews

"Sony has agreed not to put root-kit technology on future music CDs as a means of protecting its copyrights. But this story is far from over. There are at least two lawsuits pending. There are also viruses poised to take advantage of already-infected PCs worldwide, the number of which may be much higher than anyone previously thought. Worse, Sony's fix for the problem may not be any more secure than the original root kit"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

InformationWeek: Bloggers Break Sony

From the article:

"It seems crystal clear that but for the citizen journalists, Sony never would have done anything about this,' says Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a cyber liberties advocacy group that has been vocal in its condemnation of Sony and may eventually file a a lawsuit against Sony, in addition to three that have already been filed. 'It's plain to me that it was Sony's intent to brush the story under the rug and forget about it."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sun goes storage mad with upcoming Opteron kit

48 SATA hard drives says it all! 48! And plenty of processing power to encrypt sensitive stuff, or whatever else you need it to do.


Microsoft backs X86 64-bit

Everyone who paid attention knew this was coming. Even so; it's going to impose a monetary shock on those needing to adopt new server software, such as Exchange 12 unless they already have x86 64 hardware.



Looks like I can't put seti announcements off, anymore. Classic ends 12/15/05. But, you can make your own password, now.
Our Classic Team
Our Boinc Team

November 15, 2005
The old SETI@home Classic project will stop issuing work on December 15, 2005. Anyone still running SETI@home Classic should deactivate it and install SETI@home/BOINC (see instructions under 'Getting started' on this page).

November 14, 2005
Tomorrow we will start merging the SETI@home classic science database with SETI@home/BOINC. This will take several days, during which some back-end servers will be offline (splitters and assimilators). We stored up a large queue of work - we are hoping this will keep all BOINC clients occupied during the outage. Progress will be detailed in Technical News.
October 26, 2005
Version 5.2 of the BOINC client software has been released. It lets you attach to projects, and log in to their web sites, using email address and password, instead of account key. Users have not chosen a password may do so here.


Firefox 1.5 is not final yet

If you have heard the rumors and gotten excited, as I did, calm down and take a deep breath. It is still RC2 with RC3 coming in a few days.

What does seem to be for real, is that barring any last minute changes, Firefox 1.5 final release is expected later this month.

Wired News: Sony Numbers Add Up to Trouble

Whoa! An article and a link to the post, by a gentleman who determined that over half a MILLION networks (no idea how many computers connected to each network) have phoned home to Sony and First 4 Internet. The study was based on DNS server caching analysis. I haven't read the details of the analysis (UPDATE: I've read the article, and have pictures! See below). But, I thought the first guesstimate of the scope of the infection was interesting.

I was directed here by Todd at GeekNewsCentral, who estimated that it cost him $500 bucks to reinstall his wife's computer, and was gonna bill Sony! I say good on ya, Todd. Lets turn this into a cost to admin the various spyware/rootkit/trojan/virus melee(s).


OffTopic: Gizmodo Unpacking The Xbox 360.

Update: School computer -JAVA I fixed it

The application they gave me to do repair requests is Java based. Well, from what I can tell the Java was not configured right. So, the application crashed or hung every time.
Everything goes through a proxy server here. Best I can figure they didn't "tell" Java that. There's an auto configuration URL they use for all school computers. I plugged that into the Java control panel proxy tab and Bingo! Everything started working. I called the "help" desk and told them what I did ;-).

Consumers punish firms over data security breaches

I found this surprising. I was of the opinion that consumers would simply let the problems at a given firm slip from the fore of their consciousness and take no action. Obviously some do nothing. But a substantial and surprising percentage take action.

I think that's great.


Windows Compute Cluster 2003

Mention this product and most folks will go "oh give me a break". But it is a real product and it has some unique qualities that put this kind of high-powered computing within reach of many businesses. Think data mining, advanced design on a scale less than Boeing and Airbus and yet greater than any level you've been able to afford before. I'm aware of one acedemic application being considerred in biochemistry. The list of potential customers is very large.

First off, while it's not as efficient as Linux, Solaris and Unix cluster solutions, it can be managed by a tech with decent skills and a couple manuals. No, really! I have that on good authority. And while it's not the whiz-bang solution for "big iron", it has a "sweet spot" of 4 to 64 way machines. For the price and ease of administration, many companies will gladly sacrifice some speed and power because they'll still have much more than ever before and in a form they can use.

Second, while developing for WCC03 is not all that close to doing it for the Window server and desktop systems, Microsoft is rapidly developing modifications of Visual Studio to accomodate those who need to write for this platform. That is just about everybody. There is very little of what we think of as "ready to roll" software for this sort of setup available. Nearly everyone will be using custom applications. Even with that, Microsoft is developing some applications in an attempt to make the core product more attractive.

I never did look at the price. I suspect it's one of those "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" things. And there's no way i could run it here. My little cluster of 486s wouldn't cut it, even if it was still in existence. (This is also a thinly veiled hint to Joe that I could use a few 8 or 16 way Opterons for my birthday, which is coming up.)

It's new territory for Microsoft and they appear to have a product which will appeal to a market sector which did not previously have access to such tools. As such things go, it's the only nearly ready solution to a lot of problems.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More DRM: Sony Caught in -- Gasp -- IP Theft

Someone in the Netherlands did a decompile on the XCP rootkit that has gotten most of the attention lately. It seems that parts of the rootkit use the LAME mp3 encoder, which is licensed under the Lesser GPL. That means by delivering only an executable (the rootkit) without source or crediting, XCP violates the GPL. Violating the GPL puts Sony at massive legal risk for—wait for it—copyright infringement.

The irony is just crushing.

Sir Howard Stringer (Sony's head) now faces a massive business problem, and his company's future in electronic media may well hang in the balance. He runs the risk of alienating not just the music customers, but the Playstation gamers as well.

Why? Ignoring the PR fallout from the rootkit, Sony just got a patent on a method of restricting game software to one copy on one particular machine. They seem to think that this kind of lockdown will be tolerated by its customers. Someone sell these guys a clue.

TechCrunch: Google Analytics Swings at Measure Map

I signed us up for this. As an experiment, but its too soon to get any stats. Y'all must check the blog out, more on the weekends. Monday and Tuesday are certainly slow If there's an area that somebody would like us to keep an eye on let us know, post it in the comments.


� First Intel Macs to arrive in January? | The Apple Core |

"This week rumors are swirling that the first Intel Macs could arrive even sooner, possibly in as little as two months." Do you want an Intel MAC?

VPN flaw threatens Internet traffic | Tech News on ZDNet

"A flaw in a key Internet security protocol used by major networking products could open systems up to denial-of-service and other kinds of attacks, experts have warned."

Apple snubbed in cheap laptop deal

"Beware of geeks bearing gifts"!

As the story points out, had the MIT project accepted the donation of free copies of OS X for the $100 PC project it may well have become the dominant operating system in the developing world. That happens, and all of a sudden, poor people with much, much better things to do with the little money they have than pay for proprietary software are locked in. Instead, the project will use Red Hat Linux and associated free software. (That's both free as in beer and free as in freedom.)

This project will almost certainly come to fruition. It has too many backers with clout to fail. In my less than humble opinion, this is one of the most exciting projects extant. Every one of these PCs will bring another person or three into contact with the wider world, with all the potential that implies for spreading knowledge, enhancing lives and breaking down intolerance.


How the Computers Drove SUVs 132 Miles Across the Desert

We heard the news a month ago that computers with advanced artificial-intelligence software for the first time drove a motor vehicle that completed a DARPA-designed course over 132 miles of rough desert. It was a "look, Ma, no hands" moment, and a $2 million prize for the winner.

This article explains for the first time I've seen how the technology was put together. The first three finishers used identical boxes with six Intel Pentium M's packaged as blades in a rugged platform designed to be earthquake proof (no spinning hard disks and a spike-resistant power supply).

I'm thinking the ratio in late 2005 for off road racing is something like:
(6 x Pentium M) + (12 x Stanford engineering graduate-student programmers) = 1 Good Old Boy

You may laugh, but computers are catching up to the abilities of the human brain to assess and react to complex external conditions. And you can bet that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Agency) is glad to pay every penny of the $2 million prize, the implications for unmanned vehicles being obvious.

Sony pulls XCP CDs, offers to replace bought copies with regular CDs - Engadget

And the good news keeps on coming. This is excellent. But, one of my initial objections to having to register to get Sony's fix for the rootkit, still stands. This is a customer data mining windfall, for Sony. And, as Engadget says "We’re not entirely sure why Sony had to wait this long to do it"


Here Comes RAID 6 for Widespread Enterprise Storage

Many enterprises have begun replacing RAID 5 with the relatively new RAID 6, which can handle multiple disk failures and thereby provide greater protection against data loss.

Enabling data-in-place migration between diverse RAID solutions is perhaps the most significant advantage of the DDF specification. Data-in-place migration is increasingly preferred in large enterprises because it is faster and easier than the traditional practice of backup, reconfiguration, and restore. However, with the rapid growth in data volume and associated disk capacity and the sum total capacity of RAID arrays, IT departments are faced with another serious risk of data loss through latent failures, also known as unrecoverable read errors.

To address this trend, the current draft of the SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) workgroup called the Common RAID Disk Data Format Technical Working Group (DDF TWG)specification that supports RAID 6. This means that RAID solutions supporting the DDF specification can also support RAID 6, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of catastrophic data loss during RAID rebuilds.

It's conceivable, a decade down the road, that the 40%-plus rate of storage growth curve will flatten as migration in place reduces the need for multiple, redundant data copies.

Gartner warns business on Vista

Well, duuuuuhhhhh!

No business IT operation rushes into any upgrade and the advice Gartner gives is basically to follow good policy with regard to adopting Microsoft's next OS, Vista.

Even so, the warning is unusually weak on endorsing Vista and reads more like the veiled warnings the hero in a bad detective story gets from some hard case. Really. Gartner points out that most of the features, such as desktop search and an improved firewall are already available from either MS or third parties for XP. They 'pooh, pooh' the enhanced security of IE 7 by depicting it as purely a reaction to defections to Mozilla Firefox by some users.

With friends like this, Microsoft doesn't really need enemies, do they?

More and more, Vista is getting "dead-panned" by those who might influence potential adopters. And there are increasing numbers of hints from journalists that Vista might be pushed back even further. I suspect Microsoft has no one to blame for this but themselves. Even so; it looks as if Vista may debut to only a lukewarm reception by a press and analyst community who have already pronounced it to be nearly irrelevant. No matter the reality of Vista, I'm sure it deserves better than that.


Freedom to Tinker Blog

J. Alex Halderman's "Freedom to Tinker" blog is almost always good reading and I recommend it highly. The link above is to his take on MORE DRM included in Sony CDs.


Monday, November 14, 2005

There will be a 2 hour outage tonight

Monday, November 14, 2005

We are planning a two hour outage this evening from 9p to 11p (PST). This is to complete the network maintenance we've been performing over the last several weeks.


FAQ: Sony's 'rootkit' CDs | Tech News on ZDNet

"On Thursday, a wave of malicious software appeared in the wild that piggybacked on copy-protection technology installed on hard drives by Sony BMG Music Entertainment CDs. "

'Bots' for Sony CD software spotted online | Tech News on ZDNet

"A first wave of malicious software written to piggyback on Sony BMG Music Entertainment CD copy protection tools has been spotted online, computer security companies said Thursday. "

Sony rootkit prompts office clampdown on CD use | Tech News on ZDNet

"Sony's decision to include rootkit-like copy restrictions on some of its music CDs is prompting some companies to review whether they allow their staff to use personal CDs at work."

Microsoft will wipe Sony's 'rootkit' | Tech News on ZDNet

"Microsoft will update its security tools to detect and remove part of the copy protection tools installed on PCs when some music CDs are played. "

Sun Gets Sparc Niagara Out the Door

Sun this week is unveiling its long-touted "Niagara" processor, the third major rollout in the past two months for the Santa Clara, Calif., company, which is aggressively trying to separate itself from its past as a vendor focused solely on its SPARC-Solaris platform for high-end customers. UltraSPARC T1, which will start appearing in systems by the end of the year, marks the largest advance to date in Sun's Throughput Computing strategy.

The chip offers eight cores per chip running up to four instruction threads each and addresses the growing issues of energy consumption and heat generation by using only 70 watts of power.

I recall being briefed on the Niagara roadmap circa 2000. Sun has had a poor delivery record in Sparc over the past several years. That has hurt the company; some say it has hurt badly. Wouldn't this technology have been market-turning, say, mid-2002?

With today's big Wall Street Journal story on computer power consumption, Sun's eight cores in a 70-watt envelope is the right recipe. Niagara is a big help to Sun's Sparc base, but I doubt it will shake the market's penchant for x64-based servers, in Sun's case, AMD Opterons.

Open source cell phone

Mobile phone maker LG Electronics is showing off a prototype that runs on the SavaJe OS, an open-source Java platform. The LG phone running SavaJe (pronounced ''savage") has a 176 x 220 display and can store a gig of applications and media files. LG may release a phone running on SavaJe as early as next year.

Do I have bad caps?

I need your all's help. I think my ASUS motherboard failed, a couple weeks ago. The blue screen frequency was increasing the last few days. I had various error messages atapi.sys was the most frequent. One time it seemed as if the memory address was between atapi.sys and agp.sys. I eventually couldn't boot at all, so I ordered another ASUS mobo A8V from Monarch Computer. I posted an item from about bad capacitors showing up in Dells and many other computers. I thought the "explosion" was more obvious, then I relooked at my mobo and wondered if I had bad caps. So. here's the picture:

Bad Caps?? Please post your opinion in the comments.

Update: The first picture did reflect a bit much, so here's another, perhaps more clear

OnComputers on Frappr!

I resisted as long as I could... But, EVERYbody is making their own frappr map. Podcacher, TWiT and, to name a few. So I gave in, and totally on my own, without asking permission, and set one up for us. ;)

Pretty please with sugar on top, help us figure out how worldwide our audience is.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-13-05

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-13-2005. 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.

Some URLs from the show today.

David Notario's WebLog - CLR and JIT Compiler : What is mscorsvw.exe and why is it eating up my CPU? What is this new CLR Optimization Service?

EFF: DeepLinks: "EFF has confirmed the presence of XCP on the following titles

(each has a data session, easily read on a Macintosh, that includes a file called 'VERSION.DAT' that announces what version of XCP it is using). If you

have one of these CDs, and you have a Windows PC (Macs are totally immune, as usual), you may have caught the XCP bug."

Congratulations to Chrissie Cochrane for winning Audio Cleaning Lab 10

Andy Marken
interview during the second hour.

Sophos fix for Sony DRM rootkit install.

John C. Dvorak's blog and columns at PC Mag.

Earl won the DVD Copy 4

More giveaways coming up, listen next week, or to the archive, to be posted soon, no doubt.


Update: SANS ISC - Sony DRM Rootkit to be removed automatically by Microsoft

Tips: How to Secure Windows XP

This is a readable and useful article for computer users concerned about all they should be doing to secure their Windows XP machines. I would bookmark it.

PC Prices Will Keep Dropping as Component Prices Fall

Gartner says PCs sold in the US for an average price of $960 in Q2 2005, down 15% from Q2 2004. Gartner expects total US PC sales to fall to $59.1 billion 2005. That's down from $59.6 billion in 2004 and a peak of $88 billion in 2000.

Digitimes reports this week that:
  • DDR and DDR2 pricing is under a lot of downward pressure, with volatility in the spot market hitting 5% a day.
  • CMC Magnetics and Ritek, the top two producers of optical discs in Taiwan, have lowered OEM quotations for 8x DVD+R/-R discs from US$0.20 to US$0.18 for retail chains and distributors in the US, according to industry sources.
  • As LCD monitor prices declined over the last five quarters, retail sales skyrocketed, and the market experienced subsequent quarterly gains. Retail LCD monitor prices declined an average 36% from the third quarter of 2004 to the third quarter of 2005, led by 19-inch prices, which declined by a whopping 42% in the same period.

Intel-Inside Mac Arrives January

Well, with no Windows Vista beta 2 to test, what are geeks gonna do those cold winter nights?

Answer: play with a new Macintel, which sage speculation puts at Macworld during the second week of January.

Windows Vista Delayed. Gartner Says Delay Until 2008.

The first completely functional beta of Microsoft Windows Vista, Beta 2, apparently will not be out next month, delayed instead until early 2006. "Completely functional" means all the things Vista is supposed to do are present and accounted for, but may not work correctly, as this is a beta after all. Microsoft claims it is still on schedule to ship before Christmas 2006.

Meanwhile, a Gartner study out last week says no need to rush to install Windows Vista before 2008. Microsoft must love that bit of research and analysis!

Radio Leo | ShowNotes / Show 192

I was listening to Leo's KFI podcast, and he mentioned something I hadn't heard of, that I can recall. Its called the Anti-Spyware Coalition, they are trying to define spyware to protect them from future lawsuits.. They have a report, available online. The option to comment is open until Nov. 27, 2005. According to Leo, modifying the home page, adding url's without notification is not defined as spyware. The document is difficult to read. I think they made it deliberately obtuse, or its typical legal mumbo jumbo. I'd prefer offenses listed by "risk." But, I believe that there are people who check this blog out, that will have some strong opinions about the definition of spyware. There is a link to comment at the top of the report page, and a summary of the comments posted so far.


Satire of SCO v. IBM

The link is to a marvelous satire of SCO v. IBM.

Recently, SCO asked the court to order IBM to provide all their contributions to the 2.7 Linux kernel version. The problem is that, while a 2.7 version was suggested, nothing was done with the suggestion. The current 2.6 sreies is taking up all the resources and no one sees a need to start a new kernel at this time. That doesn't stop SCO, who evidently lost their tinfoil hats and are having problems with alternate reality.

Read this one. It is very, very enjoyable and almost sounds plausible.