Saturday, April 01, 2006

1-800-411-SAVE > How it works

I thought this was cool. Free 411, and you only have to listen to a 15 second commercial. It'll even text message you with the phone number! It gives addresses, all kinds of neat features, I heard about it via the Chris Pirillo podcast, and exclusive interview. Very neat, and did I mention FREE!?!?!

1-800-411-SAVE > How it works

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Using the new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to confirm that the Moon is made of green cheese. The telling clue was the resolution of a marked date after which the Moon may go bad.

In the interest of full disclosure, I include the last line of the picture explanation. ;)
It has been used historically in context to indicate a claim so clearly false that no one -- not even April Fools -- will believe it.
Astronomy Picture of the Day

Bill Gates lands role in Doctor Who

'Have you tried shutting down your TARDIS and rebooting it?'

It's either an April Fool's joke or for real. Either way, it's a fun thought.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

24,000 quad core Opteron system slated

24,000 processors, a terrabyte of memory. Sounds like my dream machine, assmuming it has a video card that's Linux compatible.

And they'll be available just before my birthday, (Hint, hint.)


Is Palm Building their own OS?

The link above will take you to a story that can only be described as minimally informative. Never the less, the subject is interesting.

PalmOS, as it stands now, is quite serviceable for lower end PDAs, but apparently is not particularly extensible. Attempts to do so have met with resounding yawns by potential buyers. It makes real sense for Palm to come up with a truly extensible operating system that is as efficient as the current PalmOS is now. Basing it on Linux is a no-brainer for them, though there are other candidates with similar capabilities. (SkyOS, QNX and the BSDs come to mind and I'm sure there are others.)

If Palm is to again become competitive, they desperately need both the flexibility of a modernized operating system and the increased capabilities. I love my Palm Zire (the cheapest model at the time I got it) but am painfully aware of it's limitations and the limitations it places on applications intended to run on it. It is simply too old and too limited to be viable in today's market. (Remember; Palm does not need to match devices like the Blackberry. They need to surpass it in capabilities and at a reasonable price.) The right OS would work on phones, PDAs and perhaps even ultra-portables like the Microsoft "Origami" class of devices.)

I'll be following this one closely, as will a LOT of others.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

APOD: 2006 March 29 - Green and Black Auroras Over Norway

Astronomy Picture of the Day, purely for aesthetic reasons :)

APOD: 2006 March 29 - Green and Black Auroras Over Norway


40+ Suggestions for Better Desktop

The writer of this piece, Peter Chabada, is primarily concerned with the Gnome desktop, but his thoughts are worth reading and applying to every desktop I'm aware of. This is intended as a thought piece for programmers and designers, but it is great for those of us who think about how we interact with our desktops and what more we might want of them.


Internet Explorer 7 Will Not Be Integrated into Windows

The link above will take you to, where you will find a short story to the effect that IE is being separated from Windows. The confirming linke to a Business Week site do not work and I have found no other confirmation at the time of posting.

If this is true, Well over ten years of Microsoft arguing with absolutely everyone about the integration of IE will be over. There may be legal ramifications in the ongoing government supervision of the anti-trust settlement. I doubt it, though. Not least because MS can simply argue that separation was done over time and this is a new operating system being discusses, with much legacy code replaced.

The move also promises to make Vista more secure. The tight integration of the past was a conduit for malicious code to infect the operating system. With this conduit broken, the system itself will be safer by default. And there is no doubt that Microsoft will act to make it safer yet by "sterilizing" the connection between OS and browser. Thus, this move is to their credit. Just how much credit they deserve for it will be apparent over time.


Non-Microsoft Patches Issued

Use at your own risk. Unlike the unofficial patch in January these have not been vetted by Sans. Like I said yesterday, I've simply put my Internet Zone security on "high" which disables Active X and other scripting and I also use Firefox. No one is totally safe, but we can make our surfing safer.

P.S. After I posted this I see that Jack covered it below. However this bears repeating and I added my own take on it so I'll leave my comment stand.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Online Neighborhood Watch Nails Phishers

A volunteer group, dubbed the Phishing Incident Reporting and Termination squad (PIRT), will take in reports from consumers of suspected phishing Web sites and work to take the sites offline.

On Friday, before its official launch, the group received 100 phishing reports, and 30 of those were shut down in a few hours.
More info at one of the founders: Sunbelt BLOG: Become a phishing terminator
Check it out!

read more | digg story

Third party offers temporary IE fix......again

This time, the patch offered is not getting the sort of backing the last patch got from security professionals. I think because the workaround of disabling ActiveX recommended by Microsoft is really the best way to go about keeping oneself safe. Also, no one in their right mind wants to set a pattern of unofficial patching that might well distract users from the official patch when it arrives.

However one deals with it, exploit code for this vulnerability is out and installed on hundreds of (probably hijacked) web sites. This means doing nothing is unacceptable. Personally, I don't use Internet Explorer for anything but accessing Windows Update and/or Microsoft Update. Even so, ActiveX is disabled until I actually need to go to those sites, just in case someone finds a way to get to the vulnerable parts of IE without the browser actually being opened.


Neighborhood watch for phishing launches

As this article on points out, it is probably not possible for a small assemblage of volunteers to make a real dent in phishing and related scams. Even so, I find it satisfying that they are willing to try and I'm researching further to see if I can help in some way.

Anything positive is better than nothing and if they prevent only a few people from being victimized, it would have to be considered a success.

Jack - News - CentOS in the News - It's L-i-n-u-x, that is an Operating System

"It's L-i-n-u-x, that is an Operating System
OR ... why every city council needs at least one geek "
Want a good laugh? This is a good example of someone that shouldn't be allowed near a computer. :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Attacks on Unpatched IE Flaw Escalate

This is a must read

As to IE, okay, try this. Set all your Internet Explorer internet zone security settings on high. Then go to Windows Update. Follow the instructions to put Windows Update into the trusted zone. Also, don't store your usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, etc. in your browser. IMHO that is asking for trouble. I never have and I never will.

2 Years of Prison for Downloading Movies?

2 Years of Prison for Downloading Movies?
New German law suggests it...

Posted 2006-03-27 09:15:44

A new law passed in Germany suggests jail-time of up to two years for "casual" downloaders of pirated film or music (private-use), notes Techdirt. One of the defenders of the new law states: "There should be no legal distinction between stealing chewing gum from a shop and performing an illegal download."

From Boadband reports. Caught my eye. Comments?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 03-26-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 03-26-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Linux Screen Reader 0.1.0

This is a new project, definitely in the alpha state of development, but based on fairly mature technology from IBM. The link above will take you to the page at Freshmeat which announces the project. IBM's homepage for the project is here.

During the public fracas over Massachusetts' adoption of Open Document Format (ODF) it was pointed out that with a requirement for ODF, visually handicapped citizens would lose access to Microsoft's accessibility functions, arguably the best extant. This release is part of IBM's effort to redress the balance. Expect also to see speech to text apps flow from this same release, though at a later date.


Vista takes a serious stab at malware

While this is not a detailed analysis of Vista security, it does give you a good idea of how it will work, as regards malware. It's a decent read; won't take too long and will give you a reasonable idea of what to expect.

With statements to the effect that Vista will make spyware a thing of the past floating around the Internet, this is a realistic estimation of how Vista will deal with things of that nature.