Saturday, July 08, 2006

Google search helps dig up malware

It's a new use for Google and evidently the ability to look within executable files is also new. The author points out both the bad guy's use of this feature and how we can use it.

I've been trying to educate myself in how malware of various sites works and in the couple hours since I read this article have tried it myself. It works. I have a whole new world of stuff to learn about!


'Google' Added as Verb to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Glad the dictionary is catching up. We all knew it was a verb all along. If you don't know what I mean, go google it. M-W is paying homage to the trademark by capitalizing it, but real geeks already spell it "google".

It is interesting that "spyware" is making the cut, too, but "mouse potato"? That sounds more like something a mouse eats than a geek. Besides, about half of the real geeks I know use trackballs.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification

Microsoft said in an advisory Thursday that it will issue four bulletins for Windows flaws and three for Office. At least one Windows and one Office problem are deemed "critical," Microsoft's highest-risk category for security vulnerabilities, according to the advisory.
Remember to do your Microsoft/Windows Updates this coming Tuesday July 11.

Hacker Goes Public with Unpatched Browser Bugs

Let's face it; the web browser is a dangerous application. Because it is what the Internet, with all it's malicious characters, sees of our machines.

H.D. Moore has publicly pledged to announce at least one browser vulnerability per day through July. This is one to watch. Note that he's not just looking at Internet Exploder, either. I can imagine most, if not all, popular browsers coming under his gaze. This is one to watch.


VIA preps UMPC-friendly chipset

It's a system on a chip. (SoC) About 1 3/8 inch squared (35mm) and containing graphics, cpu, sound and more. Even 6 USB ports! Others are working in the same vein. Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) is also doing a system on a chip, though I'm not privy to the details. There will undoubtedly be others very soon, as well.

High end PDAs might use these, but the real target is UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs) and this is what has me enthused. So far, the few UMPCs out are over-priced and suffer from short battery life. This chip, along with the one from SiS and others are intended to provide enough power to run XP in some form, plus Office applications. Samsung already has one out, though it does not use one of these new generation SoCs. The Samsung device is not particularly impressive and costs a LOT more than the $500-$600 bucks that Microsoft envisioned when they started working on devices in this category. These new SoCs will be more efficient, perhaps to the point of adding significant battery life, and without sacrificing function. They will be cheap enough to cut the cost of a UMPCs innards drastically.

I'm actually excited over the potential of UMPC devices. Given sufficient battery life and assuming I have my laptop with me for night-time synchs and backups, I think one would be the handiesst accessory around. I might find as much utility in a tablet PC and wouldn't have to have a laptop around all the time.

I'm glad to see all this effort going in to what will really only be a niche market. Of course they will find their way into entry level desktop and notebook systems, as well, which is probably how the chip companies rationalize the considerable expense and effort it takes to develop something like this.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Microsoft Caves! Will Support Open Document Format

In what can only be described as a victory for open standards, Microsoft will support ODF in Office 2007 and, later, in earlier versions of Office, as well.

Now; Was all the name calling, lobbying and the ending of at least one public servant's career necessary? Why couldn't MS have simply said "okay" and gone with the flow?


Two Prominent Mac Boosters say "switch to Ubuntu Linux"

Software developer Mark Pilgrim and author Corey Doctorow, two very prominent Mac boosters, until recently, have switched to Ubuntu GNU/Linux, saying it better meets their needs. (To which I say "amen".)

Supposedly, this has occasioned a huge outcry within the Mac community and some soul searching, as well. Among the reasons given for the switch are repressive DRM and proprietary file formats in the Mac OS X.


Online Calling Heralds an Era of Lower Costs - New York Times

Competition in the phone business, intensifying this year as Internet-based calling has taken root, has reached the point where many industry experts are anticipating an era of remarkably cheap and even free calls.
Thanks hally

Official Google Blog: Tour de France goes 3D

Tour de France goes 3D with Google Earth

7/06/2006 06:10:00 AM
Posted by Peter Birch, Product Manager

I don't know about you, but with the action and excitement heating up in the Tour de France, it's hard to keep track of exactly where everybody is riding. When you're trying to understand the Herculean effort that these cyclists go through in stages like L'Alpe d'Huez, or which streets in Paris the final stage will pass through, 2D maps just aren't as compelling.

But now you can make sense of it all by flying around the route yourself. A new KML file available on the official Tour de France website lets you see the entire course overlaid on satellite imagery for Google Earth.

This special Google Earth tour is available in French, German, and Spanish as well as English. Pick your language on the Le Tour site, and once you've done that, look for the "Tour on Google Earth" link in the lefthand navigation under Route. Then you can see the starts, the finishes, even information on each of the cities along the way. Just move the KML file into your "My Places" folder on Google Earth, and follow along day by day. (Did you know that Huy has the unique privilege of hosting stages for the Tour de France, the Giro and the Tour of Belgium this year? We didn't either.)

Be sure to try out the tilt feature to see the truly daunting magnitude of all of those climbs where riders are battling it out in this year's wide-open race. "Beyond Category" climbs? No thanks -- we'll stick to the flats and leave those verticals to the pros!

I thought this was a neat idea, and who knows we may have some Tour de France fans. :)

Official Google Blog: Tour de France goes 3D with Google Earth

Wi-Fi umbrella to cover 10 NYC parks

From the Daily News. Just thought this was cool. Now can we have a GM in NYC? LOL.

New OnComputers Linux user group NewsGroup

We are announcing our NEW OnComputers Linux user group newsgroup.

You can now post your Linux question here and someone will try to answer them.
The new NG is called OCLUG and is on the same server as News.OnComputers NewsGroup. news://

Let the posting begin!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Windows Anti-Piracy Calls Home Daily

Windows Genuine Advantage, the has actually been in a pilot program for a year, during which it phoned home to Microsoft every time somebody logged into your computer. Well, now they tell us.

To disable this "feature", follow the instructions here, or you can wait for a new version to be downloaded in the normal Windows updates cycle that purportedly does not phone home.

Manufacturers shun SATA optical drives

The link above will take you to one of Charlie Demerjian's patented rants at The Inquirer. You may or may not want to read it. I enjoy his rants but some don't seem to.

He has a point, though. There is a serious shortage of optical drives using SATA interfaces. Those that do are simply IDE drives with a SATA adapter on the back and come at an unjustified price premium.

IDE is dead, dead, DEAD, or at least it should be. SATA trumps IDE in every way and the added cost between SATA and the legacy IDE stuff is negligable. So why don't we have SATA optical drives? Charlie puts it down to stupidity on the part of the manufacturers. I find it hard to be so blunt, but am unable to come up with a better explanation. Newer chipsets will have no legacy IDE support. It looks as if we're going to be living with motherboards that have no IDE support and only one or two makers offering SATA optical drives. They'll charge accordingly, as well.

I'm currently picking out a parts list for 2 high-performance desktops and this is a problem in the process.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

NASA - NASA TV Landing Page

This is very kewl to watch history being made on the Forth of July!
Watch a live launch of the space shuttle. it goes up at 2:38PM EDT

FON Technology of Madrid selling $5 routers in drive to create nationwide WiFi network where users must share - The Boston Globe

At least you have to pay for the privilege of sharing your wifi connection.

They have about 10,000 US users already. I don't understand why you would do this. Though, they do say that the user's network is private, I wouldn't want the risk.

An Alternative to Windows Explorer

It used to be that almost every Windows power user replaced Windows Explorer with some other file manager/browser pretty much as soon as the machine booted after the installation of the OS. A lot of them still do. I, like many, fell out of the habit and limped along with Explorer.

This morning a listener sent me an email asking about Windows Explorer replacements and I went out hunting. There are still hundreds of them under all sorts of licenses from proprietary, pay for it, to the GPL. Lots of them are freeware. The link above will take you to the home page of Free Commander, which I recently installed and recommended in my answer to the listener's query. I pass this along in case some of you miss the good old 2 pane file managers. Much to my surprise, I did and am now happily using Free Commander.


A Geek's guide to fireworks :Wired Blog

From Wired:
In the spirit of the good ol' red, white and blue, we've collected a geek's guide to getting the most out of the fireworks this year. Here's a round-up of some fireworks-related articles for you to marinate, toss on the coals and wrap up in a kaiser roll.
Monkey Bites
There's a howto on photographing fireworks, analog or digital, DIY fireworks (at your OWN risk) and fireworks for your browser, and a fireworks FAQ.
Happy Independence Day, Americans!
And a belated Happy Canada Day, July 1st.

A Real Year of the Linux Desktop–What’s Needed

You've never heard me pronounce that this is the year for Linux to take off as a desktop operating system. There are a whole bunch of reasons for that. Conditions that must be met are not in place. I recognize this even though Linux is my choice for a desktop OS.

Josh Chalifour has written a succinct summary of what conditions need to be met and done a far better job of it than I could. (And, yes, I've tried. All praise to the paper shredder!) It's an interesting read. I recommend it.


Rumored death of FreeDOS greatly exaggerated

Lots of us disparage MS-DOS. Compared to the command line in Linux, it's not very powerful, but there are communities of folks who still use DOS and know how to make it stand up and dance. Our own Buddwig is one of those.

MS-DOS is long gone, though. FreeDOS is intended to replace it with an open source implementation and has actually pushed it forward some. There is renewed interest in developing it and the team has started working again. Previous versions have been eminently usable and now they are ready to push out version 1.0, with a few more good things about it.

Some of us use FreeDOS on utility disks for rescue work. The Ultimate Boot CD is based on FreeDOS, at least in some versions. And I have several proprietary repair disks which use it. (Makes me wonder if they're in violation of the license, now that I think about it.)

Don't bother with FreeDOS for nostalgia sake. But if you need it, go get it. I boot the 386 Deepak gave me for our wedding with it, occasionally, just to remember how much I've forgotten or never knew. It's fun.


Meritline Internet & MultiMedia Keyboard (EKB6011M), PS/2 port

"Meritline Internet & MultiMedia Keyboard (EKB6011M), PS/2 port" for just $1.99 + shipping. This is a Forth of July special!

In Pictures: Computer books based on pictures, not text.

Until the end of July (July 31, 2006) you can download for free 'Books in pictures' They have a whole list of books on computers like WindowsXP, Excel 2003, Open Office, Dreamweaver, Photoshop CS2, and more. Check this out!

Real Sex, Virtual Worlds

I'm only BLOGGING this because of the word in the title. SEX! It sells you know. :) Now you can not only have CyberSex; But you can have virtual sex. Personally to me "sex by typing" doesn't do a thing, so why bother? Now the big question is: if they build it, will people come?
I'll pass thank you!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Linux back in the office

I just had to try Linux again in the office. So, found "Blag" Linux It's a Red Hat based Disto. So far so good. Even does MP3's out of the box. Told you I was a CLEW. LOL. Updates to follow.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 07-02-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 07-02-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Unexpected features in Acrobat 7

Is everyone's software phoning home these days? Here's another one.

Adobe Acrobat Reader version 7 recently became available for machines running GNU/Linux. The link above will take you to a page detailing that the software phones home and what information it transmits. This is the first instance of such behavior in Linux, that I am aware of. I'm sure that is mostly due to the fact that users of the OS tend to stick with open-source or free software, rather than proprietary applications such as the Acrobat Reader.

There are many alternatives to Acrobat Reader in Linux and other non-Windows operating systems. Seeing as I don't want to inform anyone of what I'm doing on my machines, I'll be sticking with the one I am using now and not installing the Adobe app.