Archive | December, 2006

SANS – Internet Storm Center – Cooperative Cyber Threat Monitor And Alert System

In the SANS – Internet Storm Center Handler’s Diary on December 29th 2006 they describe the troubles that can occur when a user innocently chooses a likely search result from a popular search engine in “Pain reliever with serious side effects.” A chilling story. The moral of the story: anti-virus and anti-malware and firewalls aren’t sufficient. You must also stay up to date on all the latest patches. What if the patch isn’t out yet?

In related news, Microsoft will unprotect millions of Windows 2000 users tonight as their version of “Windows Defender” expires, with no update planned for the “unsupported” operating system. If you’ve been a depender on defender, it’s time to be a decider and a finder and find another product. Good luck, and happy new year!

Is giving influencers $3k laptops bribery, PR-as-usual, or both?

It’s a slow week in the tech world, nestled between Christmas and New Years, with nothing to read but insipid the-year-that-was technical review rehashes and pundits pontificating their predictions. But wait! A newsflash! Microsoft is trying to influence their unpaid champions, by slipping a couple of loaded laptops out there for “review,” no strings attached. Bribery? PR? Same old thing? In Bribing Bloggers, I think Joel nails it with:

This is the most frustrating thing about the practice of giving bloggers free stuff: it pisses in the well, reducing the credibility of all blogs. I’m upset that people trust me less because of the behavior of other bloggers.

eWeek opines “Microsoft’s Laptop Giveaway Rubs Some the Wrong Way” I think Microsoft’s retreat on this is about the worst thing they could do, nearly admitting some wrongdoing.

esr plans World Domination, sophomore edition

Eric S. Raymond posts World Domination 201, the second part (here’s the first) of the Free/Open Source Software/GNU/Linux cabal’s plan to take over the world. I don’t find this anywhere near as scary as the Halloween Documents. I would like a set of codecs to legitimately play my legitimately owned/viewed Quicktime, MP3, and DVD collections. I think everyone would. It’s disturbing to consider that this might be the only thing hampering Linux acceptance as a desktop, and that the copyright and patent licenses intended to foster free trade and promote the Arts & Sciences are in fact doing the opposite.

Fedora Core 6 OOBE and Print to PDF

I’m switching my laptop machine from Ubuntu 6.06 to Fedora Core 6, at least temporarily. The two are both eminently usable; differences are more with fit and finish and where they hide things than major functionality issues, imo. Mostly, I suspect it will be a matter of learning my way around and Googling the correct magic phrases to find the functionality I need.

Installing printer drivers was a snap, but I’m not Aunt Tilly. I knew the laser at was LPD and the OfficeJet was a JetDirect at port 9100. Picking the model and configuration was straight-forward, but they need to work on that first step of searching for printers that will advertise themselves when asked the right question.

I was pleased to see that SciTE was in the default repositories and installed with ease. However, saving to PDF required a Google to point out that the CUPS-PDF driver was easy to install from the overly-simple package manager interface, but you had to know the location of /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf configuration file to keep the driver from dumping each PDF on the desktop.


A favorite Saturday radio show is Michael Feldman’s “Whad’YaKnow” with its predictable lineup of standup, quiz shows, interviews and yes, the Disclaimers. Since it seems I’m not a lucky winner of an Acer Ferrarri for all the nice things I’ve said about Vista, I want to take a stand here and say that I’m not taking back a single word. The issue has brought up (again) the question of the imparitiality of bloggers, a tempest in a teacup in the dead news week between Christmas and New Years when not much else happens other than this-year-retrospectives and pundit’s predictions for next year. Some question the impartiality of bloggers, to which I say, “Well, duh.” Bloggers are real human voices who have agendas, prejudices, biases, opinions and stubborn beliefs. Here are some of my disclaimers:

1. I make my living solving people’s computer problems. I like to say nice things about my customers and I like it when they say nice things about me. I rarely if ever mention a customer in my blog, but when I do, I point out the relationship.

2. I favor LAMP solutions because I believe they are the optimal solution for many situations. I’ve invested time, effort and money in mastering the tools to deliver those solutions, and I’d like my investment to pay off.

3. I own an Apple iMac and want to see Apple succeed.

4. I don’t own an Apple iPod and want DRM to end. I own a teeny amount of Apple stock.

5. I own stock in RedHat (NYSE:RHT) mostly to have them send me their annual report for free. I own sufficient stock to pay for about seven minutes of my retirement.

6. I don’t own any stock in Google. If anyone wants to send me some, feel free.

7. Microsoft: hard to write a simple, glib sentence that summarizes a complex relationship. I’m a former “Solutions Channel” partner, Certified Professional, MCSD, MCSE and nine-time MVP. As a Solution Provider and MVP I often received free or reduced cost products for review, testing or in-house use. I was paid as a lead author on a certification exam. I was feted occasionally with airfare and some expenses covered to visit Redmond for indoctrination/education. Some of it worked. Some of it was pitiful. I invested a lot in MS in the nineties, and I’m cashing out. Their business practices are too rough. Their “vision” is too weak. Their belief that each and every customer should be paying them hundreds of dollars each year is just delusional. I believe that Microsoft had the computer industry reins in their hands in the nineties and could have matured into a powerful and wise industry leader. They blew it.

8. Microsoft Visual FoxPro is the most productive development environment I have ever worked in, bar none. I miss it, and I’m bitter the vendor doesn’t want to promote it to their customers.

9. I have most of my meager riches in retirement funds held by big financial companies that invest it in stuff I don’t always approve of, like telecom oligopolies, pharmaceutical companies, large software companies in the Pacific Northwest (sell! sell! before it’s too late!!!), defense industries and other investments that will make money and perhaps allow me to retire some day. This doesn’t make me want to say nicer things about them.

10. Recent winners should sit on their hands and let someone else play for a change.

11. Office staff should be grateful for having a job at all and not tie up the office phones trying to play.

Microsoft claims patent on feed aggregators?

Over at Scripting News: 12/21/2006, Dave Winer blogs, “Today I received a link to a patent granted to Microsoft, where they claim to have invented all this stuff. Presumably they’re eventually going to charge us to use it. This should be denounced by everyone who has contributed anything to the success of RSS.”

I’m no patent expert (and don’t think software patents should exist), but reading through this documentation, it looks like Microsoft is trying to patent the process of accumulating feeds and presenting them in different formats. That’s no invention of theirs! Dave’s Radio UserLand did that (first, as far as I know). Bloglines does it. Planet does it. Yahoo! Reader does it. Google Reader does it. Jeez, just about everyone but Microsoft does it. What is their invention?

FireFox and Thunderbird security updates…

Security is a process and not a feature. One of the easier tasks is keeping up with updates. FireFox (2.0 and 1.5) and Thunderbird each have security updates coming.  They should automatically notice the new versions and offer to update it, but you may need to force it manually if you've somehow disabled updates, or you are working with an older (pre-auto-update) version.

Skype worm: click here if you're foolish…

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green reports “Skype 'worm' whinnies…, (Tue, Dec 19th). It appears that the possible Skype “worm” that we reported on yesterday is actually more of a Trojan Horse…”

One more time: an attachment, whether it shows up in email, IM, Skype, floppy disk, USB tab or in the transporter room, is from an untrusted source until you can confirm what it is, where it comes from, why its here and whether you should click on it. There are no trusted sources. “Click here for something really cool” is not an offer you should be taking up!

Spam surging in volume again; what's behind it?

Perhaps it's not your imagination. Over at eWeek, Larry Selzer asks “Who's Behind the Spam Surge?”. “As I discussed several weeks ago, everyone's seen that there has been a massive surge in spam over the last couple of months. More researchers are weighing in on what's behind it.”

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.