John at myITforum.com

Mostly gadgets, but I'll occassionally get sidetracked...

December 2004 - Posts

US to offer $350 million in aid

If your like me, lately I've been following the news on the tragedy unfolding in Indonesia.  I've been hearing lots of statistics, such as the US being the richest country in the world, and that 40% of all aid offered to the world comes from the US, and quite honestly, I was completely unaware of our generosity to our foreign neighbors.  The latest release from the US on the tsunami was a shocker.

The United States is pledging $350 million to help tsunami victims, a tenfold increase over its first wave of aid, President Bush announced Friday.  "Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead," Bush said Friday in a statement released in Crawford, Texas, where he is staying at his ranch.  “Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster."

Bush also is sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to Indian Ocean coastal areas ravaged by earthquake and tsunami to assess what more the United States needs to do. The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will travel with him.

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 03:48 PM by jgormly | with 1 comment(s)
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Anti-Santy?

Wow...does this bring back memories?  There's a new worm on the prowl that attempts to correct the exploits of the Santy worm.  Will this do more harm than good?

F-Secure said on Friday that it was aware of seven sites that had been defaced by the worm, which appears designed to combat the Santy worm. The anti-Santy worm searches Google for sites that use the PHP Bulletin Board (phpBB) software exploited by the earlier worm, infects the sites and attempts to make the sites more secure by installing a patch.

Mikko Hyppönen, director of antivirus research at F-Secure, said that although the worm may seem beneficial, in fact it is likely to cause problems for administrators who will have to handle the increase in traffic.

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 03:39 PM by jgormly | with no comments
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How much would you pay for a virtual island?

What to do with an extra few thousand dollars?

The BBC has reported that a 22-year-old gamer has spent $26,500 (£13,700) on an island that exists only in a computer role-playing game (RPG).   The Australian gamer, known only by his gaming moniker Deathifier, bought the island in an online auction.   The land exists within the game Project Entropia, an RPG which allows thousands of players to interact with each other.   Entropia allows gamers to buy and sell virtual items using real cash, while fans of other titles often use auction site eBay to sell their virtual wares.   Earlier this year economists calculated that these massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have a gross economic impact equivalent to the GDP of the African nation of Namibia.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4104731.stm

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 03:34 PM by jgormly | with no comments
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Overpeer stuffing Windows Media files with adware?

What better way to catch music thieves?  Makes you wonder whether or not its deliberate.

PC World has learned that some Windows Media files on peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa contain code that can spawn a string of pop-up ads and install adware. They look just like regular songs or short videos in Windows Media format, but launch ads instead of media clips.

When we ran the files, we noted over half a dozen pop-ups, some attempts to download adware onto our test PC, and an attempt to hijack our browser's home page. However, you can take steps to guard your PC against this ad invasion.  

A reader initially alerted PC World to an ad-laden Windows Media Audio file, titled "Alicia Keys Fallin' Songs In A Minor 4.wma." We then found two other WMA files and two Windows Media Video files that had been similarly modified.

Using a packet analysis tool called Etherpeek, we determined that each media file loaded a page served by a company called Overpeer (owned by Loudeye). That page set off a chain of events that led to the creation of several Internet Explorer windows, each containing a different ad or adware.

Overpeer first made news mid-2002 by offering its services to record companies looking to stop P-to-P pirates. It creates fake audio files that purport to be popular songs but play only a short loop of the track or an antipiracy message; the file then pops up a window offering the downloader a chance to buy the song. By flooding file-sharing services with spoofed files, Overpeer makes finding real music files more difficult.

Marc Morgenstern, Loudeye vice president and general manager of digital media asset protection, says the files we found come from a different division of the company--one that targets users with promotions or ads based on the keywords those users search for on P-to-P networks or in other venues.

Though the two businesses differ, the result is likely the same--a further reduction in the effectiveness of popular P-to-P networks. Morgenstern characterized Overpeer's actions as just deserts for people who illegally trade copyrighted works for free. "Remember, the people who receive something like (the ad-laden media files), in some cases, were on P-to-P, and they were trying to get illicit files," he says.

Read the full article here: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,119016,00.asp

 

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 03:26 PM by jgormly | with no comments
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The New Novell?

Can Novell get their act together, or will they change tactics again?  I honestly don't think this will work for Novell.   The primary reason?  Who will they market their products to?  How many serious business applications run on the Linux platform?  How in the world can you convince major companies to switch if their applications won't run on it?  How will Novell convince developers that they need to make their apps work on the Linux, or open-source platform?  They've got a very tough hill to climb. 

Novell, the former undisputed leader in proprietary networking software, is banking on Linux and open source to rescue its business from years of decline. Where once it seemed fated for obscurity, Novell is determined to regain its former status by transforming itself into one of the industry's leading open source vendors. 

Novell first aligned itself with the open source community when it launched its collaborative development site, forge.novell.com, in early 2003. But it wasn't until Novell purchased open source desktop software vendor Ximian in August 2003 that the company's new direction began to solidify in the public eye. Then in January 2004, Novell acquired SuSE, the leading Linux vendor in Europe and the No. 2 player worldwide, after Red Hat.

But even though it seems to be holding all the right cards, Novell faces tough odds. In recent years, tough competition from Microsoft and dwindling support from third-party developers have caused Novell's once-loyal base to look elsewhere for infrastructure needs. Unless it can win back the loyalty of the industry, Novell's new, Linux-centric message could fall on deaf ears.

Read the full article here: http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;637146750;fp;16;fpid;0

 

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 09:32 AM by jgormly | with 1 comment(s)
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Can-Spam can't can AOL spammer?

I blogged eariler that I was having problems putting two and two together on AOL's reduction in SPAM, and CAN-SPAM not really working.  The news just gets better.  I stumbled over this one this morning.

The saga of the 24 year old West Virginian AOL staffer who stole over 30 million email addresses has taken another exciting twist.

The engineer, who pleaded guilty to appropriating email addresses and then selling them on to spammers, had his plea refused by the judge.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein, although admitting to a dislike of "spamsters" (sic), could not be convinced Jason Samthers had committed a crime under the CAN-SPAM Act. The judge said it was not clear the defendant had deceived anyone - a key requirement of the new law.

Smathers was caught in June this year and arrested along with accomplice Sean Dunaway, 21. Both Smathers and Dunaway face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of at least $250,000 if found guilty.

Smathers obtained the email addresses by using another employee's password to gain access to AOL's extensive databases. The list he acquired, later sold on to spammers for more than $100,000, contained email addresses, telephone numbers, zip codes and the type of credit card used by each member. The list did not contain actual credit card details.

According to prosecutors the list is still doing the rounds amongst the spamming fraternity.

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 08:53 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Blackberry handhelds to read bar codes?
A new device allows BlackBerry handheld computers to read bar codes, a capability that should make them more popular among health care providers.

The device, called LaserField, integrates data collection software from Vancouver-based Flowfinity Wireless Inc. and a bar-code reader from Infinite Peripherals, based in Irvine, Calif. Bar code-enabled BlackBerrys will help track inventory and will speed data entry, Flowfinity said in a statement.

Bar codes are used in less than 5 percent of hospitals to ensure that patients receive the right medications. But more than 35 percent of hospitals ranked as “most wired“ use some sort of electronic means to match patients with medications.

 

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 08:44 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Symbian cellphone virus spreading fast with new variants

Finnish antivirus firm F-Secure has detected two new fast spreading variants of the Cabir virus that infects cell phones using the Symbian operating system.

The company said the new variants, Cabir.H and Cabir.I, have fixed a flaw that slowed the previous Cabir virus from spreading rapidly. The original Cabir, dubbed Cabir.A, moved only to one new phone with each reboot. But the latest versions do not have the same restrictions, and appear capable of spreading to an unlimited number of phones per reboot.

Once a phone is infected, it is is capable of searching for other vulnerable phones using its Bluetooth wireless connection and transmitting a file that contains the network worm, according to F-Secure.

"We are getting into an issue that it is now in the wild and users have told their phones to accept any Bluetooth applications," Travis Witteveen, vice president of Americas for F-Secure, told internetnews.com. Witteveen said the new wrinkle in the worm exploits the very nature of how cell phones are intended to be used.

"When the phones are mobile they constantly are seeing Bluetooth applications and attacking them," he said.

 

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 08:37 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Symantec warns of new Trojan threat on Windows XP?

Computers running Microsoft's Windows XP are vulnerable to Trojan attacks capable of remotely controlling a user's system even when equipped with the latest Service Pack 2 (SP2) patch, security firm Symantec has warned.

The Trojan horse, called "Phel", is capable of corrupting computers visiting a malicious Web site through Internet Explorer's Help controls, according to Symantec.

The program exploits a vulnerability within Internet Explorer and SP2 that engages help files from Web pages. The vulnerability was discovered in October.

An attacker first must entice a user to visit a malicious Web site before placing the Trojan on his machine. If the Trojan is successfully launched, the malicious software could be downloaded and run on the victim's system, according to Microsoft.

A spokeswoman for the Redmond, Wash., software giant said programmers were working to correct the vulnerability and will release the security update when the development and testing process is complete. She could not provide a definitive time table as to when a patch might be issued.

"Microsoft is working to forensically analyze the malicious code in Phel and will work with law enforcement to identify and bring to justice those responsible for this malicious activity," she said.

The flaw is unrelated to the three vulnerabilities in Windows reported last week by Chinese security group Xfocus.  Microsoft officials were angered when the group released proof-of-concept code before sharing the information's with security vendors.

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 08:33 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Have an iMate PDA2k (also known as O2 Xda III/IIs and T-Mobile MDA III)?

iMate has finally released a complete ROM upgrade for the iMate PDA2k (also known as O2 Xda III/IIs and T-Mobile MDA III).  According to i-mate, this ROM build provides significant improvements in radio, audio, Bluetooth and operating functionality.

http://www.clubimate.com/index.asp?PageAction=DEVICE_PDA2K_BT3

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 08:20 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Need to catch up on all the cell phone news for the year?

CNET has posted the cell phone year in review.  Global cellular markets boomed. U.S. data services went through the roof. And handsets literally blew up.

http://news.com.com/Year+in+Review+Cell+phones+explode/2009-1039_3-5498620.html

 

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 08:09 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Having problems learning Windows Mobile 2003?

Check out Master VISUALLY Windows Mobile 2003.

"One picture is worth a thousand words." If you prefer instructions that show you how rather than tell you why, then this comprehensive reference is for you. Hundreds of succinctly captioned, step-by-step screen shots reveal how to accomplish more than 170 Windows Mobile 2003 tasks, including:

  • Syncing your PDA with your desktop
  • Customizing menus, sounds, and screens
  • Enjoying multimedia with Media Player 9
  • Managing Bluetooth communications
  • Working with Pocket Excel and Pocket Word
  • Setting up network connections
  • Sending voice and e-mail messages

Master It

  • "Master It" sidebars answer questions and present shortcuts
  • High-resolution screen shots demonstrate each task
  • Succinct explanations walk you through step by step
  • Two-page lessons break big topics into bite-sized modules

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0764558897/qid=1104497204/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-2616005-6035346?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 07:53 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Japan pins tourism hopes on PDA

JAPAN will start lending to foreign visitors personal digital assitants (PDAs) with travel information and translation services as part of a tourism promotion scheme.

The pilot program is part of a government drive to find ways to make Japan more attractive to foreign tourists, who are often put off by the country's language barrier and high prices.

Japan's tourism authority will lend the PDAs containing Chinese, Korean and English software, to selected tourists who land at Narita Airport near Tokyo from February through March to test the response, the transport ministry said.

http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,11810501%5E15306,00.html

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 07:45 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Netcraft Internet Explorer plug-in to

Netcraft has released an Internet Explorer plug-in that could help people avoid becoming victims of online fraud.

The Internet security company heralded the plug-in toolbar, which displays information about the Web sites a surfer is visiting, as a strong weapon against phishing attacks.

The company, best known for providing statistics on what software Web sites are running, stated in a posting: "The Netcraft Toolbar provides you with constantly updated information about the sites you visit as well as blocking dangerous sites. This information will help you make an informed choice about the integrity of those sites."

The toolbar displays information about the popularity of a site, the country in which the site is hosted and the Internet address of the site. It also indicates whether other toolbar users have flagged the site as a possible phishing scam. Phishers use fake Web sites that look like they belong to a trusted provider, such as a bank, to fool people into handing over sensitive personal information.

You can find the toolbar here: http://toolbar.netcraft.com/

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 07:43 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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Download Adobe 7 yet?

Adobe has upgraded the reader to version 7.0.  I installed it a few days ago and made it my default reader.  Appears a bit faster than the 6.0 version. 

Adobe® Reader® 7.0 is free software that enables business professionals and home users to reliably share information using intelligent PDF files. With Adobe Reader 7.0, you can easily view, print, and search PDF files using a variety of platforms and devices.

Download 7.0 here: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

Posted: Dec 31 2004, 07:39 AM by jgormly | with no comments
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