[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Google Calendar Advice

Unless you've been on vacation in a very remote part of the world (in which case, I am truly envious of you) or you've had your head stuck in a hole in the ground for a month or two, you've probably heard that Google has a web-based calendar now. If, by chance, you hadn't heard the news, head over to http://calendar.google.com and check it out.

One of the topics that's been bubbling at the back of my mind for some time now has been a review of the various web-based calendar systems out there, including Google's. I've obviously not gotten to it yet, but Douglas Bowman at Stop Design has written a very good list of

Beside the basic Googly-ajaxy-Gmail-like behavior, there're keyboard shortcuts, automatic reminders, Gmail integration, and a mess of Firefox extensions that can enhance the Google Calendar experience. If you're a hardcore Gmail user, or are otherwise looking to get more out of Google Calendar, these tips are an especially good read. At the very least, it's an excellent look at how extensive this web application really is.

Mr. Bowman does point out, however, the one feature that is so far preventing me from leaping on the G-Calendaring bandwagon: 2-way synchronizing. I noted this shortly after the service went live, in a comment on our original post. If you are assured to have Internet access anywhere you need your calendar data, then this concern doesn't apply to you. If you find yourself having to edit your calendar data while offline (rather than just viewing it "read-only" all the time), then this is a problem. I haven't seen a good workaround yet. Anybody got any suggestions?

If you're not quite sure what I'm trying to say, here's what the problem is:

While it's pretty easy to push your online information to your various local devices, there currently seems to be no way to easily synchronize your local calendars with your Google Calendar account. Making a change online easily echoes to your computer/pda/cellphone/otherCoolDevice, but any changes made on said devices won't get pushed back to your Google account.

Since the Google Calendar API has been released, one can hope that some clever coder-folk will put together some applications to make this functionality possible...but these will likely still be extra addons that users will have to hunt down and install themselves....on any device that they want this functionality added to. Not an ideal solution.

What I'm basically still waiting for (and was hoping Google Calendar would provide) is an online calendar service that essentially provides WebDAV access to the calendar data. Or, a web application that can be installed on your own server (you provide the WebDAV goodness) that can parse AND edit your iCal files. PHPiCal is cool and all, but it doesn't allow you to edit your data online...and it's the only one I've been able to find thus far.

Both pieces of the puzzle are, for the most part, already there.
  • Local software (for offline use) that supports the iCal standard, and is able to sync to remote locations.
  • Web applications, with beautifully executed with very impressive functionality that also know how to talk the iCal lingo.
We've just got to somehow connect the dots.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Nintendo Revolution Has a New Name : Wii

The Nintendo Revolution has now a new name, and it's not a pretty one. From now on, the console shall be named the Nintendo Wii (Weeeeeeeeeeee!). Personally, I think that the name "Revolution" sounded much better. I can't understand what entered the mind of Nintendo's marketing team when they decided to give the console such a stupid name. Here is a little media presentation introducing Revolution's new name.

Social Engineering: The Biggest Risk to Internet Security

We rely on security walls to keep intruders out, while leaving gates so that we can get in and out ourselves. Most hacking involves trying to break down or otherwise sneak past these gates, but the easiest way to get in is to convince the gatekeeper to open the door. In networking security circles, this is known as Social Engineering, and it's something you need to know about if you don't want to end up in big, big trouble.

Absolute faith in a security system can ultimately be its greatest weakness, as people grow accustomed to it and fail to hold up their end of the bargain. Every wall has a gate through which people can walk; conventional hacking involves breaking this gate down. Social engineering is getting the gate keepers to wave you past with a smile on their faces.

Read more about it. (Source: Tom's Networking)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Warning! Computers can Cripple You

Yes they can! Didn't you know that working on a computer all day long can be very dangerous? (Ok, maybe we're exaggerating a bit) Anyways, to get on with the story, it has been known that some people have been developing RSI (repetitive strain injury) after having been using computers for extended periods of time. According to a recent survey by the TUC, RSI effects one in 50 of the working population, and up to six people a day have to stop working because of it.

The crippling effect of RSI is a tragedy for the individuals and a significant drain on companies and the economy. In a future article I will look at technology that can reduce the chance of RSI. But firstly, here are some simple tips from the TUC that everyone can take to reduce the incidents of RSI[...](Source : The Register)

Read more.

Look Ma, No Hard Drive: Flash Only!

Words are out that Samsung has developed a 32GB SSD (solid-state disk), a flash-memory based replacement for hard-disk drives. Just try to imagine the kind of disk access speed you could get out of this baby. SSDs have many advantages over traditional hard drives: They're faster, more durable and completely silent.

The drive packs 32Gb of flash memory into a case the same size as a 1.8in, hard-disk drive. That capacity is double the 16Gb of a prototype device announced by Samsung last year and was made possible by the continuing miniaturization of flash-memory chip technology.(Source: Digital World Tokyo)

Read More.

Your Thoughts Are Your Password

Could you imagine yourself living in a world where text passwords are a thing of the past and all you'd need to do to log in your computer is to think about it? Scientists hope that mind-reading computers will one day replace typed passwords, making fingerprint readers and retina scans obsolete. Thoughts are unique to individuals, so using them as passwords would probably be incredibly secure. You would need to reproduce a person's thought pattern exactly in order to get in a protected system, and my guess is that this would be an almost impossible task.

What if you could one day unlock your door or access your bank account by simply "thinking" your password? Too far out? Perhaps not.

Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, are exploring the possibility of a biometric security device that will use a person's thoughts to authenticate her or his identity.

Read more. (Source: Wired)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Google to Actively Advocate Firefox

From 456 Berea St:

Starting today, Google's homepage is running an ad for Firefox with Google Toolbar that is only displayed to Internet Explorer users (currently only in the US).

And the folks at SpreadFireFox have a screenshot of what this'll look like (edit : The Screenshot isn't available on SpreadFireFox anymore, but you can look at it right here). The add will only be shown to IE users (so those of you who're cool enough to be using a modern browser won't see it), and only in the US...for now.

The web developer in me is Very Happy about this news. IE7 is supposedly "
layout-complete" in the latest beta. This means that although the application isn't yet "feature-complete," development on the rendering engine is frozen and locked down for this particular version of the software. While the new rendering engine is a BIG improvement over the stagnated IE6 muckery, there're still several CSS rendering issues don't look like they'll be addressed. So the more people who switch to a Gecko-based app, the better.

Plus, the little orange fox is so much cooler than the Big Blue E.

[Geeks Are Sexy]: Over 200 Free Tech Magazines

I have a great deal for you guys. I'm offering you with the possibility to subscribe to over 200 IT magazines for free! Yes you heard that right: free. There are some excellent publications in here: InfoWorld (My favourite one), Computer World, eWeek, Oracle Magazine and the list goes on. Just browse through the list by industry or geographical location, and you'll see what I have to offer.

Share and enjoy: Add to Del.Icio.Us

The Top 10 Information Security Myths

Believing in commonly held beliefs can lead to potential disaster, especially when it comes to security. In this FinanceTech article, Joanne VanAuken enumerate what she thinks are the top 10 information security myths going around the IT community right now and gives her own impression about each of them. A great read.

Sizing up the competition: what can be said about America's high-tech future?

An important warning about US technological competitiveness vs. Asia has emerged from Duke University. Contrary to recent reports, however, it has nothing to do with a programming competition. China and India are now producing up to 900,000 engineering graduates of all types per year, more then 3 time the number of U.S. grads. What can be said about America's high-tech future?

Read more.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Improving Windows XP Boot Time on your Old Computer

Do you remember how fast the bootup process of your old XP box was a couple of years ago? Lightning quick and blazingly fast were probably words that came into your mind back then. Now one thing is certain: it doesn't leave you with this impression anymore. Here are a couple of ways to help you improve XP's boot time.

Disable the Boot Logo

Yes, removing the boot logo can help you speed up the bootup process by a few seconds. Unfortunately, by doing this, you will not be able to see any boot messages. If you don't have any problems with your computer, this isn't really a problem, and if you ever do, just re-enable it.

  • Start -> Run, type msconfig, and click OK.
  • Select the BOOT.INI tab.
  • Click the NOGUIBOOT check box and click OK.
  • Reboot and enjoy.

Assign a static IP to your computer

If you are using a DHCP server to assign an IP address to your computer, consider using a static one instead, this way, the operating system will not have to query the network to get a new address. To assign a static IP to your computer:

  • 1- Start-> settings -> Network connection (Classic start menu) or Start->right click "My Network Place", select properties.
  • 2- Right click your local network connection, select properties.
  • 3- Double click TCP/IP and assign your address manually

Remove unnecessary fonts

Windows has to load up all of its fonts while it is booting up, by removing unnecessary ones, you'll help make your computer start faster.

  • 1- Go into the control panel, and double click the fonts folder
  • 2- Select all the fonts you do not need and Back them up in another folder (just in case you delete one that you need).
  • 3- Go back into your fonts folder and delete them.

Do not delete these fonts, Windows need them: Verdana, Arial, Trebuchet, Tahoma, Times New Roman, MS Sans Serif.

Disable unnecessary services

XP loads a large number of services at startup, and a lot of them aren't really necessary. Consult
this article to learn about which one you should disable.

As a last recommendation, I would suggest that you defragment your drives and clean up your temp directories regularly. After applying all of those tweaks, your computer should be starting approximately 20% faster then before. Enjoy the speed while it last!

Just to let you guys know, I recently started to offer to my readers free subscriptions to over 200 tech magazines. There are some excellent publications in here: InfoWorld (My favourite one), Computer World, Security Technology & Design, Oracle Magazine and the list goes on. Just browse through the list by industry or geographical location, and you'll see what I have to offer.

Add to Del.Icio.Us

Linksys rolls out 802.11n products : WRT300N and WPC300N

As you may already know, Pre 802.11n wireless devices have recently started to appear on the market. In a move to follow the competition, Linksys has decided to release their own products supporting the specification. Apparently, their new access points are supposed to offer at least 100 megabits of real throughput and some improved security features. If you are curious about what 802.11n is, you can read more about it right here.

The WRT300N Wireless-N Broadband Router and WPC300N Wireless-N Notebook Adapter are available online immediately from BestBuy.com and coming to other retailers soon. The router has an estimated street price of $150 and the PC Card is expected to sell for $120, double or more the prices of standard consumer 802.11g gear, which has a theoretical top speed of 54 mbps.

Personally, I wouldn't get one of those pre-n devices yet. These new APs only supports 802.11n draft compliance and are not Wi-Fi certified. If you want to make sure that your new devices are fully compatible with other brands of wireless products, just wait a few months until the specification is fully ratified.

Read more.

[Geeks Are Sexy] : Introducing theMatt

Kiltak recently extended me an offer to contribute content to this awesome blog. I figured it'd be a good idea to introduce myself before posts started mysteriously appearing with an author other than the site's owner.

I'm currently finishing up my Junior year at a small liberal-arts college in Washington State. I've declared a major in Studio Art (think applied arts, or something similar...yes, it's a real degree), and I'm a member of my school's IT support staff. Though I've been interested in computers and Information Technology for several years, I've only been actively exposed to the IT industry for about two years.

Since most of my work revolves around end-user support in a relatively diverse computing environment, I'm evolving into somewhat of a generalist. If I absolutely had to define a specific speciality, at this point it'd probably be "the aesthetic and technical nuances of web design." Besides staffing the school's helpdesk, doing on-site network troubleshooting, and managing some of the school's computer labs (and the consultants that staff them), I've spent a fair amount of time doing web development for the IT department, and various other random people around campus.

Even though a lot of people greet my bubbling excitement about the latest cool little computery trick I learned with blank stares, shaking heads, or the almost sad "you're such a geek," I maintain the mindset that I'm still quite the newbie. I have just enough experience and knowledge to see a pretty clear picture of how much I really don't know. I'm always trying to learn more, and am fascinated by something new almost every time I hit one of my favorite tech-related websites. I hope that my rambling posts, and (hopefully) witty remarks will bring you some of the same "whoa, that's cool" or "huh, that's uh....weird and interesting" moments I've enjoyed hunting down since I started fitting some definitions of "geek".

Oh, and yes, Matt is indeed my real name.

Monday, April 24, 2006

God of war II Trailer : Warning, for mature audience only!

I don't post this kind of stuff usually, but I thought that this trailer was really "jaw dropping" and worth sharing with you guys.

Warning: Contains blood and gore.

In addition to this nice little video, Just want to tell you guys that I just started offering free tech magazines to my readers. There are some excellent publications in here: InfoWorld (My favourite one), Computer World, eWeek, Oracle Magazine and the list goes on. Just browse through the list by industry or geographical location, and you'll see what I have to offer.

Are good video game movies possible?

The seemingly endless flood of incredibly bad movies based on video games has been a painful ordeal, and it's hurting the video game industry more than you might think. The mediocre game adaptations and their creators are threatening to infect the very games that inspired them. TwitchGuru goes deep inside the threat from Hollywood, and issues a call to arms for gamers everywhere.

Read More.

Futuristic Automatic Door

I just stumbled on this video of a strange yet interesting automatic door that conforms to a person or objects shape using built-in infared sensors. I think that this would probably look very cool in my basement, but unfortunatly, I don't think my wife would agree. Click on the play sign to get the show started.

Monday Morning Wisdom: Leaving Early from Work may get you Home Late

A lot of us think that leaving early from work, even if it's only a few minutes, will let us get at home earlier at the end of a hard day of labor. According to this OmniNerd artcile, doing so may actually have the opposite effect and get you home later in the evening.

Brandon Hansen uses a year's worth of data collected on his urban drive to and from work along with statistical analysis to show the effects of varying departure times and considering external factors like nearby school districts' schedules. In the end, a minor shift in his departure time results in saving driving hours equivalent to over a third of the vacation time given annually by his employer.

Read more.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Get Your Geek On: Train the Night Away in Shorts

People working in information technology constantly need to upgrade their skills if they want to stay employable in this rapidly changing market. Unfortunately, training isn't always something we look forward to when we have obligations outside of our professional life. A company named "Geek Cruises" is trying to make life easier for IT professionals and their families by offering them "working vacations" where geeks of all ages can get a suntan while having their brain packed with all the latest tech skills.

Yes, we're talking about the rapture of geeks, learning things, on cruises. In a radical redefinition of the term "working vacation," specialized IT training excursions are cropping up everywhere, offering tech workers the opportunity to simultaneously hone their skills and suntans. And as the testimonials on the site of one such outfit, Geek Cruises, show, business and pleasure are making a perfect match. (Source: eWeek)

I wonder if I could get my employer to pay me a 2 week training session on a cruise like this. I really doubt that they'll accept, but hey, he who tries nothing has nothing. Hawaii, here I come!

Read more.

A Darwinian View of Malware: The Evolution of Malicious Code

If we go back a few years, the main goal of malware developers was to wreak havoc upon the digital lives of unsuspecting users, but recently, their intent has changed. Malware development is now a profitable activity, so malicious code authors can now sell their creations (Or access to system that got compromised by them) via underground auctions held in the deepest pit of cyber-hell. Everything is available over there if you have the money: Spam zombies, adware victims, login credentials, credit car numbers, and the list goes on.

Mary Landesman, a respected antivirus professional and guide for Antivirus.About.com has just pubbed this very interesting article explaining how and why malware has evolved in recent years. She is also providing readers with ways to protect themselves against these digital threats. A very interesting read.

Seagate Leaks 750GB Barracuda 7200.10 Details

Are you starting to run out of hard disk space? If so, then this may interest you. Seagate is about to announce the release of 2 new 750GB 7200RPM hard drive models. These babies will be using perpendicular recording to increase drive density. This new technology lets you save more information on a smaller surface, so even if the disk space is increasing, its physical size can remain the same. The drives haven't been formally announced yet, but you can already consult their specs via Seagate’s website (ST3750640A (PATA) and ST3750640SA (SATA)). Big thanks to M@ANiTRuLe$ for the pointer.

With up to 750GB of pure digital storage in a single drive, the Barracuda 7200.10 is the largest, most reliable disc drive around. New perpendicular recording technology supports vertically stored data bits, enabling increased areal density and dependability for workstations and performance PCs. Additionally, the Barracuda 7200.10 is available in SATA 3Gb/s, SATA 1.5Gb/s and ATA/100 interfaces.

(via DailyTech)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Microsoft's Answer to Google's Gdrive: MS Live Drive

It looks like the guys at MSN are currently working on a new Windows Live service named MS "Live Drive". Like Google's Gdrive, "Live Drive" will provide web users with read and write access to a virtual hard drive accessible from anywhere, at anytime.

Microsoft is planning to use its server farms to offer anyone huge amounts of online storage of digital data," according to Fortune. "With Live Drive, all your information—movies, music, tax information, a high-definition videoconference you had with your grandmother, whatever—could be accessible from anywhere, on any device." Source: Microsoft Watch.

I'm not sure I would trust a service such as this to keep my tax information files confidential. With all the flaws that plague web services, saving private data on the web is just like putting a safe in the middle of a bunch of crooks; they will all try to get it open and one of them will eventually succeed in doing so.

Read more. (via Technology Filter)

Incredible Deal on 250 GB Western Digital Hard drive

I just stumbled upon this deal and I had to let you guys know about it, it's just too good to let it pass. If you are looking for a new hard drive, you should definitely check this out.

Western Digital Caviar SE 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA100 Hard Drive
SALE PRICE: $76.00 (After $7.00 savings code "WDHD7") (From NewEgg.com)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New [Geeks Are Sexy] Official Logo

Just finished this during lunch time today, what do you guys think of the new [Geeks Are Sexy] logo?

Paper Thin Televisons

Imagine yourself getting back home from work at the end of an exhausting day. You're sitting in an overcrowded bus and the guy that sits next to you smells like he hasn't washed in the past month (It happened to me a couple of times). Suddenly, the bus stops and you realize that you'll be caught beside this swine for the next 3 hours because apparently, there's an endless traffic jam between you and your destination. Having nothing better to do, you take out your cell phone, roll out a 10 inches tv screen from it, and start listening to the news. Hollywood science fiction, right? It may be right now, but not for long. Scientists recently developed an OLED (organic light emitting devices) flexible paper thin screen that is only 3 to 5 years away from being manufacture and released to the public.

"As you can see it's quite flexible," says Anna Chwang, senior scientist, as she displays a paper thin film with images running across it. It uses something called "OLEDs" (organic light emitting devices), a thin film of chemicals, 1/10,000 of an inch thick, that turns an electronic signal into a picture, much like a television does.

Read more from CBSNews. (via techiediva)

Google in Need of the Feminine Touch

The IT world has always been almost exclusively populated by testosterone-driven individuals, despite the fact that a lot of tech companies would do anything to find women to work for them. It's an industry wide problem and it seems that the situation isn't improving as the years goes by. When I started studying in IT 14 years ago, our class was composed of approximately 155 guys and 2 women. 3 years later, we were only 8 to receive our diploma, and the 2 women were still there. In the 11 years I've been gone, I heard that there wasn't a single girl that enrolled in the program. If you are one of my female readers and want to do something about reversing this trend, go and apply at Google Australia, they're hiring!

Internationally, the search engine behemoth strives to employ workers from many backgrounds, a recognition that its customers also come from every background. In Australia it hired more than 10 engineers from five ethnic backgrounds - but despite its best efforts, not a single woman.

Read more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Windows Media Player 11 to be Released in June

Windows Media Player is a great piece of software, but unfortunately, it has been too long since Microsoft released any updates for it. Because of this, a lot of us have been updating WMP with non-official, virus packed plugins and codecs so that it would play unsupported media formats. If you're fed up of searching for these add-ons and feel like starting with an all new media player supporting the most recent formats, rejoice! Microsoft has just announced that it would release WMP 11 for XP before the end of June.

But while most people won't be able to get their hands on Vista until next year, consumers will be able to get some of the media enhancements sooner. Microsoft is on track to release a Windows XP version of Windows Media Player 11 before the end of June, the company confirmed last week.

Read more.

Protect your Network from Stupid Users: Eleven IT horror stories

Fellow geek Oliver Rist, Senior contributing editor for the Infoworld magazine, pubbed this excellent article relating stories about dumb users who brought down catastrophes upon their network by the mean of mindless and stupid acts.

Dave Schultz related an incident in which he tagged a note to a network laser printer informing users that if print quality suffered enough to warrant a toner cartridge replacement, they should first “shake a few times to yield a few additional copies.” Schultz was later berated because a user suffered a work-related back injury by reading the note, then picking up the entire HP LaserJet 4000 and trying to shake the printer back and forth.

Everyone loves stupid users’ stories right? Unfortunatly, without these guys, a lot of us wouldn’t have a job.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sorry for the Lack of Updates : I'm Sick

Sorry guys if I haven't been updating [Geeks Are Sexy] as often as I should, my son has been sick for the past 4 days, and now, he gave me what he had and I'm now caught in bed feeling miserable. I should be ok tommorow (I hope!).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Weekend Humor: Firefox and Retarded Browsers

Just press on the big play sign to get the show started.

In addition to this nice little video, I just want to tell you guys that I recently started to offer free tech magazines to my readers. There are some excellent publications in here: InfoWorld (My favourite one), Computer World, eWeek, Oracle Magazine and the list goes on. Just browse through the list by industry or geographical location, and you'll see what I have to offer.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy easter to all [Geeks Are Sexy] readers. Have a great weekend, and don't eat too much chocolate, it's bad for your teeth :)

The Flashbag: a Usb Flash Drives with Micro Pump

Usb drives come in all sorts of size and formats, but this is the first time I've seen a company offer something unique like this. Russian based PlusMinus just came out with the Flashbag, a usb storage device that changes size depending on the amount of data it holds.

When switched off, the flashbag remains pumped up, so you can estimate with the naked eye how much more pics, books and music albums can be transferred into it.

Very "Stylish" don't you think?

Check it out! (via tech. filter)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google Calendar is now live!

While browsing my daily links this morning, I learned from Slashdot that Google Calendar has just been released to the public! I checked it out, and it looks to be very promising. It features full Gmail integration, calendar sharing, iCal support and more. It also offers you the possibility of importing all of your data from other popular calendar apps like Outlook and Yahoo! Calendar. Google Calendar uses open calendar standards, so when it comes to accessing your schedule, you can view it using applications or devices that supports the iCAL or XML file format.

Definitely worth a look if you are looking for an alternative solution to Outlook.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cracking your Windows SAM Database in Seconds with Ophcrack 2

A few months ago, I wrote an article explaining how to test the complexity of your users password using Cain&Abel, a security auditing application. Today, I'll show you how to do it with Ophcrack, a similar tool.

Ophcrack is a Windows password cracker based on a time-memory trade-off using rainbow tables. This is a new variant of Hellman’s original trade-off, with better performance. It recovers 99.9% of alphanumeric passwords in seconds. Yes, you read that right, in SECONDS. The application automates the cracking process, from dumping the sam database into the application, to cracking it and displaying the result in an easily readable grid.

First, you'll need to have admin rights on your machine or network to use the application. If you don't, then you have no business fooling around with password crackers. Be careful if you do this! You will need to get the proper authorization from management because if you don't, you may end up without a job. If you use it on your own machine, then don't worry about this.

How to crack a Sam Database using Ophcrack

1- Get the application from SourceForge.

2- Do a full installation of the product. Be sure to select the "Download alphanumeric table from Internet" radio button. This will download and install the proper charset in the application and will be used to crack your SAM database. These tables are distributed freely under the GNU general public license (GPL) and come in two size : SSTIC04-5k is a large one (720MB) for machines having atleast 500M of RAM and SSTIC04-10k is a smaller table set (388MB) for machines having less than 500M of RAM.

3- Start the application and select Load -> Local SAM file or Remote SAM file (Network) (Your anti-virus application may give you an alert at this point, it should categorize the alert as something like "Hack Tool"). You should see the list of your users appear in the application now.

4- Click "Launch". If you have 200/300 users, this should take a while, but you'll start receiving results in 10-20 seconds, depending on the speed of your computer.

5- Voila, you're done. Dump the result in a text file via "Save As", print it up, and show it to your boss. If you want to persuade your company to adopt a strong password policy, this might be what you need to convince them. Whatever you do, NEVER forget to get the proper authorization when you do this.

Add to Del.Icio.us

Here are a couple of resources about how you can help your users choose safer and better passwords.

Other [Geeks Are Sexy] Original articles right here

Microsoft Black Tuesday : It's patching time!

Yep, it's that time of the month again. Microsoft has released five new security bulletins today and has updated one prior bulletin. Here are the details:

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-013
Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (912812)
Severity: Critical

(edit: If you run into issues with 06-013.. make sure you try THIS FIRST before uninstalling it : Internet Explorer ActiveX compatibility patch for Mshtml.dll)

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-014
Vulnerability in the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) Function Could Allow Code Execution (911562)
Severity: Critical

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-015
Vulnerability in Windows Explorer Could Allow Remote Code Execution
(908531) Severity: Critical

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-016
Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express (911567)
Severity: Important

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-017
Vulnerability in Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions Could Allow Cross-Site Scripting (917627)
Severity: Moderate

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-005 (Updated)
Vulnerability in Windows Media Player Could Allow Remote Code Execution (911565)
Severity: Critical

If you didn't understand anything I wrote, you may as well check out my article about security for the computer challenged individuals.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Microsoft to admins : Rootkit means rebuild

My pal Oliver Rist, senior contributing editor for the Infoworld Magazine and Dictator of the MSN Technology Filter blog, has been ranting about Microsoft ever since I started reading him 6 months ago, and he's doing it yet again. Understandably so because Microsoft, in all their great wisdom and experience, never really took the time to effectively secure the core of their operating systems, the windows kernel, against malicious code. I can't blame him because as always, my position on most IT subjects pretty much reflects his opinion. What is there to do if a rookit gets into your system? The solution is simple: Wipe the OS and start over.

"That’s why I’m still seeing pink. I understand that kernel infections are difficult to remove, but why is it apparently so easy to get to the Windows kernel? And also apparently so easy to defeat the XP rollback feature that should have been protecting us from just such a problem? It’s not rocket science to add something like a checksum routine that should be able to detect if anything in the kernel gets modified, so why is the responsibility for the safety of these files falling on us?"

Read more.

the Dreaded FireFox Memory Leak

Firefox is a great browser, no one can argue with that, but unfortunatly, it suffers from a bad memory leak that slowly brings your system down to a halt after a couple of hours of usage. If you are currently being affected by this problem, there is a quick fix to it. Alice Hill from RealTechNews provides you with the solution to end your misery.

How to Stop the Dreaded FireFox Memory Leak.

FREE MS Certification Exam Voucher Giveaway

This morning, I attended a 2 hours Microsoft TechNet Presentation named "Expand your knowledge 2006"; A clever name to hide a 2 hours Linux bashing session. Basically, the presentation started by: "Microsoft has nothing against open source software, BUT!", and then the Linux bashing show started. It was pathetic. I have to admit that the presenter had some good arguments about why MS applications brings down your total cost of ownership, but it would have been interesting to listen to someone with another point of view to defend the open-source community.

For my participation to the event, I received a free exam voucher for an MS certification exam. (Worth around $125USD). Anyone interested in having it? I give it away for free! Just write a comment about why you need it and I'll pick the person who I think is most worthy (US and Canada only).

This free exam voucher may be redeemed for one of the following MS Certification Program exams:

  • 70-431: TS: MS Sql server 2005 - Implementation and Maintenance
  • 70-536: TS: MS .NET Framework 2.0 - Application Development Foundation
  • 70-551: UPGRADE: MCAD Skills to MCDP Web Developer by Using the MS .NET Framework
  • 70-552: UPGRADE: MCAD Skills to MCPD Windows Developer by using the MS .NET Framework
  • 70-553: UPGRADE: MCSD MS .NET Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer by Using the MS .NET Framework: Part 1
  • 70-235: TS: Developing Business Provess and Integration Solutions Using MS BizTalk Server 2006

Good luck!

edit: The Voucher was given to loyal reader Jeff! Let's all wish him success with his exam, he'll need it :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Blu-ray Recordable Media Now Shipping

Today, TDK announced it's ready to ship to US retailers what it's describing as the first publicly available single-layer Blu-ray recordable discs. The news means that retailers are likely to be able to sell 25 GB recording media to consumers when the first components hit the shelves, perhaps in late May, most likely in June. However, the question of 50 GB dual-layer availability is a little less clear. Apparently, the first 25GB -R medias are going to be priced at $19.99 apiece, with blank 25 GB BD-RWs selling at $24.99. A little expensive don't you think?

Read more.

Cell-Phone Industry Courts VOIP

Manufacturers and mobile carriers are preparing to link standard cell service with Wi-Fi hotspots, designing phones that will switch over as people move around. The main goal of this new technology, called unlicensed mobile access (UMA), is to let people use their mobile wherever they go, even at locations where there is no cell coverage but only a Wi-Fi hotspot.

For years, Wi-Fi telephones and walkie-talkie-like communicators have been available for hospitals and offices. Now, manufacturers and mobile carriers are preparing to link standard cellular networks to the mishmash of Wi-Fi hotspots, a move that will expand coverage and perhaps make cheaper mobile minutes a reality.

Read more.

Monday Morning Humor: April's Geek Horoscope

The guys BBSpot just released their latest edition of the Geek Horoscope. Funny stuff, like always.

"Aries - Mar 21 - Apr 19 There's a little black spot on the sun today. Or more accurately you've burned a hole in your retina."

Read more.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Robomower RL1000 : It Mows. You Don't.

Summer will be here in a few months. It may not mean much to you southerners, but here in the great white north, it's the time of the year where we, Canadians, start to come out of our hibernation hideouts to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Unfortunately, summer also means that we'll have to start mowing our lawn. What's a geek to do when he doesn't feel like moving his behind from his computer chair to cut the lawn? Don't wait for your house to be buried under 20 feet of vegetation, purchase the Robomower RL1000 right now! (Sounds like a bad radio advertisment right?)

This lawn chopping robot can be scheduled to cut your lawn at the date and time of your choosing. It comes with a docking system, has a nice LCD display, dual navigation systems, and more! The only bad thing about it is the price tag. At $1599, you'll have to sell your soul to your employer if you want to be able to afford it.

Check it out! (via gearlog)

The Ulimate Linux Newbie Guide : Linux without the technobabble!

Most of you guys are probably running your computers under a windows operating system right? Have you ever considered using one of those alternative OSs? Linuxnewbieguide.com offers you everything you need in order to get you going with Linux on your system. A must read if you're planning to switch to Linux soon.

"Whether you have been using a computer for years, or if you are totally new to it all, this guide can help you get to grips with all the important parts of using Linux, as opposed to Windows (or Mac OS) in order to operate your computer.

In this guide, you'll find out why Linux offers a real alternative to other operating systems, how you can install Linux on to your computer for free, and how to get to grips with using Linux on a daily basis without any techno jargon!"

Read more.