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HTMLfixIT Archive for October, 2004

Thursday, October 28th, 2004 by Franki

Steve Ballmer, CEO of the company everyone loves to hate, has recently sent out a memo to some execs and customers extolling the benefits of the Microsoft platform, and making negative claims with regards to the security and development process of Linux and open source software. (big surprise that anyone from Microsoft would do that right?) You can find a write up on his email here.

When questioned about the deplorably high number of exploits for Microsoft software, the usual response has been to blame it on the fact that they are the far and away market leader and therefore their software is much more of a target then any alternatives. The problem with that explanation, is that it simply isn’t true. Microsoft’s web server software has only about 25% market share, the dominant server software with greater then 65% usage is Apache (an Open Source Web server), and yet IIS suffers from many more critical exploits, has been the target of several far reaching worms, and had problems with insurance companies wanting more money for coverage if you used it.

Interestingly enough, governments that used to listen to him, are not doing so as much of late. Perhaps they see the conflict of interest in taking the word of a guy who has for some time lead the software company in it’s war on any IT company that doesn’t make them money (And some that do.) The UK Office of Government Commerce has just released a report declaring that Open Source Software is now a viable and credible alternative for government. And the UK government is in the midst of updating it’s Open Source policy though I’m not sure anyone understands what the new version actually means yet.

The Inquirer has covered this as well, and you can find that article here. While all this is going on, the Munich is happily replacing 14,000 Windows machines with Linux, and saving a long-term bundle of money in the process.



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Wednesday, October 27th, 2004 by Don

Well today I was working on a css rollover menu with Franki. We as usual got off topic and were comparing WeetBix to Frosted Mini Wheats. In looking at the Mini-Wheats site they had drop down menus with little bullets (more…)

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Wednesday, October 27th, 2004 by Don

Find a missing font by answering a few questions. The bigger the sample you have, the more likely you are to find what you are looking for. Hint, if you don’t know say you don’t.

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Tuesday, October 26th, 2004 by Franki

“A Professor of software engineering and data communications at the Queensland University of Technology has warned that intelligence systems should not run on Microsoft platforms.” (From TheInquirer)

Personally, I would have worded that differently, something to the effect: “Nobody intelligent should run Microsoft software.” But that would probably offend lots of people, so I’ll let you read the article and make up your own mind. I do know that I wouldn’t want Windows machines full of viruses and spyware in charge of any intelligence work in my area of the world. (Though I have little doubt that it is at the moment and that it might explain allot.)

That link again is Intelligence systems should not run Microsoft , enjoy.



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Monday, October 25th, 2004 by Don

An interesting bit of PHP from my latest blog I am following, Mike Davidson. His blog has a neat feature, it is skinnable, and one of them has the live weather in Seattle. He took the weather from noaa and then massaged it with php. For a guy in big deal design, he sure had some time on his hands for that little project.

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Monday, October 25th, 2004 by Franki

This link on details a study by AOL and the NCSA that shows that 8 out of 10 PC’s are infected by spyware, and that 90% of these people have no idea about it.

Another snippet from that article that amazes me is that “Nearly three in five users do not know the difference between a firewall and antivirus software.” After all the big viruses and attacks showing up on mainstream news stories people still have not learned that nobody is safe from this stuff. Particularly if you don’t take measures to protect yourself.

On the same security note, this Inquirer article details a new flaw found in the Linux firewalling code, the code can be used to crash the machine, but is not a remote root exploit, so other then disrupting the machine, there is no danger. (but you still should update your kernel.)

Lastly is the news from IBM that Internet attacks are up by 27% in September over the previous 2 months, and that most of the attacks are targeting web server software. (like Microsoft Internet Information Server, IIS and Apache.).

While those people running web servers “should” know enough to protect themselves, home users seem to carrying on, totally oblivious to the dangers, and for that reason I wrote this: which is a newbie friendly guide to protecting your Windows machine online with free tools.



Comments Off on Security, get with it people.

Sunday, October 24th, 2004 by Franki

DRM sounds harmless enough. “Digital Rights Management” is what it stands for and that still doesn’t sound that bad. But the implications of what it means are downright scary. By “Rights Management” what the people creating this stuff mean, is taking your rights away from you and giving themselves more rights over you.

Want to play your newly purchased CD in your car? Buy a new “DRM friendly” car stereo or just listed to the radio. Want to record a TV show to your hard drive and then burn it to disk for your personal watching pleasure? Too bad, wait till they release it on DVD and buy it, or do without. Want to make a plain Jane non DRM music CD so you can use your old CD walkman when you go jogging? Sorry guys, go and buy an MP3 player like good little consumers.

Not all of the above are in place yet, but we are definitely moving in that direction. In some ways, I think the content providers like the Hollywood mafia and the recording industry must be wetting themselves with excitement. It is so much easier to screw with the users rights in digital form that it was with good old analogue.

I suggest anyone interested in their rights as consumers read this article on TheInquirer. Until they figure out how to make line out ports illegal, I suggest you make your “fair use” copies of legally bought DRM music the old fashioned way, by putting the disk into a hardware player with a line out port, and plugging that into a PC’s (or any recorders) line in port and record it that way, DRM makes absolutely no difference in that respect at all. Sure, you lose a tiny bit of quality, but more often then not, you lose more quality by encoding it for your DRM player anyway.

Most important of all, don’t let the marketing might of this lot convince you that the DRM “Rights Management” is wonderful, and for your own benefit. It is not for you, it’s not even for the artists really. It’s for the record companies, and the Hollywood mafia. If it really was for the benefit of all, why are they actually taking more rights away from us then what we had in the analogue VHS/Tape/pre DRM CD era? We used to be able to buy a double deck cassette player for practically nothing and make copies of our stuff so we had one to keep in the car collection, or so we wouldn’t lose our purchase if the product failed (a modern equivalent would be a hard drive failure) We used to be able to tape a TV show and archive the tape for our personal pleasure. It is these very rights that we will be losing should this bunch of greedy extortionists convince the general public that it’s for “your own good”.

Use your power as consumers to stay away from DRM content as much as you possibly can, because if they discover that they can pull the rug over your eyes, you can be sure that in a very short period of time personal rights to legally purchased content will be something we tell our kids about in fond reminiscence.



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