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HTMLfixIT Archive for May, 2005

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005 by Franki

According to Reuters, the FTC has asked 3000 Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to block customers determined to be infected by Worms and Viruses. Since it is estimated that over 50% of SPAM is sent from infected computers unbeknownst to their owners, blocking them would significantly reduce SPAM and may also reduce the spread of such Viruses. Apparently 25 other countries will be taking part in the campaign so this might become something of a world wide issue before long. The benefits of such a campaign are not limited to a reduction in SPAM and Virus emails, it may also help to curb zombie armies of infected computers being used by unsavoury types to extort money from online retailers and gambling sites.

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Tuesday, May 24th, 2005 by Franki

SecurityFocus’s Mark Rasch has written an article that talks about the legality of removing “Spyware” from users computers without first determining if it is part of a program that they downloaded and which they agreed should install the Spyware in question. It makes fascinating reading and could foreshadow future lawsuits. Basically what it comes down to, is if you download an “adware” program off the net, and while installing it you click “I agree” to the license agreement, and that agreement happens to contain clauses that state you agree to have specific Spyware installed or that you agree to a certain amount of monitoring, is it legal to use an anti Spyware program to cancel your side of the agreement by deleting the Spyware component? The problem is made worse by indistinct and ever changing definitions of Adware and Spyware. In it’s simplest terms, most agree that Spyware is any software that does something they don’t tell you about, but most companies accused of being Spyware providers have different opinions on the subject and there is not yet any industry wide consensus, (Though the US government is making progress defining the legality of it.) Anybody that values their privacy online should read Mark’s column to get an idea of how serious the problem really is.

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Tuesday, May 24th, 2005 by Franki

Microsoft is not having a good time of it in the EU lately. First comes the news that IBM, Nokia, Oracle, RealNetworks and Redhat, under the guise of the “European Committee for Interoperable Systems” or ECIS have been permitted to take part in the Microsoft/EU antitrust case. All of these companies have good reasons to fight for an open interoperable market as they are all Microsoft competitors in one way or another. Microsoft proved with Internet Explorer that including the software with Windows means the majority of people don’t look at alternatives. IE was the underdog for it’s first few versions, and then Microsoft included version 3 with Windows 95B and all of a sudden IE popularity sky-rocketed. It’s a proven theory and it’s the reason the likes of RealNetworks will fight to open up the standards so they can’t be locked out of the Windows desktop market which is still by far the biggest player on the desktop scene.

Microsoft went to a great deal of effort to settle with many of the litigants like Novell, CCIA and Sun, and they spent a considerable amount of money doing so. They can’t be happy that the other side has had such a boost as it looked for a little while that RealNetworks would be more or less alone on the other side for a while. Intervenors, as ECIS are in this case are limited somewhat in what they can do, in this case they have access to the courts files and are able to submit written appraisals of ongoing court discussions. That doesn’t really amount to very much, however since these are the types of companies that the EU is trying to help (along with local software companies), the court is likely to give some credence to their thoughts on the subject. I’m curious to know what effect the news of Microsoft’s OneCare Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware subscription service will have as that new service is likely to annoy a whole new group of software companies. How much they are annoyed will no doubt be determined by how deeply Microsoft embed the service into their next versions of Windows, but the EU might look at it as a sign of future discontent and that won’t look good for Microsoft.

In other EU/Microsoft news, Microsoft have until June the first to settle with the EU/EC over the antitrust sanctions that have been applied. If settlement cannot be reached in that time frame, the EU will start looking at imposing fines of up to 5 percent of Microsoft’s daily turnover, which could amount to 5 million dollars a day. The main sticking point for compliance appears to be license terms related to the Microsoft’s server protocols which Microsoft has been ordered to make available to competitors in the hope of fostering an open and interoperable server market. Microsoft made them available, but did so in such a manner that it was expensive, complicated and restrictive to get at, and use the data involved. They also did it in such a manner as to lock out their main competitor, Open Source software like Linux and Samba.

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Monday, May 23rd, 2005 by Franki

There are reports all over about Apple considering the use of Intel CPU’s in their Mac computers. While I’d consider this to be welcome news, I really suspect it is more for the purposes of gaining a price break then any serious consideration of Intel CPU’s. My reasoning behind that is simple, if Apple adopt x86 class CPU’s in their Macs, then they can kiss their Mac hardware monopoly goodbye. If OSX will run on x86 class systems, you can bet your behind that every hardware manufacturer will start selling “Mac compatible” systems. Especially since most Mac hardware nowadays uses the same video cards, hard disks, DVD drives and so on as standard Windows PC’s. There is another possible downside for Apple as well, if they use x86 based systems, then they could suffer from people installing Windows (I can’t imagine why anyone would substitute OSX with Windows, but there is no accounting for taste with some people) or Linux on Mac hardware. (Linux already runs on Mac hardware, but it isn’t anywhere near as popular as it is on x86 hardware.)

Were I to take a wild stab in the dark, I’d guess that this speculation is designed to get Apple a better price for IBM’s new Cell processor that is to be fitted in the Playstation 3 when it comes out. I imagine a multi core Cell processor Macintosh would finally give Apple the sort of performance they’ve been claiming to have for ages.

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Sunday, May 22nd, 2005 by Franki

I cannot verify this with any degree of accuracy, but it looks legit. Microsoft Russia were apparently giving a presentation on SSI (Shared Source Initiative) when their Windows machine developed a problem of some sort and the presentation ground to a halt. A quick thinking presenter then fired up “Alt Linux Master 2.3” a Russian distribution on his laptop and used to finish the presentation. The photos of the incident look very convincing and the story has since been picked up by PCLinuxOnline and TheInquirer. If the story is true, I can’t see the Russians being all that impressed by the Microsoft sales pitch, especially in light of the fact that the source code for the copy of Linux and used is freely available without all the restrictions in Microsoft’s SSI agreement.

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Saturday, May 21st, 2005 by Franki

The European Union has indicated that they are within weeks of deciding if Microsoft is sufficiently complying with their anti-trust amendments. If they find Microsoft has not complied to their satisfaction, then they will decide what action they will take to ensure compliance. They (the EU) could conceivably fine Microsoft up to 5 million dollars a day until Microsoft comply. Most of the problems are related to Microsoft’s restrictive and expensive solution to making their server protocols available to 3rd parties. Update: Eweek has done a far more detailed article on the subject.

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Friday, May 20th, 2005 by Franki

Firefox has come up in leaps and bounds of late. The latest tidbit is that Cnet has done a review of all the latest versions of the most popular browsers out there and gave Firefox an 8 out of 10 and the clear lead in the browser war. Unsurprisingly IE6 SP2 tied for last with Opera 8 and Deepnet Explorer with 7 out of 10. Cnet seems to push a pro Microsoft bias most of the time but in this case they have done the opposite and the editors summary for Internet Explorer says it all:

Unless your business has specific ActiveX technology needs, you are much more secure running Firefox than Internet Explorer.

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Browser Statistics
Internet Explorer 85.88%
IE 717.63%
IE 62.3%
IE 50.00%
IE other8.6%
Moz Firefox 3.x3.03%
Moz Firefox 2.x0.18%
Moz Firefox 0.x/1.x26.65%
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Moz Seamonkey0.00%
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Opera 8.x0.00%
Opera 7.x0.42%
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Opera other0.42%
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800 x 60026.14%
1024 x 76836.55%
1152 x 8640.25%
1280 x 80011.68%
1280 x 8540.00%
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1400 x 10500.00%
1600 x 12001.02%
1920 x 12007.11%
2560 x 10240.00%

OS Statistics
Windows 741.55%
Windows Vista2.4%
Windows 20033.91%
Windows XP20.86%
Windows 20000.36%
Windows NT40.05%
Windows 98/ME0.05%
Windows 950.00%
Mac OSX8.03%
Mac Classic0.00%

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