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HTMLfixIT Archive for July, 2005

Monday, July 11th, 2005 by Franki

With all the new generation smart phones featuring various web browsers, and the number of such smart phones out in the wild growing dramatically every year, it is becoming more and more obvious that these devices will soon be a significant market for online content developers. To further that cause ICANN has approved the creation of the .mobi top level domain for use as a designator of content specifically for mobile devices. Anyone who has viewed the normal web using such a device will testify that for the most part it is slow, badly rendered and hard to navigate. A “sub web” of sites designed specifically for devices with limited screen resolutions and navigation limitations will no doubt make such web enabled devices much more useful then the gimmicks most of them are now. Considering the number of mobile phones considerably outweighs the number of PCs, it will not be long before mobile devices will be a significant portion of your visitors, and it wouldn’t hurt to start preparing for that transition early.

Read more at TheRegister.

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Friday, July 8th, 2005 by Franki

When Microsoft started providing anti-spyware software, I found myself wondering how useful it was to have a company like Microsoft deciding what is and isn’t spyware. It seems that my thoughts were not so far from the truth as they have just downgraded Claria, (best known for their Gator software) not long after rumours started surfacing that Microsoft might be about to acquire them. I guess they figure if it’s called “Microsoft Gator”, then it shouldn’t be called be spyware any more. As far as I am concerned, this is a strong reminder why it’s a good idea to only use security products from companies from companies that have no ties or connections to the companies they are supposed to be protecting you from. Microsoft is trying hard to get themselves a significant share of web advertising dollars, and buying existing companies is one way to achieve that. The possible outcome of this is that you can’t expect Microsoft’s spyware tools to protect you from companies they either own or have deals with. Adaware has a free version and Spybot Search and Destroy is totally free and Open Source, so there really isn’t any excuse to put your trust in Microsoft’s product anyway.
At the moment there is no proof that Microsoft is in fact going to purchase Claria, but the evidence is certainly worthy of consideration.

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Thursday, July 7th, 2005 by Gary

PC Pro News has published an article suggesting that “Over 90 per cent of Internet users have changed their online behaviour due to concerns about spyware”. The article quotes a study on US Internet users, finding that a large percentage are now aware and cautious when it comes to opening suspicious e-mail attachments, steering clear of Internet Explorer due to security threats, and “visiting particular websites due to the fear they might deposit unwanted programs”. There has also been a reduction in the volume of multimedia downloaded via p2p programs due to risks of unwittingly installing spyware.

What makes the article a good read, is that it provides some validation that Internet users are heeding the plethora of warnings about spyware, viruses, and other security threats. Certainly in my experience I have found you can warn people about these things until you’re blue in the face, but seeing changed behaviours can be another thing altogether. The massive uptake of Firefox over Internet Explorer has shown us that people are concerned about their online security, but it is nice to see that people are thinking beyond that to other equally-serious threats too.

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2005 by Franki

According to a spokesperson from Google, we can soon expect an official Google toolbar for the Firefox web browser. Up until now the only official Google toolbar was for Internet Explorer. Although all of the features provided by the Google toolbar have already been replicated by various Firefox extensions, it is a sign of confidence that search engines are working to make sure their services are functional on the upstart browser. It’s said to be due out tomorrow and will run on Windows 2000/XP as well as Apple OSX 10.2 and Linux 8.0+ (Can somebody who knows what Linux 8.0+ is E-mail and let me know please?) and it has much the same feature set as the Internet Explorer version.

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2005 by Franki

In something of a win for the good guys, the European parliament has voted overwhelmingly against the proposed “Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions.” otherwise known as the software patents directive. It isn’t a huge win for those against software patents because the EU is already rife with them and it’s simply a matter of “business as usual” for the big software companies.

The news has been covered by dozens of IT sites already so I’ll not go into it further here except to give you some links to those sites.

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Tuesday, July 5th, 2005 by Franki

Many web applications make use of XML-RPC libraries to provide such functionality as pings for RSS feeds. Due to a recently found bug in XML-RPC implementations these applications could now be used to exploit the flaw and compromise the hosting server. Many popular applications ranging from WordPress and PostNuke to PHPwiki are susceptible to the flaw, however most have since been patched to rectify the issue and you need only upgrade. If upgrading is not an option at this time, disabling or upgrading the servers XML-RPC libraries is of paramount importance as exploits are expected in the “wild” any time now. Read more about the problem here.

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Saturday, July 2nd, 2005 by Franki

IBM has just won a settlement from Microsoft to the tune of 775 million dollars as well as 75 million in credit for Microsoft software licenses. I wasn’t even aware that IBM had an anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft so this one flew below my radar for a long time. This case arose from of the DOJ verses Microsoft anti-trust case in the mid nineties where judge Jackson found that IBM was one of the companies affected by Microsoft activities. The settlement resolves claims regarding both the OS2 Operating System and the Smartsuite Office application suite but does not cover any damages related to IBM’s server hardware or software. That being said IBM have agreed not to claim for any damages for the period up to July 2002 and will not try to claim any server damages for at least 2 years.

In the last couple of years or so, Microsoft has handed over literally billions of dollars to pay off several companies that had accused them of anti-competitive practises including AOL, Gateway, Sun, Novel, CCIA and now IBM. Microsoft’s trouble isn’t over yet though as they still have pending anti-competitive litigation with Novell regarding Wordperfect. They still have the European Union anti-competitive guilty verdict to appeal and they’ve just been sued by the pen computing company Go for yet more anti-competitive activities.

What amazes me about all this, is that when I recently drew attention to the Firefox right click problem at MSN, the developers seemed quite upset that I implied that it may have been intentional. I can understand why they might be upset at the idea, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how they couldn’t understand why people are so quick to jump to that sort of conclusion. Apparently they have short memories with regards to their parent companies history.

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