Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pandora Offers Hope Once More

If you read the legend of Pandora's box you'll find that the last thing let out of the box was hope. Listening to the modern version of Pandora, a music service at, gave me a sense of hope once more. Finally, a music station that understands music and doesn't impose someone else's tastes on yours.
There is only one tiny problem: the music quality is 128kbs stereo, which is great to listen to, but uses up bandwidth: 116 MB in 80 minutes. Since my ISP only allows me 3GB per month, or 100MB per day, I'm using up my bandwidth pretty quickly here.
What can I say? It's worth it! Check out for yourself.

Friday, January 27, 2006

11 Things To Do After A Hack

Here's a brief list of some steps to take "post-hack" to ensure you have the best chance of determining who did what and how it was done.

read more | digg story

Spam Reporting Tool for Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail

"The Blue Frog 'Spam Reporting Tool' enables Firefox users with Gmail, Hotmail & Yahoo web mail accounts to actively fight spam reaching their web mail accounts and make spammers stop sending them additional spam.
When entering your web mail account, Blue Frog will automatically report all the spam messages in your junk folder to Blue Security. Blue Frog also allows you to easily report spam messages reaching your Inbox - messages that were not identified as spam by your web mail application.
Messages you report will be analyzed by our Operations team that will prepare special scripts instructing Blue Frog how to complain at the web sites advertised by the spam your receive. Your Blue Frog desktop application will automatically retrieve those scripts and post opt-out complaints on your behalf.
Blue Frog Spam Reporting Tool is an open-source software project."

Read more and download at Blue Members

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Microsoft Loses the Plot

Microsoft is crumbling. Expect their stock price to follow suit. Any company that wants to spend $120 million to deny the truth has completely lost the plot. It looks more like an attempt to bribe the press than communicate with its customers. If MS actually listened to its customers it would be a lot more successful.
"Microsoft is spending $120 million this year on an advertising campaign that's designed to soften its image as a 'huge American company.' The huge American company will use print, television, and Internet advertising in a bid to turn public opinion.
'We are often perceived as a huge American company,' Microsoft Group Advertising Manager Mike Lucero said in an interview late last week, noting that the software giant would be highlighting its worldwide education and economic development projects in the advertising campaign. 'We wanted to be very specific about what we are doing in each country in education, innovation, economic opportunity, and security.'
Microsoft, which might accurately be described as a huge American company, dominates the software market with its Windows OS, Microsoft Office productivity suite, and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser. The company posted revenues of $39.8 billion in fiscal 2005 and has more than 63,000 employees, 63 percent of whom are in the United States."

Read Microsoft Reworks its Image from Paul Thurrot's Wininfo newsletter.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Microsoft's Backdoor Spin

It turns out that Microsoft is putting a lot of 'spin' on its WMF vulnerability/backdoor. Firstly, they claim that Windows 9x is still vulnerable, when it isn't. Then they claim that Windows 9x contains "extra" security, which it doesn't. Finally, they won't patch Windows NT, even though it is still used on many file servers around the world.
Also, since when do any programmers provide for the ability to mix executable code and data without documenting it? The only company I can think of that happily mixes code and data is Microsoft: Word, Excel, (Outlook) and Access all provide for application code in the data file, and this has been responsible for a zillion macro-based viruses.
Then Microsoft have the cheek to balk at the term "backdoor". But it IS a back door: undocumented functionality that allows for arbitrary code execution from a data file that can be exploited by anyone who knows about it. It quacks like a duck.
However, before anyone interprets this as saying it was malicious, bear in mind what Napoleon said: "Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence." This is a classic example.

Steve Gibson's Findings | digg story

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Windows Errors that should be reworded

Here's a collection of Windows error messages as they should be worded for people. These are hilarious parodies of your favorite errors

read more | digg story

Friday, January 13, 2006

Security expert Steve Gibson claims WMF exploit is a deliberate backdoor

Microsoft has patched the WMF vulnerability in Windows 2000 and XP, but in his research for a fix for Windows 95/98/Me, Steve Gibson has come up with a blockbuster. It is his considered opinion that the WMF vulnerability could not have been a mistake. It was an intentional backdoor inserted into Windows by Microsoft for reasons unknown.

read more | digg story

Simple Sudoku

A Sudoku puzzle maker and solver for Win9x, Win2000 & WinXP

Simple Sudoku makes high quality puzzles that are symmetrical, have a single solution, and do not require trial & error to solve. The user can also choose between five levels of complexity - from Easy to Extreme. Each puzzle is generated randomly so there is an almost limitless selection.
Not only does Simple Sudoku make challenging puzzles, it also provides tools to help solve them - removing the drudgery but not the fun. Keeping track of possible values for blank cells (candidates), providing filters and color markers are just some of the tools available to make solving even those really tricky puzzles possible. Also, if you ever get really stuck, Simple Sudoku can get you started again with a discrete hint (without giving everything away).

Download page for Simple Sudoku - freeware puzzle maker and solver | List of Sudoku Software

Thursday, January 12, 2006

'Reckless' bus driver quits before hearing

The Translux bus driver who allegedly canoodled with his girlfriend while driving recklessly with a load of passengers, has resigned just days before his disciplinary hearing was due to start.
The driver had been suspended after allegedly taking his passengers on a horror ride a week ago when he reportedly cavorted with his girlfriend as he battled to keep the bus on the road at high speed.
Translux spokesman Carl Newman said his company would proceed with steps against the driver despite his resignation and place the findings on his employment record.
The drama unfolded early on January 5 when passengers, fearing for their lives, made desperate phone calls to the police and family to complain about the driver.
They said he was swerving dangerously across the N2 and had broken the speed limit several times as his girlfriend fondled, kissed and tickled him.
Later that day Translux management suspended the driver pending an investigation and scheduled a disciplinary hearing for next Friday.
Passengers on the bus travelling from East London to Cape Town raised the alarm with Graaff-Reinet police who then waited for the bus to arrive at a service station in the town where they took several statements from passengers.
Vicky Jackson of Cape Town, who called the Cape Argus from the bus as it was approaching Cape Town, said it had been a frightening experience.
Jackson said she and her son Marc, 6, had been sitting close to the driver who was doing "some low flying" (speeding).
"My son was forced to watch the woman kissing and fondling him," Jackson said.
In her formal complaint to Translux management Jackson said that when she confronted the driver, he had verbally abused her and threatened to throw her off the bus.
But the other passengers rallied to support Jackson and threatened to all get off the bus and wait on the side of the road with her if he carried out his threats.
Newman said passengers who witnessed the alleged misconduct of the driver had been asked to testify in the hearing.
He said it was the driver's prerogative to appear but it would be in his own interest to show up at the hearing, which will be held at the Translux offices in Cape Town.

Drive ReportTranslux management should use the services of Drive Report, an independent company that monitors driver behaviour. Any improper behaviour of the driver can be reported to a 24-hour call centre and the operations manager gets an SMS message as soon as a serious call has been logged. I helped Drive Report write their call centre software, and have heard some amazing stories of driver behaviour. Usually bad drivers get reported for less severe offences, and the bad ones can be given warnings long before this kind of behaviour occurs. Also, the good drivers get acknowledgement for their behaviour too, which encourages safety and better driving.

Original story: Cape Argus - 'Reckless' bus driver quits before hearing | Related entry: Terror ride as bus driver cuddled

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Linux is Not Windows

This article explains some of the reasons why Linux's job is not to become increasingly Windows-like, nor is it Open Source's duty to merely provide free duplicates of every Windows-user's favorite program.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Terror ride as bus driver cuddled

Canoodling with his girlfriend as he drove at high speed, a long-haul bus driver took his passengers on a nightmare ride on the N2 highway.
The Translux bus driver allegedly swerved dangerously across the road and broke the speed limit several times as his girlfriend fondled, kissed and tickled him.
Translux management has suspended the driver and co-driver while the terrifying flirtation with death is investigated.
Fearing for their lives, passengers aboard the bus travelling from East London to Cape Town early yesterday made desperate cellphone calls to the bus company's helpline, family, friends and police.
Graaff-Reinet police intercepted the bus at a service station in the town - but allowed it to continue on its way after taking statements from passengers.
Vicky Jackson of Wynberg said it was a "trip from hell" for her and her six-year-old son Marc. They were relieved to have reached Cape Town safely.
"I was sitting close to the driver with my son, who was forced to watch the driver being fondled be his girlfriend," Jackson said.
"He was doing some low flying (speeding) which activated the speed alarm continuously.
"As the woman kissed him and tickled him and took his concentration off the road, he swerved dangerously across the road several times, but he seemingly enjoyed the cavort and did "And when I confronted him about his behaviour and reckless driving he hurled abuse at me, using the f-word," Jackson said.
The driver had threatened to throw her off the bus if she continued to question his driving. But other passengers backed her up and told the driver they would all get off if he forced her off the bus.
Phinidile Kani of Cradock said the driver had been playing with their lives.
"Translux already had a bad accident track record and now we know where it comes from," she said.
Mzikayise Mongo, also from Cradock, said the driver had treated them like dirt.
"The co-driver was sleeping across seats and blocking the aisle, which was a hazard if we had an emergency, and when we confronted the driver he said he was overtired after being forced to work double shifts.
"We demanded a relief driver from the company management when we eventually got through to an operator on their helpline but we continued with the same drivers," she said.

Drive ReportTranslux management should use the services of Drive Report, an independent company that monitors driver behaviour. Any improper behaviour of the driver can be reported to a 24-hour call centre and the operations manager gets an SMS message as soon as a serious call has been logged. I helped Drive Report write their call centre software, and have heard some amazing stories of driver behaviour.

Original story: Cape Argus - Terror ride as driver cuddled