10/31/2005

Sony, Rootkits and DRM Gone Too Far

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A very interesting article by Mark Russinovich, who found that Sony installs poorly written DRM software when you try to listen to a copy protected CD. Sony’s DRM software hides itself, provides no means to remove it and might harm your system.

From the article: “Not only had Sony put software on my system that uses techniques commonly used by malware to mask its presence, the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall. Worse, most users that stumble across the cloaked files with a RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files.

1UP.com Giving Away an Xbox 360 Every Day in November

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

1UP.com, Ziff Davis Media Game Group’s online home for gamers, today announced that it is giving away an Xbox 360 every day through November 2005. 2K Sports is sponsoring the giveaway and including several of their hottest new games with the prize package. All members of 1UP.com are eligible to win, and anyone can become a member of 1UP.com for free. A new winner will be chosen each day by random drawing.

“We’re proud to have such a large and enthusiastic audience on 1UP.com blogging and messaging each other about all of the new consoles and games, particularly the hotly anticipated Xbox 360,” said Sam Kennedy, Editor-in- Chief of 1UP.com. “Everyone is excited about the next-gen gaming systems, and now with 2K Sports’ help, we can fulfill a number of 1UP.com members’ wishes by giving them a dream opportunity to win a full-featured Xbox 360 when the system launches.”

1UP.com is giving away 30 Microsoft Xbox 360 systems, each valued at $399.99 MSRP. Sponsor 2K Sports is adding two of its next-gen Xbox 360 titles, NBA 2K6 and NHL 2K6, to each prize package.

Gamers can enter the giveaway by registering for free on 1UP.com and signing up for the sweepstakes via http://Xbox360.1UP.com/. The giveaway begins on November 1, 2005 at 12:00am PST and ends on November 30, 2005 at 11:59 pm PST.

Supreme Court Rejects MS Appeal In Eolas Case

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by Microsoft Corp. in a case involving claims by a privately held California software firm and the University of California that Microsoft infringed their patents with its Internet Explorer browser.

Without comment, the high court rejected an appeal by Microsoft that it said involved more than 64 percent of the $521 million patent infringement ruling against the software giant.

Patent number 5,838,906 is owned by the University of California, but licensed by tiny tech firm Eolas Technologies, and covers the use of external applications from within a browser. In 1999, both the school and company won $521 million after a federal court ruled that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer infringed on the patent. Microsoft has been fighting the ruling in courts ever-since, trying to suggest the patent was in the public domain and therefore invalid. That battle was just made considerably more difficult: after reviewing the patent since 2003, the patent office has ruled that it is in fact valid.

iTunes Store Counts 1 Million Video Downloads

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple Computer has sold a million video downloads through its iTunes store since the launch of the service on Oct. 12, the company announced Monday.

Among the popular downloads such as Pixar Animation Studios’ “For the Birds” and “Boundin” are music videos from Michael Jackson, Fatboy Slim and Kanye West.

About 2000 music videos, animated short films and popular television shows are on offer for $1.99 per download.

“Selling 1 million videos in less than 20 days strongly suggests there is a market for legal video downloads,” Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive, said in a statement. “Our next challenge is to broaden our content offerings so that customers can enjoy watching more videos on their computers and new iPods.”

Source: News.com

SBC: We Own The Internet, So Google Should Pay Up

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

CEO of SBC, Ed Whitacre, in an interview suggest that it’s only a matter of time before they start going after any of the services that make the internet useful to try to make them pay up to remain reachable? When asked about companies like Google, Yahoo and Vonage, he says: “Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain’t going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there’s going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they’re using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!

In other words, he’s talking about going well beyond blocking some ports like BellSouth, to actually blocking out websites and services unless they first pay SBC a fee.

Source: Techdirt

Google To Help Improve OpenOffice.org

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google plans to hire programmers to improve OpenOffice.org, a demonstration of its affinity for open source initiatives and one the company believes also shows sound practical sense.

Now Google believes it can help OpenOffice–perhaps working to pare down the software’s memory requirements or its mammoth 80MB download size, said Chris DiBona, manager for open-source programs at the search company.

“We want to hire a couple of folks to help make OpenOffice better,” DiBona said.

“We use a fair amount of open-source software at Google. We want to make sure that’s a healthy community. And we want to make sure open source preserves competitiveness within the industry,” he said.

Source: News.com

10/30/2005

U.S. Investigates Sale of MREs on eBay

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Uncle Sam has tried to feed millions of hurricane victims this year with Meals-Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, only to fear that some of them have become Meals-Ready-for-eBay.

The government is looking into whether eBay sellers in Gulf Coast states are trying to profit from military foodstuffs handed out for free following hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Representatives for eBay, the online auctioneer company, say it is impossible to prove that any of the meals were meant for hurricane victims. They note that MREs can be bought in camping stores and Army-Navy surplus outlets.

But at least some of the MREs advertised on the Web site are being sold from Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and other Gulf states, and are individually packaged with a disclaimer that clearly notes: “U.S. Government property - Commercial resale is unlawful.”

“If it’s true, that’s pretty reprehensible,” said Cheryl Guidry Tyiska, deputy director of the National Organization of Victim Assistance. “There are a lot of pretty hungry people down there who could use the food for free.”

One seller, identified as from “Louisiana Cajun Country,” described being hit “with the eye of Rita.” Bidding had reached $50.99 for the seller’s unopened case of MREs by Saturday.

The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general has asked investigators to examine the suspicious MREs on eBay, spokeswoman Tamara Faulkner said. In the past, the Pentagon has complained about MRE sales on eBay, Defense Logistics Agency spokeswoman Marcia Klein said. The agency has not decided whether to pursue the current eBay sales, though officials are considering all avenues, she said.

Source: AP

Tip: Customize Windows Explorer View

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Windows explorer is one of the most useful tools in Windows. But if you are like me and don’t like the default view of Windows explorer, and want for instance that every time you open Windows Explorer it fill focus on D:\ you can easily customize it to your own needs.

You can use the following switches with the Explorer.exe command.

  • /n - Opens a new single-pane Window for the default selection. This is usually the root of the drive on which Windows is installed.
  • /e - Starts Windows Explorer using its default view.
  • /e, - Starts Windows Explorer using its default view with the focus on the specified folder.
  • /root, - Opens a window view of the specified object.
  • /select, - Opens a window view with the specified folder, file or program selected.

In order to user your own customize Windows Explorer simply create a new shortcut with the appropriate parameters.

  • Right click the location you want to create the new shortcut (your desktop for example)
  • In the context menu select New->Shortcut
  • In the location name field type %windir%\Explorer.exe /e,c:\. You can change the parameters to anything you like (see some examples below)
  • Click Next
  • Type Windows Explorer in the name field (You can type any other name you like)
  • Click Finish

You can now drag this shortcut to anywhere you want (I like to put it on the quick launch bar)

Here are some examples:

  • Explorer /n - This command opens an Explorer window using the default setting. This is usually the root of the drive on which Windows is installed.
  • Explorer /e - This command starts Windows Explorer using the default view.
  • Explorer.exe /e,D:\ - This command starts Windows Explorer with focus on drive D:\
  • Explorer /e,C:\Windows - This command starts Windows Explorer using the default view, with the focus on C:\Windows.
  • Explorer /root, C:\Windows\Cursors - This command starts Windows Explorer at the C:\Windows\Cursors folder. This example uses C:\Windows\Cursors as the “root” directory for Windows Explorer.

    NOTE: Note the comma after the “/root” switch in the command.

  • Explorer /select, C:\Windows\Cursors\banana.ani - This command starts Windows Explorer with the “C:\Windows\Cursors\banana.ani” file selected.

    NOTE: Note the comma after the “/select” switch in the command.

  • Explorer /root, \\server\share, select, Program.exe
    This command starts Windows Explorer using the remote share as its “root” folder, along with the Program.exe file selected.

Weekly Software Updates

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Popular software titles updated in the past week

Oracle To Offer Free Database

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Oracle intends to release a free version of its database, a reaction to the growing competitive pressure from low-end open-source databases.

The database heavyweight on Tuesday is expected to announce the beta release of Oracle 10g Express Edition (Oracle Database XE), which will be generally available by the end of the year. It is targeted at students, small organizations and software vendors that could embed the Oracle database with an application.

The latest edition is the same as other databases in Oracle’s lineup but is limited in usage. It can only run servers with one processor, with 4GB of disk memory and 1GB of memory.

The new low-end edition is aimed squarely at free and open-source alternatives to Oracle’s namesake database, said Andrew Mendelsohn, senior vice president of Oracle’s server technologies division.

Source: News.com

Dell To Preload Trend Micro Software On PCs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Starting next week Dell will load free 90-day trial versions of PC-cillin on PCs shipped to North American consumers.

In February, the computer maker will designate Trend Micro’s PC-cillin software as “Dell Recommended” on its Web site catalog, said Trend Micro’s president of North American operations, Lane Bess. Dell currently recommends a rival product from McAfee Inc. It puts Symantec Corp.’s second.

The arrangement does not automatically funnel sales to Trend Micro, but could help the Japanese software company’s efforts to boost its North American market share, which stands at 7 percent — far behind Symantec and McAfee.

Dell has been selling PC-cillin with its PCs since July.

Source: Reuters

10/29/2005

Two Arrested For Using University Computers For Propaganda

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

An Algerian and a Moroccan were arrested on suspicion of using the computer system at the University of Geneva to spread propaganda about Islamist militant groups over the Internet, local police said.

A journalist for the German-language newspaper Weltwoche who graduated from the university in Geneva told school officials that the computer system was being used to send hate messages and to make excuses for Islamist terrorist attacks.

The two suspects were known to have used the university’s computers thanks to a code that a student had negligently left lying around.

The two allegedly admitted to visiting some extremist web sites “out of curiosity,” but both denied sending hate messages.

Source: AFP

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