thewayne: (Default)
I just downloaded 78 books and PDFs on SQL Server, Power Shell, Windows Server, Azure, development, and a lot of other topics that caught my eye. There’s no indication as to how long the giveaway will be going on, so get ’em while the getting is good.

Words of warning and advice: many of the offerings are only as PDF, some are just DOC, others are also as MOBI or EPUB. So don’t expect to be able to load everything to your iPad or Kindle and be able to have lovely reflowable and resizable text. Obviously it’s easy to run the DOCs through Calibre or other programs and convert them to your favorite ebook format, not so easy with the PDFs. One major problem for me is that some of the links just give you a file with an ISBN#.epub, or a really bad file name, so personally I’d recommend doing a copy of the book title as it appears in the giveaway blog post, then a right click Save As on the link, and paste in the nicely formatted title.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
First, Apple. An exploit was found and weaponized that can root an iPhone or, apparently, also an iPad. You need to update your devices RIGHT NOW is you're running iOS 9. It will update your devices to 9.3.5. It's a small patch, less than 40 meg, so a fairly quick and painless update.

Windows 10 also has a big problem that is currently not patched, so it requires a registry edit to close the hole.

To update the registry, do the following steps:
Click the Start button, and in the search field, type in "regedit", then select "regedit.exe" from the list of results
Navigate through the tree to "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\Wpad"
Once you have the "Wpad" folder selected, right click in the right pane, and click on "New -> DWORD (32-Bit Value)"
Name this new value "WpadOverride"
Double click the new "WpadOverride" value to edit it
In the "Value data" field, replace the "0" with a "1", then click "OK"
Reboot the computer

Obviously this is not a trivial thing to do and messing with the wrong keys and values can brick your computer. I'm not sure if this is also a problem in earlier editions of Windows, so you should do a bit of research before doing something like this. It's already been fixed in most Linux distributions and also in MacOS.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Version 1 was released 30 years ago Friday.


I never messed with 1, I did mess with Windows 286 and it was pretty much garbage. That would have been around '89, IIRC. There wasn't much in the GUI/multi-tasking world. The first successful commercial release, Windows 3.0, followed by Windows for Workgroups 3.1 and Windows NT 3, were big improvements. NT was an excellent product: its improved memory management eliminated the crashes in Access that were a perpetual plague compared to running it under Workgroups.

Still, I'm writing this on an Apple MacBook Air, and I can't see me going back to Windows for my primary home computing stuff.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
I came across this on Slashdot a week ago. Quite interesting and it could have MAJOR effects on privacy, more specifically on whistle-blowing. If a whistleblower is secretly releasing negative information about the government, and their computer is leaking information all over the place, this could be quite bad for the whistler.

Windows 10 has the potential for undermining Tor and other proxy services. I know Tor is going through a redevelopment with other Tor-like systems forking off it, I'm sure they'll be factoring this in.

Overall, for my personal use, I think I'm going to stick with Windows 7 until I'm forced off it. But since all I'm doing with it is SQL Server and Access, that's no big deal.

Some smaller pirate sites have become concerned about Windows 10 system phoning home too many hints regarding that the users are accessing their site. Therefore, the pirate administrators have started blocking Windows 10 users from accessing the BitTorrent trackers that the sites host. The first ones to hit the alarm button were iTS, which have posted a statement and started redirecting Windows 10 users to a YouTube video called Windows 10 is a Tool to Spy on Everything You Do. Additionally, according to TorrentFreak, two other similar dark web torrent trackers are also considering following suit. "As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC," said one of the FSC staff. Likewise, in a message to their users, a BB admin said something similar: "We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users' P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group."
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Yep. It's secure! Apparently entering all spaces allowed him access to his dad's account. The flaw has been fixed.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Wow. This right here shows precisely why the patent wars will probably never go away. Microsoft doesn't make anything in Android OS, doesn't contribute to the Android OS, and is making 95% profit on that. The 5%, or roughly $10 million, is probably off to lawyers and acquiring more patents.

It's a good thing they're making so much pure profit on their Android patents, it makes their Xbox and Windows Phone lines look profitable.
thewayne: (Default)
Google Chrome has been doing this, Mozilla is considering it for Firefox. And Microsoft will be forcing this on people, so anyone still running IE 6 will be getting upgraded whether they want this or not.
thewayne: (Default)
This is pretty cool! It's not a common attack vector, but it's one that has been exploited and wouldn't be difficult. They're using AES-128, which is not easily broken. The cool thing about it is that it's going to sell for $40! The bad thing is that it isn't ergonomic, otherwise I'd be seriously interested.
thewayne: (Default)
A week ago I posted that Facebook and Google were jockeying to buy Skype. Looks like Redmond ended up being the big bid.

I don't like this. I can't see this boding well for people on non-MS OS platforms.

“Microsoft’s own software already has considerable overlap with Skype. Windows Live Messenger offers free instant messaging, and voice- and video-chat.“ So the benefit to MS is what? A replacement for Live Messenger? Does LM work on non-MS platforms? Will the replacement?
thewayne: (Default)
This from the company that opened an office in Canada just across the border from their HQ because they couldn't get enough H1B workers. I won't bother with their funneling income through off-shore sources to defray taxes, or Steve Balmer lobbying heavily to reduce capital gains taxes in Washington state, and after it passed, dumping $300 million in MS stock.
thewayne: (Default)
"The New York Times reports that Russia selectively pursues software piracy complaints from Microsoft in order to suppress the opposition — confiscating computers for evidence, searching offices, and the like. Microsoft lawyers usually back the authorities in such cases, even when cases such as that of the environmentalist group Baikal Waves, which went out of its way to buy licenses to prevent police harassment and nevertheless had its offices raided, and its computers confiscated. Microsoft participated in this legal process. Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations. In a responding press release, the company states, 'Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both [antipiracy concerns and human rights], but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'"

Pretty much every corporation has evil bits. Apple does, Google does. I'd like to think that Ben & Jerry's, under the original ownership, didn't. But this really takes the cake, right up there with revealing political dissident blogger identities.

I wonder how long before we see such political/corporate/legal activity over here?
thewayne: (Default)
A lot of this is in response to their getting hacked by China last year. Employees will now have the choice of a Mac or a PC running Linux, the article didn't specify which flavor.

If you need to run Windows, you have to get permission from VERY high up, you need approval from the CIO.

There's an interesting paragraph:
The move created mild discontent among some Google employees, appreciative of the choice in operating systems granted to them - an unusual feature in large companies. But many employees were relieved they could still use Macs and Linux. “It would have made more people upset if they banned Macs rather than Windows,” he added. (emphasis mine)

Ultimately, I'm sure they'll eat their own dog food and base their operations on Chrome/Android, but those platforms still need some maturing.

The article might need to be taken with a grain of salt: they quote Google's employee base as more than 10,000; there are sources saying it's more than 20k.

This was yesterday. So today, naturally, Microsoft releases a rebuttal, which I'm not going to bother going in to at any length. It's basically saying we've made lots of improvements, and the Mac is far from secure. What they don't bother mentioning is that 99% of the malware out there targets Windows because that's where the machines are.
thewayne: (Default)
A day or so after Steve Jobs announced the iPad, Microsoft announced their Courier product, a Windows 7-based (allegedly) device with two touch/pen screens that opened like a book. It struck me as a knee-jerk reaction announcement ("My god, Apple's got something amazing coming out, we have to announce SOMETHING!") and not likely to see the light of day. Well, apparently Ballmer et al has officially killed it.

Likewise, at the CES show in January, HP & Ballmer unveiled a tablet device running Windows 7. Now, "...source tells us that HP is not satisfied with Windows 7 as a tablet operating system and has terminated the project." Among other things, HP is not happy with battery life of having to cram Win7 and an Intel CPU into the case and will be considering going with Palm's WebOS for their slate computer.

In case you hadn't heard, Hewlett-Packard bought out Palm. Palm was on the verge of death, and a buyout was their only hope of survival. I would have liked to have seen them die, because they abandoned product quality and good user support a long time ago. But I guess HP saw value in their patent portfolio and thought a billion dollars was worth it.

Personally, I could care less. Personally, (RPN calculators excluded), HP = don't like. Compaq = don't like. Palm = really don't like. HP + Compaq = LOL. HP + Compaq + Palm = ROFLMAO WTF FTL. HP and Compaq servers are OK, as are their departmental laser printers, but I can't stand their desktop computers and printers. One outfit I worked for spent thousands of dollars getting our techs trained and certified to repair HP printers and scanners, then HP turned around and stopped selling parts kits.

I've never liked HP or Compaq laptops, and my experiences with their desktop computers have never been good. And don't get me started on people who bought a Packard Bell and thought they had a Hewlett Packard!

My Prediction: Here's where I think the market for slate computers will be a year+ down the road. You'll have the iPad and you'll have Android-based slates, both will do fairly well. Microsoft (and partners) will try to get slate units out based on the Windows Mobile platform, but I think Apple and Google will eat their lunch. It's a basic problem with operating systems: the iPad's OS-X and Google's Android are designed to run on minimal CPU and power loads, Windows 7 is not. Microsoft's Mobile platform is, but I have a feeling it's going to be quite an aggravating experience when they try to strap on tablet features to it. Given 5 years, MS might have a good slate, but I won't wait for it.
thewayne: (Default)
From TFA: Microsoft confirmed it learned of the so-called “zero-day” flaw months ago.

According to Microsoft, “An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the logged-on user. If a user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.”

Linux and Mac have forced you to use Sudo to access low-level stuff for quite a while now, most Windows home users, prior to Vista, have been running as local admin, and were very vulnerable to this. Vista and Win7 made a lot of improvements in this area, but there are still far too many compromises possible.

In other news, Microsoft released a patch for this particular exploit.,2817,2358284,00.asp
thewayne: (Default)
"Microsoft still has not released a patch for a major zero-day flaw in IE6 that was used by Chinese hackers to attack Google. After sample code was posted on a website, calls began for Microsoft to release an out-of-cycle patch. Now, France has joined Germany in recommending its citizens abandon IE altogether, rather than waiting for a patch. Microsoft still insists IE8 is the 'most secure browser on the market' and that they believe IE6 is the only browser susceptible to the flaw. However, security researchers warned that could soon change, and recommended considering alternative browsers as well."

In all fairness, I would imagine that MS is testing a patch. The problem is that regression testing takes a lot of work, especially when you need to test it in conjunction with other patches to make sure that fixing this problem doesn't create THAT problem.

And in even more fairness, a PC World columnist says that abandoning IE is not a cure-all for security problems. And he's right. The attackers used multiple tools to compromise Google and others, ONE of these tools exploited a hitherto-unknown hole in IE. Adobe just fixed a zero-day flaw in Acrobat that could have been used in this attack, we don't yet know.

There are a couple of interesting quotes in the latter article:

I asked Kurtz about the irony that Google, makers of the Chrome Web browser, could be compromised by a flaw in Internet Explorer. Shouldn't Google be using Chrome?

Kurtz replied "It is easy to come to that conclusion, but IE is ubiquitous and is used in almost every corporation. Keep in mind, there are many enterprise applications that only work with IE--so it is difficult to just mandate an alternate browser even if you are the creator of that browser."

I'm a little surprised. As far as I know, Google uses an OS that they built for their servers. Their developers use in-house tools for their coding, so why would they be running Windows? Most likely explanation is that the attack came in through the corporate-side. Chances are their marketing and accounting departments are using Windows.

While research indicates that the Internet Explorer zero-day used in the attacks could be used on any version of Internet Explorer, even on Windows 7, the initial investigation suggests that the systems targeted were actually using Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP. Simply using a current operating system and a current Web browser would have afforded significantly more protection.

Now this is just sad. I realize that there is huge inertia in IT in large organizations to upgrade operating systems, but this is just sad. There's no reason that Google couldn't have at least been running Vista, which, for all its multitudinous faults, is still more secure than XP. For that matter, they could have been running IE 7 or 8 on top of XP: I know for a fact that it's possible as I run IE 8 on two XP machines.

Interesting stuff.

Corporate IT inertia is a huge thing, and sometimes architectures just don't do what you want them to.
thewayne: (Default)
"After McAfee's disclosure of an IE 0-day vulnerability this week that had been used in Operation Aurora, the hack and stealing of data from Google, Adobe and about 3 dozen other major companies, the German government has advised the public to switch to alternative browsers. Given that the exploit has now been made public and the patch from Microsoft is still nowhere to be seen, how long will it be before other governments follow suit?"

Not only has the exploit been made public, it has already been incorporated in to available hack tools.

I find this advisory particularly amusing. Just Friday I got an email from the IT director at work telling everyone that they must uninstall Firefox and can only use IE. I use IE for two things. First, on a new OS install, to download Firefox. Second, to run Windows Updates. With Vista and Win7, you no longer need IE even for that.

Color me amused.
thewayne: (Default)
Windows 7 released last week. A lot of people, myself included, are calling it Vista 2.0, but Microsoft would like to distance itself from the Vista name. If you have newer hardware, i.e. less than 2 years old and lots of memory and good video card, you probably shouldn't have any issues with upgrading as long as you're careful. I downloaded the beta of 7 and was running it in a virtual environment on my Mac and was satisfied, but I have no plans to buy it for my 5ish year old AMD Athlon system: it's just too old and underpowered comparatively (I use it as a Tivo repository). My virtual machine is going to be deactivated by MS in a month or so, at which point I'll go back to using my virtual XP image. Still, it worked well.

Here's some thoughts/recommendations:

I cannot emphasize this too strongly: BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER BEFORE UPGRADING!

You can get an external hard drive at Best Buy or Staples et al for $50-75ish. Microsoft says that you have to reformat your hard drive if you're upgrading from XP (you don't have to if you're upgrading from Vista, but it's always a good idea to do it). There are reports of people not having to reformat when upgrading from XP and earlier, but don't take the chance: BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER! MS includes a utility to restore your data from an external HD after installation, but I have no experience with that as the install that I did was to a new virtual image and had no data migration with it.

Conveniently, Wired has put their Wiki page on backing up a Windows PC on their front page this morning:

There are reports that some people are having problems downloading updates if they bought/downloaded the discounted price student edition. I'm sure MS will get that sorted out very soon.

I haven't heard of any horrible major third-party software problems with it, but I'm sure there will be some. Like I said, this is basically Vista 2.0: most of the major bugs have been ironed out of Vista, so 7 should be a fairly painless experience.
thewayne: (Default)
if Obama goes through with revising tax shelter legislation to make American corporations pay more of the taxes that they're supposed to.

I am shocked, shocked I say.

Let 'em. Meanwhile, impose legislation that any company that isn't based in the US and doesn't pay American taxes doesn't get to lobby Congress, they have to go through the Department of State via whatever country they're based in. And since they're not an American corporation, they lose preference points for government contracts to American corporations. Hmmm, Oracle's SuSe Linux on government desktops and servers instead of Windows? More Oracle database on government servers instead of Microsoft SQL Server? Need to file a lawsuit against an American company that pays American taxes to protect your patents? We'll get back to you on that. "May I see your passport to reenter the country, Mr. Ballmer? (rubber glove goes *snap) Follow me into this back room, please?"

Same thing goes for Halliburton, now HQ'd in Qatar.

It's one thing to move manufacturing out of the country to save manufacturing costs, but manufacturing costs are almost nonexistent when it comes to the costs of Microsoft software. What do we get (at work) most of the time when we buy a copy of SQL Server? A single CD and a couple dozen sheets of paper. When we buy another license? We don't even get the CD, we might get a half dozen sheets of paper.

Lower the corporate tax rate if it will get the bastards to pay, but have a bunch of really big sticks behind your back if they start making threats like that.

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