August 28, 2008
Microsoft has apparently released a new version of their “Windows Genuine Advantage Notification Tool”, a tool that runs continuously in the background to check that your Windows is genuine. It’s interesting that it has to run all the time, and not just once, to check that your windows is a legit copy.
By releasing such a tool, Microsoft implies a few things:
Microsoft believes you are an idiot. After forking out hundreds of dollars for Windows, you somehow still don’t know if your Windows copy is genuine. Not only that, their belief in your stupidity is such that they actually think you’ll believe their spin about the usefulness of having the notification tool installed.
A genuine copy of Windows that you paid for, can unexpectedly revert to being a pirated copy behind your back. There would be no need for repeated checks otherwise. Neither would there be a need for people who have paid for a genuine copy to install it.
One can also infer from the fact that they placed the notification tool in the Critical Updates that the moment you buy Windows, it is in imminent danger of reverting to a pirated copy. It can happen any time, that’s why you need to monitor it all the time. When it happens, the hundreds of dollars you paid will go down the drain, and you’ll have to pay again.
It’s times like these that make one think that the gradual move of PCs, starting with the ultra portables like Eee PC, to Linux is a good thing.
Filed in Outraged, Opinion, Software, Windows.
August 28, 2008
BBC reports that a computer virus has made it to space. Apparently laptops carried by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) were found to be infected with a virus that steals passwords and login ids for certain online games. The laptops do not have any antivirus software, so I’m not sure how they discovered the virus in the first place. Speculation is that one of the astronauts brought an infected USB drive and plugged it into the laptop.
Don’t get excited though. According to NASA, this is not the first time computer viruses have gone into space.
Filed in News.
August 26, 2008
XKCD has a hilarious commentary on Diebold’s attempt to blame its voting machines flaws on the antivirus software installed.
If the image is too small on this post, see the original at the XKCD site. I like their implication: while putting antivirus software may be good security for a normal desktop, on a voting machine it’s like a teacher at a parent-teacher conference assuring you that he “always wears a condom while teaching”.
Filed in Humor.
August 25, 2008
Google’s drivers, gathering photos for Street View, have again ignored someone’s “No Trespassing” sign, gone onto yet another private property to take photos. This is not the first time they have done this. Remember the lawsuit a few months back when Google’s van drove up a private road, taking pictures? What was their defense? Some spin-doctoring and smoke-screen.
I suppose we’re going to get another round of spin-doctoring. Maybe they should employ literate drivers, who can read signs. And brief them thoroughly about respecting laws. Otherwise the drivers may feel that Google is the Law, and can do anything with impunity.
Filed in Outraged, News, Opinion.
August 24, 2008
In the last 5 minutes, Opera has crashed 4 times. And this was just normal surfing. It’s really very irritating. It often occurs while I’m either typing, or Alt+Tabbing to/away from the browser, Ctrl+Tabbing within the browser or otherwise using the keyboard. I notice that this was the case in the previous x.0 and x.01 releases of Opera as well. Are they doing something weird with their keyboard handler?
And now the Opera team are working on a 9.60 development version instead of fixing the unstable 9.52.
I have blogged about Opera 9.52′s crashes before, as well as its other shortcomings.
If not for the fact that Firefox is slow and lacks the many useful features of Opera, I would have migrated to it long ago, after facing 9.50 and 9.51′s bugs for so long. As it stands, I still need to find a lot of plugins for Firefox before it is even remotely comparable to Opera. And some of the things I need just don’t exist. But quite frankly, the temptation to switch is very strong, and I’ve been playing around with Firefox a lot more.
Filed in Opinion, Software, Browsers.
August 22, 2008
Techdirt points to EA’s response to the criticism about EA’s golfing game, where due to a bug, players can make Tiger Woods stand in the middle of a water trap to take a shot. They put out a commercial that shows that the real Tiger Woods can really do such a thing. It’s hilarious! And a brilliant PR move.
The Youtube video can be found here.
Filed in Advertising, Humor, Video.
August 21, 2008
As mentioned before, Opera is my primary browser. However, since 9.50 and 9.51 had been so buggy, I used Firefox for a lot of my surfing. As a result, I had to get a number of extensions or plugins to give it some of the functionality that Opera has. One of these plugins was FlashBlock. And now I’m spoilt.
FlashBlock on the other hand blocks all Flash from playing. If you click a button, the flash will run. It’s also possible to add a site like YouTube to the whitelist. If a site is not in the whitelist, you can still play a flash object by clicking the button.
I miss this facility of being able to click a button to play a specific flash object in sites that are not whitelisted. I wish Opera will add this to their feature list. The third party FlashBlock for Opera just doesn’t cut it. It works for some sites, but for others, clicking the button doesn’t work. Very irritating.
Filed in Software, Opinion, Browsers.
August 21, 2008
Opera has never been good with major new versions of its browsers. All the x.0 releases are bug-ridden. x.01 aren’t much better. It takes numerous versions before it is stable and usable.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m an Opera user. I’ve used it since 5.0. Hell, I even paid for the software back when you could buy it.
I thought when 9.5 was released, what could go wrong? After all, it’s not a x.0 release, but a x.5. WRONG. It was buggy as hell. Secure sites could not be opened. Opera crashed frequently.
With 9.52, some of the bigger bugs have been crushed. I can now surf to the secure sites that previously hung in Opera. But the browser is still not very stable. In fact, it crashed on me while I was making this post and googling in another tab.
I should never have upgraded from 9.27, but wait till 9.53 or 9.54. Oh well.
Filed in Software, Browsers.
August 15, 2008
What’s going on with Drupal these days? Are they trying to compete with WordPress for the greatest number of new releases within a short period award? Actually WordPress seems to have slowed down a bit lately, which is good, because I’m tired of having to update my other blog which uses my own WordPress install.
Anyway, Drupal 6.4 and 5.10 have been released. The announcement says that upgrading is strongly recommended, and that it fixes several critical security vulnerabilities as well as other bugs.
Those running 6.3 or 5.9 can just patch their installs with the 6.4 patch and the 5.9 patch. But the patch leaves your install in an unversioned state, a matter that I complained about before.
Filed in Web Design, Software, Security.
August 8, 2008
WordPress.com proves that you really need to install your own copy of WordPress for your own blog instead of outsourcing it to someone else.
When I first started, I noticed that it plugged in links to its own tag pages into my blog posts. Ugh!
Then I found that when I surfed to my posts without logging in, some of them contain ads. Yucks.
The latest irritation is this “Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)” content that is embedded right into the content of some posts. The indignity!
There’s a progressive loss of control over the blog when you let others run things. I mean, who knows what they’re going to do next? Change words into ad links within your post itself? Can you even trust these people?
Filed in Outraged, WordPress, Web Design.
August 8, 2008
Following my posts on DNS testers to make sure that your ISP is not vulnerable to the DNS poisoning problem that is now in the wild, Dan Kaminsky has a video of the progress of the DNS fixes around the world. It’s embedded below.
The red spots are unpatched, yellow are patched but with the NAT causing problems, and green are the fully patched areas with properly working DNS servers.
If you have not checked whether your ISP’s DNS servers are fully patched, see my previous posts on DNS-Oarc’s DNS tester and Dan Kaminsky’s DNS server checker.
Filed in Security, News.
August 6, 2008
Doxdesk’s joke antivirus, PlaceboAV, is making its rounds in a number of forums lately. Here’s what the author says:
Today’s AV is a dead loss. But you can’t simply not install any, or everyone will complain. That’s where PlaceboAV comes in! It’s the fantasic anti-virus solution that’s super-fast and absolutely reliable… because it does nothing at all.
It works fabulously because it has zero impact on your system performance, displays an icon in the system tray, updates its definitions blindingly fast, doesn’t need an internet connection for updating, and is only 56 KB.
It’s good for a laugh, though I think some people in the forums think the writer is making a point about the ineffectiveness of the current state of antivirus technology. I personally think it’s just a joke.
Anyway, if you want a real antivirus, there are many real free antivirus programs around.
Filed in Humor, Security.
August 3, 2008
Font Conference is a hilarious video from College Humor. It brings to us all the fonts we know and love, as well as those we hate, in a skit featuring fonts as characters attending a conference. I won’t spoil it for you. Just watch it yourself.
Filed in Humor, Entertainment, Video.
August 1, 2008
In case you missed the launch of Joss Whedon’s online video series, Dr Horrible, a while ago, it’s still available on Hulu for free in both US and internationally. Joss needs no introduction. He’s the guy who created the famous Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly series, and the Serenity movie. He has a guest blog post on Dr Horrible at http://blog.hulu.com/2008/7/29/dr-horrible, which also links to the Hulu video.
Unlike the original free launch of the 3 part series about the super-villain Dr Horrible and the irritating superhero Captain Hammer, this one has ads.
Oh, the actress for the female lead, Felicia Day, also has her own online series, The Guild, which is also free.
Filed in Entertainment, News.