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Microsoft

Journal: Microsoft Banned From Selling Word

Journal by oblonski
In a surprising turn of events, Mcirosoft finds itself at the end of a patent infringement lawsuit for use of the XML technology in their Word word-processing application. From the article: "It sounds like a joke. But, it's real and it's anything but a joke for Microsoft. Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, has issued an injunction http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/library/20090811i4iinjunction.pdf (PDF Link) that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML."
Debian

Journal: Anthropological study of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux community

Journal by oblonski
Andreas Lloyd, a Danish student, recently did his M.Sc thesis on "the social dynamics of the Ubuntu Linux developers' on-line community. I turned in the thesis on the 23rd of June 2007, and defended it successfully on Monday the 27th of August 2007. After some tweaking and polishing, the thesis [is] now available [to] a wider audience."

The PDF of his these is over here and you can read an abstract on his blog over here

From his thesis abstract:
Based on more than 2 years of daily use of the Ubuntu Linux system and 6 months of on-line and in-person fieldwork among the developers working to develop and maintain it, this thesis examines the individual and collaborative day-to-day practices of these developers as they relate to the computer operating system that is the result of their labour. Despite being spread across the industrialized world, these Ubuntu hackers socialise, share their knowledge, and come to depend on each other in their work across the Internet, as well as in their in-person meetings at conferences and summits.

I argue that these shared and negotiated on-line and in-person practices constitute a community of practice (Wenger 1998) rooted in a more than 40-year old "oral" computing tradition based on the Unix operating system which has spawned a lively interdependent on-line eco-system of free software projects built on the reciprocal sharing of knowledge and source code which, guaranteed by cleverly crafted copyright licenses, has resulted in a cumulatively improved system developed openly on-line in a fashion which has made it a viable alternative to the mainstream IT industry.

Taking the Ubuntu system as my point of departure, I examine the network of practices, processes and actors in which it has been constructed. Through a strategically selected constellation of theories, I seek to describe and analyze the three central dimensions of a community of practice: Joint enterprise, mutual engagement and shared repertoire.
Security

Journal: ICANN gets pwned!!! 1

Journal by oblonski
SANS Internet Storm Center has a story http://isc.sans.org/diary.html?storyid=4637&rss/ up about the hijacking of ICANN's domain by a group of Turkish pranksters called the NetDevilz. It was also reported by Bruce Sterling at his WIRED blog over here http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2008/06/icann-gets-pwne.html/

From the SANS report:
In the past couple of days, reports have surfaced on the hijacking of the domains for ICANN and IANA attributed to the group NetDevilz.

According to news articles, an ICANN spokesman stated they were unaware of the events. The total time for the redirection before the entry was corrected was about twenty minutes. However it will take 24 to 48 hours after the correction to ensure all the DNS entries are updated. In that time, users were redirected to a site that stated the follow:

"You think that you control the domains but you don't! Everybody knows wrong. We control the domains including ICANN! Don't you believe us? haha :) (Lovable Turkish hackers group)"

What triggered the changing of the DNS entries has not been disclosed that I have found. Dancho Danchevs blog shows an email address listed in the updated records and note the email address in the entry called "foricann1230@gmail.com" as well as the date they were updated as June 26. Regardless of how it happened (though I'm sure everyone would like to know) there is a big concern here. Nothing on the internet is safe and if this can happen to these folks, it can happen to anyone.
OS X

Journal: Mac Users Targeted with Nasty Malware

Journal by oblonski
An article over at NewsFactor Network reveals what many have feared, and yet anticipated, for a long time: malware on the Mac. Yep, one of the first sighting in the wild has been confirmed and guess where it first appeared on the radar screens: that's right, a porn site that changes the MAC's DNS settings and redirect the user to a different site.

From the article:

The incident was first reported by Intego, a Mac security software Relevant Products/Services vendor. Sunbelt Software, the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC), Sophos, and McAfee have confirmed the Trojan. Dubbed "OSX.RSPlug.a," the Trojan changes the Mac's Domain Name System (DNS) settings to redirect unsuspecting users to different sites.

"The whole Trojan is relatively simple and works almost exactly the same as its brother for Windows," said ISC analyst Bojan Zdrnja in a warning the center posted on Thursday. "The bad guys are taking Mac seriously now. This is a professional attempt at attacking Mac systems, and they could have been much more damaging."

Porn Opens the Door

The family of malware Relevant Products/Services that is targeting Macs is called "Puper." It's been plaguing Windows users since 2005. One of the most notable cases of Puper attacks was exploits on infected MySpace pages.

In the Mac attack, people who are searching for porn on the Internet may find it. But they may also find a nasty payload when they encounter a popup window instructing them that QuickTime needs to install new software so they can view the videos. If the user tries to install the codec, a script then creates a scheduled task to change the Mac's DNS to point to a malicious server.
Google

Journal: A Computer That Works With Google, Not Microsoft

Journal by oblonski
A short write-up over at the New York Times informs us of a new $200 pc available from Wal Mart (!), that runs a customized version of linux and is tweaked to optimally run most Google applications online, cutting out the need for desktop software or OS, for that matter.

Apart from the specs (1.5 GHz via processor, 512MB RAM, 80MB HDD), mind you it does cost $200 sans monitor etc; this is an important step in the right direction for all penguins everywhere.

From the article: Advocates of Linux, the free open-source operating system, like to say that buying a standard-issue computer involves a Microsoft Tax, because you have no choice but to pay for Windows. New versions of Linux and inexpensive hardware like the new Everex gPC TC2502 make that tax avoidable.

This computer has a 1.5-gigahertz Via processor, 512 megabytes of memory and an 80-gigabyte hard drive. What makes it stand out, however, is GOS, a version of Linux specially made to run Google applications like GMail and Google Documents. It also runs OpenOffice, an open-source office suite that can handle Microsoft Word documents, and some multimedia applications.

The interface features an intuitive desktop interface with a set of icons. Clicking on the Map icon, for example, brings up Google Maps. The ostensible goal is to move much of the processing from the PC to the Internet.

The gPC is available now at Wal-Mart for $200, including a keyboard and mouse. A monitor costs extra, and the Microsoft Tax is missing entirely. JOHN BIGGS
User Journal

Journal: Anonymous Programmers Reveal iPhone Unlocking Software 328

Journal by oblonski
A post on the Canadian Teleclick website has the details of a group of anonymous programmers who are planning to sell iPhone unlocking software on the internet. They demonstrated the software hack for CNN and had a T-Mobile sim card working moments after removing the AT&T sim card. This is bound to stir up a lot of controversy and we will see lots and lots of coverage about the fallout from this for a long time to come still. iPhones are supposed to work only on the AT&T network in the first two years according to their agreement with Apple. This could get very interesting...
Patents

Journal: Breakthrough Nanotechnology Will Bring 100 Terabyte 3.5-inch

Journal by oblonski
A fascintating article over at PhysOrg.com describing the new technology that will make these discs possible within the next 3 to 5 years. From the article: " Have you ever dreamt of 100 terabytes of data per 3.5-inch disk? New patented innovation nanotechnology from Michael E. Thomas, president of Colossal Storage Corporation, makes it real. Michael invented and patented the world's first and only concept for non-contact UV photon induced electric field poling of ferroelectric non-linear photonic bandgap crystals, which offers the possibility of controlling and manipulating light within a UV/Deep Blue frequency of 1 nm to 400 nm. It took him 14 years to find a practical conceptualization that would work to advance the storage industry; 3D Volume Holographic Optical Storage Nanotechnology, for which Michael holds the patents. He was invited to present this fascinating discovery to the National Science Foundation in February 2004. This invention and patents on a technique for changing matter at the molecular level is one of the World's only new enabling technologies, having many hundreds of electro-optic applications. Atomic Holographic Nanotechnology will allow for the first time a functional method for programmable molecular lenses that will allow incoming light to be rejected, modified internally, or allowed to pass unaltered through a transparent lens known as disk, tape, card, drum, film, etc. By being able to program optical lenses, many applications based on light and color can be developed, such as holographic storage, bio-terror detection devices, optical electronics, security products, and hundreds of other products never seen before on the world's markets. The small size of ferroelectric transparent structures makes it possible to fabricate nano-optical devices, such as volume holographic storage, having both positive and negative index of refraction that will allow molecular particles of an atomic size to be modified, controlled, and changed to perform a specific function, desired task, used for low cost accurate chemical / biological matter detection, and reprogrammed to accept new non-volatile data and molecular functions. "
Biotech

Journal: Sperm made from bone marrow

Journal by oblonski
In a BBC article http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/2/hi/health/6547675.stm/ it is reported that new developments at a German research institution has seen scientists find a new way to develop spermatagonial cells from stem cells taken from the bone marrow tissue of male volunteers. From the BBC article: "The researchers from the Universities of Göttingen and Münster and the Medical School of Hannover isolated adult stem cells - cells that have the ability to become many types of tissue in the body - from bone marrow samples taken from male volunteers." The article continues: "Normally these stem cells from the bone marrow would develop into the different cell types in muscle tissue. But the researchers induced a small number of them to develop into what appeared to be spermatagonial cells - cells found in the testes which would normally develop into mature sperm cells. Scientists have grown artificial sperm precursor cells This is the first time human spermatagonial cells have been made artificially in this way."

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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