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Slashback: Petdom, Denial, Confusion 286

Slashback tonight features updates (below) on Aibo hacking (a rare bit of good news on the technical freedom front), some not-great information for excite@home users concerned about the looming darkness, a strange update in the FBI/Magic Lantern story, and more.
Only Carnivore operators will know the truth. elem writes "McAfee has now come on the record and has denied contact with the FBI about the 'Magic Lantern' Project.

In an e-mail to Declan McCullagh which has also been posted on his PoliTech mailing list McAfee said the following:

"Dear Sir/Madam:

  1. Network Associates/McAfee.com Corporation has not contacted the FBI, nor has the FBI contacted NAI/McAfee.com Corp., regarding Magic Lantern.
  2. We do not expect the FBI to contact Network Associates/McAfee.com Corporation regarding Magic Lantern.
  3. Network Associates/McAfee.com Corp. is not going to speculate on Magic Lantern as its existence has not even been confirmed by the FBI or any government agency.
  4. Network Associates/McAfee.com Corporation does and will continue
    to comply with any and all U.S. laws and legislation.
Marisa Lewis
Investor Relations Manager
McAfee.com Corporation
535 Oakmead Parkway
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
408-992-8100 phone
408-720-8450 fax

In a subsquent post AP reporter Ted Bridis responed by saying: "I stand by my reporting for the AP. This information came from a senior company officer. I won't identify this person in this post because I've been unable to reach this person by phone or e-mail since the flap erupted."

He also noted that McAfee never specificly denied that they might write such allowances (for Magic Lantern) into their software, it just says that they have yet to have been asked to.

Original story on slashdot and Politech with follow ups

McAfee's Response and Ted Bridis' response"

Rethinking is always a good idea. javester writes: "Sony has come to its senses and has struck a deal with AIBOPET, after the fan site was shut down when Sony's lawyers came calling last week of October.

Way to go Sony and AIBOPET!!!! More power to both of you for finding a compromise where everybody wins! Hopefully, other parties having DMCA tussles follow Sony's and AIBOPET's example, and have more constructive discussions instead of legal suits galore."

Penguin cause pollution. x136 writes "I saw this on my local Fox affiliate, but found a link on LinuxWorld. IBM has been fined again for spraypainting their blue "Peace, Love & Linux" logo, this time on the streets of San Francisco. The bill? $120,000. First Chicago, then San Francisco ... Who thought this was a good idea in the first place?"

Well, I thought the giant murals in NYC were great, but the sidewalk idea strikes me as IBM playing Brewster's Millions with the billion dollars they pledged to spend on Linux.

Out of the freezer and into the blizzard ... An Anonymous Coward writes "Comcast has decided to offer a backup plan in case their cable modem's die due to Excite@Home's bankruptcy. Good thought but the backup is NetZero. Gee thanks Comcast. Here is a link to their Service Interruption FAQ. http://www.comcastonline.com/info.htm"

Make it obfuscated, but make it snappy. Rosco P. Coltrane writes "If you haven't submitted your program(s) to the International Obfuscated C Code Contest, now is the time : the deadline is December 1st, 2001, there is only two days left !"

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Petdom, Denial, Confusion

Comments Filter:
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:07PM (#2633983)
    I don't get all the objections to the FBI spyware thingy. Nor do I get the notion that it's somehow as intrusive as even the sneak-and-peek thing they did against that mobster a few months ago.

    In the case of Scarfo (the mob guy), the Fedz had to break into the guy's home and h4x0r his b0x3n with a hardware device. Obvious case of the Fedz breaching the mobster's right to be secure in his home and property.

    In the case of Magic Lantern, they'll do it from their office. It'll be up to the target to do the st00pid thing and run the executable. I can see an argument that by voluntarily running trojanned code, he gives up his right to security.

    That is, it's not the Feds breaking into the guy's home, it's the Feds sending the user an email. If the user doesn't run it, the user remains safe. If the user chooses to run it, he violates his own security *on behalf of* the Feds. This may be the crucial legal distinction that makes this work in court, where the Scarfo keylogger didn't.

    (And besides, isn't this what half the /. crowd says when the latest Microsoft worm-du-jour shows up? "Well, they were running Windoze, they shouldn't expect to be secure!" ;-)

    Finally, I don't see what the worry is about virus scanners not detecting it.

    This is *not* a worm, nor is it a virus. That is, it doesn't try to spread to other computers over a network, nor through infecting files (remember, its goal is to *avoid* changing anything on the target system, to preserve the integrity of the evidence), so there's no risk of collateral damage.

    So you have a data collector that doesn't damage data, and doesn't replicate. Since it doesn't replicate, it doesn't leave the infected system. Since it never leaves the infected system, the number of copies of Magic Lantern "in the wild" will always be a small number - likely, "one per suspect".

    Since it doesn't exist in the wild, doesn't propagate, and since each instance of it may be unique, there's really no way for a virus scanning company to add its signature to a database, even if they needed or wanted to.

    And on that "one copy per suspect" note, because it doesn't need to propagate beyond the infected system, I would guess that it's likely to be an executable tailored to the target machine - which may imply different checksums/signatures, and very probably, different "bait" email messages, tailored to the suspect.

    Suppose we decide to use a 'sploit based on Javashit embedded in PDFs. We'd send a PDF of plans for a meth lab to our suspect drug kingpin, and PDFs of the You-Know-Who's "Jihad-HOWTO on CD-ROM" to our suspect terrorists.

    OK, so we probably have come up with a totally different infection vector when Adobe calls up and contracts us to perform a hit on m0st-ph33r3d c0pywr1t3 t3rr0r1st Dmitry Sklyarov, but for most dirtbags, it'll work...

    • The big deal, really, is that the FBI shouldn't be writing virii. Either they politely ask, 'can we violate your security,' or they politely ask, 'can we break into your home.' "Cloak and dagger" should not be their MO, "implicit permission" is unacceptable.

      • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:23PM (#2634063)
        > The big deal, really, is that the FBI shouldn't be writing virii. Either they politely ask, 'can we violate your security,' or they politely ask, 'can we break into your home.' "Cloak and dagger" should not be their MO, "implicit permission" is unacceptable.

        "Hello! We send you this file in order to have your PGP passphrase!".

        C'mon, what could be more polite than that? ;-)

      • by Silver222 ( 452093 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:27PM (#2634083)
        Of course "implicit permission" is enough. After all, we are fighting terroists here. They use the internet to communicate. Those filthy bastards are even using porno to communicate, and we can't see it! Every red blooded American should be proud of the FBI.

        There, I've just taken care of the stupid argument. Can everyone else please refrain from saying, "If you've got nothing to hide, what are you worried about?" This system will be abused by the FBI. It's just a matter of time.

      • Computers are only compared to homes when it's beneficial for someone who is powerful.
    • > In the case of Magic Lantern, they'll do it from their office.
      > It'll be up to the target to do the st00pid thing and run the executable.

      Or... perhaps it's just delivered to his machine as an application or operating system upgrade. All it takes is a verified IP in the right upgrade engine, and a 'different' upgrade is sent than most get, or perhaps even see.

      You usually even click to agree to allow the upgrade to happen, thus, consent. Admittedly, not very informed consent, but... consent none the less.
      • > Or... perhaps it's just delivered to his machine as an application or operating system upgrade. All it takes is a verified IP in the right upgrade engine, and a 'different' upgrade is sent than most get, or perhaps even see.
        > You usually even click to agree to allow the upgrade to happen, thus, consent. Admittedly, not very informed consent, but... consent none the less.

        Moral of the story. Read that EULA carefully. *evil grin*

        Actually, infiltrating an ISP or Micros~1 Windows Update and having them deliver ML to certain IP address ranges upon the presence/absence of certain GUIDs, MAC addresses, WinXP registration data, or other methods of identification, would be a seriously cool hack, almost on a par with the Hughes "GAMEOVER" hack against satellite card h4x0rz.

        (Remember, even if you disapprove of ML, you don't have to like a technique to admire it ;-)

        Wild-ass speculation: The FBI has no such warez yet, but issued a press release to the effect that they did, in order to get ideas from d00dz like us on what sorts of things would, or wouldn't work. If that's the case (and I suppose we'll know in 50 years when it's all declassified), I'd also have to add "social engineering hack par excellence" to whatever technical solution they devise.

    • the big deal is (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vscjoe ( 537452 )
      This is a slippery slope. The problem isn't that the government is using a virus, the problem is that they may be seeking accomodation from commercial software. If that thinking prevails, you may eventually not be permitted to run other security software, or you may be required to run an operating system with a back door.

      So, the FBI can hack all they want. It is at specifially accomodating that hacking where we need to draw the line.

    • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:34PM (#2634113) Homepage Journal
      First McAffee and now Symantec are willing to ignore the presence of this virus. This article [theregister.co.uk] describes Symantec's position on the issue:
      Eric Chien, chief researcher at Symantec's antivirus research lab, said that provided a hypothetical keystroke logging tool was used only by the FBI, then Symantec would avoid updating its antivirus tools to detect such a Trojan.

      Symantec is yet to hear back from the FBI on its enquiries about Magic Lantern.

      "If it was under the control of the FBI, with appropriate technical safeguards in place to prevent possible misuse, and nobody else used it - we wouldn't detect it," said Chien. "However we would detect modified versions that might be used by hackers."
      The bigger problem here, though is that these antivirus vendors are violating the public trust and esentially providing faulty products (nothing new in the software industry) intentionally (which is a new prescident).

      Furthermore, if antivirus vendors can be currupted this ay in the name of national security, does this mean that OS vendors will do the same, to accomodate the delivery methods chosen by the FBI? Will there be un-closed security holes intentionally left open as delivery vectors (like buffer overflow problems etc.) for 'Magic Lantern'? And regardless of the position of Stmantec that they will try to detect variants of Magic Lantern, what happens when a virus writer succeeds in writing a piece of code with a signature sufficiently similar to the FBI code as to be indestinguishable? the risk introduced here is too great to justify through the promise of improved crime fighting capabilities.

      • The whole question of security bugs included intentionally in software reminds me of the Inslaw case [eff.org], in which the federal government took a piece of software which they pirated from a contractor (who they put out of business), and hacked it up to include a back door. This software was written to track the complicated web of relationships between the sort of people intelligence agencies work with/against (depending on the phase of the moon and the particular situation). They sold this software to friendly (And probably not so friendly) intelligence agencies world-wide, using the back door to suck out information from their customers databases.

        Pretty cool hack. (a technical judgement independent on the morality of the entire affair).

        So the government has dealt in intentionally insecure software in the past, and they will probably do so in the future.

        Personally, I think with a real warrant (none of this no-burden-of-proof "judicial certification" which the PATRIOT act institutes") this is a fine tactic. It's essentially the same as a wiretap.

        Obviously, mass distribution of weakened software to the public or to anyone whom there is no probable cause to suspect is completely unacceptable.

    • That is, it's not the Feds breaking into the guy's home, it's the Feds sending the user an email. If the user doesn't run it, the user remains safe. If the user chooses to run it, he violates his own security *on behalf of* the Feds. This may be the crucial legal distinction that makes this work in court, where the Scarfo keylogger didn't.

      Serious problems with this. If I send you a gift, such as a doll, and you choose to keep the doll, is it YOUR fault the doll has a camera in it and I can now spy on your bedroom?
    • by Chasing Amy ( 450778 ) <asdfijoaisdf@askdfjpasodf.com> on Thursday November 29, 2001 @11:43PM (#2634619) Homepage
      The point is, NO YOU DON"T HAVE TO CLICK ON WHATEVER THE FBI SENDS YOU. Why don't you READ the bloody USA/PATRIOT stuff and what has been released so far of the FBI's "evil plans" before you waste our time?

      The FBI is given carte-blanche to install spyware on your machine in any way they wish, without needing a search warrant (which takes a relatively high measure of cause to get) from a Court in your jurisdiction, but rather by getting a wiretap order (much lower showing of cause) from Any Court ANYWHERE. They don't even need to go to your jurisdiction to a real Court--they can go to any Court whatsoever, like for example a Mickey Mouse Court right down the street from FBI HQ where there's a judge who hands out orders like they're Tick-Tacs.

      That in itself is troubling. They can pick any judge anywhere to ask for permission to hack anyone's box. I'm sure they already have a good working relationship with judges who'd give them anything. Jurisdiction is there to protect you from judges like that. But not any more.

      And the FBI can get their spyware onto your machine by any electronic means, including by exploiting any security vulnerability there is to get the conde on your box. Remember the bad root exploit that was revealed a few days ago for Linux? You can bet the FBI is subscribing to every bug track list and logging exploits they can use as they come up, so that they'll know how to break into your computer before you even know what the security flaw is and how to patch it. So, it isn't just stupid people who run foreign executables who are hackable. It's everyone.

      Now, combine all that with what the FBI has done in the recent past, like getting a warrant and a gag order against the Independent Media Center to seize all their logs so that they could trace users who reported on the Canadian police report on how to deal with WTO protestors that someone had lifted from an unattended car in Canada, and interrogate them for the Mounties to try to find the guy who did it. Oh, and the IMC would have been unable to inform anyone of the order, and that visitors to the site were being logged and monitored by the FBI.

      Now, that order was reversed the very next day by a real judge who actually knew what the Bill of Rights means. But with these new laws and regs, the FBI doesn't even have to tell anyone that an order ever existed in the first place. There's no real oversight, and no chance for an order to be overturned or deemed fraudulent or unconstitutionally vague or overbroad or just plains wrong. Today, the FBI would simply handle the above IMC freedom of press/speech "problem" like this: they'd go to the chambers of Judge Unconstitutional next door, get an order to install spyware on the IMC web server so that they can retrieve the logs they want and monitor any connections which might be from the user they want, and then go down a list of known exploits--some of which probably won't have been announced yet and won't have patches at all--until they get their software onto the IMC's server. Then they get their logs, and monitor connections--and of course if anyone talks about any protest plans that may be questionable to the FBI while the spyware is installed, then hey, it's in plain sight during an investigation which required them to view server logs. And even if it isn't, who cares--the FBI isn't known for their oppenness and honesty; they'll use the information to find or manufacture a legally more acceptable excuse for going after their new suspect. Their new suspect who was just exercising his right to free speech and his right to peaceably assemble to ask the government for redress, BTW.

      As you can see, the potential for this legislation goes far beyond just logging keystrokes to get PGP passwords of terrorist suspects. Right now, that's what the FBI has publicly disclosed about Magic Lantern. What they haven't disclosed could well be the cababilities to remotely access the whole system to do things like what I outlined above. Remember that when the Carnivore documents were initially released, the parts about Magic Lantern were blacked out. What makes you therefore think the FBI has told us everything about Magic Lantern now that its existence is no longer blacked out?

      At any rate, if you read the new laws, they give the FBI the chance to do far more than sniff PGP keys. Knowing what we all know about the FBI, they are planning to exploit the law to its fullest. If Magic Lantern really is only a key logger, then you can bet they have another piece of software that's still classified to do the rest. And isn't a key logger bad enough as it is, since they now have the ability to get secret installation orders from any judge they choose at any kangaroo Court? That in itself can be used to access a lot more than your PGP keys, which is already an invasion. Every word you ever write on your computer could be theirs, and you'd never know it if they disguise their program well enough--have it replace your networking layer, let's say, so that for all intents and purposes it's indistinguisable from the processes that run whenever you're net-connected. What might any of us be suspect for? Going to the IMC website and posting our opinions or protest experiences? Running a site like the IMC, which might itself get bugged and logged thanks to a sympathetic judge? Again, the orders can be secret, so there's no real oversight.

      We're on dangerous ground. I visit forums where people sometimes talk about illegal things, like borderline protest activities, or illicit datastreams, though I never do so and never do any illegal things (except maybe smoke cigars in public--what a country) myself. Does that mean my PC should be tagged, bagged, and monitored? The FBI probably thinks so. Anyone who'd even think of protesting must be a communist--if only we could tap 'em all like we did with the civil rights leaders in the 60s. Oh wait, now we can! Who needs J. Edgar Hoover, when you have thousands of FBI agents who are trained according to the methods he set up himself?
      • That's bad. In fact that's quite bad. But we're talking about a citizenry that accepts the Microsoft XP license as nothing to get upset about.

        Now it's true, the FBI can do more to you than Microsoft (legally) can, but the Microsoft license seems to make it a contractual agreement that they have the right to wipe your hard disk (or modify it in such other way as they choose) just because they choose to. No othe reason needed.

        I am going to require a signed order from upper management for each time I am requested to install this system. And I'm going to ask the company lawyer to click the agree button. (But I'm near enough to retirement that I can get away with that, too. If they try to push, I'll just retire.) The problem is, nobody else in the company takes these things seriously. The lawyer says "No court would enforce this." He doesn't seem to understand that MS would just *DO* it, and a court wouldn't enter into the picture. Not until you tried to figure out how to make them stop doing it. And then they'd have the contract on their side. (It might be ruled invalid, eventually, but the penalties would certainly be trivial, and they could tie things up for years! So NOBODY is going to challenge it. At least not after any significant fraction of their computers are using XP.)

    • You know, for a federal agent, you're not very good at feigning r0dentia. Then, again, neither am I so, I guess, I can sympathize.
    • I guess the big deal is what is an agent, The guy from the FBI with a badge, sworn to uphold the laws ... protect and defend the constitution of the US is definatly an agent, when he kicks in my door its a big deal. Its big for me and its big for him. There are real people that are accountable, can testify in court and describe their actions and motivations.

      Is an agent limited to a physical person acting in behalf of the FBI, or does it include a software entity acting in the behalf of the FBI also an agent? With Magic Latern there is no warm body to cross examine in court, ML isn't going to be able to testify if it was me or my spouse it'll just suck up some keystrokes when PGP is fired up. And speaking of spouses, I personaly consider the confidence between Me and my computer to be the same as the confidence between me and my spouse, clergy, accountant, and legal consellor.

      I can tell just by your comment that you're guilty of to much thinking Inside the box your punishment is to watch The Matrix three times and actualy think about where Magic Lantern might take us 100 or a 1000 years from now.
    • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Friday November 30, 2001 @07:52AM (#2635648) Homepage

      "In the case of Magic Lantern, they'll do it from their office. It'll be up to the target to do the st00pid thing and run the executable. I can see an argument that by voluntarily running trojanned code, he gives up his right to security. "

      You state earlier in the post that you don't see. I'm glad you understand that much. Now, by logical inference, I don't see why people think Osama bin Laden did anything wrong. After all, he just had his people enter the plane and hijacked them. I mean, we were the ones stupid enough to have the lapse security that allowed it, right?

      Furthermore, do you think the government should cease prosecuting people who distribute trojan horses? What about rapists who enter unlocked dwellings to have their way with innocent woman? Aren't we all just asking for it?

      "This is *not* a worm, nor is it a virus. That is, it doesn't try to spread to other computers over a network, nor through infecting files (remember, its goal is to *avoid* changing anything on the target system, to preserve the integrity of the evidence), so there's no risk of collateral damage."

      Nope. It's a trojan horse, and the collateral damage done is to the US constitution. They clearly do want to change something on the target system, or else how would the program exist on it. The very act of installing the software changes the target system, and who is to say it won't also act as an agent for evidence planting? All of your arguments assume that the government is a benevolent system always out for the good of the people. This is a very dangerous minset in which to be. It is a danger not just to yourself, but to US all!
    • If they can legally do this, what is to stop them from striking a deal with M$ to include something like this with the latest version of their Monoperating System? With XP and Passport, I suppose they could just force all users to "upgrade".

      Do you think M$ wouldn't jump at the chance to get these anti-trust issues taken care of?

      Sounds a little like a conspiracy theory, yes. But ask yourself if it could happen. You betcha it could.

    • "Finally, I don't see what the worry is about virus scanners not detecting it."

      Well, I paid good money for the program that will find ALL viruses, not just ones that they feel are bad. I still think search warrants are a better idea that the Framers wanted.

      Also. "Quisos ipsos custiodes" == "Who will guard the guards?"
      What's to stop an FBI agent from tapping his divorced wife's computer? Will this lead to a Watergate 2.0?

      Who will oversight the FBI?

      I don't care if he's a mobster, he gets a FAIR trial.
  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:07PM (#2633984) Homepage
    Although I recently posted [slashdot.org] about the fact that Comcast has been ready for the switch for some time now, they of all people should know better than to try to force their users onto NetZero.

    The worst part of the whole deal is that you STILL only have 10 free hours of usage, despite NetZero being their backup. You would think that Comcast would at least have struck a deal so you would get more than 10 hours of time. If their network goes down, I doubt it will be back up in 10 hours. They have had individual outages that lasted longer. On top of that, many @Home users don't have standard modems in their computer--why should they? They never needed them with their nifty cable service!

    I'm still hoping that Comcast will be up and running tomorrow (they have been trying to run the show on their own for some time), but who knows? At this point, I'll just hope for the best. If I'm posting tomorrow, all is well in Comcast Cable Land. :)
    • Netzero is Windows Only. Thats the part that really bugs me.
      • Netzero is Windows Only. Thats the part that really bugs me.

        It's much worse than you think.

        The free service offers ten hours per month, which should be sufficient to get you through any short-term outages. This service does not currently support MAC, Windows 2000 or XP.

        Not only do they not support other operating systems, they don't even support all the different varieties of Windows. Hmmph.

        "We're cross-platform! NT and '95!"

        (This from the FAQ [comcastonline.com].)
  • $120,000 ?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Axe ( 11122 )
    That's probably cheaper then they paid to the consultants who came up with this graffity idea. Plus all the free publicity of being in the news: now all the country saw this graffity in prime time. I am afraid this is clever enough that we see this marketing done again and again. Not that I like it..
    • Re:$120,000 ?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by captin nod ( 517564 )

      Just recently, m$ [microsoft.com] got fined A$300 per X-Box logo they sprayed on the streets of various Australian state capitals.

      Full story here [iemag.com].

      Its a 'cheap' marketing technique thats turning out to be qute expensive :) hehe :)
  • Rogers@Home, (Score:2, Informative)

    by kawaichan ( 527006 )
    @hell has done it again, they are trying to convert their emails from @home.com to @rogers.com. but for TONS of people, the new address just won't work. For example, we used to have "mail" as our pop3 and smtp address. now they change it to "pop" and "smtp" but it won't even freaking ping.

    Now there is a TV show on Rogers' channel everyday to help people to trasnfer their EMails. Almost everyone are compalining about the same error (won't connect to mail server) but the "technican" keeps insisting that it's their fault when it was clearly not the case.
    • For example, we used to have "mail" as our pop3 and smtp address. now they change it to "pop" and "smtp" but it won't even freaking ping.

      "Mail" is just the WINS alias for the actual server. They use it for simplicity's sake. After all, its easier for a customer to type in "mail" than mail.area.state.home.com, which is the nomenclature down here.
      Go to a command prompt, and do a ping of it, and it will resolve to the actual server. A lot of times, entering in the actual server address works when WINS doesn't.
      • Um, not WINS alias. Try DNS alias. Two different technologies.

        • No, in this case, it is resolving a NetBIOS name to an IP address. That's WINS.
          • POP and SMTP are RFC standards for email delivery. They use vanilla TCP/IP, and rely on DNS for name resolution. NetBIOS names are completely irrelevant to the process, WINS is not used.

            NetBIOS is a M$ hack that lets you use SMB file sharing over a TCP/IP network. It has nothing to do whatsoever with any standards-based email delivery system.

            • NetBIOS is a M$ hack that lets you use SMB file sharing over a TCP/IP network.

              <lie>I hate to be pedantic</lie>, but NetBIOS is SMB file sharing (and printing, and MSRPC). The M$ hack you are thinking of is NBT, or NetBIOS-over-TCP/IP. NBT includes NBNS, the NetBIOS name service, which Microsoft calls WINS. The other confusing bit is that Microsoft sometimes uses "WINS" to refer to "NBT name resolution by any mechanism", and sometimes to mean "NBT name resolution by consulting an NBNS server".

              And ... while ordinarily WINS has nothing to do with email delivery, in Microsoft land this is not always true - the TCP/IP stack will use NetBIOS to look up what should be DNS names - sometimes, at least - before falling back to DNS. I'm not sure whether to consider this a bug or a feature, because it would help in a case where you run an internal web server ("intranet" in LRMT, the Lexicon of Redundant and Misleading Terms) but are too clueless to run your own DNS.

              (Whether such people should be encouraged to manage a web server at all is an open question.)

    • Silly DNS stuff (Score:3, Informative)

      Apparently, Rogers' DNS is supposed to magically resolve "pop" properly. Didn't work here... fortunately, I was able to pull the relevant info from a dslreports.com thread.

      The proper names for the POP and SMTP servers are:

      ssmtp.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com (note: that's not a typo. Seriously.)

      To make things a bit less obfuscated, aliases exist:


      Those should work beautifully. I kind of wish Rogers had just listed those in the first place, instead of relying on m4d DNS m4gik. It screws up in certain cases, as you and I both discovered.
  • by Ryu2 ( 89645 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:10PM (#2633994) Homepage Journal
    Usually, the US government itself doesn't produce its tools, it uses commercial subcontractors to design/make them. For example, the Air Force itself doesn't build its own fighter jets, Boeing or some other company does.

    IIRC, FBI's Carnivore is just commerical off the shelf packet sniffer (forgot the company), modified at the request of the FBI to look at SMTP, etc traffic.

    So, does anyknow know which company or individual is the author of the Magic Latern program under such a government contract? Or did the FBI itself write it?

    • Despite much [google.com] reporting, the FBI has yet to actual confirm that Magic Lantern exists. Good luck finding out who the contractor is when they won't even 'fess up :(. Still it's possible to find a lot of information about the FBI's IT policies. There's an FBI congressional statement [fbi.gov] (in the context of Y2k) and a Presidential Directive [fas.org] that gives some starting points. Some quotes:

      Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) are encouraged to be
      set up by the private sector in cooperation with the Federal
      government and modeled on the Centers for Disease Control and

      A National Infrastructure Assurance Council drawn from private sector
      leaders and state/local officials to provide guidance to the policy
      formulation of a National Plan;

      The Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office will provide support to
      the National Coordinator's work with government agencies and the
      private sector in developing a national plan. The office will also
      help coordinate a national education and awareness program, and
      legislative and public affairs.
    • sure they do (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vscjoe ( 537452 )
      Both the military and the civilian parts of the US government design and implement lots of special-purpose gadgets and software, and they spend billions doing it. Often, the work is done by government employees, not contractors. That is entirely justified when there is no commercial vendor around. The decision is no different from whether any other big company outsources or does something in-house. If the FBI wants Magic Lantern, they can develop it in house; they don't need a vendor.
    • by number11 ( 129686 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:51PM (#2634178)
      According to Declan McCullagh's Politech mailing list [politechbot.com], Magic Lantern was produced by Codex Data Systems [codexdatasystems.com].
    • Probably McAfee, or Symantec, or both. Be a pretty cool way of solving both the delivery and virus scanner problems in one fell swoop.

    • I'm sure I'm not the only one to think the following:

      When I first heard of "Magic Lantern", I thought "wow... what a cushy development contract." Audit BO2K code. Add some stern boilerplate text and a FBI logo or two. Package it up and ship it out. Voila - Magic Lantern.

      Now - this might sound a bit dishonest. But whoever had the chance to do this would be providing an important service.

      It has been my experience with a couple of US gov't agencies that often (but not always, of course) senior IT officials have a strong suspicion of "freeware". And, of course, anything "open source" is "freeware" in their eyes. Nevertheless, if open source projects make it in to the IT environment under a contract or commercial product, these same managers do not bat an eyelash.

      So the valuable service I mentioned is, in effect, converting BO2K Open Source / "freeware" to "commercial" status.

      What a cushy contract.

  • If the FBI wanted to get really snazzy they would go to your ISP and start monkeying with your internet connection. It should be a snap to take over windows on one of the automatic updates, without the user ever being the wiser. Or even do the same with one of McAffee's automatic updates. Could even be possible to do similar things with a Linux box. And in the case where the user does not update his machine, well, there are plenty of holes to exploit then, anyway. So, anyway, I want my FBI to work smarter, not harder.
  • A *real* ISP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theantix ( 466036 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:11PM (#2634003) Journal
    Here is why my ISP [support.shaw.ca] is doing about the situation.

    Excite @Home is the corporation that supports @home.com e-mail. It is operating in bankruptcy and it is unknown how long it will continue to support the @home.com e-mail. Over the last year Shaw has been building its own Data Centre to support e-mail, provisioning web space, etc. and given, the circumstances with Excite @Home, we are accelerating the migration of our customers over to our Shaw infrastructure which includes transitioning email addresses to @shaw.ca. We are asking our customers to complete an Email Quickstep process and then begin using their new @shaw.ca email address to ensure that impact is minimized in the event that the Excite@Home corporation is unable to continue supporting their @home email service.
    Not only will there be no service downtime, but they took preventative measures to avoid this in advance of any problem. Don't you wish you live in Canada?
    • Re:A *real* ISP (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CptnKirk ( 109622 )
      AT&T is also taking similar measures. But it does bring up a quality of service issue. If the lights do go out at Excite@home and an ISP can't provide service to it's users for a week or so until they get their backup networks online (if they have them), should they expect their users to pay for that month. I wouldn't, but I expect that most will. There will probably be more /. stories about this aftermath.
    • by rho ( 6063 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:41PM (#2634143) Homepage Journal
      Don't you wish you live in Canada?

      No, all you Canucks eat is back bacon and beer.

      P.S. Please stop sending all those cold air masses across our border.

    • Actually, several of the @home resellers are doing this, including Comcast. In addition, both Cox and Comcast (and probably many more) have already stated that you will be automatically credited for any downtime.
  • As an excite@home customer I am not happy about the current situtation since a fast (or somewhat fast) internet connection is now a necessary part of life. However I am less happy with the lack of communication from excite to their customers. A few weeks ago I recieved one email stating that connections and features could be affected in the future and that they would be in steady contact with further updates. I haven't heard back since! Hopefully DSL is available in my area now.
    • I've never used my @Home email account in the 6 months that I've had the service through Cox.

      Now I've been trying for hours to get it to work, via Netscape, Outlook and Outlook Express. Express hangs on load (I've never bothered to run it before, no loss), Outlook hangs whan I try to access the account. Netscape seems to refuse to see the servers altogether. What gives?

      The @Home site provides instructions for setting up Outlook Express as the mail client, and for migrating old email from Netscape. Nothing else.. What gives again?

      @Home is a plain old POP3 system, right?

      What if I want to use Netscape? What am I missing here?
      • by jabber ( 13196 )
        @home went and changed the server names, and never updated the website..

        Mail server is no longer just 'mail',
        it's now 'mail...home.com'

        Would have been nice if they'd made this a bit more clear, somewhere..

        Same change applies to the newsgroup servers.. No longer 'news', but as above.
        • Mail server is no longer just 'mail', it's now 'mail...home.com'

          It was always mail. ... .home.com!

          When you put in "mail" or "www" or "news" it resolves to the correct address ONLY if your computer is set to supply the assumed domain of ...home.com (for example, *.wlgrv1.pa.home.com).

          Maybe at some point in the near past, but NOT near the beginning of their service, they pulled some DNS tricks to map "mail" to the full name or IP, but at the beginning you had to supply this information in your local TCP/IP configuration.

          (I know this because I set up my parent's computer years and years ago with comcast@home, and had to pull out their annoying assumed domain name from the TCP/IP control panel of their macs because with it typing in "google" into the address bar of IE attempted to contact "google.wlgrv1.pa.home.com" rather than the standard mac/IE behaviour of resolving to "www.google.com". Then I had to hunt down all the "mail" and "news" and "www" and such settings the installer had placed in various applications and expand it to the real name.)

          I think you perhaps have screwed up your computer settings (but as above, perhaps there were automagic DNS tricks on their DNS servers which have broken).

    • by /dev/trash ( 182850 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @10:50PM (#2634461) Homepage Journal
      I am not happy about the current situtation since a fast (or somewhat fast) internet connection is now a necessary part of life.

      Wow I wonder how my life is going on since I have a measly 56k.

  • Anyone who thinks "Magic Lantern", the FBI's Grandiose excuse for a keystroke logger, should have a virus template is not familiar with what a computer virus actually is. For the faint of wit, I'll break out the definition [webopedia.com]:

    A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses can also replicate themselves. All computer viruses are manmade. A simple virus that can make a copy of itself over and over again is relatively easy to produce. Even such a simple virus is dangerous because it will quickly use all available memory and bring the system to a halt. An even more dangerous type of virus is one capable of transmitting itself across networks and bypassing security systems.

    Some people distinguish between general viruses and worms. A worm is a special type of virus that can replicate itself and use memory, but cannot attach itself to other programs.

    First of all, Magic Lantern does not replicate. Second of all, it is not malicious. Magic Lantern is not designed to break the law but to enforce it. If McAfee made a "Law Enforcement Tool Scanner", then we could attack them for not doing their job. Since they make a virus scanner, and we're not talking about a virus, the whole conversation is silly.

    Why don't people bother looking up the definition of a word before posting a story about it??!?
    • Magic Lantern is a program that installs itself on your system without your knowledge or consent. A virus is a program that installs itself on your system without your knowledge or consent, then uses your system to spread itself.

      If Magic Lantern can get in, then viruses can enter through the same security hole.
  • The exodus... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sterno ( 16320 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:15PM (#2634026) Homepage
    This makes me wonder a couple things:

    1) Will there be a mass exodus of cable modem users to DSL? Could this be the shot in the arm Covad needs?

    2) Will the NetZero service be able to handle the influx of customers from Comcast? I'm sure all the NetZero customers will be real happy when they get endless busy signals.

    3) Will ComCast pay for a user's modem so that they can use this "backup" if they don't already have a modem?

    I'm guessing they through this situation at the PR department and that it was the best they could come up with.
    • Actually, given that each new customer costs Covad some ungodly amount of cash, such that they need a year or more to start seeing a return, a whole bunch of new customers could kill them dead.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Checking the NetZero site to see if I can get one of the "temporary" accounts, I see that there is no Mac version, which means if Comcast goes dark, none of us subscribers who use Macs (all 5 of us) will be able to take advantage of the "temporary" solution.

    I'm so damn happy I could spit.
  • by Ldir ( 411548 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:22PM (#2634057)
    Network Associates/McAfee.com Corporation has not contacted the FBI, nor has the FBI contacted NAI/McAfee.com Corp., regarding Magic Lantern.

    Note that this doesn't deny that another US agency has contacted Network Associates, nor does it deny that the FBI has contacted them about software named something other than "Magic Lantern" (a bug by any other name would still capture your keystrokes, or something like that). NAI may be telling the truth, strictly speaking. One can only speculate whether they're telling the whole truth.


    I didn't used to be so cynical, but then I learned to read, and to watch the news. The US government has earned our distrust through years of deception and denial. The sad part is that the good, honest, hard-working law enforcement people (which is most of them) are tainted by the abuses of the few.

  • [B]ut the sidewalk idea strikes me as IBM playing Brewster's Millions with the billion dollars they pledged to spend on Linux.

    Ummm... shopping list:
    1. Stencils, easy enough to diecut on a press
    2. Chalk paint
    3. Motivated guerilla marketers to spray chalk paint over stencils.

    All of that---including any fines levied---is very, very cheap relative to a more traditional campaign. Extremely cost effective strategy, especially when you take into account the freepress afforded by media coverage of the pissed city governments.
  • by RobertGraham ( 28990 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:42PM (#2634145) Homepage
    It would be pointless for the FBI to contact anti-virus vendors: anti-virus programs cannot detect Magic Lantern, they can only detect widespread viruses.

    On the other hand, the FBI would be interested in contacting the PGP division. PGP 6.0.2 (and above) defeats keyloggers. E.g. if you were infected with the BadTrans.B virus/worm and you used PGP to encrypt your files, the h4x0r would not discover your passwords. (And yes, I've tried it.). [BTW, this is why 6.0.2 didn't work well on Win2k, PGP installs a keybaord sniffing driver to accomplish this trick, and it wasn't compatible with Win2k power management].

    Host-based IDS (e.g. BlackICE) will likely detect Magic Lantern. The next version of BlackICE will detect the keyloggers like that in BadTrans or trojans like SubSeven. Unless Magic Lantern is a complete departure from today's technology, such an IDS will likely pick it up. I've already got a keylogger detection system up and running on my machine (now I need to test the darn thing on all versions of Windows).

    An interesting sidenote, BadTrans is exactly what Magic Lantern wants to be. It could be a worm created by the FBI in order to hopefully catch some info about the 9/11 terrorists. Maybe it's an evil corporation out to find info on competitors.

  • by VP ( 32928 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @08:45PM (#2634153)
    This story on Wired [wired.com] sheds some light on what is going on with the @Home service. Seems like the debt holders are the ones who want the service shut down, while @Home has drawn plans (according to their chapter 11 filing) showing that they can pay all their debts and be profitable by 2010. It also seems that all cable companies which are currently providing the @Home service are on the debt holders side, since none of them are explaining this part. So make sure your cable companies hear from the @Home users who stand to lose their service - almost all of the cable companies are regulated local monopolies, which have to answer to a city/municipality board.
    • @Home has drawn plans (according to their chapter 11 filing) showing that they can pay all their debts and be profitable by 2010.
      Yes, just like Amazon.com and all those other dot-coms, some 4 or 5 years ago, drawing plans showing that they could be profitable by now. The vast majority of those sites are no longer in business, and some of the most prominent among them are no better off now than they were then.

      Let's face it, markets change. And in the Internet, still a very new and rapidly evolving medium, the market is bound to change. Any estimate by @Home or any other internet company making any promises about their marketability ten years from now should not be trusted. That's simply absurd.

      There were, at one point, hundreds of companies predicting that ads alone would support them. What happened? As we all know, a few years ago, the bottom dropped out on the online ad market. Most of those companies are gone now - Inside.com is one of the many prominent sites among them. Others have been forced to overhaul their business models - Salon and others, including Slashdot, are moving to subscriber services (and last I saw, Salon still ain't close to profit).

      And it's not just ads. The first site that comes to mind is Amazon.com -- everyone predicted that they'd hit a gold mine. People like buying books online, and by ditching brick-and-mortar stores and keeping all inventory in warehouses, they can streamline everything and save a bundle. Well, it's sure not working -- they're far from profitability as well.

      I really hope people aren't as gullible as these companies seem to believe. Making predictions about Internet companies 10 years from now is rampant speculation at best. In fact, it's probably just total bullshit.

      @Home can make whatever claims they want, but face the truth -- this is a desperate final attempt to keep in business. It's a blatant lie, and anyone who believes it is in for a surprise.

      • by SMN ( 33356 )
        Hate to reply to my own post, but I saw one more thing that I just had to add.

        From the Wired Article [wired.com]:

        Carlson resolved the fate of another ExciteAtHome asset Wednesday by approving InfoSpace Inc.'s $10 million purchase of the Web portal Excite.com. ExciteAtHome paid $7.8 billion for the Web portal two years ago.
        There you have it. $7,800,000,000 ---> $10,000,000. Excite.com is now worth 0.00128 PERCENT of what it was worth two years ago!

        As I said, these companies simply can't predict what the market will do. Do you trust the prediction of profitabilty in 10 years from a company that couldn't forsee one of its primary assets devalue 780 times in 2 years?

        Even worse, let's say they have managed to draw up a plan to be profitable. Why didn't they have this plan a year ago, so they wouldn't be in the dilemma they face today? Oops, they can make those numbers move when they're forced to!

        Believe me, I really don't want to see @Home go. My Internet connection this weekend will be Comcast@Home, and they don't even have a contingency plan (oooh, they say to use NetZero for 10 free hours! What a joke!). But this is absurd, and they simply cannot be allowed to continue on this joke of a profitablity plan of theirs.

      • Based on the Wired story, it is a quite simple calculation: $15 per @home subscriber per month. 4.6 mil. subscribers: 828 million per year. Their maintenance cost for the existing network should be known, since they are a publicly traded company. The only assumption is that their subscribers will increase to 50 mil. by 2010. With a lower per subscriber fee ($12.5 per month) this would come to 7.5 billion/year. I think this is sufuccient data to make an educated guess whether and when @Home can pay off their 1 billion debt and be profitable. As noted, they already got rid of Excite, so the bleeding has stopped there.

        I still think the creditors are the "villains" here. I also do not trust the cable companies, and would rather have them use a third party to provide broadband (just recall the DSL hell that Verizon and PacBell customers seem to experience).
        • The only assumption is that their subscribers will increase to 50 mil. by 2010.
          That's a HUGE assumption, and I have no faith in it whatsoever. The problem is that for every one of those new users, the speed of other users' connections will slow down. At the same time, other options - DSL et al. - are going to become much more widely available, and won't suffer from this congestion.

          I wouldn't even be count on cable modems being around much at all 10 years from now. Think about what the Internet was 10 years ago - or, rather, don't, since that name didn't come around until 1993 (on a certain piece of legislation sponsored by a certain Al Gore, hence his responsiblity in creating the Internet as we know it). Anyone prediction the Internet and broadband then would be considered a raving lunatic. Would you be surprised if we're all using some new tech for net access in 2010?

          And there's another key question you're not asking: if these calculations are so simple, why didn't @Home make them years ago and realize it couldn't borrow so much go into so heavy debt so soon? Because years ago, they were predicting many, many users -- many more than we have now. They've predicted wrong in the past, and they can certainly do it again.

  • here's the link for the peace, love and linux thing from ibm:
    http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/linux/passp or t.swf
  • by Sadfsdaf ( 106536 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @09:10PM (#2634238)
    Why do the creditors want @home out of business?

    Considering that one of the major shareholders is AT&T (broadband or parent company it doesn't matter), they MUST keep the service running anyway.

    AT&T WILL obtain the hardware and maybe the people who keep the cable internet system running.AT&T WANTS @HOME TO FILE FOR CHAPTER 7 (liquidation, bubye). Why? If they kept @home, they would still have less control over the system and if they obtained @home's hardware when they make the new system it'd be cheaper (not to mention the same people to run the familiar system).

    Then why don't they BUY OUT @home? Simple! @home has something like SIX BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT. If AT&T bought them out, they would have to deal with that debt and do you really think the shareholders would be happy about a sudden 6 billion in debt? HELL NO! AT&T will let @home liquidate and pick up everything (people and hardware) dirt cheap (because no one else will set up a cable system in that area, they CAN'T AT&T controls it, thus they're the only buyer).

    AT&T is playing a smart move here, and they probably have @HOME executives in on this too and have other cable providers notified (that's why they're all making "backup" plans, because if they really weren't going out of business, then why would @home tell them, that would make the CO's trust @home less!)

    Sigh... just a stupid ploy for AT&T to get full administration to the cable internet system dirt cheap w/o paying any debts.

    Smart move AT&T.

    If they decide to do anything different, AT&T execs are stupid for not doing this. ;-]
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @09:35PM (#2634308) Homepage
    Click HERE [cox.com]

    In case that gets swamped, here's a reprint:

    Cox Communications @Home Service Update:

    Following you will find some information to address questions you might have about the email communication that you recently received from us.

    Q1. What should I do today?
    A1. Cox recommends that you use the following precautionary backup procedures.

    Check your @Home email daily. Opened messages will be saved automatically to your hard drive.

    Download software from a free dial-up Internet service provider. We recommend that you do not install the software unless service is interrupted.

    Back up your personal web page.

    Watch for more information from Cox on the transition of your service to Cox High Speed Internetsm. At such time that you can make the transition to our new service, Cox will be providing you with all of the information you need so that your transition is as smooth as possible.

    In the unlikely event that there is a disruption in service, keep your cable modem connected to your PC until service is restored.

    Q2. I need my e-mail; what am I going to do?
    A2. Cox is doing everything that we can to ensure that you are never without your email. If our plans are successful, your service will not be interrupted and you will have a comfortable transition period in which you can convert your service to a new Cox-managed network.

    Q3. What about my modem?
    A3. In the unlikely event that there is a service interruption, you should leave your modem connected to your PC until service is restored.

    Q4. What is this dial-up, temporary service?
    A4. In the unlikely event that your service is temporarily interrupted, we recommend that you set up Internet access via one of the free dial-up Internet services that are available. We have arranged for temporary, dial-up access to the Internet via NetZero. You may download this software by clicking here. This dial-up access is meant to be a temporary alternative to provide email and connectivity. The free service offers ten hours per month, which should be sufficient to get you through any short-term outages. This service does not currently support MAC, Windows 2000 or XP. If you are a Roanoke or Hampton Roads resident and a NetZero local access number is not available, please visit www.juno.com as a potential alternative.
    We do not recommend that you install the software at this time, just download the software and save it so that it may be installed should you have an interruption in service. This is a precautionary measure that would give you access to the Internet via a phone line plugged into your computer.

    Q5. What will I get with this service and is it Cox supported?
    A5. Unfortunately, Cox cannot speak to the features and benefits of the free dial-up Internet services that are available, nor can we guarantee or support it. We recommend that you explore this temporary backup plan simply as a precautionary measure. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that your service is uninterrupted, but we thought that you might be interested in a temporary, although not ideal, solution for Internet access in the unlikely event that your service is shut down.

    Q6. Will you credit my bill? When will I see a credit?
    A6. Cox will credit you for any time that you are without service. This includes reimbursement for equipment leasing fees if you are leasing your cable modem from Cox. Should your service be interrupted, you would see an appropriate credit on the next statement that you next receive from Cox.

    Q7. How do I get updates quickly?
    A7. You have two ways of getting the latest accurate information quickly.

    We've established a special number (1-877-832-4751). When you call this number, you will hear a recording that provides the latest information.
    You can also get updated information by visiting www.cox.com/info.
    These are the most accurate and up-to-date sources for information on your Cox Internet service.
    Q8. How will you communicate with me if my service is down?
    A8. Cox will contact you via mail or courier to provide important status updates and service information concerning the new Cox-managed high speed Internet service that will replace your @Home service. You can also call 1-877-832-4751 to hear a recorded message with the latest, accurate and up-to-date information.

    Q9. What will happen to my personal Web page?
    A9. As a safety precaution, you should always backup your personal Web page to a CD or hard drive. To Transfer Files from WebSpace to your hard drive using the File Manager:

    Download the files from WebSpace to your computer by logging in to the WebSpace login page at http://home-members.excite.com/m_webspace/ and clicking File Manager, located at the top-right corner of the screen.
    Select Transfer from the File Manager navigation bar. In the window that appears, select the files you want to transfer from your WebSpace account to your computer, and the location to which you want them transferred, then click Transfer.
    A window appears telling you when your file has been downloaded.
    Click OK to return to the File Manager page.
    Once you are finished with File Manager, log out by clicking Logout on the navigation bar. If you do not log out, and you share a computer with other people in your household, they may have access to your files.

  • Think (Score:2, Funny)

    by DaoudaW ( 533025 )
    "Peace, Love and Linux", hmmm...

    And I assumed that their motto was still "THINK". Maybe they overlooked that this time!
  • by cpritchett ( 210923 ) <cpritchett42@gm a i l .com> on Thursday November 29, 2001 @09:56PM (#2634359)
    I sent an email to mediacom@home asking them what was going to happen if @home went down tomorrow, and got this:
    " Dear Valued Customer, We know that having reliable high-speed cable Internet service is important to you, and Mediacom always strives to provide you with the quality high-speed cable Internet service and customer care that you expect. As you may have heard, our service provider, Excite@Home, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The creditors of Excite@Home have secured a hearing in bankruptcy court this Friday, November 30, which could result in service interruptions or shutdown of the Excite@Home service. Mediacom and other cable operators, including AT&T Broadband, Comcast and Cox Communications, are fighting to prevent this from happening and remain hopeful that no service interruptions or shutdown will occur. To ensure minimal disruption to your service, we request that you check your email account(s) on a daily basis. Doing this will automatically save your email to your hard drive as well as ensure timely receipt of important future communications from Mediacom. Also, backup your personal web page(s) by copying them to a diskette, CD or to your computer hard drive. Mediacom is working hard to avoid any disruption of your high-speed cable Internet service and to seek alternate service providers in the event that Excite@Home discontinues service. Please check your email, U.S. Mail and our company website (www.mediacomcc.com) for important information about any potential changes to your service. Thank you for your patience as we strive to provide you with the best high-speed cable Internet service possible.

    John G. Pascarelli
    Senior Vice President
    Marketing and Consumer Services "

    Valued Customer? yea, right.. I'm sure they didn't plan on telling anybody unless they asked about it.
    • Please check your email, U.S. Mail and our company website (www.mediacomcc.com) for important information about any potential changes to your service.

      Heh. When we shut off our service, please use your nonfunctioning cable modem to check our nonfunctioning web page for updates.


  • by nytes ( 231372 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @09:57PM (#2634361) Homepage
    If you haven't submitted your program(s) to the International Obfuscated C Code Contest, now is the time : the deadline is December 1st, 2001, there is only two days left

    You mean there's only 'Z' ^ 'J' ^ 18 days left?
  • From the article on IBM spraypainting Peace, Love and Linux:
    IBM has already said it will spend $1 billion to help support the growth of Linux, but the company will have to add at least $120,000 to that total as part of its penance for the advertising campaign, Newsome said. The vendor will pay $10,000 in clean-up costs, close to $10,000 in city attorney's fees and then $100,000 to San Francisco's Clean Streets program for removing graffiti and trash.

    I hope the $120,000 aren't being subtracted from the $1B that's supposed to help the growth of Linux. IBM could be using that money to finance the development of technical superiority in this wonderful system. In conjunction with all the other companies and individuals supporting Linux, this would result in a system like no other, with unprecedented power, flexibility and quality.

    Besides, $120,000 could have gone into a very helpful advertising campaign. Instead, IBM is being made to look very unprofessional, despite everything else they do.

    Oh well.

  • by SMN ( 33356 ) on Thursday November 29, 2001 @11:24PM (#2634529)
    From the AiboPet FAQ [aibohack.com]:
    Q: How can I be part of the Legit-i-Mutt©TM program?
    A: Well you can't. Legit-i-Mutt©TM is just a bogus name I came up with to explain the situation. Heck, it isn't trademarked, copyrighted, patented or with any legally clout what-so-ever. The real legally binding part is the Sony EULA, and standard copyright law. The EULA stays with the software in its original form or in experimental enhanced form found on this site.
    Does anyone else think it's not very smart for a site that just received a threatening letter from hihhly paid lawyers for a multi-billion dollar corporation to be sticking little copyright and trademark indicators everywhere as a joke?
  • One might expect McAfee to be working under a plausible deniability agreement. But I for one grant Ted Bridis undeniable plausibility!
  • Spraypainting sidewalks? Spraypainting

    This is simple vandalism. What's the question?
    • Re:IBM deserves it (Score:3, Informative)

      by NeMon'ess ( 160583 )
      I don't know or care what the article says, because it wasn't spraypaint, it was spray-chalk! The idea was that the spray chalk would just wear off after a couple of weeks from foot traffic then rains would finish it off. The spray-chalk turned out to be much tougher than expected, and the municipalites got pissed off long before it was expected to wear away anyway.

  • x136 asked, "IBM has been fined again for spraypainting their blue "Peace, Love & Linux" logo, this time on the streets of San Francisco. The bill? $120,000... Who thought this was a good idea in the first place?"

    Rumours abound that it was a Microsoft idea, in the first place. While we can't be sure if Microsoft thought up the idea before anyone else - I believe EasyJet [easyjet.com] tried a similar thing in Belfast, Northern Ireland with chalk drawings on the pavement, and were sued accordingly - it's been rumoured that Microsoft was forced to get their checkbook out after hiring spraypaint artists to advertise the X-Box in a number of cities.

    So, if it makes you feel any better... it's not just the Penguins [linuxworld.com] who are causing all that pollution. :)

  • This part from their FAQ just kills me:
    The free service offers ten hours per month, which should be sufficient to get you through any short-term outages.

    Are they insane?! 10 hours per month? "Sure, after having always-on internet, after realizing that it's easier and faster to just visit dictionary.com rather than break out the deadtree version, after discovering the wonderful mix of interactivity but on-your-own-schedule that trading emails with a friend throughout the day is...sure, 20 minutes a day out to be plenty, right?"

    Incredible. 100% false statements like these framed as happy truths in a company's public communication just make me want to scream. They should say "We know this sucks for you; understand that it sucks for us, too. We're really trying hard to minimize the effects on you, and have come up with a plan where you at least can have a LITTLE bit of access to the internet for free."


  • DeCSS suggestion (Score:2, Informative)

    by merigold77 ( 156634 )
    In the brief this portion was clarified:

    1. Posting

    The initial issue is whether the posting prohibition is content-neutral, since, as we have explained, this classification determines the applicable
    constitutional standard. The Appellants contend that the anti-trafficking provisions of the DMCA and their application by means of the posting
    prohibition of the injunction are content-based. They argue that the provisions "specifically target . . . scientific expression based on the particular topic
    addressed by that expression--namely, techniques for circumventing CSS." Supplemental Brief for Appellants at 1. We disagree. The Appellants'
    argument fails to recognize that the target of the posting provisions of the injunction- -DeCSS--has both a nonspeech and a speech component, and
    that the DMCA, as applied to the Appellants, and the posting prohibition of the injunction target only the nonspeech component. Neither the DMCA
    nor the posting prohibition is concerned with whatever capacity DeCSS might have for conveying information to a human being, and that capacity, as
    previously explained, is what arguably creates a speech component of the decryption code. The DMCA and the posting prohibition are applied to
    DeCSS solely because of its capacity to instruct a computer to decrypt CSS. That functional capability is not speech within the meaning of the First
    Amendment. The Government seeks to "justif[y]," Hill, 530 U.S. at 720, both the application of the DMCA and the posting prohibition to the
    Appellants solely on the basis of the functional capability of DeCSS to instruct a computer to decrypt CSS, i.e., "without reference to the content of
    the regulated speech," id. This type of regulation is therefore content- neutral, just as would be a restriction on trafficking in skeleton keys identified
    because of their capacity to unlock jail cells, even though some of the keys happened to bear a slogan or other legend that qualified as a speech

    Content neutral as to the speech component of the code! What this means is that it would be legal to post a "version" of DeCSS that would be non-functional. For example, if a bug were purposely inserted into the code and it would no longer run. If the code is not functional, it is not banned - the speech component of it is not what is being prohibited.

    Ok, I suggest this to 2600 or anyone else who wants to post DeCSS or other decryption programs - add typo/bug's to it. Don't actually state where the bugs are, leave it as an excercise for the reader. Since the code is speech, I imagine most readers who can comprehend the speech can also mentally fix the typos - but computers cannot (typically) and, therefore, you've removed the objectionable portion of the code...

"Well hello there Charlie Brown, you blockhead." -- Lucy Van Pelt