Cornwallis writes: Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't watching the watchers who are watching you. Or something like that. I can't wait to see how far they extend this but police in Maryland are now putting up cameras to watch the cameras they've put up to watch us. Sure, they say it is to combat vandalism against the cameras but I'm sure somebody's brother owns a camera company...
Cornwallis writes: I just received this email — one I have been waiting for since I was looking forward to APC's answer to the Pi. "Hello from the APC team We are delighted to announce that you can now pre-order APC through our website at: http://apc.io/orders/pre-order. APC can be shipped worldwide at a price of $49..."
So I go to order and find the shipping is as expensive as the PC. Doesn't sound like a good ove to me.
Cornwallis writes: A German security expert has raised the ire of the cell phone industry after he and a group of researchers posted online a how-to guide for cracking the encryption that keeps the calls of billions of cell phone users secret.
Karsten Nohl, 28, told The Associated Press this week that he, working with others online and around the world, created a codebook containing how to get past the GSM standard encryption used to keep conversations on more than 3 billion mobile phones safe from prying ears.
Great! Now if any of my calls actually make it to completion I really will have to worry about who *else* may be listening.
Cornwallis writes: I've accumulated some older computers — WindowsME/98 era along with a few lower-end WinXP boxes — that work perfectly well but the OS is obviously past prime. We have a few organizations in the area that help those who have either lost their jobs or fallen on hard times. Obviously, more people are using the services of these agencies. I've been thinking of offering these computers to the organizations along with providing some ongoing training to anyone who wants it in order to give back a bit to the community but I'm worried that the PCs won't be up to snuff if I keep Windows as the OS. So, I plan on wiping them and setting them up with Ubuntu and other Open Source software — which will work just fine on these boxes. My question is do you see the use of FOSS a hindrance on these machines? In other words, in a society that (mostly) uses MS products in business will it be helpful or harmful to teach PC skills (to people who have none) with FOSS? Will it hinder them if (hopefully!) they can transfer those skills to a job somewhere down the line? Thanks!
Cornwallis writes: An outbreak of what may be the Conficker computer worm required that the Vermont Agency of Human Services computer systems be shut down Friday.
There does not appear to have been information lost or inappropriately accessed, state officials said Friday. They hope to have the computer servers — which are necessary for the work of state employees from a variety of departments inside the agency — running again by Monday if not earlier, they said.
The problem does not seem to have spread to other computer systems in state government, and computer technicians in the agency will work into the weekend to fix the problem, Tom Murray, head of the state's Department of Information and Innovation said.
Maybe they shouldn't have migrated from Groupwise to Exchange a few years ago!
Cornwallis writes: I've noticed on Craigslist when you submit an ad you are prompted to type two "Captcha-type" verification words.
But you don't need to type the shorter of the two words nor do you have to type any of the numbers if one is presented as one of the verification words.
Cornwallis writes: OK. The accessibility of the Internet is one of its attractions however, what do you do when you DON'T want your board to be Slashdotted? Back in the day it was great to have a local BBS where friends and neighbors could dial-in using their 9600 baud modems to pick up mail or share games or stories.
Now, my web-based board get slammed by people from all over the world who have no reason to access it, can't possibly take advantage of the local-specific services offered by the board, and generally take my time because I have to block their accounts or explain to them why they can't have access to the board — even though the board explains quite clearly that the board is for local-use only and couldn't possibly interest them. Other than putting thousands of entries in my hosts file to block IP ranges I'm stumped.
My question: How can I effectively "localize" my board by restricting access to locals-only or isn't that realistic?
Cornwallis writes: In trying to save a local government agency I work for money I am trying to write a policy statement to support the idea of adopting open data standards and/or Open Source software in order to contain IT expenses (by reducing licensing costs). I am thinking something along the lines of supporting open standards by *not* locking in to long term software contracts so that departments could be freed to adopt an alternative OS and/or for desktop suite if this would work *for* the department. The idea is to unlock the stranglehold on the budget that proprietary software may have on the dept IT budget. Have any of you written policy statements along these lines and be willing to share? I'm not saying this would be for everybody nor replace everything... just be an option to help my beleaguered agency in rough times. Thanks.
Cornwallis writes: Cox Communications, the third-largest U.S. cable company, stepped on to the battleground of the "Net Neutrality" issue Tuesday, saying it will be trying out a new way to keep its subscribers' Internet traffic from jamming up.
Starting on Feb. 9 in parts of Kansas and Arkansas, Cox will give priority to Internet traffic it judges to be time-sensitive, like Web pages, streaming video and online games. File downloads, software updates and other non-time sensitive data may be slowed if there is congestion on the local network, Cox said.
Well, I guess we should make sure our medical records are saved in some video format so they can be retrieved over the Internet in a timely manner.
Cornwallis writes: "A Canadian college student majoring in chemistry built himself a home lab — and discovered that trying to do science in your own home quickly leads to accusations of drug-making and terrorism.
Lewis Casey, an 18-year-old in Saskatchewan, had built a small chemistry lab in his family's garage near the university where he studies. Then two weeks ago, police arrived at his home with a search warrant and based on a quick survey of his lab determined that it was a meth lab. They pulled Casey out of the shower to interrogate him, and then arrested him.
Since I have no wish to be arrested by our local SS I am spending the day removing all dangerous chemicals from under my sink!"
Cornwallis writes: "In this story from the Register we learn that Google has been stacking the deck!
"Google this week admitted that its staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results. It's a historic statement — and nobody has yet grasped its significance.
Not so very long ago, Google disclaimed responsibility for its search results by explaining that these were chosen by a computer algorithm. The disclaimer lives on at Google News, where we are assured that:
The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.
A few years ago, Google's apparently unimpeachable objectivity got some people very excited, and technology utopians began to herald Google as the conduit for a new form of democracy. Google was only too pleased to encourage this view. It explained that its algorithm "relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. "
So much for objectivity! And I guess there is no tie-in to Eric Schmidt being one of Obama's advisors. That would be too cynical."
Cornwallis writes: In a First Amendment case with implications for everything from neighborhood e-mail lists to national newspapers, an Maryland businessman argued to the state's highest court yesterday that the host of an online forum should be forced to reveal the identities of people who posted allegedly defamatory comments.
The businessman, Zebulon J. Brodie, contends that he was defamed by comments about his shop, a Dunkin' Donuts in Centreville, posted on NewsZap.com. The shop was described as one "of the most dirty and unsanitary-looking food-service places I have seen."
Talk about a Negative Nellie! At least the article didn't say the shop was THE "most dirty and unsanitary-looking food-service places I have seen."
Cornwallis writes: "Newsweek is reporting that the computer systems of the campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain were compromised in a "sophisticated cyberattack" by an unknown "foreign entity."
At Obama headquarters, what was originally believed to be a virus planted in a phishing attack turned out to something more ominous. After an investigation, the FBI and Secret Service issued a dire warning:
You have a problem way bigger than what you understand," an agent told Obama's team. "You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system."
Newsweek reported that the FBI said the McCain campaign's computer system had been similarly compromised."
Cornwallis writes: I've had a Yahoo email address for years... and have even been paying for it for a while now.
So howz come I feel like I should move to another provider? The Microsoft vs. Yahoo! dustup isn't very comforting and, let's face it, if MS *does* take over Yahoo I will find myself in the midst of the Beast I've avoided for years (I'm die-hard Linux and anti-Hotmail among other things).
My question of the masses: What (preferably free or at least inexpensive) email provider would you recommend as a long-term host for my account if Yahoo falls prey? Thank you!