Archive for July, 2010

We know it’s crap, but we’ll use IE6 anyway says UK Government

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Following my last post – and email to Her Majesty’s Government regarding the failure of its site responding to the anti Internet Explorer 6 petition, the good news is the site actually works now. Hurrah!

The bad news is that Her Majesty’s Government intends to carry on business as usual and continue using the highly flawed IE 6 anyway, despite all the well known and highly publicised security risks. Quoting from  http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ie6upgrade/

[…] It is therefore more cost effective in many cases to continue to use IE6 and rely on other measures, such as firewalls and malware scanning software, to further protect public sector internet users.

So it seems the great unwashed can look forward to even more data losses and security breeches, compliments of Her Majesty’s Government.

Honk! Honk!

Anti-IE6 petition response failure

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Seems the hapless UK government can add one more IT failure to its long, long list. This morning we received notification of the results of the on-line petition we signed entitled: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to encourage government departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6“.

This notification read:-

You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to encourage government
departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6.

Her Majesty’s Government has responded to that petition and you can view it
here:

http://www.hmg.gov.uk/epetition-responses/petition-view.aspx?epref=ie6upgrade

Her Majesty’s Government

Petition information – http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ie6upgrade/

Great, we thought – eager to see the results. Unfortunately, the link Her Majesty’s Government gave us:-

http://www.hmg.gov.uk/epetition-responses/petition-view.aspx?epref=ie6upgrade

returned:-

“Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)”

Government response to IE6 Petition

Brilliant! A Microsoft-powered Government site, set up to respond to concerns about another  failed Microsoft product frequently used by Her Majesty’s Government, didn’t work. So we emailed Her Majesty’s Government, suggesting that whilst some people may be amused by the irony, we really think that Her Majesty’s Government needs to get this fixed, pronto!

So far we have had no reply from Her Majesty’s morons minions and Her Majesty’s Microsoft-powered petition response site still does not work!

Honk! Honk!

Jailbreaking iPhone is legal – common sense has prevailed!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Seems that Apple Computer Inc’s ridiculous claims that Jailbreaking an iPhone breaks the law have been firmly rejected by the US Copyright Office and the Library of Congress. Apple attempted to hoodwink the US authorities by alleging that jailbreaking infringed its copyright because the process relies on pirated copies of the bootloader and operating system.

However, the decision announced 2010-07-26 by US Librarian of Congress James Billington, specifically adds jailbreaking to the list of practices that do not violate the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses,” Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, wrote in the ruling, approved by Mr Billington.

Ms Peters also rejected Apple’s 2009 claim that hacking the iPhone violated copyright law because the practice relied on pirated copies of the smartphone’s bootloader and operating system. Full story:-

http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=107913C8-1A64-67EA-E4D2905186EAFF34

http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/Librarian-of-Congress-1201-Statement.html

Sadly, Apple has made a complete ass of itself with this debacle. Attempting to force users to use only the  software that Apple approves of makes as much sense as Ford telling you that you can only run your Ford Focus on roads that Ford approves of! Apple’s public image as a “fab & groovy” company that makes elegant, sophisticated products for free-thinking people is now severely and irreparably tarnished. But the news for Apple Computer Inc. is about to get much, much worse. Seems US chain Kmart will be retailing the new Gentiouch (an open source, Android-powered tablet computer) in the United States for under $150 (US) within the next few weeks:-

Generic iPad rival for less than $150

Generic iPad rival for less than $150

More information:-

http://www.augenus.com/indexhome.html/GENTOUCH.html

Source:-

http://www.slashgear.com/augen-gentouch-78-149-android-tablet-headed-to-kmart-2795429/

As mentioned in a previous post, it seems the Gentouch is not the only generic touchpad on its way to a store near you! In addition to those under development in China, seems other developing nations are entering the fray. According to BBC News, an Indian company, with the help of the Indian Government plans to make & market a similar device for twenty five quid (about 35 bucks)!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10740817

I guess the good folks @ Apple Computer Inc. feel they have to “make hay while the sun shines“.  Hence all the misinformation and restrictive practices in its unseemly scramble to fleece the punter for as much cash as possible. And poor old Steve Jobs is not a well man and no doubt feels his days are numbered anyway, poor fellow. So you cannot blame Apple for its “both front-feet in the trough” business strategy I suppose? But I fear Apple’s current prosperity will be short lived.

In any event, this is probably not a good time to buy shares in Apple Computer Inc. methinks! lol 🙂

Rotten US Corporations: Dell pays $100 million to settle fraud case

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Seems that despite Enron, Worldcom et al, the US financial administration has learnt absolutely nothing from its myriad of previous failings. Dell’s paltry (US)$100 million penalty for its chronic cooking-of-the books bears testament to fact that the US authorities are still unwilling or incapable of dealing effectively with America’s thoroughly bent and corrupt corporations.

The pathetic personal penalties paid by the perpetrators of these crimes are even more astonishing. For example, Dell’s CEO and arch-crook Michael Dell should be doing time, not fined a mere four-million bucks (petty cash to him) and allowed to carry on business as usual…

http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2010/2010-131.htm

But let’s stand back from this latest US corporate fraud for a moment. Acer founder’s recent observation that many American IT corporations will become irrelevant within 20 years, seems very poignant.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gadgetreviews/acer-founder-thinks-american-it-brands-will-be-dead-in-20-years/11340

If devices such as this hit the market…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10740817

…then Dell, Microsoft, IBM and even Apple Computer Inc will be in very deep trouble.

Twenty-five quid tablet computer from India (from BBC News)

Twenty-five quid tablet computer from India (from BBC News)

Even if this particular device never hits the market, you can be absolutely certain that others will. We are rapidly approaching a time when really good unbranded computer hardware, running free, open source operating systems such as Linux will be available as complete, working devices for less than the cost of a proprietary American operating system.

We are also entering the second dip of the worst recession in 80 years. Several key western economies, including the USA are hopelessly in-the-red and are now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy:-

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2187rank.html

So who  is going to pay $100 for Mac OSX or Windows operating systems, (other than the very rich and handful of brand-loyal fanbois,) when you can buy a complete, working computer, c/w operating system and all the software you need, for a fraction of that? Who will stump-up all that hard-earned cash for an Apple iPad when you can buy a device that’s just as good, for less than one tenth of the price? And the days of average folks paying $500+ for a jazzed-up mobile telephone are certainly drawing to a close!

Trouble is that the fat-cats running the US IT corporations have their heads so far up their own proverbial bottoms that they cannot see the writing on the wall. Indeed, this lack of vision beyond the current fiscal year’s profits is a disease that has infected much of corporate America.

On the other hand, perhaps America’s rich-and-powerful know exactly what’s happening and that’s why they are scrambling to ram their snouts in the trough before the gravy train pulls out of the station?

Honk! Honk! Mind the gap! Stand clear of the doors please!

Stuxnet, another slash in Microsoft’s death of a thousand cuts?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Micro$haft operating systems hit by yet another “zero-day” malware strike is hardly news. But this latest attack in the guise of “Stuxnet” is different. Seems from my albeit limited reading on the subject that the Stuxnet concept strikes right at the very heart of the “Windows way of doing things“.

scutigera coleoptrata animation

For example:-

  1. Windows 7 64bit insists on so-called “signed drivers” – the excuse being that it makes the system much more secure. But Stuxnet worm uses stolen digital certificates (from Realtek & JMicron). So it can freely install its payload ( a.sys file rootkit) as a legitimate driver.
  2. Whilst Verisign has now withdrawn one of these stolen certificates, it is clear that digital signing can no longer be relied upon as a means of verifying the integrity of Windows software or drivers.
  3. Microsoft has been crowing about its “better than Unix” UAC (user access control) system. Stuxnet completely bypasses that. In fact, it appears that in this context that the “.lnk” files that MS uses for its short-cuts are not subject to any form of UAC at all!
  4. This does not only spread by USB sticks as some would have us believe. Infected machines can spread the worm via ethernet connections too. In fact, you don’t have to open a file. You merely need to use Microsoft’s file Explorer to view a directory! So external SMB connections and Sharepoint are both vulnerable now.
  5. Now it is “in the wild” and currently infecting roughly 1000 Windows PCS a day, other “copycat” criminals will use the same or similar techniques.

So, if your computing is important to you, then please don’t put all your proverbial “eggs in one basket” by relying solely on Micro$oft’s poor quality, over-priced operating systems. Or better still, dump M$ completely! It is perfectly achievable and will save you a small fortune:-

http://www.garfnet.org.uk/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=66&Itemid=16

Some further reading:-

http://news.softpedia.com/news/New-Stuxnet-Related-Malware-Signed-Using-Certificate-from-JMicron-148213.shtml

http://www.controlengeurope.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=35267

Probably most easily digested Stuxnet analysis I have read so far:-

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/20/win_shortcut_vuln_exploit_code/

Honk! Honk!