Archive | January, 2004

Microsoft TS2 Event

I attended the Microsoft TS2 event today. I only found out about this through the Lockergnome post telling people to attend for a free copy of MS software. Well, the post was right, you do get to choose from three different software titles for attending, but the seminar was much more.

The main focus of the event is to give MS Partners a moderately in-depth overview of new products and technologies. Today’s event focused on MS Small Business Server 2003, with which I was more than just mildly impressed, in addition to Virtual PC 2004, Infopath (part of Office 2003 Professional edition), and patch management.

Here are the notes from the meeting that I took:

  • As a MS partner, one can subscribe to the Action Pack for only $299 the first year and $199 each additional year. This subscription gets you NFR copies of almost all of the MS desktop and server software, including 10 CALs for use in your own business. This is huge, since I thought the only way to get this was to be a Certified Partner or an MSDN subscriber.
  • During the overview of MS SBS 2003, I saw some pretty nice interface things they did, including the Remote Web Workspace. Remote Web Workspace can be accessed through http://servername/remote. The login will then determine the options with which one is presented.
  • One domain I was unaware of, though I had used it in signing up for the TS2 event is Connect to Microsoft. This site has links to the various MS Connect conferences, like TS2.
  • Another new domain I was unaware of is MS USA Partner Readiness.
  • There is a way that SBS 2003 owners can get 5 free CALs from Microsoft as an apology for a problem with Sharepoint. Go to this site to order the CALs. The offer for the free CALs is only good through 2/5/2004.

I have already registered for next week’s MS Technet Security Briefing that is being held in the same location. I’ll post on that one after the meeting.

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I want my VoIP (via news.com)

This editorial piece at Cnet is a straightforward analysis of the VOIP world as it exists today. I agree that competition is the force that is propelling VOIP into the mainstream carriers’ priority lists, but I think more than competition per se, it is the fact that the upstarts, like Vonage, are actually successful. I do, alas, have to agree with Mr. Arnold’s conclusion, that the big carriers will probably win the war once they truly commit.

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W32.Novarg.A, W32/MyDoom@MM, MIMAIL.R

I linked to the various posts at the news outlets on this virus earlier today, but I wanted to give it a little more coverage here, since it may affect my clients. This is the latest mass mail worm that sends itself to any email address it can find. The issue of which most folks should be aware is that it will falsify the return address.

I have already received returned mail from various email systems indicating I had been sending out this virus. My antivirus software is updated very frequently, and I have successfully quarantined the virus every time I have received it, so I know none of my systems are infected. Here is a brief explanation of what is happening that causes the faked address to be used:

  • once a machine is infected, it searches many different types of files to try to find email addresses. These files include .htm files (usually temporary internet files stored in your browser cache folder), .wab files (Windows Address Book), .txt files (generic text files), and others;
  • after it finds all of the email addresses it wants, it uses its own mailing engine, not your specific email program, to send infected mail, usually choosing one of the random found addresses to use as a reply-to. When someone sends mail using straight SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), which is the protocol used to send mail on the Internet, they can use any reply-to address they wish. Further, there may actually be a different reply to address than the sender address, since these are separate fields that are specified in the SMTP protocol. One of the few pieces of information it is difficult for the virus to fake is the IP (Internet Protocol) address from which the mail is sent;
  • when the mail is received by the recipient’s server, it may be quarantined or rejected because of the virus infected attachment. When the rejection happens, many systems are programmed to reply to the reply-to address with a notice that the mail was rejected.
  • Finally, you receive the rejection notice, sometimes including the infected attachment, and then wonder if your computer is infected. In most cases you have not been infected if you are running virus protection software that is updated regularly.

That is a brief explanation of how you receive rejected mail because of a virus with which you have not been infected.

Again, here is the link to the technical details of the virus at Symantec Security Response. If you have not already done so, update your virus definitions now.

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All the news that’s fit to blog

I decided to start linking to all of the different stories I find on a particular issue in the text of a paragraph. If you are looking for full coverage, follow all the links to each news outlet’s site for their take. My most common sources are Cnet News, Wired News, Infoworld, Lockergnome and PCWorld. Here’s today’s roundup:

via everybody:

via Wired:

  • Teen Blogger Turns Heads Online – this one is a story about one of the guest bloggers over at Daily Kos. I’m not sure how much of an impact on political races this 15 year old has, but he certainly provides a welcome view into the future of our country, even if you don’t agree with his views.
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News of note

Here’s the list for today:

via eWeek

via Cnet News:

  • Security pros question flaw find – This article discusses a security posting from some researches that indicated some hardware and network devices have failed after a flood of fragmented UDP information. That being said, it is not particularly unusual for computers and hardware with smaller amounts of processor and memory resources to have issues with network flood attacks. The article is an interesting read, nonetheless.
  • CD lock loosened for freer copying – The problem I have with any CD copy protection is the fact that I wrote about before, the music industry is compensated for the risks of copying by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. The danger to the music industry from copying has been around since the invention of the casette recorder, and I believe they got similar royalties related to that device. Granted, the ease with which digital files can be shared with unknown third parties is more severe, but if the industry wants protection like the one in this article, they should give up their other forms of compensation.
  • Google spawns social networking service – Google entered the social networking space with orkut. It looks like it is already closed to new members and only accepting members by invitation, probably because of the publicity and vast quantities of members it got during its initial release.

via Wired news:

  • Amazon: Support Your Candidate – users can give political contributions of up to $200 to the presidential candidate of their choice through Amazon. Amazon is charging the campaigns the normal processing fees, but is donating those fees to a non-partisan civil group of its choice.

via various sources, including Slashdot, Lockergnome, and eWeek:

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Thin client computing blog

I found the Thincomputing.net blog via the Lockergnome’s post linking to the article on free security tools. You should take a look at the security tools article. It looks like this will be a good site for anyone interested in thin client computing, either with Citrix or Windows Terminal Services.

Update:Don’t I feel stupid having the title to one of my posts spelled incorrectly for a few days.

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News of note

Here are the items I culled from the feeds today:

Tech firms fail to squelch database bill (via CNET News) – The Database and Information Collections Misappropriation Act of 2003 made it out of committee that will give database owners the ability to sue in civil court, “any person who makes available in commerce to others a quantitatively substantial part of the information in a database.” The bill is supported by Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and other Internet database owners. It is opposed by the US Chamber of Commerce, a technology coalition, and various library and civil liberties groups. Here is the full text of the committee hearing.

Siebel predicts rise in hosting services (via CNET News) – the important item here is that the CEO of Siebel is predicting a rise in the hosting side of Customer Relationship Management(CRM) software. Obviously, this prediction comes after the company’s foray into the hosting marketplace for CRM, which seems to be dominated by Salesforce.com, and on a conference call about earnings, but the prediction still represents a move back to the idea that the old Application Service Provider(ASP) model of hosting software for customers could have a targeted rebound.

Inverting the IT pyramid (via CNET News) – Jeffrey Kaplan of Think Strategies has an interesting opinion piece at CNET on the shift of focus by technology companies from products to services. He cites IBM and HP as examples of large organizations who have made or are in the process of making that shift.

AOL tests caller ID for e-mail (via CNET News) – this article discusses the Sender Permitted From(SPF) protocol for fighting spam. AOL is testing the protocol, and as the largest ISP in the world, could give credence to SPF over competing protocols.

PalmOne cuts staff (via eWeek) – PalmOne is the hardware division that is a result of Palm, Inc.’s spinoff of PalmSource, the new Palm Operating System company, and the acquisition of rival handheld manufacturer, Handspring. The article indicates the company’s new focus for investment will be the smartphone category. We’ll have to see what sort of new products they can come up with and whether or not they can continue to innovate on the regular handheld market, as they did with the Tungsten T3.

Dell fixes smoking PowerEdge servers – evidently there is a problem with the Dell Poweredge 1650 line of servers that can cause it to start smoking and shut down. According to this article, Dell will be contacting owners of the servers for corrective action. I also noticed this covered at PC World.

Gay Marriage Poll Gets Annulled (via Wired) – whether you agree or disagree with the topic here, this article discusses how an Internet poll has the potential to yield vastly different results than the pollster suspects. In this case, the AFA (American Family Association) wanted to poll its members for their opinion on homosexual marriage. Proponents of homosexual rights found the poll and encouraged their constituents to vote, and the results have been affected with respondents supporting homosexual marriages or civil unions with full benefits by a 2-to-1 margin. It is almost impossible to predict the results in an Internet-based poll, unless you can guarantee that only a target audience will have the ability to vote. Any group wishing to poll for a specific result, which is what I believe the AFA was doing, should be aware of that fact. The Internet does, however, have the potential to democratize any issue, but only with regards to the priveleged few who are really connected. We would all do well to note that the vast majority of even American society does not yet have access to, or if they do have access choose not to participate, in polls like these.

RIAA Strikes Again at Traders (via Wired) – the RIAA strikes again, filing four lawsuits against 532 John Doe file sharers. It will be interesting to see how many of this batch turn out to be people who couldn’t possibly have engaged in the practice of which they are accused. I do not, in any way, advocate the illegal sharing of music. I would welcome a system whereby the artists are paid more fairly for their work, and where we all have access to the music we want when we want it.

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RSS Winterfest

I am currently attending the RSS Winterfest. Check it out.

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A shopping revolution?

via Wired News

This article describes a new use for your camera phone – an instant barcode scanner that can provide all sorts of information at the point of purchase, including links to purchase the product somewhere else. This could be an opt-in way to push ads to real world shoppers, like the incredibly unpopular Gator software, but only when they want the information. For instance, as the article states, a shopper at Barnes and Noble could photograph the ISBN number on the back of a book and be given an ad to purchase the book for 30% less at Amazon.

I think this use of the camera phone technology could be a revolution in shopping for the online world. I know that I am not the only one who goes to look at products in brick-and-mortar stores only to purchase those products online for lower prices. If we could store product information by scanning the barcode and perform searches with the stored information, that could be huge.

One of the main barriers to online purchasing today is the instant gratification of walking out of the store with a product, but getting an instant price quote from an online retailer for a savings of 20% or more might be the one thing that could overcome that need.

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Go Eagles!

Well, today the Philadelphia Eagles will try to win the NFC Championship for the third consecutive time. I know this isn’t a technology-related post, but I feel compelled to pen at least a line or two in support of my home team.

To that end, here are the lyrics to the Eagles Fight Song, along with an mp3 of a band of faithful giving it voice:

Fly Eagles fly, on the road to victory.
Fight Eagles fight, score a touchdown 1-2-3.

Hit ‘em low,
Hit ‘em high,
And we’ll watch our Eagles fly.

Fly Eagles fly on the road to victory.

E…A…G…L…E…S EAGLES!

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