April 28, 2008


The class I was taking held its final session tonight. As it was a computer security type class, how appropriate is it that this is one of the first stories I stumbled across on Instapundit as I was trying to catch up on my reading.

Too much contact at this Reunion

It's about a woman who received an email from Reunion.com telling her that someone she knew was trying to contact her...

It said: "Hi, I looked for you on Reunion.com, the largest people search service -- but you weren't there." The e-mail instructed her to click on a link to see who else has been searching for her.

Curious to see if her acquaintance had left a message, Schmidt, 44, clicked on the link and found herself at Reunion.com's site, where she was prompted to register so she could see who'd been searching for her.

As part of the process, she submitted her name, gender, e-mail address, birth date and ZIP Code.

Then Schmidt came to a page saying that "we'll find your friends and family who are already members and also automatically invite any nonmembers to join (it's free!)." It instructed her to enter the password for her Yahoo e-mail account.[emph. mine --ed]

Let's review...

You go to sign up for a service, it asks you for information.  What do you do if it asks for your password to your email?  How about if it asks for your password to pay pal?  Your bank?  Any other account that is not part of that site?

Just say NO!  Then get the hell out - immediately.   Never give out passwords for any other place.  Ever. 

No one - not one single company should ever be given the password for your email  (or any other) account.  Go read the rest and see what happened to this  woman*** then stop before you get yourself in trouble.

Are we clear? 

*** I should make it clear right now that I have little sympathy for her.  Like most everyone, I'm sure she's been told not to give out her passwords - but also like most people she figured people like me were being too super paranoid... right. 

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April 20, 2008

This Is Only a Test

After checking out Joated's place and finding out how hideously slow the load times are for him when pics are involved... I decided to go back and read Pixy's instructions on posting thumbnails of pics in my blog.

Therefore, I need to test it (as I haven't done this before - lazy that's what I am - it's way easier to simply post the pic)

So, here we go: tiny pic

Let's see how many times I end up reposting this before getting it to work.

Well, drat - looks like it resizes (if I use the html, darned if I can get the BBcode to work) but it's not one of those "click to embiggen" things... *sigh* Oh well, worth a try.

Hmmm... if I turn it into a linked pic, it will bring up the page of the picture - but that's not really what I'd like, I think a popup would be good.  Further investigation is necessary.

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April 19, 2008

Beta Testers Of The World Unite!

Poor Jimbo, he has been laid low by the new Word Press 2.5 release of his blogging software. It seems in the new and improved version it's nearly impossible to post pictures for those without mad computer skilz, thus irritating him mightily.

Tonight Jim is wondering:

I appreciate that using the Joe Blows of the world as Beta testers will be tedious for the Űbergeeks, as they would have to endure listening to non-geeks using English to try to explain to Űbergeeks problems that would best be described in Geekish. Still, Joe Blow Beta testers might well prevent a truckload of computers from being assaulted by users who just can’t seem to figure shit out.

I haven't paid much attention to the latest WP release although I seem to remember reading somewhere that the version it replaces has a security issue.  Depending on what that issue might be, rushing it out might or might not have been necessary.

I do completely agree with Jim in that "regular everyday computer users" should be testing the software.  Unless you mean to write software for geeks only (please step over to the Linux forums if that's the case) you want USERS to be able to USE your product.

Computers are still in their infancy.  At the moment users have some very kludgy workarounds to do things they want done. (Think of us all as beta testers all the time.)  But as users have learned the steps to doing these things and no longer have to think about it - it's simply accepted as part of the cost of using a computer.

Buuuut when a product undergoes a change and that same user can no longer make the software function in the manner to which they are accustomed... that's when the tar comes out and feathers fly.

WP did "Beta testing".  However, very very few "non-geek" types ever get involved in this.  For one, they have no interest.  If they did, they'd be geeks and all would be well.  Also, they're afraid they'll do damage to their computer while testing (a valid fear) and since they are unable to fix such things - why screw with something that works?  Many will claim to be computer neophytes yet they have uncanny persistence - a trait not seen in regular users.  (thus they give themselves away as closet geeks) 

Nope - to do real beta testing with non-geeks, you have to take computers to them.  Let them use the software, give them tasks and see if they can do it.  Otherwise, you will never get the feedback of real normal user-type people.  While they'd be glad to trash YOUR computer, they don't have the time, money, or inclination to trash their own.

I don't see this happening soon.  But I do hope they help Jimbo so he can get back into his normal bloggy groove.  I miss him when he gives up in despair and heads to Mr. Recliner for the evening. 

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April 15, 2008

Crash and Burn... The System That Is

Seems there was a system crash and that's why munu was toasted for a couple of hours.  Gotta love machines.

Oh yeah, I forgot to add.  I had planned on doing another post, but it will have to wait until tomorrow or maybe Thursday.  Too late tonight.  We'll see how much time is available.  It's not looking promising at the moment.  I still only got to about 10 blogs today.  Bah.

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April 10, 2008

Give A Geek A Challenge...

It seems that Algore - oh mythical High Priest of the Church of Global Warmening is all set to speak or has spoken (it's not too clear) at the RSA conference taking place this week in San Francisco.

This is a huge Computer Security conference and although I scanned their documents, I didn't see Al's name there. But The Register has this to say:

RSA: Want to know environmental crusader and Nobel laureate Al Gore's views on green technology? Tough.

The former US vice president has barred press from attending his RSA keynote presentation on green technology, citing "contractual reasons".

My first thought - why in the world is Algore at a Computer Security conference? And to talk about the Global Warming at that. Unless he feels we can save the environment by securing our networks.

But he has presented the geeks in attendance with a conundrum. What do they do about this "no media" in attendance. This simply screams for someone to sneak in a camera and record the entire thing surreptitiously.

In a statement, RSA conference veep Sandra Toms-LaPedis made it clear how organizers felt about the reading public, saying RSA was "obligated by an agreement to exclude press and industry analysts", but it felt "the information that vice president Gore provides will be extremely compelling to our attendees". Not to the general public, then.

Excluding the press (especially a press who is very friendly to your position) along with people who might just ask uncomfortable questions about your little talk... how - ummmm - brave of him.

Now, of course I really want to hear it.  I wonder when the first youtube will hit and how long it will be before Algore the Almighty has it pulled. 

Pull up a chair and get some popcorn - this should be fun.

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April 03, 2008

The Latest Twist in the Case of Creative Labs vs Daniel_K

Blogged here and here. Are the opening salvos in a battle between a corporation and a coder.

What looks to be a peace offering by Creative Labs has occurred. I confess I did not expect this. I was looking for Creative Labs to dig in their toes and not budge from their stubborn stance... I was wrong.

Creative climbs down over home brew Vista drivers

Posting a forum message on its website last weekend, Creative threatened Daniel_K with legal action, accusing him of infringing its intellectual property. The company removed forum posts from the developer containing links to his work.

The move backfired big time, generating a media firestorm and howls of protests from outraged users on technology forums across the web.

Guess what, Creative has reinstated Daniel_K's posts.

A completely unexpected (by me) turn of events. If you're interested, head over to The Register and read the statement from Creative Labs and Daniel's response.

It sounds as if there is still quite a bit of "sour grapes" feeling by Daniel, but they did restore his work for others to download.  It will be interesting to see if this goes on farther or if it drops from sight now that they've reposted the information. 

For the moment Daniel has won.  If he continues to vent his ire, he may lose the sympathy of those who have been in his corner.  We shall see.

I find it fascinating to watch these gyrations as long as I'm not the one spinning in the wind. 

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April 01, 2008

Daniel_K Speaks Out

Last night I posted about the flap between Creative Labs and a young man who has been "modding" their software to make the cards work properly with Vista.

For those who don't know - "modding" is

a slang expression that is derived from the verb "modify". The term can refer to the act of modifying a piece of hardware or software to perform a function not originally conceived or intended by the designer.

In the case of the sound card drivers, the modding was to make the sound card perform at all or perform better.

Today I came across an update of the story at Slashdot, linking to a story in Wired where we hear directly from Daniel_K - what he did, why he did it, what he did wrong, and what he believes they did wrong.  I was heartened to read that he does know he did a few things wrong and he doesn't blame Creative for that.

One question I had was "did he ask for money"? And apparently he did.

What I did wrong

I've asked for donations.
An X-Fi Xtreme Gamer costs about $240 here, with taxes and shipping, The same card can be bought for ~$80 in the US.

I just can't spend my money buying new hardware that I won't even use.

In a nutshell he loves to code.  I know people like this.  Their entertainment is not watching tv or listening to music, they write code to make things work better on their computer (and by extension other computers too).  In this case sound card drivers. 

Now, if you write driver code - you must be able to test it. This means you need the hardware (sound card) available.  You must see if your changes have fixed bugs or even created new ones.  You can't write the code and release it without testing. It will fail spectacularly every time and may even cause some serious computer damage.

He was "fixing" the drivers released by Creative - yes they needed fixing.  He admitted he should not have asked for money.  He also admitted that in his frustration with Creative he released one driver that worked with competitor's products - bad, bad, bad.  So, he's not a misunderstood angel in all of this. 

OTOH - the response from Creative Labs was so incredibly heavy handed and badly handled - it makes me wonder what in the world they were thinking.

The email he writes detailing the "bugs" he has fixed on these sound cards is pretty damning of the type of product put out by Creative.  Because these products are used mainly by people who are "hard core" hardware people - they pay extra - in many cases WAY extra to get hardware to work with their games, sound system, what have you.

What Creative did was alienate a huge number of people. Daniel_K was posting at the Creative Labs message boards. He wasn't posting the drivers on a rogue website somewhere and trying to circumvent Creative - which makes the handling of this situation even more mysterious.

If you are so inclined, go read the article. I found it interesting.  I'm waiting for a response from Creative, but I'm guessing they won't have one that is substantive. Unless they've gotten a new PR person in place in the last 24 hours. 

Never ever piss off the customers. Especially when the customers are geeks. They don't take kindly to "corporations" in any case and it doesn't help you sell your product if you piss them off. 

Want an example? Just read to the end of _Jon's gaming post to see what I mean (or skip to the end of the post and read the first sentence of the last paragraph - although you miss out on some great stuff when you do that). This is exactly what happens.  It ain't pretty.

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