Monday, December 31, 2007

Technology History: 1982

Time magazine named the ComputerMan of the Year” in 1982. The magazine wrote, "Computers were once regarded as distant, ominous abstractions, like Big Brother. In 1982, they truly became personalized, brought down to scale, so that people could hold, prod and play with them."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Record Industry Goes After Personal Use

Excerpt from
Despite more than 20,000 lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing. Still, hardly a month goes by without a news release from the industry's lobby, the Recording Industry Association of America, touting a new wave of letters to college students and others demanding a settlement payment and threatening a legal battle.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer. The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

"I couldn't believe it when I read that," says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."

RIAA's hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Some information from
Rosie O'Donnell is bothered by the fact that according to a new poll, almost 50% of Americans named her the most annoying person of 2007 - followed by Paris Hilton (24%), coming in a distant second. Ann Coulter (16%), Heather Mills McCartney (12%) and Perez Hilton (4%) round out the Top Five Most Annoying for 2007.

The former talk show host is so upset about her dubious distinction, that she's made this video about being dubbed most annoying.

Here's an excerpt of what she says: "I apparently am the most annoying celebrity, according to Parade magazine. And, frankly, most celebrities are annoying. So, I agree. Celebrities are annoying and the fact that I am one is annoying. And I suppose I am the most annoying. But whatever. Why? Cuz I'm loud. Some people don't like me. Barbra Streisand likes me!"
Perez Hilton (who is also very annoying) says: "Uhmmm, Barbra Streisand is annoying! It might help to name someone that likes you who is not annoying."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Has Been Assassinated!

Excerpt from
Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday, shot in the neck and chest before a homicide bomber blew himself up at a campaign rally. Twenty others also died. The assassin struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

She was shot as she was entering her car. Her attacker then set off his bomb. Bhutto was rushed to the hospital and taken into emergency surgery. "At 6:16 p.m. she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital.

U.S. officials said they were looking into reports of Bhutto's death. "Certainly, we condemn the attack on this rally. It demonstrates that there are still those in Pakistan who want to subvert reconciliation and efforts to advance democracy," said deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

Bhutto's death threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 election into chaos and created fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence across the volatile south Asian nation. The United States has for months been encouraging Musharraf to reach some kind of political accommodation with the opposition, particular Bhutto, who is seen as having a wide base of support here.

Bhutto served twice as Pakistan's prime minister between 1988 and 1996. She had returned to Pakistan from an eight-year exile on Oct. 18. Her homecoming parade in Karachi was also targeted by a suicide attacker, killing more than 140 people. On that occasion she narrowly escaped injury. [ released an excellent overview of Benazir Bhutto after the assassination today.]

The scene of the bombing Thursday was awash in blood. An Associated Press reporter could see body parts and flesh scattered at the back gate of the Liaquat Bagh Park where Bhutto had spoken. He counted about 20 bodies, including police, and could see many other wounded people. Party supporter Chaudry Mohammed Nazir said two gunshots rang out when Bhutto's vehicle pulled into the main street and then there was a huge blast next to her car.

ADDED LINK 16:36 ET: Getty Images Photog, John Moore, took last known photos of opposition leader before death.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New Exploit Targets Internet Explorer

Article by Jabulani Leffall
One week before the last Patch Tuesday of 2007 and two weeks after a researcher in New Zealand discovered holes in Microsoft's Web Proxy Automatic Discovery (WPAD) program, Redmond this week issued its latest in a long line of security advisories. Tim Rains of Microsoft's Security Response Center wrote in a blog post on Monday that Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SPs 1 and 2 and Windows Vista are all vulnerable to WPAD server manipulation.
This vulnerability also affects all supported versions of Internet Explorer, a browser which most commonly uses the WPAD function to locate an automatically configured proxy file to determine settings on offsite servers and by extension affecting Internet traffic flow through server indentification and authentication.
Potential vulnerabilities first came to light around Thanksgiving weekend when Redmond's software engineers responded to the results of a presentation made by Beau Butler, a New Zealander and self-described "ethical" hacker. Butler's work revealed that a hacker can use WPAD files to intercept and manipulate all Internet traffic on a given network. Butler said 160,000 computers in New Zealand alone could be seized with just one attack.

Media reports have claimed that U.S. computers are not vulnerable to the attack. However, it appears Microsoft isn't taking any chances, as the software giant said it released the security advisory as it investigates "new public reports of a vulnerability in the way Windows resolves hostnames that do not include a fully-qualified domain name." Thus an issue that was supposed to have been resolved in 2005 has become a 2007 fix as the minute technical overhaul made back then only addressed the ".com" domain name, and not other suffixes such as ".org," ".tv," and non-U.S. country tags -- in the case of the hacker's findings, "nz."

This week, Microsoft added a new specification to the vulnerability profile stating that "Customers whose domain name begins in a third-level or deeper domain, such as "," are at risk. Conversely, among those not at risk are IT shops where a manually specified proxy server is in place for IE. Additionally, those who have disabled the "Automatically Detect Settings" command in IE can also work around the issue.

Jabulani Leffall is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.