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06.01.09

Security Links: Cracking Vista, FBI Hit by Windows Viruses, and More

Posted in GNU/Linux, Security, Vista, Windows at 8:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Broken window

Summary: Assorted (in)security news

Two Ways to Hack Microsoft Vista Operating System

Ryan Opinion – I got a few search hits from people looking for Vista cracks: No I’m not going to give you any or tell you exactly how, so if you’re here for that go away. I just figured this would be a reason to write a little bit about what Product Activation and WGA do, what Microsoft has stated, and what they’ve actually done.

Most Vista cracks are based on trying to fool Vista into thinking that you have an OEM license by loading a “System Locked Pre-installation” key into your BIOS or into the shadowed copy of your BIOS (where Vista actually checks).

FBI email network down for days after virus attack

The FBI has confirmed reports that it was forced to shut down it’s external unclassified email network “as a precautionary measure” following the discovery of a virus infection. I am led to understand that the particular virus concerned has been identified by the FBI but this information has yet to find it’s way in to the public domain.

Contractors Vie for Plum Work, Hacking for U.S.

And since most of the world’s computers run on the Windows or the Linux systems, their work has also provided a growing window into how to attack foreign networks in any cyberwar.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: June 1st, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Linux DRM Warning

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Videos, Vista, Windows at 7:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Summary: Now is a crucial time to protest against DRM in Linux

WE’VE already worried that Linux had adopted the equivalent of Tivoization. Now we find the threat of DRM in the most ubiquitous kernel of free operating systems, so we wanted to alert readers.

It’s solely an issue regarding the following new article about DRM being considered for Linux. The technical chief of the Linux Foundation (and an IBM employee who downplays freedom) writes on the topic, which is covered in LWN.net:

Ts’o’s message is worth reading in its entirety, but the basic point is that TXT enables Hollywood (or another DRM-happy entity) to take away some of the basic functionality of the hardware in order to preserve their “rights”. Essentially, this takes away users’ rights to protect companies’ perceived or actual rights. The truly nightmarish scenario is one where one cannot do anything on a computer that isn’t contained in a signed (presumably proprietary and closed source) application, running on a signed operating system. TXT could enable just that kind of functionality.

But, there are some scenarios (Ts’o mentions medical record access) under which TXT could be beneficial to the user. Other devices (voting machines and ATMs are the standard example) could benefit from TXT as well. Should kernel hackers stand in the way of adding this code to the kernel simply because it can be used for ill? The consensus, from the extremely limited subset of the kernel development community participating in the discussion, seems to be “no”.

Victory is attained by GNU/Linux when users enjoy freedom on their desktop, not when market share goes a lot higher through unbounded compromise. It’s not about creating yet another OS X or another Windows. It is important to keep Linux safe and immune to user-hostile intrusions such as DRM, which is about the computer user being controlled rather than put in control.

Does Ubuntu Forums Threaten to Ban Opposition to Mono?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No entry fence
Barbwired discussions about Mono

Summary: Suppression of constructive debate about the problems with Novell’s Mono

THERE EXIST people who are guarding Mono inside Ubuntu. Others are actually becoming part of Ubuntu and they curse those who ‘dare’ to question Mono’s inclusion. But our very latest examples show polite requests and advise leading to fear and loathing, then to threat of bans.

This is openness to discussion?

This is freedom?

And why is it that the project permits itself to be guided by pro-Microsoft .NET people? People who knowingly ignore the problems and maybe want to introduce them. ECMA is a liability, not a safe harbour.

There is a new call to prevent Novell's Banshee from entering Ubuntu and ITwire offers guidance to those who rid themselves from Mono.

GNU/Linux users who want to keep Mono off their systems can now use an application that warns them when elements of the open source clone of Microsoft’s .NET development environment are being installed.

Developer Tim Chase, who describes himself as “a genetic geek”, has created a package called Mononono which creates explicit conflicts with core Mono packages.

In the face of mountains of evidence, some people simply refuse to open their eyes and recognise that Mono is a patent trap and an advantage to Microsoft.

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Today’s Vista 7 Links

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 6:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Longhorn reborn

Summary: News about Microsoft’s next incarnation of Vista

Windows 7 crippleware!’ scream outraged netbook owners

Microsoft has once again upset many in the netbook user community with news of artificially imposed limitations on the entry level version of its upcoming new operating system Windows 7. All over the web netbook users are accusing Microsoft of crippling Windows 7 Starter edition for no other reason than to extort extra dollars from them.

Opinion: Microsoft may shoot itself in the foot with Win 7 pricing

But as desktop Linux becomes a significant challenger, Microsoft is losing its price advantage. Microsoft managed to snatch the netbook market away from Linux by reviving XP Home and offering it to OEMs for next to nothing. It’s foolish of Microsoft to think it can hold on to that market with restricted hardware and bottom-end versions of Windows 7.

Why Windows 7 Will Fail on Netbooks

When consumers have a choice and know it, they’re not going to blindly embrace whichever pricing schemes Microsoft decides to impose on the market. Rather than paying for Windows 7 Home Premium–which is likely to cost as much as a netbook itself–costumers will simply opt for Linux.

Neither will hardware manufacturers obediently acquiesce to Microsoft’s demands as they did in the past. If they find it difficult to sell netbooks whose price is doubled by being bundled with Windows, OEMs are likely to market Linux-based computers more vigorously–which will, in turn, increase public awareness of alternatives to Windows, fueling a cycle that ends with the collapse of Microsoft’s monopoly.

If Microsoft continues to operate under the delusion that consumers will choose Windows simply because they don’t know there’s an alternative that’s been embraced by mainstream users and hardware manufacturers, it’s in for a painful shock.

Ballmer Cannes Lions media person of the year 2009

Sure, the award reflects the great public attention Microsoft received with its viral marketing star Ballmer and the Seinfeld-Gates advertisement campaign. The Seinfeld-Gates advertisement series used the trick of confusion to let customers speak up with their appreciation of the Microsoft products and services. What came out of it was the “I’m a PC” campaign which takes on the operating system competitor Apple and it seeks to improve brand profile by a focus on core messages.

Is This Bing or is it Bong?

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smoking pipe

Summary: Is Microsoft high or is Bong[sic] broken by engineering?

IN SIX previous posts we wrote about failures of Microsoft's latest name for a search engine [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. A new identity alone cannot resolve an identity crisis. There are four more failures and observations which this post shares. Here is a quick list.

Failure #1: Anti-Linux Bias

We already know that Microsoft tweaks search results to promote its commercial agenda. Stefano Forenza shows that Bing is biased against GNU/Linux, possibly by design.

What’s this crap ? It’s obvious that Microsoft didn’t payed those guys. (well.. maybe the first :-P ). But why Windows came up as a suggestion for the Linux search, and why the first two posts talk respectively about ‘Linux being inferior to Windows’ and ‘the issues in switching to linux’ ?.

If I were to think bad I would think Microsoft did tweak the Windows keyword to have more relevance than the others. Hyperlinking and pagerank would do the rest.

More details and some screenshots are included in the full post.

Failure #2: Anti Opera

Opera is giving Microsoft a real headache in Europe. What does Microsoft give to Opera users? Nothing.

Bing.com no gentlemen when you run Opera web browser

[...]

Hello, Mrs Kroes, …! It reminds you so much of the old DR-DOS tricks but this is even more silly for a new search engine which was supposed to get it right. One of the best and most popular web browsers, Opera, is not supported? Surprisingly everything works seems to work fine anyway when you select “Go to the map using this browser”.

The map service looks great, but it is not fully translated yet into German language. Additionally to the usual satellite images it adds a bird view perspective. I am from Germany’s largest navy port and I am quite surprised that you can get detailled bird view pictures of our military facilities. In the real world signs scare you that they may shoot at you. And if you take pictures, the police might be very interested in your identity and your actions may be interpreted as a criminal offence by a court.

Failure #3: Pro Pornography

Microsoft is blocking Google for allegedly being unsuitable for children. How hypocritical is that? Whereas Google makes pretty successful attempts at eliminating child-unsafe content for particular crowds, Microsoft has no shame.

This is just too good. One of the features of Microsoft’s just launched Bing search engine is that it auto-plays videos in results when you hover over them. Naturally, the first thing a number of people, like Loic Le Meur, did was search for “sex” or “porn.” The results are majestic — if you’re a teenager looking for a way around porn filters on your computer. And this isn’t artful porn or something like it, it’s straight-up, hardcore pornography.

Failure Extraordinaire: Microsoft Buys Bingsucks.com

Tony Manco has found out that Microsoft acquired the domain Bingsucks.com. Microsoft is obviously expecting people to express themselves using such domain names.

Tony shows:


whois bingsucks.com ||  Domain Name: BINGSUCKS.COM
    Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC.
    Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
    Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
    Name Server: NS1.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: NS2.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: NS3.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: NS4.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: NS5.MSFT.NET

Here are the details for Microsoft’s corresponding nameservers:


 Administrative Contact:
         Domain Administrator
         Microsoft Corporation
         One Microsoft Way
          Redmond WA 98052
         US
         domains@microsoft.com +1.4258828080 Fax: +1.4259367329
     Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
         MSN Hostmaster
         Microsoft Corporation
         One Microsoft Way
          Redmond WA 98052
         US
         msnhst@microsoft.com +1.4258828080 Fax: +1.4259367329

Has Microsoft already bought Bingfails.com? How about Bingdiscriminates.com?

“Microsoft Cannot be Trusted!”

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Windows at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Working and trust
Good luck developing for Windows

Summary: Where is the “New Microsoft” they keep telling us about?

“Microsoft cannot be trusted!”

This is not a claim made by ourselves. It appears in John Dvorak’s blog (a headline) and it refers to an incident we wrote about yesterday — an incident which had some people accuse Microsoft of “sabotaging Firefox.” Here is what Dvorak’s blog states:

How many times has this sort of presumptuous crap rolled out the backdoor of Redmond? I’ve used Microsoft software since 1983. And though there are additional reasons for my disaffection and departure from the realm – I’ve replaced every remaining Microsoft product in my possession with something better in recent years – this sort of quasi-criminal behavior stands alone as reason enough.

“Notice the name-calling,” says one of our readers who points to this article. “Microsoft messes up and suddenly it’s the users’ fault if they don’t like what Microsoft did to their system.”

“Don’t encourage new, cross-platform Java classes, especially don’t help get great Win 32 implementations written/deployed. [...] Do encourage fragmentation of the Java classlib space.”

Ben Slivka, Microsoft

Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand

Posted in Australia, Europe, Law, Microsoft at 5:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Business decision

Summary: Quick updates on situations that make important precedence at a national level

Switzerland: Open-source firms win partial victory over Microsoft in Switzerland

The Swiss News Agency (SDA) reported on Thursday, 28 May, that the Swiss Federal Administrative Court had issued an immediately enforceable ruling (“Superprovisorische Verfügung”) that stops the award of a large federal government order to Microsoft. The Swiss Federal Office for Construction and Logistics (BBL) had previously awarded an order to Microsoft for the extension of licences, maintenance and support worth 42 million Swiss francs, without putting it out to public tender. Many open-source firms – including the Linux suppliers Red Hat, Univention and Collax and the groupware specialists Zarafa and Open-Xchange – objected to this award procedure.

Previous reports on the subject in:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit

New Zealand: Open Source Society appeals to Auditor-General

The New Zealand Open Source Society is calling on Auditor-General to scrutinise government procurement of Microsoft software after the collapse of negotiations for a new three-year all-of-government software licensing deal.

Don Christie, NZOSS president, is asking for the reviews on the grounds that agencies are negotiating with a single supplier “in a situation where ordinary market disciplines do not operate”, he says in a letter to Auditor-General Kevin Brady.

Previous reports on the subject in:

  1. New Zealand’s Freedom Fighters Defeat Microsoft’s Latest ‘Colonisations Directive’
  2. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  3. Microsoft Land Grab Still on in the Far East
  4. Head of Microsoft Philippines Ditches the Company, More Layoffs Revealed (But Microsoft Withholds Details)

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