Entire Nation Paralyzed by Microsoft Windows Zombies; Windows Mobile Cracked

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Two security researchers have developed a new technique that essentially bypasses all of the memory protection safeguards in the Windows Vista operating system…”

Dennis Fisher, August 7th, 2008

LAST WEEK it was DNS and this time around it’s an entire nation that’s brought down thanks to the hundreds of millions of Windows zombies out there. When will people learn?

The central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan was effectively knocked offline for more than a week by a Russian cybermilitia that continues to flood the country’s internet providers with crippling data attacks, a security expert said.

This has nothing to do with patching. Bad engineering has led to cyberstorms of biblical proportions and not only personal computers are participants (with mortal cost on occasions). Even telephones (running Windows) are heading down the same route, based on reports like this new one:

Windows Mobile Bluetooth vulnerability allows access to any files

A directory traversing vulnerability in the Bluetooth OBEX-FTP server of Windows Mobile 6 allows attackers to access files outside of the permitted list. According to the report, using “../” or “..\\” as part of the path name, is sufficient to traverse to other directories. An attacker could use the technique to copy files from a device, or to install their own software, such as a key logger, or other spyware.

It is almost amusing that only a week or so ago it was reported that Microsoft had lobbied Obama to move to Windows Mobile for "security". Other people advise Microsoft to just drop Windows Mobile altogether. Several years ago this division was losing a fortune and it’s unlikely that anything has changed since. Microsoft combined this division with another in order to conceal the losses.

Smashed phone

The End of Software Patents?

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Champagne bottle
No cracking just yet

THE #1 lobbyist for software patents in Europe, namely Philips [1, 2, 3], is falling apart, as is Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Similarly malicious lobbyists like Nokia [1, 2, 3, 4] take their business to the east as Symbian keeps nosediving and sales decline.

With forces of software patents on a steady downward trend, there are additional signs that the teeth of software patents are long lost. While it would be venturous to declare software patents “dead”, many of them are practically out of potency. They just can’t be compelling enough for the court to tolerate and while this state of uncertainty prevails, not many individuals or companies will be willing to gamble on software patents.

Mike Masnick goes further with his old assertions and contends that In Re Bilski is assassinating software patents already; we’ve given similar examples of this before, so it is likely to be increasingly valid a claim.

Looks Like Bilski Decision Is Leading To Many Software Patent Claim Rejections

When the Bilski decision came out, we said that it would greatly limit software patents, but various patent system defenders (mostly lawyers) insisted that I was wrong and most software was still perfectly patentable. Basically, they said it just meant everyone had to write claims differently, and we’d have just as many software patents as before.

Glyn Moody jubilantly points to this report about a Bilski petition, which he too interprets — like Masnick — as the possible end of software patents (or at least the vast majority of them, as the FSF argued).

In Bilski, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit applied the “machine-or-transformation test” as the only test to be used in determining whether a claimed process is eligible for patenting under § 101. The decision holds that a claimed process either (1) be tied to a particular machine or apparatus or (2) transform a particular article into a different state or thing.

Bilski’s claimed method of hedging the risk of bad weather through commodities trading had been rejected by the USPTO as lacking patentable subject matter. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed – finding that the method failed the machine-or-transformation test.

Over in Denmark, the signs of aging of the patent system is showing. Engineers have better things to pursue than intellectual monopolies, so there is a sharp decline in applications and examiners are laid off massively.

The Danish Patent and Trademark Office has laid off 35 members of staff after seeing a slump in applications, a move indicating that national offices could be hit by the global recession.

“In the fourth quarter of 2008 we saw a reduction in the number of applications,” Jesper Kongstad, director general of the office, told WTR yesterday. “On the basis of that we took the decision to lay off 35 staff from the Danish office.” The country has seen huge economic growth over recent years, especially in the real estate market. But this has now largely collapsed in a similar way to that of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, practitioners in Denmark reacted to the news from the PTO with surprise. “This is a very drastic approach,” said Jeppe Brogaard Clausen, a partner of MAQS Law Firm. “It’s a very high number and laying people off in the legal market happens so rarely in Denmark.

The next ones to go are patent lawyers. Here’s hoping that there will be more development and less litigation or racketeering.

Last week we resurrected Patent TrollTracker, thanks to Ben.

“According to Software Magazine, last year we were the 92nd largest software company in the US. My perspective on software patents is simple: stop issuing software patents. Software patents should not exist.” —Jerry Fiddler, Wind River Systems

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 28th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Links 29/01/2009: Knoppix 6.0 Released; KDE 4.2 Raves

Posted in News Roundup at 6:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish


  • Linux vs. Unix Values Evident in Red Hat, Sun Market Valuations

    Who might buy Red Hat is a game that can be played endlessly, and just about everyone who is anyone has been mentioned in the past — Microsoft, Dell, Google, Oracle, you name it. So what about another name that’s been mentioned less frequently in the past: Sun? Much of Red Hat’s business is selling support services for open source software, which is an activity Sun would like to be doing more of. Sun’s pretty much got the cash, and such a move might get its share price moving north again.

  • Users Turn To Grid Computing for Performance

    Acxiom’s grid infrastructure is designed to improve efficiency, maintain consistency across its systems and logically partition resources to meet client demands. Red Hat Enterprise Linux’s certification system lets Acxiom save money by making hardware decisions independent of the operating system, the company said.

  • Small Universe: LinCity-NG 2.0

    Lincity-NG (the NG means Next Generation) is a graphical and game-oriented city planning simulation, now updated in version 2.0, that not only includes graphic enhancements but provides entire ecosystem simulation.

    Improvements went into water simulation and landscape elements, such as grass, trees and desert areas, which are rendered more realistically. Elements include various types of bridges (including for railroads), street surfaces and fountains. Life near tainted industrial areas isn’t depicted as particularly pleasant, although parks help in reducing the damage.

  • Are we really wasting $1T USD annually?

    The paper has over 50 citations and references, and I am indebted to all, living and dead, who provided this basic material. I especially want to thank several folks who have probed the same territory, and have built the strong foundations of this argument. In no particular order: David Wheeler, Stephen Vaughn-Nichols, Sean Michael Kerner, Rishab Ghosh, and Eric Raymond.

  • How Vista’s total failure hurt Linux

    Once I got a good look at Vista, I knew desktop Linux was in for good times. Vista was, and still is, a disaster of an operating system. I was right too. When netbooks started coming out, it was Linux, not Vista, that ruled.

  • Attractel Releases Two New Versions of ZoIPer Softphone for Linux and Mac OS X

    The Linux 2.09 version features similar additions and fixes.

  • KDE

    • KDE 4.2 Is The Answer

      For the first time, the KDE 4 series achieves feature completion to make it a great rival to KDE 3 and a perfect choice for future KDE distributions. Sure, I found some issues with this release, but all the great features and improvements more than make up for it, and not everyone is as picky as I am. Overall, KDE 4.2 is used happily on all of my comptuers and I look forward to further developments from the KDE team.

    • a big day

      Lots of dancing and drinking afterwards at the after parties (plural :) and when I eventually got up mid-morning I had a couple hundred emails waiting for me, way too many of which required my attention. I ended up unexpectedly in a few online meetings which altered my expected schedule significantly. Oh well, tomorrow’s another day … on which I have two more presentations to give.

      In that same time, The Dot got a great new look and KDE 4.2 was released.

      Exciting times indeed!

    • New features in KDE 4.2

      The KDE team has released version 4.2 of KDE 4. The release of KDE 4.0 a year ago laid the foundations for reinventing the KDE desktop – as well as attracting plenty of criticism, with the initial release of KDE 4 containing numerous bugs and overall, looking far from being a mature product.

  • Distributions

    • Knoppix 6.0 released

      Knoppix 6.0 has now been released with several new features and updates. The last update to Knoppix was in March of 2008 with version 5.3.1. Knoppix is a bootable CD distribution of Linux that incorperates automatic hardware detection. The CD can be used to demo Linux, as an educational CD, a rescue system, etc. It uses on-the-fly decompression so it can have up to 2 GB of data and software installed on it.

    • What IT means to me: ‘Suddenly everyone’s happy to meet me’

      Technology was a black box to me, even though it represented $100m of costs.” This is how Jim Whitehurst, former chief operating officer of Delta Airlines, describes his relationship with IT until just over a year ago.

    • Ubuntu

      • 5 Things Mark Shuttleworth Has Learned about Organizational Change

        Mark Shuttleworth is not your average IT manager. A few weeks ago, he posted a question on an Ubuntu list. Not an order. Not a policy decision. A question: “Should we think about…?” he asked. Collaboration, community and teamwork are part of his personal style.

      • Adventures In External Media With Kubuntu

        My new ASUS X83-VM laptop has a very capable, whisper-quiet 320 GB SATA drive. For some jobs, like storing my photos, that disk simply isn’t big enough. It was time to look at external USB media options. Good thing the new machine has five USB 2.0 ports.

        After successfully installing Kubuntu (kernel version: 2.6.27-11-generic, 64-bit), I searched all over for information about hooking up an external IDE USB drive to recover data from the 2.5 inch disk out of my dead HP Pavilion laptop. I also thought that a 500 GB Western Digital MyBook might work for photo storage duty. Alas, I couldn’t find diddly. There was much speculation, but nothing saying “yes, these things work with Linux”.

      • HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition User Review

        The HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition (Mini 1110NR) is a cool-looking, low-cost netbook focused on easy Web access and entertainment. It uses the same design as the Mini 1000, but runs the Mobile internet (Mi) software rather than Windows. Mobile internet is an easy-to-use interface built on Linux, but is it enough for most people to enjoy their e-mail, Internet, digital photos, music, and video?

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux touch-panel PC targets HMI

      Techsol is shipping a customizable, Linux-ready touch-panel computer aimed at human machine interface (HMI) applications. The TPC-35B Medallion Touch Panel Computer is built on a Samsung s3c2410a ARM9 system-on-chip (SoC) and is equipped with a 3.5-inch QVGA touchscreen and dual Ethernet ports, says the company.

    • You ready for Kindle 2.0?

      The Amazon Kindle book reader appears on the verge of showing off a new makeover.

    • Phones

      • Fennec (aka Firefox Mobile) To Debut Next Week

        Fennec, the mobile browser developed by Mozilla, makers of Firefox, will soon be making its way to Windows Mobile handsets. According to notes from this week’s meeting posted on the Mozilla wiki, the new version is expected the first week of February and will target the HTC Touch Pro.

      • Motorola ditching Windows Mobile?

        Rumour has it that Motorola is ditching the Windows Mobile platform for its smartphone handsets in favour of Google’s new Linux-based Android.

        As reported over on BetaNews, the company has announced to the State of Florida that it is to shut down its Windows Mobile development centre in Plantation, Florida – with 77 jobs for the chop as a result, added on to the 4,000 jobs the company has already ‘restructured’ this month.

      • Google conference does the robot

        Google announced several sessions on Android for its Google I/O 2009 developer conference. Scheduled for May 28-29 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Google I/O will feature Android sessions on the UI toolkit, visual design, and supporting multiple devices with a single binary, says Google.

      • Bringing Up Open Source, Part 3: The Mobile Movement

        The arrival of Android was a boon for relatively young mobile open source developers like a la Mobile, which quickly changed its business course to cater to Google’s handset platform. Other startups have also made headway in the open mobile space.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Kuki Linux 2.0 for the Acer Aspire One

        Kuki Linux 2.0 is based on a minimal install of Ubuntu 8.10. It’s meant to be a better Linux distribution, than Linpus Lite that comes pre-installed on some Acer Aspire Ones.

        It uses the lightweight Xfce user interface for the desktop environment. The bundled applications are lightweight as well.

      • Dell Mini 9 Has a More Pro Screen Than MacBook Pro

        Using an Eizo ColorEdge CE240W as reference monitor, professional photographer Rob Galbraith compared the screens on the three bestselling notebooks in their respective categories MacBook Pro, Dell Mini 9 and Lenovo W700 and that of the Lenovo ThinkPad T60 whose in-plane switching LCD panel is well-regarded. His conclusions are amazing -

      • The Net Net of Netbooks

        Again, this emphasises that people have a very clear idea of what a netbook is, and what it is for. It is not simply the latest twist on the notebook. In some ways, that’s good news for notebook manufacturers (and Microsoft), since it means that they can still sell such machines. But it does emphasise the different dynamics of the netbook sector, and that’s bad news, because these may allow completely new manufacturers – and operating systems – to take a much bigger slice than in the mature notebook market.

      • Emtec debuts Linux-based Netbook with removable SSD

        Emtec, a supplier of laptop peripherals, is setting up a new Netbook, called the Gdium, based on Madriva’s flavor of Linux.

        The 10-inch Netbook runs on 512MB RAM from a 16GB removable USB thumbdrive, a unique configuration. Wi-Fi, VGA-out, and an integrated Webcam are all included. It weighs in at just over 2.5 pounds.

      • Waiting for the HP Mini Mi Edition with Linux

        It is coming with a 60GB HDD, but the most interesting thing on this new model is that HP distributes the device with a Linux-based OS, with apparently very fast boot times and some other uber-connected software features.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Developing software on an open source stack

    Web developers are enjoying a renaissance. After spending much of the previous decade toiling on server-centric code, programmers are now putting code front-and-center, turning the Web browser into its own computing platform.

  • AccessStream releases open source identity access management package

    As the new year came in, a new project was revealed to the public: an open source identity access management package from AccessStream. The package was released as a Beta 1 version but AccessStream said it should be treated as alpha code. A second release is imminent, though, so maybe it’s time you took a look.

  • Top five trends in open source

    Presenting the top five trends in open source in the Infrastructure space by Satish Mohan, head engineering centre, Red Hat India.

  • Kamyshev and Lee: Open-source software defies theory

    Imagine a group of Yale students is conducting a research project on their favorite economics topic of supply and demand. They open up Firefox, type in Wikipedia and sift through a few pages. Somewhere on the background, a piece of software called MediaWiki — run by an Apache Web Server — renders a page by using data from a MySQL database; most of the data is hosted on the operating system Ubuntu Linux. A good day’s work is done, and the students close their computers.

  • Government

    • Brazilian government lists preferred Open Source applications

      The Brazilian government wants its public administrations to check an Open Source reference guide before launching new IT projects. This moves taken by the Government of the 5th world economy, confirms Brazilian leadership and long term commitment on open source software.

    • Open source may have a role in government

      The enormous economic stimulus plan known as the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” currently before Congress will no doubt filter down to the IT business in the form of government spending on a wide variety of tech-based programs. One of the more worthwhile of many such programs is the proposed $1 billion for an Education Technology program, designed to create “21st century classrooms” with more computer and science labs and teacher technology training, although there are several different verticals beyond education that will derive benefit.


      On this subject, I had an interesting email conversation with Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, who differentiated for me the difference between “open source” and “free software,” which I had always thought of as the same thing; but there is a subtle difference (that will no doubt be lost on the politicians in Washington).

  • Business

    • Day releases open source version of CRX development environment

      Day software announced this week that they were releasing an open source version of the CRX development environment as part of a multi-pronged approach to CRX licensing. CRX is Day’s commercial implementation of Apache Jackrabbit and Apache sling for building web applications. In fact, Day’s own commercial content management product CQ5 is built on top of CRX.

    • Why I’m short on BBBB

      2) Open Source – This is related to #1 in a way. Schools can effectively cut budgets by switching to open source solutions. Why pay for Blackboard when there are open source technologies like Moodle and Collab available? I’m perfectly aware that Blackboard provides a better quality service (at a price), but I’ve personally used all three services and its advantages are few. Also, many public schools (especially at the High School level and below) are out of the loop as far as open source technologies go. You’ll see open source more at the collegiate level.

  • Funding

    • EnterpriseDB Completes Another Exceptional Year

      EnterpriseDB, the leading enterprise open source database company, today announced the company’s 2008 results, including growth in new customer accounts of more than 50% and comparable bookings growth. Other accomplishments in 2008 included the launch of the Postgres Plus product family, a $16 million Series C financing, two key strategic partnerships, and new company leadership. For more information about EnterpriseDB and free downloads of EnterpriseDB’s award-winning Postgres Plus products, visit www.enterprisedb.com.

  • Sun

    • Making menus a little nicer

      So now that code freeze for 3.1 is almost upon us, work for 3.2 begins. As a first little step I looked through some old issues and noticed Issues 42227 and 48965 which I must admit went a little under in the load of my intray. The problem described in there is basically an aesthetic one: currently menus reserve two “columns” for checkmarks and item images, because menu items can be checked as well as have an image and both should be reflected of course in the display. But this creates a large area where most of the time nothing appears on the left of the menu, making the menu look clunkier than necessary.

    • Sun ‘can be biggest open source company’

      Ulf Michael Widenius, better known to open source folk as Monty, has a few things in common with Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

    • Sun will Rock in 2009

      Sun’s president and chief executive officer Jonathan Schwartz declared yesterday that the company’s long-planned Rock processors remain on track for release this year.


  • The Publisher’s Pushback against NIH’s Public Access and Scholarly Publishing Sustainability

    The dying light of the George W. Bush presidency was marked by, among other things, a legislative move to derail recent gains in the federal government’s opening of science. In particular, the innocuous sounding “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (HR 6845) introduced into the House by John Conyers, Jr. (DEM-MI), on 9 September 2008 [1] was poised to shut down the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy [2], as well as forestall the spread of this open-access spirit to other areas of federally sponsored research and scholarship. Hearings were held, but the bill did not make it through the House. End of story? Not quite.

  • EU proposal puts confidential communications data at risk.

    Civil liberties groups La Quadrature du Net, European Digital Rights (EDRi) and AK Vorrat are urging the European Parliament to heed advice given by the European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx and scrap plans dubbed “voluntary data retention”.

  • Italy gets ready to censor the web

    These controls are ostensibly aimed at protecting children, but the way the law is written it could keep reporters from commenting on an illegal strike, for example.

  • Inside Views: The Last Defence Of The IP System: An Interview With Jamie Boyle

    James Boyle is a leading thinker on copyright and knowledge access, and is author of a new book called The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (available at thepublicdomain.org or here as a PDF). He is a law professor and cofounder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. Boyle spoke recently with William New of Intellectual Property Watch on his book and recommendations for the new leadership of the World Intellectual Property Organization, European Union and the United States.

  • Google Wants To Help People Check Their Broadband Connection For Traffic Shaping

    Well, well, well… With Cox getting aggressive with traffic shaping, it looks like Google is trying to give users the tools to find out what their ISP is actually doing to their broadband connection. The company has teamed up with the New America Foundation and Planet Lab to offer a platform for tools to measure what’s happening on internet connections.

  • Cox Gets Aggressive With Traffic Shaping

    In a move that’s basically baiting the FCC and Congress to see if they will act, Cox has announced that it’s going to experiment with rather aggressive traffic shaping, granting priority to bits that it feels have a great priority. Why Cox gets to describe what gets a priority and what doesn’t seems pretty questionable. Cox is also the company that implemented a three strikes policy on file sharing without telling anyone.

  • Bulgarian web browser to challenge IE

    A Bulgarian company has released a new browser which sounds like a beer brand and is being marketed as a rival to Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    Web Visions Black Label is really browsing for dummies with just two basic file options ‘file’ and ‘help’

    Creative Lines CEO Atanas Avkov said the browser was written using Volish Visual Basic Express and is supposed to go twice as fast as Internet Exploder and Firebadger and needs a third of their resources.

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