basically tech

33 Learn 10 good UNIX usage habits

Saturday 16th December, 2006

Link updated April 2015.

An article which shows 10 UNIX bad habits and teaches 10 good UNIX usage habits. This is all command-line stuff, and I found a couple of these to be things which I do/did. The only problem is trying to stop those bad habits which you've been doing for years ... :(


32 How Skype gets round firewalls

Friday 15th December, 2006

Have you ever wondered how two Skype (and other P2P) clients exchange data, despite the fact that both machines are each sitting behind a firewall that only permits outgoing traffic? Read this article from Heise Security.

Peer-to-peer software applications are a network administrator's nightmare. In order to be able to exchange packets with their counterpart as directly as possible they use subtle tricks to punch holes in firewalls, which shouldn't actually be letting in packets from the outside world.


31 The Eight Ways The Tech Industry Tries To Screw Us β€” And How To Avoid Them

Thursday 14th December, 2006

A generalised look at eight of the ways businesses try to rip us off by using or selling technology.


30 Groklaw covers Comes v. Microsoft, Inc.

Monday 11th December, 2006

It's well worth reading the whole article at Groklaw, but here are some choice quotes.

Co-counsel for the Plaintiffs, Roxanne Conlin, recounted how Microsoft developed a program called EDGI (Education Government Incentive). She went on to read from an internal Microsoft document on when EDGI was to be used:

β€œIt is essential, therefore, that we use this only in deals we would lose otherwise. Bottom line, do our best to show the great value of our software to these customers and ensure we get paid for it. Under no circumstances lose against Linux before ensuring we have used this program actively and in a smart way.”

Conlin then goes on to explain:

EDGI has the added benefit to the outside world as appearing to be based on Microsoft generosity, but in fact the program is intended only for use where Linux is a threat.
What is EDGI? There is no mention of any charitable purchase. This is about beating Linux. And it is not even limited to developing countries, and squarely, directly, and only for defeating competitors in the guise of benevolence.

And one I found quite funny, by Jim Alchin, group Vice President of Microsoft, sent in an internal e-mail dated January 7, 2004:

"I'm not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers, both business and home, the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems our customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that does not translate into great products ... I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft.”

Emphasis added.


29 Malware installed on Windows PCs by 'respectable' companies?

Sunday 10th December, 2006

It's still happening
Rob, May 2015

This sort of thing seems to happen alot recently. Remember the Sony rootkit scandal? I'm sure Sony wish you wouldn't. Sony's reaction was interesting, they initially acted as though they had the right to install the rootkit on their customer's PCs. Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG's president of global digital business, was outrageously quoted as saying:

Most people don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?

ComScore, the company involved in this particular incident, claim they would never install software without permission, and it does appear that it is being installed by third parties. The risk is that the software takes screenshots of every Web page viewed by its 1 million participants, even transactions completed in secure sessions, like online banking, or shopping.

It's not a safe world for Windows users, when even 'legitimate' software is proving invasive.


28 Your keyboard may harbour more germs than a toilet seat ...

Monday 4th December, 2006

This is an old article, but still interesting. Research from the University of Arizona showed that computer keyboards may have nearly seventy times as many germs as the average toilet seat. The figure for telephones was even higher, over 500 times as many germs. Hmm.


27 Sorted!

Friday 1st December, 2006

This site has some great visualisations of how different sorting algorithms work. It not only demonstrates how they work, but their comparative speeds as well. If you've ever used sorting algorithms in your code, I think you'll find this interesting. (Requires Java.)


26 Microsoft "Innovation"

Thursday 30th November, 2006

Unfortunately the original URL provided below now leads nowhere, but I found a copy courtesy of the Internet Archive.
Rob, May 2015

Notice how Microsoft often talk about how they innovate? Here's an interesting collection of products created by Microsoft's "innovation".


25 The current state of computer security

Wednesday 29th November, 2006

The Security Absurdity website is still around, but none of the links in the article seem to work.
Rob. April 2015.

The first link above is a very interesting and insightful article about the current state of computer security. I thoroughly advise anyone who uses a computer, whether you are an individual PC user or the IT director of a company, to read this article.

The article assesses the risks, covering spyware, phishing, trojans, viruses, worms, rootkits, spam, botnets, web vulnerabilities, denial-of-service attacks, active-x weaknesses, passwords, patch management, wireless networks, internal attacks, and more.

There is then an analysis of why these problems exist.

The second link above is a follow-up article continues on the same theme, but focuses more on possible solutions.


24 Sitting straight 'bad for backs'

Tuesday 28th November, 2006

An interesting read for desk-bound computer-users. Apparently sitting straight is not the best position for office workers.