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Showing posts from July, 2004
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Moores’ Law of Aviation

If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t, so go around.”



A group of us were swapping Red Arrows stories at the airshow yesterday. It’s uncanny to find so many pilots in one place with such a poor opinion of the Red Arrows, not their flying skills of course but their radio procedure.

I’ve had the experience, on one occasion, of running dangerously low on fuel and attempting to get a word in edgeways, while the Arrows bickered with the Manston control tower, refusing to leave the main runway over some minor parking detail and leaving me in a seemingly endless orbit of the cooling towers at Pegwell Bay. I’m not alone it seems, even among other pilots present, who have similar tales of the Red Arrows monopolising a radio frequency as if they were the only aircraft in the sky, “bullying” and “unprofessional”, were two of the expressions used by better aviators than me.

So if you’re reading this "Red One", nobody doubts that you lead a great display team…
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The Real Price of Progress

I could almost hear the unspoken expression, “Oh heck” or worse, at the other end of the phone. I had been speaking to a very pleasant young lady on the Vodafone customer service line, with what I thought was a simple query and which in the end, became a little more complex than perhaps Vodafone might have liked.



You may remember, that last month, I decided to do away with my Compaq IPAQ PDA and replace this and my mobile phone with a Sony Ericsson P900 “Smartphone.”

Alright, I had some teething problems, the manufacturer’s surprise that I had five thousand names in my Microsoft Outlook address book, which took two hours to synchronise with the phone on the first attempt, it’s refusal to install firmware updates from the Sony site, fun and games trying to make GPRS email work smoothly and of course, it’s irritating habit of spontaneously calling my mother-in-law or Unisys in Uxbridge without any intervention on my part and with the key lock turned firmly on, …
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Ups and Downs at Beccles

While everyone else is at work, on the beach or hiding from the sultry heat, Bob the banner and I are making an early start, with warm bacon sandwiches, over the Thames Estuary towards Lowestoft for a day’s towing around the air display.

Captain Bob

Very hazy visibility today. So point the aircraft towards Beccles and climb to five thousand feet, avoiding the danger area, the active military firing ranges that extend out to sea, East of Southend.

Beccles when we arrive is relatively quiet, just us, a second banner aircraft and the Utterly Butterly air display aircraft who are positioned there for today’s show at Lowestoft.



In fact, as you can see from the photo, two local primary schools have managed to win a wing walking experience for their headmasters and the children, gathered patiently behind the aircraft, are delighted to see their teachers suspended on a biplane wing.  What more could a child want?



Meanwhile, the attempt at the world land speed record…
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My Insecurity Problem

Between last night and this morning, I wasted 90 minutes on the phone with a hotel's technical support because of troubles using the in-room wireless network. I see the problems as underscoring the challenges Microsoft faces in delivering Windows XP Service Pack 2 and getting businesses and consumers to appropriately adjust behavior.



My problem started before I connected. The updated Windows XP informed me that the network was not secue, meaning it was open, because no WEP was required. So, that led to the first support call and assurances that password and user name at the gateway protected the network. Unconvinced, I pushed up the protection settings on XP's built-in firewall and connected.

But, rather than be prompted for user name and password (I had been given free access for my two-day stay), I could only get access to a page wanting to bill my room. Looks like the Website either wanted to use an ActiveX control, pop-up window or both, which are au…
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Text Messaging Destroys The Family Road Trip First it was people complaining that children watching DVDs in the backseat were killing the spirit of the "family road trip," but now you don't even need a fancy expensive in-car entertainment system to lose out on all the joy of family bonding (fighting) in the car.



Textually is pointing to a story saying that children in the UK spend a good portion of time text messaging their friends during road trips. They also prefer to listen to music, rather than actually talk with their family, but I imagine that's been true since the walkman first came on the scene. [via Techdirt]

Microsoft attack worm rides on the back of MyDoom Zincite - Usual suspects and usual target [via The Register]
Mobile roaming rates are 'unfair' Two of Britain's biggest mobile phone operators are accused of unfair pricing and could face fines of tens of millions of pounds. Too right and see my forthcoming expose on GPRS later this week! [via BBC News]
Freak Waves Are No Tall Tale Stories of giant ship-wrecking waves are no longer just for crusty sea captains spinning a good yarn. Data from European Space Agency satellites shows that monster waves do exist -- and they're more common than expected. [via Wired News]
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Airads Over Lowestoft

I just had my Breitling 'Emergency', watch back from Switzerland after its three year service and battery change. Just under £400 for the privilege, a jaw-dropping price but they did throw in a Breitling cap. What can I say.....! Certainly, the best value aviator watch I have is Russian and by Poljot. It's a Breitling look-alike, and only £140.00. Does rather make you wonder!

Come Thursday, if I get the time off from fence-painting duty, I'm off to the Lowestoft Air Festival, towing banners with Airads' Captain Bob and his Cessna 172.



It's an early start planned from Maypole with coffee and bacon sandwiches up towards Beccles and the Norfolk coast. The usual suspects are expected. The Red Arrows, my old mate, Denny Dobson and his Extra 300, the Yakovlev Team and the Stearmans of the very pretty and delightful Utterly Butterly wing walkers, who have more courage than I do. Among other attractions, five biplane fighters from the World War 1 …
Shaking up Government IT

A committee of MPs has published the most significant, hardest hitting report yet into government IT failures. Read some of the key articles on the issue. Computer Weekly
Open Source security One of the main reasons that companies choose Open Source software is because of the cost - even commoditised software based on Open Source code is cheaper than proprietary technology. [via IT-Director.com - Information Security]
The shaky state of enterprise security Faced with a seemingly endless onslaught of virulent Internet worms, spam, and e-mail scams, less than half of IT professionals report strong confidence in the security of their enterprise networks, according to the results of the 2004 InfoWorld Security Survey.[via InfoWorld: Security]
MyDoom Spread Illustrates Challenge for Phishing Defense MyDoom.M's ability to disrupt the Web's best-equipped sites illustrates the difficulty of educating e-mail users in handling attachments. It also has sobering implications for banks seeking to educate users about phishing scams, which in recent weeks have featured social engineering tactics nearly identical to those that succeeded with MyDoom.M. [via Netcraft]
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A Bad Case of the DDs

To illustrate the contrasting nature of content on the Internet, this week, I’ve noticed two stories, - see further below - the first being the release by NASA, of the digitised photographs from the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. The space agency does move a little slowly at times, thirty years but at long last, this remarkable archive is now available to anyone over the Internet.



Bringing us back to the present with a jolt, is the iPod London Toilet Guide, ‘pPod’, an interactive service experiment and guide by media company Nykris; what it describes as “A combination of text, spoken word audio, and music to deliver a guide to London’s public loos – truly a convenience for iPod users on the move!”

Neither one of these stories may capture your immediate interest, unless like me, you drink too much coffee but I find, that with so many unusual headlines being fed by my RSS Newzcrawler, to my computer over any twenty-four hour period, resisting the urge to waste busines…
Surge in Scans Seeking SSL Servers Internet scanning for servers running Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) has spiked in the past week, raising suspicions that hackers may be identifying targets for future attacks. [via Netcraft]
Microsoft's Readying More Open-Source Goodies The Redmondians have been hinting that they are planning to open source more of their technologies. The $64,000 question has been "Which ones"? It sounds like we'll find out in a few more weeks. [via Microsoft Watch ]
Introducing the iPod London toilet guide - The pPod A really useful piece of software? [via The Register]
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Apollo 11 Photographs Unfrozen Over 30 years later, NASA have digitised the Apollo 11 Photographs.




US criticised over cyber-security Efforts by the US authorities to counter cyber-crime and terrorism have been criticised in an internal report. It's not as if they are the only one! [via BBC News]
Bin Laden 'suicide' virus on net A virus purporting to show images of Osama Bin Laden's suicide has been unleashed on the internet, experts warn. - Another attempt to catch the gullible...! [via BBC News]
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Don't Look Down

I took my daughter Charlotte over to Le Touquet for the first time yesterday. I had promised her a visit to the aquapark on the sea front but hadn’t expected it to be as busy as it was. Of course the French children are already on their summer holidays and most of them appeared to be queuing for the water slides, absolute bedlam but she enjoyed it and slept all the way home to Kent, missing the view on the way.



In fact, I had considered cancelling the flight in the morning, as Le Touquet were giving four thousand metres and special VFR in mist but hearing one of my past instructors on the radio, mid channel, I asked him what it was like there and he suggested that we could duck under the poor visibility at low-level from Boulogne, which we did, only really seeing the runway once we were joining downwind.



The day eventually cleared into what summer should really be and I wonder how long it will last. Apparently, the jet stream has moved south this year and as a con…
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Stand & Deliver

Russians (10), National Hi-tech Crime Unit, (1) but on the Internet, anything is possible, and in this case, the NHTCU have, with the help of the Russian Federation police, ‘bagged’ ten of the bad guys who have been attempting to extort money from online sports books, the online equivalent of the high street bookmaker, which have been plaguing British bookies since October 2003 by attacking their websites before major sporting events, such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National and the Six Nations.



Illustrating the power of Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDOS), the Russian gang were reportedly demanding payments of up to $40,000 (£21,000) to go away but such is the growing popularity of computer crime in the old Soviet Union, one can bet that for every gang that succeeds or ends up doing time in the Siberian gulag, several more will spring-up to take their place.

It’s just as bad in Nigeria with any attempt to halt the tide of 419 (advance fee) s…
Sloppy banks open the door to phishermen
A new vulnerability makes it easier for fraudsters to pass off content from bogus websites as the real thing. Using a variant of well-known cross site scripting attacks, British Web developer and security researcher Sam Greenhalgh was able to inject JavaScript from his own website into pages generated by NatWest, Mastercard and Barclays. Even the website of GCHQ, Britain's electronic eavesdropping operation, can be overlaid with bogus content [via The Register]
Bookies extortion gang caught Police arrest three members of a global gang which sought to extort money from UK bookmakers by sabotaging websites. - National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (1) Russians (3).  [via BBC News]
MPs lambast Whitehall IT 'waste' An inquiry into IT systems by a committee of MPs finds an "appalling waste of public money". What's even more surprising is that anyone might be surprised by this news?[via BBC News]
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The Few Become Fewer

I'm tempted to write to Defense Minister, Geoff Hoon and offer to lend the dwindling RAF the little Cessna I fly. With each year that passes, the few are becoming fewer and with an RAF friend telling me that even flying time is restricted or that a third of the aircraft don't work at any one time; half if they happen to be Harriers, I'll soon have more flying time than the Red Arrows, who will soon find themselves as the singular, Red Arrow.



Of course as Al Qaeda doesn't have an air force, who needs one anymore? Obviously not us or The Black Watch or the Navy or even the Air Cadets.


Parents 'under-estimate' net risk Parents still do not realise what their children do or see while they are on the net, a report suggests. [via BBC News]
Preventing day zero attacks Security threats facing organisations are increasing. This year alone there were 83 rapidly propagating threats unleashed over the internet in the first six months alone. [via IT-Director.com ]
Bank's own developers a much bigger problem than browsers Banks will imminently be under pressure to eliminate opportunities for cross site scripting from their sites, following a demonstration that several very widely used banking web sites could act as conduits for fraudsters to solicit and steal their customers' account information. Amongst the vulnerable sites are MasterCard and Barclays, which ironically each recently announced initiatives to combat phishing, apparently without ensuring that their own houses were in order. [via Netcraft]
RSS Traffic Burdens Publisher's Servers The popularity of RSS feeds is testing the web infrastructure of at least one publishing company, which likens the impact of newsreader traffic to a denial of service attack. [via Netcraft]
Thousands head for child web porn Thousands of people are trying to view child porn on the net daily, according to BT which blocks website hits. The scale of child porn use on the net has alarmed watchdogs.[via BBC News ]
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Captain Bob's Airads

A busy towing 'Airads' banners all day between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. The day starts at Maypole with a refuelling stop at Rochester before flying on to Beccles in East Anglia which we used as the base for two tows before wandering home again this evening.



A lovely view of the North Kent coast from five thousand feet over the Thames estuary as I start a slow descent in Captain Bob's Cessna 172, towards the distant line of Birchington and the field at Maypole, just visible in the evening haze.  I felt very privileged perched up there in the sky between East Anglia and Kent, looking towards the small bend in the coast where my home is. While other people are crammed into the 17:34 from Victoria, I have a very different, even unique, view of the world and challenges that simply can't easily be expressed in words.

It's an unusual thing to do but then Bob Shilling's  Airads aircraft appreared on the BBC programme, 'Restoration'…
Brits unimpressed by e-Gov

Billions of pounds have been invested, but no one has noticed. That is the stark conclusion drawn from a recent survey of British public awareness of e-Government. It found that 73 per cent of the population was oblivious to any change in government services as a result of the huge investment.

The survey, conducted by Transversal, an eservice software provider, also found that by and large, people prefer to phone their local council, rather than emailing or checking on the Web. Although almost 60 per cent of those questioned said the phone was their preferred communication medium, 88 percent said that if the council website could respond quickly and accurately, they would far rather deal with the government online

The Register
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eGovernment - Read the Small Print First 

Britain isn’t alone worrying about the creeping growth of red-tape and regulatory interference that even eGovernment only appears to fuel with greater enthusiasm from Whitehall.



Europe we all know about to our collective cost, the Euro-banana playing its own vital part in European Union enlargement but in the United States too, The Washington Times, this month expressed its concern at ‘Regulation therapy’, asking readers if they believed that the benefits of government regulation should exceed their costs?  It reminded its readers that in 1937, a presidential commission told Franklin D. Roosevelt that all the new regulatory agencies he had created under the ‘New Deal’, constituted, "a headless fourth branch of government, a haphazard deposit of irresponsible agencies and uncoordinated powers" and that was without a Ministry of Constitutional Affairs; part of a another new deal, on this side of the Atlantic, which has had fifteen ne…
Introducing Del-Qaida

Worried about losing money, the entertainment business is peddling false links between DVD pirates and terror cells

Guardian Unlimited
A million stolen letters as postal targets missed

And where's the new leather jacket I ordered last month, which has gone 'Missing', somewhere in the post?

Royal Mail is to vet its delivery staff for criminal convictions for the first time after more than one million items of post were stolen last year.

Times Online
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Howard's Way

Today, I was invited to meeting called by Opposition leader, Michael Howard (MP) at Conservative Central Office, to examine the issues surrounding the protection of children on the Internet.



Chaired by Theresa May (MP) the gathering included the ‘usual suspects’, John Carr, from the Internet Watch Foundation, several MPs, ISPs, Telco’s, Police and representative’s from children’s groups, all confronted with a grave problem that defies every attempt to legislate it out of existence.

Michael Howard opened the meeting with a short speech that congratulated the Government for establishing an Internet Task Force in 2001 and paid tribute to the work of the National Hi-tech Crime Unit and what he described as the responsible example set by the UK’s own Internet industries in fighting paedophile behaviour. However, Howard expressed his dismay at the “Terrifying growth of child pornography”, which he said represents “A terrible stain on our society.”

“We need”, says Michael How…
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Waach the Ball

Autumn has made a temporary return today. A change on yesterday, which was almost summer-like.

I invented a new type of triathlon yesterday afternoon. Cycle cross country twelve miles, fly for thirty minutes, cycle back twelve miles and then kayak across the bay and collapse in a heap. Consequently, I ache this morning.



From my point of view, the sea still demands the comfort of a wetsuit and I very much doubt that the water temperature will now rise sufficiently to risk leaving my neoprene layer at home. July has now been so bad that I would be surprised if August recovers and one of the farmers I know was complaining that his crops have been ruined.

Tomorrow, I’ve been invited to meet Theresa May and Leader of the Opposition, Michael Howard at a round table at Conservative Central Office. This means taking the train up to London, with the normal one in three chance of arriving at Victoria in time.

Friday, I’m taking the day off with a friend and we’ll fly over to Franc…
Companies Adapt to a Zero Day World

Financial institutions with critical systems and cash on the line are reorganizing to deal with the closing gap between the hole and the patch.

Zero day exploits are upon us. Case in point, the June 25th Russian attacks that turned IIS servers into delivery platforms for identity-thieving Trojan keystroke loggers. The attacks relied on two vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer that security researchers discovered for the first time weeks earlier on a malicious adware-implanting website. At the time of the attack, no patch was available.

Secuity Focus
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Stealth Virus is Stealthiest of All

There's a new mass mailing virus in town, and it's built to make life for AV researchers even more difficult.



Atak uses a variety of tactics in its attempts to escape antivirus analysis. Its main trick is to check to see if it's being run in a debugging environment. If so, it exits to avoid detection. The ploy prevents casual perusal of the code by researchers and (potentially) rival virus writers.

A possible bug, related to the way Atak checks its activation date, prevents it from being run in a "sandbox". A sandbox is a virtual environment commonly used by AV researchers to look at the behaviour of malware in a safe environment.

The Register
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Ministers Told to do More to Protect UK's Critical IT

A strong sense of 'Deja Vu' on my part.

MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee are pressing ministers and the government's Joint Intelligence Committee to review the vulnerability of the UK's critical computer systems to electronic attack.



There are growing concerns that defences against electronic and physical threats are not sufficiently co-ordinated.

The Intelligence and Security Committee said it was "unconvinced" by assurances that the government's National Information Security Co-ordination Cen- tre (NISCC) and the Communications Electronic Security Group are reducing the vulnerability of the UK's critical national infrastructure to electronic attack.

Source Computer Weekly

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Just Say ‘Non’

With what is possibly an indirect poke at Microsoft, through encouraging the spread of spread of open source software, researchers at three French government-funded research organizations have revealed a new license they say is compatible with the Free Software Foundation’s GNU General Public License (GPL).



A report from IDC last week suggests that Western European business has now accepted Opens Source computing and Linux into the mainstream consciousness and that the European public sector, very much encouraged by IBM, will spend close to € 100 million on services to support their Linux systems this year and as much as €220 million by 2008.

Although this is still a relatively tiny percentage of the overall software market, when contrasted with Microsoft’s dominance of both the desktop and the Server platforms, interest in Linux continues to grow rapidly and at Microsoft’s expense and one Italian PC dealer, Questar has broken ranks with the manufacturer and has reported…
You know you've got a browser problem when … The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, otherwise known as Dancing with Big Brother, tells the world to stop using the Web browser you fought long and hard to tie into your operating system. That’s what happened to beleaguered Microsoft when the department's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) recently recommended users switch to alternate browser platforms to avoid the security holes in IE caused largely by ActiveX. [via InfoWorld: Security]
Ballmer's Pep Talk Underrates Linux  Although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer waxed optimistic about the company's Linux competition in his annual memo to employees, analysts and Linux leaders say Microsoft is losing traction fast and that its battles are "only going to get worse." [via eWEEK ]
Gotcha

More than 500 suspected fraudsters have been arrested, and $500 million of assets seized, in an international crackdown on West African 'advance fee' fraud involving the City of London police.

"The Nigerian government, led by President Olusegun Obasanjo, has pledge to stamp out corruption and recently announced it was developing software that could identify key words used in 'advance fee' emails. It has promised to distribute the software to internet service providers".

I believe them - thouands wouldn't...!

The Observer
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If at First you Don't Succeed, Try Management

People don't make the same mistake twice; they frequently make it three, four or five times.

News that Microsoft will be wrapping a competitive advantage label around its Trustworthy Computing strategy, rather took me by surprise this week. After all, claiming to have a competitive advantage in the information security space normally implies that one has several volumes of supporting evidence, errr, rather like demonstrating that Internet Explorer is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar, when of course we know that the company’s efforts to fix this month’s latest ‘serious’ vulnerability has revealed a second equally dangerous weakness, on fully patched copies of Windows.



In fact, Netcraft report that more than one hundred Web servers are still distributing the "Scob" malicious code, first identified two weeks ago as code used in a widespread attack to plant Trojan horse programs on vulnerable computers. That attack used compr…
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Foggles

Bouncing around over the Dover VOR this morning, I’m still not happy with my instrument work. I took off with a friend acting as lookout pilot and saw very little other than my instruments until I was two miles from the end of the runway looking to land after an hour of ‘chasing the needle’. I’ve got to get that altitude control back to within fifty feet either way on a blind course and so I’m off banner towing with Bob on Sunday, first to Norwich for one tow and then to Weymouth for another and in between, he'll let me fly his bigger aircraft with the “Foggles” on; a grey and narrow little world of my own. It should be several hours of good practise but it’s desperately tiring work, which is why the autopilot was invented for modern aircraft.

Security Failures Threaten Online Shopping

Over a million UK consumers have been victims of security breaches whilst shopping online, which is prompting them to turn their backs on large online brands. New research by LogicaCMG revealed that more than one in 20 consumers have experienced an attempted or actual theft of financial or personal details whilst carrying out online transactions such as banking and shopping. As well as the risk to their finances, this also has an emotional impact, with four in ten (43 %) respondents comparing their experience to being robbed, and three in ten (31 %) reporting mistrust in the website or company.
Information Security Threat Growing in the UK

But many users are ignoring best practice advice

UK businesses feel more vulnerable to IT security threats than ever, but are still ignoring best practice advice and leaving themselves open to attack, according to one of the world's largest studies of security issues.

The Global Information Security Survey 2004 questioned 7,000 technology and security professionals in 40 countries on behalf of Computing and its sister publications around the world.

The research shows that attacks are on the increase but companies are not listening to warnings about properly protecting their infrastructure.
Some 87 per cent of UK businesses feel they are more at threat from viruses and malicious hackers than they were last year.

And 92 per cent of UK companies have suffered downtime as a result of a security breach or some other form of espionage. But straightforward advice and working practices to minimise attacks are being ignored, and users are re…
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Statistics - Big Government Rules OK

I wouldn't normally put up a party political here but I felt I had to find some space for Labour's 'Top Twenty' courtesy of Shadow Chancellor, Oliver Letwin.



Labour have put up taxes 66 times. Households are paying £5,000 more a year in tax than in 1997. The result is Labour’s Big Government….

1. The Civil Service is now the size of Sheffield.
2. Whitehall bureaucracy costs every household £850 a year.
3. The number of tax collectors has increased almost twice as fast as the number of new doctors and nurses.
4. There are now more tax collectors and customs officers than people serving in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force put together.
5. One Department – Work and Pensions – employs more people than there are soldiers in the British Army.
6. There are more DEFRA bureaucrats than there are dairy farms in England.
7. An extra 511 civil servants were employed every week last year.
8. The number of new bureaucrats and support staf…
Linux is Pushing Microsoft Pricing Down The latest news to emerge in the Linux v Windows battle is that Microsoft has cut its prices (rumour suggests by more than half) in an effort to dissuade the city of Paris from moving to Linux on the desktop. [via IT-Director.com]
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Murphy's Law "If at first you don't succeed, try management." This lovely site deserves a read. [via e-Government@large]

Video diary from the grave A US inventor has come up with a system that enables dead people to leave a video message played out on their tombstone. "I told you I was dead." [via BBC News | ]
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Day Is Night: Microsoft Says Security Is Its Competitive Advantage Really not quite sure what to make of this, but apparently Microsoft believes that if they just say something it must be true. In the past few weeks there have been so many major Microsoft security problems, it's been nearly impossible to keep count. Yet, Steve Ballmer is going to stand on stage with a straight face at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference and claim that security is their competitive advantage. Even worse, he's doing this despite claiming the same thing last year, which included a number of promises about Microsoft's security upgrades, most of which they haven't actually done. Now, there are plenty of sites that bash Microsoft for being Microsoft, and that's really not worth wasting time over. However, if Microsoft really wants to claim they're serious about security, shouldn't they show us they're serious about security, rather than just telling us? [via Techdirt
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Passing Thoughts from Lyon

I finally escaped from Lyons last night. Leaving the city after my lunch at Interpol proved to be more of an ordeal than an adventure and in the process; I discovered a number of new and important facts, for me at least.



Firstly, Interpol has its own wine and a gift shop as well. “The FBI has one, so we had to have one too but our wine is French and much better.”

Lyon trams stop every 300 metres. Never ask a tram driver to tell you when to get off, even if you happen to be sitting opposite him. I did and forty minutes later I asked him if the station was much farther. “Mon Dieu”, he replied “I forgot”, which left me thirty minutes the wrong side of town, having to find a tram back the other way and already late for my flight home.

In Lyon, taxis are few and far between but traffic lights are everywhere.

Obesity is very obviously an English and American disease. The French have more pride in their appearance or simply more self-discipline or common sense when …
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Lazy

Once again, Le Touquet bathed in the July sunshine was at contrast with the opposite side of the channel, where I had taken off an hour earlier. There aren't that many nice restaurants, fashion boutiques and luxury shops in Kent but it has other attractions. After all, we have a McDonalds in Margate and much nicer countryside where there's still some of it left between the M25, the M20 and the M2.



Anyway, I need remedial work on my instrument skills. All over the place trying to follow the beacon into the hold and then the localiser signal on to the runway at Le Touquet. I'm only allowed two degrees of error and at six miles out on the turn towards the approach; I let the aircraft get the better of me. So back to some intense revision work before retaking the exam. In fact, it's a good idea. One falls into bad habits in an aircraft in much the same way as one take's a car for granted. A bit like re-taking an advanced driving test. Unless one is spot on and doin…
Microsoft, under attack, aims to offer security Two and a half years after launching its Trustworthy Computing initiative, Microsoft Corp. is finding its products the target of escalating attacks, to the extent that some security experts are even warning that the company's Internet Explorer (IE) browser is simply not safe to use. There'sa surprise!  [via InfoWorld: Security]
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iPods pose security risk for enterprises, Gartner says The iPod may be popular, but also poses such a major security risk for businesses, that enterprises should seriously consider banning the iPod and other portable storage devices, according to a study by research firm Gartner - I knew it...all your company's secrets downloaded and neatly stored alongside the Grateful Dead and George Michael albums. [via InfoWorld: Security]

Better night vision through cannabis  Researchers claim to have found a new property in cannabis - it helps us see in the dark. - The only trouble is that you can hurt yourself bumping into furniture while you look for the fridge. [via Guardian Unlimited]
UK Betting Sites Hit By Outages Onling gambling sites Eurobet and Coral have been experiencing ongoing outages since early Monday, shortly after the completion of the Euro 2004 soccer championship and the Wimbledon tennis finals. Serious and organised maybe? [via Netcraft]
Longhorn and Tiger: Who's Copying Whom? The bigger question: What does it matter? Let the platforms ultimately compete on their own merits. [via Microsoft Watch ]
Rethinking Traditional Economics In An Age Of Intellectual Property Andy Kessler, who likes nothing better than forcing people to rethink the status quo, has dropped in a submission about his latest Wall Street Journal op-ed piece explaining why economists who are worried about too many people being employed leading to inflation are living in a time before intellectual property economics became clear. Kessler argues that with intellectual property being our main output, traditional economics don't apply in the same way: "How much does it cost for another copy of Windows. Zilch. Stressed about prices? Take another Xanax, it costs almost nothing to make. Same for Lipitor. Their high costs go to fund FDA trials, not factories. How much does it cost to enable another Google search? Music download? Email? Phone call? Nanocents. The output gap of intellectual property is almost infinite. Full (and high wage) employment in research jobs is what we want." This is the very concep…
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Brits fear online shopping Don't fear the Web, it is your friend... "I don't trust it without a battery of security precautions. Would you?" [via The Register]

UN Now Ready To Take On Spam Epidemic Last week we joked about how the US, UK, and Australia had teamed up to work together to fight spam, noting that this left plenty of other countries for spammers to go run and hide. Apparently, the UN is realizing this as well, and has declared spam an epidemic. They're trying to get regulators from over 60 countries to agree on anti-spam rules, to help fight the problem on a more global basis. Who knows if it will work (or if they'll make things worse), but at least they do seem to recognize that a single country can't do much on its own concerning spam. [via Techdirt]
Watchdog backs broadband changes Opening up BT's exchanges to rivals could make cheap net calls and affordable super-fast broadband a reality. - Put another way, we get 25kb 'Broadband' while other nations can receive up to 5mb. Time to end the farce of 'Broadband Britain. I think". [via BBC News ]
Not A Single Person In Nigeria In Jail For 419 Crimes The Nigerian government likes to publicly announce every few months that they are about to crack down on 419 scammers. Then, they do nothing, more of the scams occur and the government again promises to crack down on the scams. It's pretty clear, however, that this is not going to happen. The Register is noting that, while about 200 Nigerians have been arrested around the world for taking part in 419 advanced fee fraud, not a single person in Nigeria has been arrested. The answer, not surprisingly, is that many of the scams are done by organized crime groups who have bribed government officials to look the other way. Still, next time the Nigerian government makes this claim (and they will), ask how many people they've actually arrested. [via Techdirt]
Microsoft Posts Security Update An interim fix issued by the software giant does not repair the flaw that makes a new technique for spreading viruses possible, but it changes Windows settings to disable hackers' ability to deliver malicious code with it. [via Wired News]
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The Digital Divide in the Developed World

While the "Digital Divide" is an oft cited problem in an increasingly connected world, the factors that affect this barrier and how governments can develop appropriate policies to overcome them are less than clear cut. In fact, even in developed countries such as the UK, it may surprise many to know that a significant percentage of the population choose to remain on the sidelines of the digital revolution. In an article for eGov monitor, Thomas B. Riley explores the issues surrounding the digital divide and the implications for government policy.



Read the full article by Thomas B. Riley in eGov monitor:
A Lively Open-Source Debate The assumption that all programmers are open-source advocates falls flat at Sun's 'Big Question' debate. In fact, they're pretty well split on the subject.. [via Wired News]
Merged security prompts privacy fears In George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, surveillance devices constantly monitor the citizens of Oceana, and Big Brother controls their movements. Orwell may have missed his target by about 20 years, but parts of his ominous vision are imminently more possible now that physical and IT security systems are merging.  [via InfoWorld: Security]
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Can I See Your Mobile Porn License? Many mobile phone operators have been banking on porn to jump start their data services revenue. This has always seemed like an odd strategy. Perhaps I don't understand the porn market very well, but are people really that hard up for porn that they want to be able to view it on a tiny screen on the go? Either way, it looks like a roadblock may now be in the way. With the fear that (gasp! oh no!) kids might actually view pornography on a mobile phone (as if they can't already access it on the internet), mobile phone operators in the UK are quickly trying to block out the porn (which, for some reason, they think is actually possible). Vodafone's latest strategy is to block all porn unless you somehow prove yourself to be an adult by giving them a credit card (which I'm sure plenty of kids have access to) or showing up in person at a store. I'm sure that will be a popular option: "Hi, I'm here to get porn on my phone!"…
Hackers Manipulating Internet Explorer Add-Ons Hackers have found yet another method to compromise Internet Explorer, adding Browser Helper Objects to their toolkit in mounting ever-more sophisticated phishing attacks. [via Netcraft]
US, UK and Australia sign anti-spam act Think global, act global [via The Register]
Enforcement is key to fighting cybercrime Leave law alone and feel more collars, MPs' report concludes [via The Register]
Microsoft's patchwork mess Microsoft is trying to limit the length of time authors of malicious code have to inspect software fixes, to write and distribute malware that exploits the vulnerabilities, and to attack still-unprotected systems. But the process reveals a lack of attention to detail--and that's the bigger problem because it represents a glaring shortcoming in the company's Trustworthy Computing initiative. [via ZDNet]
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China to censor text messages Mobile messages are to be policed raising fears of political censorship. "I wish", says David Blunkett. [via BBC News]

Warning over cash machine fraud Thousands of bank customers are being warned to limit their use of cash machines because of the growing risk of fraud. [via BBC News
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Eurostar

I had hoped to have been able to fly myself to Brussels yesterday but the 'summer' weather made this impossible.



With a 24-hour PPR (prior permission) required for the flight plan, I had spent £17.00 on a call to the Met Office to speak to a forecaster for a stronger idea of what Friday morning’s weather might be and I have to confess, he was spot on. Heavy showers and high winds, which forced me to take ‘Plan B’, the Eurostar from Ashford, a convenient, more expensive and longer journey than simply hopping in my aircraft and starting the engine.

What surprised me at the Eurostar check-in at Ashford International Station at 08:45 in the morning was that only one person was on duty, with a row of empty positions next to him. People in the lengthening queue, include me, were starting to mutter with annoyance. After all, at this time of the day, one might have thought that Eurostar might be able to organise more than one ticket desk?

When I finally reached the front of t…
Is It Time to Retire IE? You could argue it's just sour grapes when you have the eWEEK Linux Topic Center editor suggesting users dump Internet Explorer as a result of never-ending security concerns. And with an older IE vulnerability, one that snatches banking passwords, making a return this week, IE users to either switch or apply the soon-to-be-released Windows XP Service Pack 2 in a hurry. [via Microsoft Watch ]
Cyber crime law needs updating An influential group of MPs has published its recommendations for cyber crime reforms. [via BBC News ]
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New Security Threat Targets Online Banking Customers

Internet banking customers have been warned of a new security threat which uses a browser add-on to steal login information for nearly 50 banking sites, including Barclays and HSBC.



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