Vehicle For Dissertation - Tech Edition

A resource for technology information I find interesting... And maybe you will too.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Updated Firefox Roadmap

While the tentative plan was to release Firefox 1.1 in March, Ben Goodger informs us of the new plans. That is to say, a June release date. This will allow more time to ensure a complete and stable release. To see the roadmap, which includes the schedule for Firefox 2.0 you can click here.

New VIA PT chipsets for the Pentium 4

Among other things VIA's new PT 880 Pro chipset support both PCI Express and AGP. A good feature if you're looking to upgrade but don't want to replace your fairly new AGP graphics card. There's also support for 1066 FSB speeds and DDR memory up to 400Mhz as well as DDR2 up to 667Mhz.

Read the review at Tom's Hardware Guide

"MyDoom" rated as the most influential virus of '04

TechWeb has an article rating the "MyDoom" virus as the most influential of this past year. Below is one quote from the article which can be read in it's entirety here.

" '[MyDoom has] proven that there is an underground open-source community of worm writers who are sharing source code and virus-writing techniques not only with each other, but now also with spammers and phishers,' said Chasin."

I know that it (MyDoom) and variations of Netsky have been the most persistent at showing up in the inboxes here over the past few months so they could be right in their conclusion.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Linux security is a myth...Or so claims Microsoft

According to one person speaking for Microsoft we now know that the myth of Linux security is, to be exact, a myth. We also should take note that open source developers are not as skilled as those writing for Microsoft.

Really, I think that is saying far too much. I think we have enough examples to point out that open source developers are exceptionally skilled and that Linux is quite secure.

Here's one article supporting that opinion. "Linux fights off hackers"

As for talented developers... There are such programs as OpenOffice, Firefox, MySQL, Apache.

I use Windows; and like it. I also use Linux; and like it. There are strengths to be found in both.

Intel's New Trademark. Is it 64-bit, dual core or...?

Does Intel's trademarking the names "Intel Inside VIIV" and "Intel VIIV" apply to the upcoming 64-bit addressing capabilities for some P4 and Celeron processors? Or is it meant for a Pentium 5 dual-core? Here's some speculation:

Tom's Hardware


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Screenshots of the upcoming Firefox features

If you're interested in some screenshots of yet-to-be Firefox features (in the Preferences window) check out the post on Ben Goodger's blog with the aforesaid screenshots.

Setting up an FTP server under RedHat 9.0

I know this exposes me as a Linux newbie but... I've just setup my first FTP server on RedHat. And found a couple interesting things. It was part of my lab assignment today (at school). After getting the vsftpd daemon loaded and running I started trying to "put" and "get" files from the server.

Interestingly when using the "put" command I had to rename the file otherwise it returned an error saying "could not create file". The instructor thought this weird and hadn't seen it function that way before. So in order to upload the file "firefox-1.0-installer.tar.gz" I had to use the command "put /home/user/firefox-1.0-installer.tar.gz Firefox" which would then upload the file renaming it as "Firefox". Any explanations? It worked like that for the other guys too. We expected to be able to upload it preserving the local name.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Running Windows viruses on Linux with Wine

I thought this article was humorous. You too could run your Windows viruses under Linux! Read the article at NewsForge.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Update on Kerio Personal Firewall

I gave it a short try. It was short. After installing it I found out that it is a 30day eval version. Evidently I'd missed that somewhere along the way when I was looking at the site. So... For a little comparison I took it and my former firewall (ZoneAlarm) to and did one of their ShieldsUp! tests. Same results for both. I had done a search on Kerio and found someone who seemed to have better success on that same test. On the default config. I didn't see any advantage to Kerio. Only one port was listed as closed and two as stealthed.

The other problem I had probably could have been resolved with more time to work on it. The firewall was blocking access from my other systems so I could do file and printer sharing. I attempted to configure it as I had ZoneAlarm but to no avail. I'll have to take a closer look when I've more time...

Monday, January 24, 2005

More stuff at MOOX Werx

MOOX Werx also has a pretty good list of "Bulletproof" free software. I found some stuff that looks worthy of a try. Particularly the Kerio Personal Firewall. I'll post an update on that subject once I've done some evaluation.

They've also listed video and audio freeware. System stuff. Browsers and email clients. Lots of things to check out.

Optimized Mozilla Software Builds

MOOX Werx has some speed-optimized builds of Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird available for download. I haven't put any of them to the test yet though I did download the Firefox M2 build. You should be aware that there are possible stability problems since these are experimental builds with an emphasis on speed and low memory usage.

BrowserSpy: What a website knows about you...

If you're interested in finding out what a website (and the folks behind it) can find out about your system, read on. Henrik Gemal, over in Copenhagen (where I've never been fortunate enough to be) has a tool called BrowserSpy which will tell you what info about your system can be discovered.
It's interesting that quite a few of the tests will only work with Internet Explorer! He's another guy that recommends using an alternate browser. You can look at the page explaining the purpose of BrowserSpy or just go run some of the online tests and see what happens.

Get Firefox!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Cisco advises of vulnerabilties in routers using IOS

The vulnerability applies to Cisco routers "running any unfixed version of Cisco IOS code that supports, and is configured for ITS, CME or SRST". There is a fix and workaround options available.

Document ID: 63708

Cisco Security Advisory: Vulnerability in Cisco IOS Embedded Call Processing Solutions

Firefox and Thunderbird wallpapers

If you like the these Mozilla apps a desktop background to go with 'em might be nice. Think so? Niels Leenheer at rakaz has some really nice Firefox wallpapers. You can also find some featuring both Firefox and Thunderbird here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

SLAX Linux Screenshots

Access to Windows partitions

Using KPlayer


SLAX Linux Live 4.2.0

I was interested in finding out more about how to boot a Linux distro from a USB flash drive and came across SLAX. The USB booting will have to wait until I put aside enough $$$ to buy a 1GB jump drive.

Anyway...I stumbled across the SLAX website and decided to download it. SLAX is a "live" Linux distro you can run from a CD. It's based on Slackware and is quite compact (compared to the KNOPPIX Live CD I made) at only 180MB. Tomas Matejicek, the developer "behind the curtain" has put together a really great package featuring, to quote him:

Linux Kernel 2.4.28-pre4 with SATA support 6.8.1
KDE 3.3.1
KOffice 1.3.3
KDE games
MPlayer 1.0pre5 with KPlayer
kopete ICQ/AIM/Y!/IRC
midnight commander
rdesktop (rscp in KDE)
hotplug support
k3b burning GUI for KDE
mutt email client
and much more...

After burning yourself the Live CD and booting it you'll get to the boot: prompt. You get a few seconds to begin typing any special boot options you want. I like the "slax copy2ram" option which copies all modules to RAM. Tomas warns that this will slow the boot process but I found that there didn't seem to be much difference in that area. Once you're booted though...It really goes! You can use the "gui" command which starts the X environment. A very nice KDE implementation in my opinion. And, as I said, fast! I could access my Windows partitions and tried out KPlayer on one of my .WMA tracks. Fine there. Started up Konqueror and checked out a few pages. That was one area I did see some hesitation. Once the page began loading it loaded fast but there was some wait before that time.

I'll have to stick some screenshots up later. Or you can go to the SLAX site and see a few. My first impression of this distro is very good. So ends my first post from SLAX.

SLAX Linux Live - Home Page

Another view on Microsoft's Anti-Spyware app

It looks like some users aren't satisfied with the performance of Microsoft's "new" anti-spyware program.

Review: Micrsoft Anti-Spyware Ineffective

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Slurpware????? Not another " * ware "

Supposedly a new term in Internet threats has been coined. I hope it doesn't stick. This post is probably only helping though... TechWeb calls it a convergence of all the other * wares we already face. Spyware, adware, malware. Please, no slurpware.

FBI stops using Carnivore \ DCS-1000

The report is that the FBI is trading the Carnivore \DCS-1000 surveillance software for other products. Evidently it's time for The Bureau to move on from this packet sniffer\ email capturer \ etc. to other, newer software.

At TheMemoryBlog: FBI Apparently Retires Carnivore

Themes screenshot Posted by Hello

Monday, January 17, 2005

Firefox themes and memory usage

Yep, more about Firefox. I was looking at some different themes available at the Mozilla site and began to wonder what themes were more taxing on your system RAM. So I did a quick and dirty test (I may look at more accurate methods later. Anyone with a better way is welcome to comment). My Q&D Test consisted of opening Firefox with one page loaded (Google) and switching between themes while watching the process table in Windows Task Manager. As you can see in the screen shot I have the Firefox default 2.0, Plastikfox Crystal SVG 1.5.1, Qute 3 and Noia 2.0 (eXtreme).

Noia and Plasticfox seemed to be the biggest memory users. They each registered from approx. 18,500 - 20,000 KB. Both the Firefox default and Qute 3 stayed at approx. 17,500 KB. Only a difference of 1 or 2.5 megabytes on a system with 1GB of RAM. But of course little bits add up.

I'll have to check out what memory usage it's running under my SuSE and RedHat installs also.

I was also curious as to how it compared with the dreadful Internet Explorer. So I started the beast up and found that it was running on about 14MB. Three or four less than Firefox. Then I opened five tabs in one Firefox window. I often have 5-10 tabs open sometimes in multiple windows. I also loaded five IE windows. With a few different web pages loaded in each tab Firefox weighed in at 34MB. IE on the other hand showed five instances all running at 14-15MB for a total consumption of 70-75MB.

So with Firefox you can browse more at lower cost. Even with ten tabs open I'm only running 40MB.

Visit Alice and (for Firefox tricks and other stuff)

If you read my post below about TechWeb's readers choice awards for the best independent tech blog then you know my initial thoughts after scanning over Alice and Well I've done a bit more scanning and I really like it!

The reason being that I found out some more Firefox tricks through one of their postings. I like Firefox, so...I like Firefox tweaks. Its a tweak that's been going around but hadn't got to me yet. Maybe more important than the hack itself is my knew knowledge of the configuration page you can open in the browser. By opening a new tab and typing about:config you get a whole page of configuration settings to mess with. For the speed hack go to the article here. There are a couple of links there which will take you to the article on "speed-boosting" Firefox and if you look at the post comments there some tips posted there too.

Interesting GMail bug discovered...and fixed.

Two developers at The HBX Networks UNIX Community Group found and reported a bug in the GMail system a few days ago that unexpectedly displayed emails and password info from other GMailers. You can read about it here. Kudos to the guys for reporting it and to Google for fixing it within about an hour.

Independent Tech Blog Readers Choice Awards

TechWeb held their first Readers Choice Award for Best Independent Tech Blog this year. They ended up with 10 finalists who you might want to take a peek at. I think LonghornBlogs and
Alice and look the most promising for my interests. To see all of them go to TechWeb.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Windows "Longhorn" Release Schedule

It looks like there's some updated info available on the release schedule for Windows "Longhorn". And a list of versions. A rather long list in my opinion. We'll see if they all make it, but do we really need seven versions of Windows? You can take a look at them below as listed on WinSuperSite. For more detailed info take a look at The Road to Windows "Longhorn" 2005 on WinSuperSite.

Longhorn Starter Edition
Analogous to Windows XP Starter Edition.

Longhorn Home Edition
Analogous to Windows XP Home Edition.

Longhorn Premium/Media Center Edition
A premium superset of Home Edition that includes the Media Center functionality. Similar to XP Media Center Edition.

Longhorn Professional Edition
Analogous to Windows XP Professional Edition.

Longhorn Small Business Edition
A new product edition aimed at the small business market. Currently very similar to Professional Edition.

Longhorn Mobility/Tablet PC Edition
Analogous to Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.

Longhorn "Uber" Edition
A new product edition that bridges the consumer and business versions and includes all of the features from the Home, Premium, Pro, Small Business, and Tablet PC Editions (but not Starter Edition).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Here's a site I just found out about this week. says they're a resource to help Windows user find free software without dealing with spyware\adware etc. They have several apps listed that I already use such as: Trillian, Mozilla and Firefox. They also list some other interesting stuff I'll have to try like Real Alternative which is supposed be compatible with RealAudio\RealMedia files.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta vs. Spybot Search & Destroy 1.3

With Microsoft's release of a beta version of their future anti-spyware app came some curiosity as to how it performed compared to other available software. So when I saw it was offered for download I decided to give it a try. I have only once had a real pressing need to run other anti-spyware apps like Spybot S&D 1.3 and AdAware. That was after installing (but not using) Morpheus. I wanted to try out the Xandros Linux distro and decided to try that route to obtain it. In that situation I ended up with a lot of unwanted little programs and favorites in my browser etc. A combination of Spybot, AdAware and an online scan at Trend Micro got rid of the junk.

But back to the new MS program... The download is about 6.2MB (Spybot is approx. 4.5MB) which isn't really of any consequence unless your a dial-up user. Installation went fine. You should be aware that this beta version will expire 7/31/05 as stated in the license agreement.

The installer asks a few questions to configure the app like "do you want to enable auto updates?" > "enable real-time protection?" > "would you like to become part of SpyNet?" > and finally "are you ready to run a scan?". You should notice at the last option that it is set by default to scan every night at 2AM. You can change this by deselecting the check box. I opted "no" to the first three questions simply because I want it to do things when I tell it to. The SpyNet feature is interesting. It explains that it is a "spyware grapevine" of computers (using MS AntiSpyware). When one system encounters a threat all the systems are updated to protect you from that threat. I suppose only time and use can tell the effectiveness of that feature. I don't know how expansive the network is at the moment.

I first ran a Spybot scan and found 56 entries (12 different threats). Some were tracking cookies and some registry problems. I left them as they were and ran a scan with MS AntiSpyware. It found 12 threats in about 3.5 minutes (Spybot took about 2 minutes for the same 22,000 files). The neat thing about MS-AS is that it gives a little description of each discovered threat and a severity rating. It listed 5 as Severe, 5 as High, 1 as Elevated and the last as Moderate. The Severe ones were Trojan type malware like KCGame RAT and VX2.Transponder. You can choose whether to quaratine, remove or ignore any of the threats. The program provides recommendations.

My biggest disappointment comes next. After removing the offensive stuff it wanted me to reboot the system. I chose "no" for the moment but then rebooted anyway. I then ran Spybot again and found 16 entries (as opposed to 56 before removal with MS-AS). So it appears that although MS-AS found some high risk things Spybot missed (like KCGame RAT) it still left some stuff behind. My solution is to use both.

Where Microsoft AntiSpyware really shows some nice features is in areas like the scan reports and advanced tools which seem to be a bit more self explanatory than the Spybot advanced options. MS-AS has such "advanced features" as System Explorer, Browser Hijack Restore and Tracks Eraser. The Tracks Eraser lists various program such as Acrobat Reader, Windows Media Player, Real Player etc. whose usage history you can clear using MS-AS. I won't go into the advanced features of either program any farther at the moment. I haven't done much more with those aspects than browse through them so far.

MS-AS is a nicer program than I had initially expected. I hope they keep the final product light weight and stand alone. I don't really think I want to see it highly integrated into other MS apps. Once again my recommendation is to use both programs. One doesn't catch everything. If you'd like to download either just click one of the links in this post. And hey, protect your system by keeping a sharp eye out. These are just for things that slip by you!

Spybot S&D

Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta1

The SPY ACT: An update

After reading through the SPY ACT bill my opinion, stated in my last post, remains the same. It isn't an extremely long document to read but it is very boring. Basically the main premise is preventing software from being installed on your system and snitching your "personal information" without you consenting for it to do so. It seems that the spyware is supposed to ask you to agree to its terms. As it is I don't think a great many folks read all, or any, of most of the agreements you must resign yourself to when installing software. So that safeguard isn't likely to do much practical good. The big points I gathered from the bill are these: You shall not install software without the users consent. And, You shall not access their "personal data".

Once again a little "I Agree" check box under a long, deceitful agreement is very easy to click without thinking and most non-techy users will do just that. That done, the user has taken the blame for the junky software. So hopefully the the smart dudes who develop cool, sometimes free, software will turn out some tools and apps to beat the spyware. Then we can rely on technology rather than legislation.

Monday, January 10, 2005


According to TechWeb Republican Rep. from California, Mary Bono has reintroduced her "Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act" (SPY ACT) anti-spyware bill she attempted to pass last year.

My initial thought is that legislation against spyware is going to do very little to change that software situation. We have plenty of legislation currently (on other cyber issues) that I don't really think does a great deal of preventative good. I think that smart counter-spyware technology is a better way to go. And that depends on talented developers not legislators.

Be warned, I've not read the bill...yet. I plan to have a look at it, and you can too, at: THOMAS - U.S. Congress on the Internet. (Search for "SPY ACT" and choose H.R.29.IH).

"Extremely Critical" Internet Explorer Bug

Someone (Secunia) has once again advised the Internet world of another Internet Explorer vulnerability. And they've labeled it "Extremely Critical". It seems that you can be exploited through this flaw by just visiting a website created (or modified) for the purpose.

Once again. There are other browsing options besides Internet Explorer. From my logs it appears that 39% of my traffic still uses IE. Some even employ the very aged 5 or 5.5 version. There are a lot that now use Firefox. I once again recommend it. You can always keep IE handy to fall back on if you run into an incompatibility. I only have one page which I have trouble using in Firefox 1.0 or Mozilla 1.7.5.

For everyone who sticks with IE, perhaps you'd like to check out the Secunia advisory and accompanying vulnerability test. Look at the "Alternative Workarounds" section of the advisory and watch out for a patch whenever Microsoft gets around to releasing it!

The Future of the Internet

The PEW Internet Project released a report on what the future of the Internet is likely to be. It's based on the views of some 1200+ "experts" in the field. The report is in .pdf format, 62 pages of it. But if you're interested in predictions on where we're going scan through it.

Here's a quote from it I found rather unsettling:
"The dissemination of information will increasingly become the dissemination of drivel. As more and more ‘data’ is posted on the internet, there will be increasingly less ‘information."

The Future of the Internet

Thursday, January 06, 2005

iSEC Security Research Points Out Mozilla Flaw

If you're using the Mozilla browser version 1.7.3 or lower you may want to be aware of this security issue highlighted by iSEC Security Research. The newer 1.7.5 version does fix this problem. The issue does not apply to the Firefox browser. For technical info on the subject go to the iSEC advisory. The advisory includes a proof-of-concept for those interested. For a less technical read go to the article at TechWorld.

Toshiba Ships Tiny 2GB Hard Drive

Hard drive technology is just getting smaller all the time. Toshiba is now shipping a .85 inch drive with a 2GB. 4 and 8 GB versions are to follow. Check out:

Press Release

Toshiba Storage Division

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Linksys introduces broadband router with SRX

The new WRT54GX broadband router and WPC54GX Wireless-G Notebook adapter make use of Linksys' new SRX (Speed and Range eXpansion) technology. SRX itself is based on MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out), part of the future Wireless-N 802.11n standard.

When using all SRX products the network range and performance are said to be increased by 3 and 8 times respectively. The router also includes a stateful-packet-inspection firewall.

For more info see:

The Linksys Press Release


InPhase prototypes holographic disc drive

The Lucent founded firm is developing holographic disc drives with storage capacities of up to 1.6 TBytes.

Read more at Tom's Hardware Guide:
InPhase shows prototype of holographic disc drive.

Mandrake Releases 2 New Enterprise Distros

Article on eWeek: Mandrakesoft Makes Its Business Linux Move

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Unpatched Linux PCs Stay Secure Online For Months

The Honeypot Project reports that the latest Linux systems can stay secure in an unpatched state for a few months, even while online. Windows, however, can't although the latest version are an improvement on previous vulnerabilities. Read TechWeb's article on the subject.

Microsoft to release beta of future anti-spyware app

An article at (derived from a post at ) says that Microsoft plans to release a beta version of their "Atlanta" anti-spyware program on Jan. 6th. You can see the posting and accompanying screenshots here: "Exclusive: Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta Due 6th January"

For a more in-depth and expansive article take a look at this article on

Open Source for '05

Here's an interesting article from eWeek about Linux and Open Source growth and expected impact in 2005.

Linux and Open Source: The 2005 Generation

System hardware reviews and other stuff...

Tom's Hardware Guide is a great source for info on the latest hardware. They do some OS and game reviews also but hardware reviews seem to be the main focus. They've some really interesting stuff like super-cooled, over clocked CPU tests, graphics card reviews, networking info etc. It's an especially great resource when your researching prior to building a fast system with all the bleeding edge components.

Tom's Hardware Guide

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Free software for a new year...

ZoneAlarm Firewall:

ZoneLabs offers the ZoneAlarm software firewall for free download. I've used it for over a year and have found it simple to configure and an effective precaution against intrusions (my systems with ZoneAlarm didn't get the Blaster worm when it was making the rounds). More info can be had at the ZoneAlarm site.


OpenOffice is a free, open source office productivity suite. You can even save files in a MS Word compatible .doc format. It includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing capabilities.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition:

Grisoft offers AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition as an alternative to other (expensive) anti-virus utilities. I've found that updates for the virus definition database are available much more often than those put out by Symantec for the Norton products. The update process is also faster. Take a look at the AVG Free Edition homepage.

There's a lot of good, free software out there. Take a look and see what you think.