1. WGA Phone Home II: Electric Boogaloo

    09 March 2007

    Yesterday I linked to an article at Heise Security about Windows Genuine Advantage phoning home to tell Microsoft that you refused to install it. When word of this got out, supposedly an insider at Microsoft leaked that Windows Update phones home every time it installs an update. Supposedly, it is only to confirm that an update took to control retransmission and reinstallation from the Windows Update servers; while this makes sense, I would personally feel better if packet captures of this would be posted to confirm or deny his statement.

    Which, in fact, I think I'll do tonight while I …

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  2. ADVISE - The TIA Project Strikes Back.

    09 March 2007

    Back in 2003, the US Government formed a project called TIA - Total Information Awareness, with a logo that made about half of the country cringe in fear, anger, and disgust, and sparked off a firestorm in the news media because it constituted a major violation of the right to privacy of US citizens. The project was very publically shelved for the edification of the public, though it wasn't actually terminated.

    As with many government projects are are shelved due to public outcry, it was renamed, reclassified, and worked onapace - the data mining software that TIA was supposed to be based …

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  3. Sometimes you do more harm by helping than by not.

    09 March 2007

    Windows OneCare is Microsoft's all-in-one personal security suite, encompassing everything from malware removal to virus scanning on your average personal workstation. The latest release has a particularly nasty glitch, though: When scanning your Outlook .pst files, if it happens to come across an infected e-mail it'll move the whole file into quarantine or delete it entirely depending upon how you've got it configured. It doesn't treat a file that is a legitimate part of a Microsoft app any differently from a trojan executable on the hard drive.

    Oops.

    Thankfully, there is a workaround for this problem outlined in the article …

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  4. Nevermind, I figured out what it was.

    08 March 2007

    I had originally titled a post about last weekend "''I'm tryin' ta think, but nuttin' happens!'' --Curly, The Three Stooges", but a bit of poking around inside the index file generated by my weblogging application revealed that putting a pair of dashes into the title of a post does something that HTML4 doesn't expect - it thinks that they either start or end a comment in a block of HTML. Carefully looking at the frontpage, I could see where the string of posts was broken because there was a post, then part of a post without the headers, then another part …

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  5. WGA phones home, even when you don't install it.

    08 March 2007

    WGA - Windows Genuine Advantage. A software agent that runs on installs of Windows to make sure that you're not using a pirated copy. Unless you let it install itself, you'll have a hell of a time updating your system because a running WGA agent is required to run Windows Update. Of course, you can go to the Knowledge Base and download the updates one by one, but when you take into account how many updates there are, you may as well install it yourself.

    Interestingly, if you refuse to let the WGA hotfix/update/agent/spyware install itself it phones …

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  6. Of course, these are illegal for civillians to own...

    08 March 2007

    Remember those bulletproof windbreakers from Snow Crash? They looked good, they wore well, and they could stop a 9mm round?

    I don't know if you'd call this a windbreaker or not, but it's close enough for government work. This jacket weighs only 3kg (about 6.6 pounds) and can stop up to a 7.62mm round from a Tokarev military rifle. On top of that, they say it's also proof against impact trauma, cutting and stabbing, and even hypodermic needles.

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  7. Fare thee well, Jean, we barely understood you...

    08 March 2007

    Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher who put postmodernism on the map (which isn't the territory) died yesterday at the age of 77 after a lengthy illness. Baudrillard was known for his deconstruction and analysis of global culture in the last decade of the 20th century and what has come to pass so far of the 21st century and the statement that left many scratching their heads - that nothing is, in fact real because we no longer understand that there are choices beyond those They tell us we have. Possibly his most famous essay is entitled On Nihilism (from Simulacra and …

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  8. It isn't so much what you sell as where you sell it.

    07 March 2007

    Grassroots lobbying groups and a relatively small number of politicians have been pushing the US government for more environmentally friendly measures to be put in place, particularly in the field of automotive travel. Vehicles in the US just aren't all that efficient, energy-wise, and on top of that, the most popular vehicles are SUVs and consumer Humvees that can be measured in dinosaurs per mile, and not miles per gallon. The hell of it is, there are much more efficient vehicles in use in Europe that get between 40 and 80 miles per gallon of fuel (averaged between city and …

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