June 2004


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Archive for June, 2004

New Internet Explorer exploit

Posted in Geekery on June 29th, 2004

The SANS – Internet Storm Center reports that a new Browser Helper Object has been seen in the wild that, if installed, will monitor and capture login and password information before encryption / SSL and deliver this information elsewhere for capturing.

A “Browser Helper Object” is a DLL that allows developers to customize and control Internet Explorer. When IE 4.x and higher starts, it reads the registry to locate installed BHO’s and then loads them into the memory space for IE. Created BHO’s then have access to all the events and properties of that browsing session. This particular BHO watches for HTTPS (secure) access to URLs of several dozen banking and financial sites in multiple countries.

When an outbound HTTPS connection is made to such a URL, the BHO then grabs any outbound POST/GET data from within IE before it is encrypted by SSL. When it captures data, it creates an outbound HTTP connection to [web address deleted] and feeds the captured data to the script found at that location.

Folks, I’ve spent the last week and a half doing non-specific telephone computer support, and fully 80% of my calls have been virus or malware issues. I cannot stress how important it is to NOT use Internet Explorer due to the security issues and ease-of-compromise inherent in that product.

I highly recommend The Mozilla Foundation’s offerings, both the full suite and Firefox. If you feel that free software just can’t meet your needs and you absolutely must pay for something to get any value out of it, then go buy a copy of Opera. The differences between the two products are small enough you won’t really notice, and both are fully standards-compliant and secure.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Behold my mad skillz

Posted in Life on June 29th, 2004

Once again, I have proved worthy of the title “Techie from Hell”. Yesterday, the washer went on the fritz, spewing water for about 20 minutes before we caught it. Today, after a fairly rudimentary and minimal websearch, I determined the source of the problem, and after work tonight repaired it.

The fix? Three zip ties.

Here’s a happy thought

Posted in Life on June 28th, 2004

Found this european article by way of Wired Tales:

Boom for Busty Danish Natural Resources

Eva Andersen reported some very good news in yesterday’s Jyllands-Posten (Danish Women Are Bursting with Health): the trend has been upward (meaning, I suppose, “outward”) for some time in women’s bust-sizes there. She reported agreement on this point among anthropologists, gender-researchers (k?nsforskeren – you know, those fellow students who were into “Gender Studies” back in college) and, most definitive of all, national underwear producers.

Now, I myself have noticed this phenomenon here in the States, only I saw it way back in the spring of 1990. I don’t know for certain if this has remained a constant in the intervening years or if it has ebbed and waned, but I notice the difference now as well.

See, back in ’90, I was in my senior year of high school. I had survived the ’80’s and was looking forward to graduation and the new decade. For those of you who did not experience this timeframe, you may have noticed that all of the movies geared toward the younger crowd from that time (you see them on USA Network,) featured leading actresses who were rather less endowed than what you see today.

Now, I only noticed this in spring because that’s when the jackets started to come off for the warmer weather. I got to comparing the new Freshman class to my agemates and realized that the only Senior girls with comparable bra sizes were generally larger girls.

At the time, I felt kind of robbed, ya know?

In the years since then, I had no real reason to hang around a high school, so I don’t know what it was like. I can tell you though, that as I have travelled around I have seen fairly consistently that women about three to five years younger than myself are generally buying larger bras than women my age or older. Now that my own son is in high school, I have once again noticed the disparity – and felt like a dirty old man for noticing. (Ahh, the wonders of fatherhood!)

Some might want to chalk this up to the current trend toward obesity here in America, but I would have to disagree. My last job had me driving by both a high school and a college on a daily basis, and most of the girls were of an average, healthy weight.

I have two theories for the difference:

The first is that it might be due to the trend of girls to go through puberty at a younger age. This is theorised by many (if not proven) to be the result of a fattier diet these days. Now, medical science says a girl will enter puberty and have her first cycle when her body is physically capable of bearing a child to term. The magic numbers here are 107# and 14% body fat – when these conditions are reached, menses begins. So, if we eat a fattier diet, a girl retains more fat and adds weight more quickly, thus enters puberty much younger and has more years to develop physically. Seems reasonable enough, no?

The second is that it may be something in the milk. Think about it – the farmers are going to want to select the cows who produce the most milk, and they quite possibly have added supplements to their diet to further increase their production. Who’s to say it wouldn’t have a similar effect on the milk-producing organs of a human female?

It could also be a combination of the two. Of course, I should probably stop wondering about it and simply enjoy the results ;)

The wonders of not-so-modern tech

Posted in Life on June 28th, 2004

Over the weekend, BtFR agreed to loan his washer / dryer pair to C, since Greyduck brought his older pair with him when he moved in and C was using a lousy laundromat for her wash. Swapping the pair in/out wasn’t an issue, and it gave me a chance to chat with C’s new guy, who it turns out is beginning to tinker with Linux and had a couple questions. Happy to help the guy out :)

Anywho, I went down earlier tonight and threw in a load of wash, then went back up to veg with the boys. I went back down after an hour or so to swap the load over to the dryer only to find that the float sensor for the washer had jammed, and water was pouring out into the garage and soaking the bit of carpet at the end of the stairs. Commence swearing here.

So tomorrow it looks like I get to dust off the ol’ tool kit and see if I can’t convince it of the error of it’s ways.

You can’t take the skies from me

Posted in Media on June 24th, 2004

Yes! The official website is now live for the upcoming movie Serenity based on Joss Whedon’s (now defunct) Firefly television series.

Join the Browncoats and earn points good for movie swag? Why the hell not. Earn more points by shamelessly plugging the movie in my blog? Do I hafta? (I will however draw the line at sending invite emails to my pals, for the sake of saving them from spam inundations.)

(Of course, the bastard who was smart enough to make the /. post is rolling in points right now.)

So, if you’re of a mind, feel free to click the hell out of the above link and earn me movie swag.


Posted in Miscelleny on June 24th, 2004

Let’s see, what’s going on in the world?

I’m pretty damn bored right now. Got up early to work the 6-2 shift, but the phone isn’t ringing.

Microsoft has once again filed a silly patent application, this one for using the body’s skin as a data bus. Like I really want that kinda tickle while listening to my music.

Scaled Composites ran an almost completely successful manned test flight to the edge of space – they say they lost attitude control during descent for a brief period. fixable, I’m sure, but it probably freaked the pilot pretty good.

I’m still bored.

Only the Japanese

Posted in Geekery on June 21st, 2004

Our friends across the trench have come up with an interesting idea. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. (Article courtesy of BusinessWeek Online.)

Excuse me, but is that your finger ringing?

The new job

Posted in Work on June 21st, 2004

Well, this has been a learning experience.

First day as a Telephone Geek today, and I never really realized how much trouble I have saved myself by using some simple security measures here on the wolfe-net.

Ever since we hooked up the high-speed data back at the old apartment in Tigard, we have used a router to share the conncection, which includes a built-in hardware firewall, stealthing our computers from attackers.

On top of that, I have been religious about keeping the Windows machines up-to-date via windows update. The same goes for our virus protection, which is set to check for updates every week automatically. Further protection comes from running both Spybot S&D and Adaware, two fine malware-busters.

As a final line of defense, we simply don’t open email attatchments from people we don’t know or when we’re not expecting anything. Just because you can click something doesn’t necessarily mean you should click it, kids.

Take pleasure in the little things

Posted in Geekery on June 17th, 2004

So, with this new job doing tech support, I realized I will need to be running Windoze most of the time to help me remember where all that stupid stuff is, so I booted XP up today for the first time in several weeks.

After dinking around for a while, I got distracted by something else long enough for the screen saver to come on -the default Windoze logo drifting around the screen.

“This will not do,” I says to myself. Out comes firefox and I do a google search for the Matrix screensaver I used to have. Several versions were found, most of them crippleware.

All in all, I failed to find one that did the normal 2D effect correctly without having some stupid logo showing on the screen, so I removed them all.

In the process of removing them, I noticed several other new entries in the list of programs. Five, to be exact, and all of them malware I did not authorize to install. (I had even read the EULAs that were displayed to me, and nothing of the sort was ever mentioned.)

So, I went ahead and uninstalled them, and one brought up a little feedback form asking me why I was deleting their fine software. I selected “I hate popups” from the drop-down menu. It had another question: “What would have prevented you from uninstalling this software?” I selected “I would have done it no matter what.”

Then, joy of joys, it gave me a text field for “Additional Comments”.

[knuckles cracking]
“In my opinion, malware programmers such as yourself are the lowest form of life on earth, lower even than ambulance-chasing lawyers and used-car salesmen. So low, in fact, that it should not be illegal to kill you. Failing that, it should be okay to rip your balls off with pliers and cauterize the wound with a red-hot poker to ensure that you never breed. If you do have children, they should be removed from your custody immediately before your taint washes off onto them.

At the very least, I take some relief in knowing that you can never walk into the street and proclaim your true profession without being run over by some poor little old lady who has been hounded incessantly by offers to show her how to enhance her penis. You must forever hide yourself from society, pariah that you are. No one enjoys the ‘products’ you create. Entire on-line communities have formed with no other goal than to stamp you out of existence. You, sir, are a bane on society that must be exterminated.”

Ahh. Feeling much better now.

Do the happy dance!

Posted in Work on June 16th, 2004

I am now officially a Geek (As if I needed any outside confirmation!)

I just took a call from my new employers at the tech-support hotline, and the contract package is wending it’s way through the Net to my inbox as I type this. It will be good to be working again!

This job will by no means be permanent, but it beats the hell out of sucking Unenployment’s hind teat any longer than I absolutely have to. Although, since this is a contractor spot, I will still be able to classify this work as ‘self-employment’, which does not immediately discontinue my benefits. (I’ll stop them once real money starts coming in.)

Of course, with any real luck at all, that other company will call me back for regular ole employee work fixing computers.

Still, I say unto you, “wahoo!”