January 2005


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Archive for January 12th, 2005

Smart guns are coming, can I get smart users?

Posted in Life on January 12th, 2005

This story reports that a New Jersey think tank has built the prototype of a smart gun, a weapon that uses biometric identifiers to decide whether or not you can use the weapon.

Since 1999, NJIT has spearheaded efforts to develop a personalized handgun that can instantly and reliably recognize one or more pre-programmed authorized users. To date, the New Jersey legislature has awarded NJIT $1.5 million for the project.

Corzine called the NJIT’s dynamic-grip technology cutting edge and said that it represented a really positive step forward in public safety. “NJIT is involved in important life-saving research,” he added. “There is no question that manufacturing handguns with advanced technology to limit operation can save lives. No child could pick up a gun and pull the trigger. The gun just won’t work, and that’s how it should be.”

This is gun-control I can stand behind 100%, since it effectively makes it impossible for someone to take your weapon and shoot you with it. Mind you, this does not eliminate the most effective means of gun safety, it merely supplements a solid education in gun use. While it’s nice that unrecognized users like your kids cannot use the gun, it is still best to educate them about gun safety and keep the weapon properly stored when not in use.

This will also put a small kink in the works for gun thieves, since they would have to take an additional step of disabling the biometric sensors before being able to use or sell the gun. If designed properly, the manufacturer could make this a time-consuming and expensive operation.

Frizzen Sparks has no sympathy, and neither do I

Posted in Geekery on January 12th, 2005

Graumagus posted about yet another new IE security hole, and some of his readers had the following to say:

yea, but I like IE. And I’m not so found of Mozilla. And since I keep my redundant firewalls, and virus support I really haven’t had any real problem. I know a bunch of puter geeks keep saying they like Mozilla, thus I should blindly like it as well.

Well Dammit, I refuse to change and you can’t make me! :)
Posted by: contagion at January 11, 2005 02:02 PM

I can agree with your not liking the Mozilla browser – it’s almost as bloated as IE. Firefox, on the other hand, is it’s faster, lighter little brother and you really should give it a try for a week before giving up on it. Of special interest may be the tabbed browsing, which allows you to open new pages in the same browser, rather than launching a complete new instance. This saves you alot of RAM overhead vs. IE. For instance, IE in two windows (MSN and Slate) takes up 28. 3 megs of RAM, down to 26.8 when I closed Slate. Firefox, with my blog entry, Grau’s blog, MSN and Slate takes up only 23.3 megs of RAM, and blocked the stupid pop-up window that Slate launched.

Okay, I admit that’s a close comparison, but I’m the kind of guy who bitches about things like that :)

My favorite feature is the ability to open all the pages in a bookmarks folder in tabs at once – mainly so I can cut-n-paste stuff from other sources here while editing my blog on an older laptop in the garage.

I’ll be the very first to admit that I have very, very little in the way of computer acumen. However, when I Googled “Mozilla” for some basic info, the first thing I see in the results is a story dated Jan. 10th “Critical flaw plagues Mozilla”. Not exactly the type of ringing endorsement I want to hear if I’m thinking about changing from what has been (so far, knock on wood), a perfectly good system. I’m always willing to hear other opinions on the subject, though.

Posted by: TDavis at January 11, 2005 05:12 PM

If you had read farther down the article, you would have seen where it said:

“All the latest Mozilla versions are immune”

The exploit is for an older version of Mozilla, and all later versions had already been fixed before the exploit even became known. When was the last time MS published a fix before it had been in circulation for two months?

“… but there also appears to be some dispute as to whether this vulnerability was ever practically exploitable in the first place.”

So they weren’t sure you could actually use this for nasty purposes, and in fact it would only affect the small percentage of people who use this kind of advanced internet lookup. Your average Joe would never have been vulnerable.

The final bit of pertinent info in your decision: at the shop where I work, we charge $70 for a data recovery and $105 to format your disc and re-install Windows, if you have the driver discs. I have done 4 of these in the past week, and all were caused by virus and spyware infections on computers where IE is the only browser. There are three more on the shelf waiting, and we have a 3-5 day backlog.

End rant.