Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What if ... ?



Imagine your computer gets a new type of malware that makes it download certain URLs every now and then. Imagine that software creates a special HTTP request with a fake "Referer:" header. Imagine that the purpose of that is to pretend that you are clicking on an advertising link. Imagine that the mentioned links are ads of porno sites. Imagine the software includes an engine to spread itself on your local network. Imagine your boss starts monitoring the employees network activities so you are caught red handed, at least apparently. Imagine that you are fired because of your alleged browsing activities.

Now stop imagining.

It might already happened to one of my clients and his colleague, both fired for the same reason (porn surfing at work) they claim it is wrong because they did not do that. I cannot tell you for sure because their former company is not interested in researching this matter any further.

However, neither the cookies nor the temporal internet files nor the URL patterns they allegedly browsed seemed to make any sense (even if you are a pr0n fanatic). This and the fact they claim they have never used the company laptop for such an activity suggests that the company might have rushed to a conclusion that could be wrong.

For the moment, the ball is on the judge's hands for my client. (But his laptop is not in my hands to further research this possibility). I'll be glad to hear from you in case you may have a clue about the existence of such a software (even if you authored it yourself).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Newer Ubuntu 6.06


In a previous post I explained how I got my laptop running SuSE Linux 10.0. But I was not happy with the way Linux was working on my Acer laptop. Although I managed to get everything working ok (except the internal memory card reader) I was not very happy about the power management. I was not happy it took me some effort (including recompiling the kernel) to get audio working. But after all it worked.

I have been giving away Ubuntu CD-ROMs to my students since 4.10 and I have installed Ubuntu to my brother's computer and both (my brother and his computer) have been happily working since then. It is a pity MP3 or Divx are not supported out of the box. Printing and OpenOffice and GIMP have been working like a charm.

This time I thought maybe I should give Ubuntu are try, so I downloaded the latest beta (Dapper flight 7) but instead of Ubuntu I took Kubuntu, which is a blue-ish KDE-based versus Gnome-based Ubuntu. The new Live Cd includes a more or less painless built-in graphical installer. It almost worked but the embedded QTparted program was packed in a small window you could not make any use of it (after all it is a beta). Later on I manually selected the partitioning I wanted and the installation went smoothly for less than five minutes. System rebooted sucessfully and I was glad everything worked "out of the box": audio, bluetooth, wifi, graphics ... well almost.

Graphics looked a bit distorted and I later learned that I was using 1024x768 resolution instead of the 1280x800 of my display. But luckily enough other user provided a quick and easy solution to this problem.

I've just downloaded Ubuntu Dapper beta flight-7 CD to see if I can get hibernation and suspend modes to work properly (which seemed not to work on Kubuntu, although I did not give them a second thought). On the other hand I feel adventurous and I think I am giving Gnome a try on my laptop as I have only used it long ago with early RedHat (version 5.2 I reckon). Since then I have been using KDE and I like it a lot. But I know that Gnome has been evolving too and I want to see how it does now. I'll keep you posted.

Update: Dapper beta flight-7 had a nice partitioning application but it failed when installing on my laptop. I had an extrange complaint when installing Kubuntu flight-6 about errors on the windows partitions but I had the option of ignoring them. I saw no sign of this in Ubuntu Dapper beta flight-7 but an installer crash (I'm guessing it is the same thing but I cannot be sure). So I was forced to install back Kubuntu. I'll wait till a new version becomes available.

Update2 (May-18th): I've just downloaded today's daily Ubuntu's Dapper snapshot and everything went smoothly and I am almost all set. What I still need to check is how well power management is doing and whether or not hibernate and suspend work. BTW, I needed to do the same trick as I mentioned above to get 1280x800 working.

Update3 (May-19th): It's all working fine. Both suspend and hibernate work and coming back from suspend is very fast (almost as fast as the iBook) but you need to type your password to get back to your desktop. There is a problem with ACPI if you remove AC-power after a suspension has been waked up. The system shut itself down because it thought it was running out of power when I removed AC-power when battery was almost full. If you do not mess with AC it seems to work ok. Ah, and I like the slightly thinner window top decoration better than the old one.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mother's day shopping spree


I saw a couple of items on a PCCITY brochure that catch my eye. First one was the Freecom MediaPlayer-35 with a 250GB HD. I bought last summer a similar device from EasyBuy but I sold it after the summer as it was only 40GB capacity (though the fact it was USB-powered and only 2.5" made it quite portable). This unit is based on the use of 3.5" IDE hard disks which are cheaper and higher capacity than 2.5" cousins. This unit like many others in the market will handle your DivX, MP3 and JPG files so you can bore or scare to death your friends (worth mentioning it can also handle OGG audio). But it can also came with the relatively new feature of a LAN connection so you can also play contents from a Windows (or Samba) share on your home network. Network connection is just for streaming and video/music/photo files are transferred using USB 2.0. The unit can also play your ripped DVDs, menu included. Outputs are quite complete, including composite, analog audio, coax audio and optical audio output, plus S-VHS and Y/PB/PR component output. The harddrive can be replaced by the user (Freecom is also marketing a kit so the users can add their own HD). The unit is fanless and the less remarkable part is the remote control (on the right of the photo) that looks a bit cheap.

The other item that was on sale was a LG 19" LCD TV with analog tuner and SCART, composite, S-VHS and VGA inputs all for a nice price. I almost didn't do it as my VISA card refused to accept the charges at checkout.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nice ad

They are playing this one now in Spain. And it seems that youtube has not a problem with you posting an ad even if your do not hold the copyrights of that ad. I guess this is what ads are for. Anyway, I think it is a funny ad.