Now with fourteen separate archives with listings in the order
of posting. New items on this page are added at the top.
PC Mag shoots itself in foot while shooting off its mouth
Posted 21 December 2004.
As reported on MacNN:
PC Magazine calls Apple's eMac computer the "Worst Product
of the Year" in a highly critical year-end review of the "worst
products" in ten categories. The magazine states: "for Apple,
the entry-level eMac really does represent Think Different. That's because
for a company that prides itself on quality, this computer is different.
As in bad." The article complains about many aspects of the eMac:
"On the plus side, it's stylish. On the downside, it's slow, underpowered,
and pathetic. The 40GB hard drive will fill up quickly, the lack of
a DVD burner makes offloading files impossible, and the Radeon 9200
graphics card won't even run this fall's hot Mac games. And at around
$800, this eMac ain't cheap. If you're considering a home Apple, think
different. Buy a Dell. Or be prepared to spend a lot more for an acceptable
Acceptable to whom? I can't think of anyone who would buy an eMac to
play the latest games - the e stands for education, after
all. But let's give the idiot the benefit of the doubt and go configure
a Dell for ourselves, and then tweak it to deal with his complaints.
Complaint - eMac too slow. This rules out an entry-level CPU,
so ignore anything with a Celeron => 2.8GHz Pentium 4
Complaint - underpowered and pathetic => XP Pro
Complaint - 40GB hard disk too small => 80GB hard disk
Complaint - no DVD burner => DVD+RW (3000) or DVD±RW
(4700) and software
Complaint - Radeon 9200 video card won't run latest games =>
integrated graphics (3000), Radeon X300 SE (4700)
Other notes -
RAM upgrade from 256MB to 512MB was free.
Cheapest printer selected - save $90.
No complaint regarding lack of Firewire, so won't add the $30
$10 optical mouse option was chosen - does anyone still use any
other sort by choice?
$69 option for McAfee or Norton antivirus/firewall/spyware software
Hmmm, at $1462 for a computer that will do what the magazine seems to
think is the minimum any computer should do, it ain't cheap. It
compares with a Superdrive eMac $999 with 80GB hard disk and 256MB
RAM. The amount of memory is possibly irrelevant since MacOS isn't as
memory hungry as Windows - that Dell probably needs the RAM upgrade to
"even run" (to quote a certain magazine). As for the graphics,
I admit I have no idea how the various video capabilities compare, although
I doubt that the integrated video capabilities of the 3000 would really
"do it" for the latest games.
Conclusion: If you want to play the latest games, why would you
consider an education computer? However, if the very latest games aren't
your scene, the eMac sounds like a great buy. For your money you get a
computer that's much more stylish, is much easier to use,
has built in Firewire for all those "last-year's-games-are-fine"
video enthusiasts who want to actually be able to connect their camera
to it, and the Superdrive model comes with some of the best inexpensive
(free!) DVD software around. So the eMac (either standard or Superdrive
model) seems to fit its niche very well, and suits the education market
extremely well. Well done, Apple.
NB. All prices in US dollars.
Warnings Echo Around The World
Posted 24 December 2001.
This from TheRegister.co.uk:
Marc Maiffret, the talented, blue-haired 'Chief Hacking Officer' of
Eeye Digital Security, demonstrated the UPnP exploit to a shocked group
of reporters yesterday. As a result, media and security experts are
calling this "The Mother of All Exploits" for Windows
XP, scrambling to inform the public about the importance of downloading
and installing the fix for this problem -- a security problem not caused
by a hacker or cracker, but developed and implemented exclusively by
Microsoft for your computing convenience and to enhance your user experience
as a 'feature' of the product.
According to an AP story, Microsoft Security Manager Scott Culp called
this latest vulnerability the "the first network-based, remote
compromise that I'm aware of for Windows desktop systems" and a
"very serious vulnerability."
I guess it's all in how you define "compromise." How very
Although repeatedly interviewed by the media reporting on Microsoft-based
security events over the years, Culp apparently doesn't consider any
of the following Microsoft-centric security exploits as "network-based,
remote compromises" for "Windows desktop systems" either
-- the series of Back Orifice programs from the always-amusing Cult
of the Dead Cow (cDc) to e-mail worms, Trojans, and viruses (think BadTrans)
that can transmit sensitive information from systems they infect.
Did Culp miss a few days of class here and there and forget to read
up on SECHOLE.EXE (July 1998), the assorted Internet Explorer
cross-frame scripting exploits (September 1998) or the mid-2000
ability to remotely exploit a Windows desktop through a buffer overflow
found in the Clip Art feature of Microsoft Office? And what about Windows
File and Print Sharing vulnerabilities from back in 1995?
How about the seemingly-endless number of buffer overflow exploits
(think CodeRed, Lion, and Nimda) that plague Microsoft
Internet Information Server (IIS) -- granted, IIS isn't made for "Windows
desktops" but it deserves mention given the nearly-identical software
code in Microsoft's desktop and server products.
So how exactly does Microsoft classify these other types of network-centric
exploits? As nuisances but the price of doing business in the wired
When will it end? And what to do about this latest security problem
originating in Redmond?
Emphasis added. My answer is as it has always been - don't use M$ products.
But there's more:
US Defense Department and FBI officials contacted Microsoft on Friday
to express their concern over the recently-disclosed security bugs affecting
all versions of Windows, the Associated Press reports.
The Feds were particularly concerned that the bug gives up root on
Win-XP, ironically touted as the most secure Windows OS ever developed,
the wire service says.
Another Security Scare
Posted 21 December 2001.
Hard on the heals of the "critical" security update a few days
ago is yet another trio of M$ problems that need patching. From TheRegister.co.uk:
MS warns of severe universal plug & play security hole
By Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 20/12/2001 at 20:51 GMT
A trio of flaws in the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) service, which
allows for automatic hardware detection in a network environment, can
offer up total ownership of your machine to a malicious third party,
First up, and by far the most serious, an unchecked buffer in a component
handling NOTIFY directives affecting Win 98, ME and XP. By sending a
malicious NOTIFY directive, an attacker can run code in the UPnP service,
which runs with System privileges on XP and at the OS level on 98 and
ME. This would enable the attacker to own the system.
Next up, a denial of service vulnerability enabling an attacker to
send a NOTIFY directive to a UPnP-capable machine, directing it to download
what it needs from a particular port on a particular server. If the
server were to echo the download requests, the target machine would
enter an endless loop which could tie up its resources and from which
the only escape is a re-boot.
Third, an attacker could use the DoS vulnerability to send a NOTIFY
directive to a large number of machines and direct them to a third-party
server, which would then be flooded with bogus requests, and possibly
... The flaws were discovered by eEye Digital Security.
Ha. That's all I can say, really.
Posted 21 December 2001.
News from Finland, possibly dealing the first blow in a series that might
eventually show that Micro$oft has just shot itself in its little toe.
Finnish city closer to switch from Windows to Linux
By John Lettice
Posted: 20/12/2001 at 09:32 GMT
The Finnish city of Turku has moved closer to switching to Linux, following
a preliminary study of the platform's suitability. Turku kicked off
the investigation earlier this year in response to Microsoft's new licensing
terms and conditions, which Turku estimated would cost it €1-€2
Turku has now completed the first part of its investigation, and will
now be looking into functionality and effects of a switch over a longer
timescale. It will also be taking into consideration likely success
of OpenOffice and Linux deployments elsewhere in Europe.
The switch itself isn't likely to disrupt Redmond's coffers overly,
but the Turku investigation has attracted widespread interest from other
authorities and agencies in Finland, and elsewhere in Europe. The Finnish
Finance Ministry is conducting its own investigation.
If Turku goes ahead, it will be introducing OpenOffice, and will be
switching over from Windows to Linux gradually, over several years.
Turku expects the deployment to cover 3,500-5,000 machines.
Show-offs can read what we are assured is the press release in Finnish
while super show-offs can even read the entire report in Finnish here.
Thanks to the show-offs who did just that and put us straight when we
got the story slightly wrong earlier. ®