Archive 13

Even being the richest man in the world doesn't stop you from getting a pie in the face.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV).

HP Thinks Inside The Box

Posted 15 August 2000.

Just once in a while a computer maker comes up with a "new" idea.

While many computer makers are trying to get more revenue from "beyond the box," Hewlett-Packard is trying to stuff more inside the box.

HP plans this week to start selling a one-box package containing a computer, along with a separate monitor and a printer, through discount retailer Wal-Mart.

The setup will feature a Pavilion PC with a 600-MHz Celeron processor, 64MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive and CD-ROM drive, along with a DeskJet 610CL color printer and V-series monitor. The complete package will sell for just under $900 and ship in a box of the size used to hold a 27-inch television, HP said.

Bundling computers with monitors and printers is nothing new. Many leading retail brands provide discounts to consumers who buy all three products. Most of the PCs HP already sells at Wal-Mart are bundled with either a monitor or monitor and printer. But HP said its single-box packaging is a big deal--so big that it has applied for a patent.

Apple has been selling computers in one box for ... ummm... 16 years. HP's idea is not too bad, though. Now, if only their computer had a reliable operating system.

More Security Probs

Posted 27 August 2000.

From CNet News:

Noted bug hunter Georgi Guninski issued a security alert today warning that Microsoft Windows 2000 and later versions of Internet Explorer may be vulnerable to security problems planted in local and remote network folders.

In a security advisory, Guninski said he identified a vulnerability triggered when folders accessed through Microsoft Networking are viewed as Web pages, which occurs in Windows 98 and is the default setting in Windows 2000.

He said people who use IE 5.x for Windows 98 can trigger files capable of allowing an unauthorized person to take control of a computer. The exploit occurs if someone merely views a local or remote folder, similar to vulnerabilities identified with visiting Web pages or viewing HTML-based email in Microsoft's Outlook email client.


In today's report, Guninski said problems could result from operating systems viewing folders as Web pages.

"The way the folder looks when viewed as a Web page is controlled by a file, Folder.htt, located in the folder, which is a special HTML file that may contain Active Scripting and ActiveX Objects," Guninski wrote.

A malicious programmer could use ActiveX to execute an arbitrary file, potentially taking over the victim's computer, he said.

The article also mentions that 55 security patches have so far been released. And of course MS is downplaying this security problem and criticising Mr Guninski for going public on it. Shame on you, Bugsoft.

In And Out

Posted 29 Auguest 2000.

On the same day (today) that AMD has 1.1GHz Athlons shipping, Intel announced that it is recalling its 1.13GHz Pentium 3. But hey, yesterday Intel announced that it had a (single?) working 2GHz Pentium IV.

And for what it's worth, finding a 1GHz Pentium 3 is still very hard.

Word Web Bugs

Posted 1 September 2000.

Word documents susceptible to "Web bug" infestation

Microsoft is weathering complaints that documents created with Microsoft Word and some of its other popular desktop applications can be embedded with electronic surveillance tags allowing document authors to track their use.

The Privacy Foundation, which supports an Internet privacy research institute at the University of Denver, today published a report demonstrating how Word documents can be planted with "Web bugs" that can pass information about the use of the file back to the author. Web bugs can also be embedded in Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint slide show files, according to the report, which was authored by Privacy Foundation chief technology officer Richard Smith.

"What this means basically is that if an author of a document for whatever reason cares about who is reading it, he can bug it and then monitor it," Smith said. "They can find out the IP address and host name of whoever is reading the document."

A Web bug works by planting a Web address into a document. The bugs can take up just a single pixel on a computer screen, making them invisible to a viewer.


Cutting and pasting portions of Word documents into other files could also transfer the bugs.

Levy said Microsoft could respond in one of two ways: disabling the feature entirely, or letting consumers decide when it can be used.

In his advisory, Smith recommended that Web browser cookies be disabled within Word documents and other non-browser applications, but he stopped short of calling for Microsoft to remove the Web bug capabilities. He recommended that concerned consumers use personal firewall software to monitor when "unauthorized" programs like Word are accessing the Internet.

MS: Emulate, Not Innovate

Posted 1 September 2000.

Microsoft has overhauled its MSN Internet service by imitating numerous features from archrival America Online. CNet reports:

... the service -- dubbed MSN Explorer -- ... not only integrates all of Microsoft's online offerings under a single interface but also gives the entire World Wide Web a proprietary Microsoft feel.


The interface acts as a kind of graphical envelope that replaces the standard IE toolbar, anchoring people to the MSN brand regardless of where they travel on the Web.

Can anyone say "Big Brother"? Cnet also notes:

MSN product manager Sarah Lefko admitted the conceptual debt Microsoft owes to AOL but hastened to sharpen the differences.

"We believe this not only brings us even with AOL but takes us further," she said.


Microsoft has successfully pulled pages from rivals' playbooks before, modeling its Windows operating system on Apple Computer's popular graphical user interface, for example.

Slap On Wrist For Evil Empire

Posted 3 September 2000.

In a stunning defeat for Microsoft, a federal judge has ordered the software maker to pay $1 million in damages in a case the company largely won before a jury last year.

The turnaround in fortune comes as Microsoft's legal problems mount on multiple fronts and as its business practices fall under increased scrutiny.

U.S. District Judge Janet Hall yesterday ordered the punitive damages against Microsoft in a lawsuit brought by Bristol Technology of Danbury, Conn. A jury last year sided with Microsoft on the majority of claims but found the company had violated state fair-trade statutes. The jury awarded Bristol $1 in punitive damages, but Hall changed the amount to $1 million.


In a scathing, 103-page ruling, Hall lambasted Microsoft's business practices, contending that the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker used bait-and-switch tactics in violation of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act. She also faulted Microsoft for unfair practices involving its Windows Interface Source Environment (WISE) licensing program, which gave Bristol access to Windows source code.

Former Microsoft Worker Wins Suit Over Options

By Bloomberg News

September 5, 2000, 11:05 a.m. PT


SYDNEY, Australia--Microsoft must pay some $9 million (A$14 million) to a former Australian employee who was fired via an email message and denied share options in the world's largest software maker, a court ruled.

The New South Wales state Industrial Relations Commission ruled Friday that Michael Canizales, who had an option to buy about 100,000 Microsoft shares at between $5 and $7 each, was dismissed in such a way that prevented him from using his options.

Canizales, 31, was a senior human resources executive who started with Microsoft in 1989. He was transferred to Sydney in 1995 to help set up Ninemsn, Microsoft's 50-percent-owned venture with Kerry Packer's Ecorp Internet unit.

Three years later, Microsoft fired him via an email message. Canizales had received his stock options in 1995 and was supposed to be able to exchange them into ordinary stock in July 1999.

KPMG Legal said Canizales was set to receive Australia's most expensive payout because of the way he was terminated.

"Being retrenched by email is hardly a suitable way to be told your services are no longer required," said Chris McArdle, Canizales' KPMG counsel, in a statement. "To be retrenched in a way that deliberately denies access to share options is scandalous," he said.

Canizales said the judgement vindicates his assertion that Microsoft was "unfair" in the way in which it handled his contract.

Microsoft is reviewing its next step, Microsoft Australia spokeswoman Helen Baric told Bloomberg News. She said Canizales was treated "fairly and equitably." His position of human resources and finance director at Ecorp's venture with Microsoft was made "redundant" in 1998, she said.

"An inference may reasonably be drawn that the conduct of Microsoft was designed to ensure that the applicant did not achieve his 1999 stock options," Judge Russell Peterson said in his ruling.

The payment could total an estimated $9 million, KPMG said. Peterson asked Microsoft to pay severance, including a payment for four weeks salary plus two weeks pay for every six months of service, capped at 26 weeks of his base salary. Stock options, which comprise most of the award money, were also granted. KPMG said Peterson's decision was Australia's biggest employee judgement based on the value of the payout.

Komodo Copy

Posted 15 November 2000.

The Komodo Server from DA Computing...

One has to wonder if they actually have their own design department. Compare, if you will, with the Cube from Apple Computer Inc. I'm told they have similar ventilation grilles in the top.

PieGate out from Retirement

Posted 16 November 2001.

After a full year with no updates, recent events in the Wintel world have encouraged me to bring the PieGate column out of retirement.

Control the Information, Control the People

Posted 16 November 2001.

From a ZD-Net article from June this year about a new feature M$ is considering (and has the clout to implement). The "links" are examples of what M$ might do with the feature.

The Smart Tags feature automatically scans the Web pages that a Windows XP user browses, and then inserts new links beneath certain words, like the names of companies, products or whatever. If the user clicks on that Microsoft-created link (link to Bill Gates' speech on how Microsoft innovation benefits consumers), a new browser window opens with more links to Microsoft-owned sites (links to MSN, HotMail, and or other sites and Web pages chosen by the company.

In its defense, Microsoft told reporters that the technology, called Internet Explorer Smart Tags (link to Microsoft Web site IE download page) gives Web surfers "valuable links to relevant information."