January

INTERNET EXPLORER 7 BETA

Microsoft released a public beta of Internet Explorer 7 today. Here’s the page for downloading, and here’s an article about the new features. I have read that it is very stable, but there’s no reason to rush into this if you’re not tolerant of bugs and glitches!

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GOOGLE TOOLBAR VERSION 4

If you use the Google toolbar, there’s an update available today. Here’s a description of the new features. The search box has gotten smarter, there’s some enhanced features for sharing web pages by e-mail, text message, or blog, and you can add custom buttons.

One new feature is interesting: add web sites to “Bookmarks” on the Google toolbar, and you can then access those bookmarks from any computer. […] continued

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BLACKBERRY: DEATH BY PATENT

Here’s a fascinating article about the sequence of events leading up to Blackberry’s precarious position – the possibility that the entire Blackberry system will be shut down next month. It’s a “twisted tale of bold inventions, hubris, pride, backroom lobbying and one colossal legal blunder.”

Lawyers will shiver at one story from the trial between RIM (Blackberry’s parent company) and NTP, owners of an arguably prior patent on the Blackberry technology. […] continued

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NETWORK NEUTRALITY AND THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET

AT&T Chariman Ed Whitacre made seemingly outrageous comments in November about imposing additional charges on consumers or Google or Yahoo if we used “his” Internet pipes for things he didn’t approve of. Here’s my comments about that interview.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he was dead serious, and that the telecommunications companies have business plans with the potential to fundamentally change our Internet experience and hamper the free flow of online information. […] continued

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WINDOWS LIVE SAFETY CENTER

Here’s a web site that may come in handy: Microsoft’s new Safety Center lets you run free scans for viruses and other malicious software. It also includes maintenance tools for defragging and cleaning up your disk.

If a virus gets onto your system somehow – you let your subscription lapse, or your virus definitions were out of date, for example – you may find that the virus prevents you from using whatever antivirus software was installed. […] continued

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BRUCEB.COM OUTAGE

Something took down all the web servers at XO Communications at 2pm yesterday. That’s why you couldn’t bring up the bruceb.com favorites page until about 9pm last night. The outage apparently affected all the web sites hosted by XO and took down my mail along with the web site. During that time the phones at XO would immediately disconnect calls to tech support – presumably they were overloaded. […] continued

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GOOGLE PACK

Google unveiled an eccentric collection of programs at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show under the umbrella name Google Pack. It’s described as a free collection of safe and useful software to improve your Windows and online experiences. It doesn’t fulfill that promise.

It makes Google look fallible. Take a look at Paul Thurrott’s comments, which match my own thoughts in most cases. […] continued

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BE ANNOYING, GO TO JAIL

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

Last week President Bush signed a law authorizing stiff fines and two years in prison for posting “annoying” Web messages or sending “annoying” anonymous e-mail messages. Here’s an article about the new law.

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republian, slipped the provision into an unrelated bill to fund the Department of Justice. […] continued

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DELL 30-INCH MONITOR

Apple introduced a 30-inch flatscreen monitor a while ago, and now Dell has brought one to the PC world. Here’s the details on the Dell 3007WFP, in case you feel like giving yourself a late Xmas present. The monitor is $2,199, but it requires an expensive new video card, and that requires that your computer be pretty beefy to begin with. […] continued

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MICROSOFT ISSUES PATCH FOR WMF FLAW

Microsoft has issued a patch for the WMF vulnerability that surfaced last week. Here’s an article about the early release and here’s Microsoft’s updated security bulletin.

Everyone should go to Windows Update and install all “high priority” updates. If you do a custom installation and see a reference to security update KB912919, that’s the patch from this evening. […] continued

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ANTIVIRUS VENDORS CATCH UP TO WMF BUG

The major antivirus programs – Windows OneCare, Symantec, McAfee, and more – now catch malicious files exploiting the Windows WMF vulnerability. Here’s an article about the tests done by an independent lab.

If you’re running a standalone version of a Symantec or McAfee product, update your virus definitions! (If you’re running Windows OneCare with a green light, you’re already up to date. […] continued

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WMF EXPLOIT – MORE INFO

If you want to stay up to date, Brian Krebs maintains a blog on computer security at the Washington Post where he’s reporting daily developments in the race to get a patch against the WMF exploit.

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WMF WINDOWS VULNERABILITY

Windows computers are under attack from a previously unknown security vulnerability in WMF code. “WMF” is a file format that’s been used for more than ten years; although it appears to be a format for images, similar to “JPG” or “GIF,” it’s actually more complicated than that – and it can execute programs. […] continued

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BRUCEB.COM UPDATES

You might notice a few changes on the staggeringly useful bruceb favorites page. Just trying to keep your Internet world organized.

If you’re looking for sleep aids, you could check out the updates to my pages on viruses and spyware, or perhaps see if you’re following the rules for safe computing in 2006. […] continued

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