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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Virkel.F IM Worm Pretends to be MSN Messenger 8 Leak

There is a MSN Messenger 8 Beta running around but you can only get into the beta if you receive an invitation via email. It is not yet in the public beta phase.

There is a so-called security risk in MSN Messenger 8 beta. If you use MSN Messenger 8 beta and receive an IM with a link to a leaked "MSN Messenger 8 Beta" from a friend in your list; then don't open it!

Security firm F-Secure is warning about this new worm that spreads from a fake website, where the author pretends to have a copy of MSN Messenger 8 beta.

The download BETA8WEBINSTALL.EXE from that fake site actually installs a worm that will by turn send instant messages to everyone on the user's MSN list with links to download their "beta". The malware also connects to a bot network.

Sober worm may attack PCs again on 5th January, 2006

The next big Sober worm attack is expected to take place on 5th January, 2006 according to sources at Vancouver-based VeriSign iDefense, a security intelligence firm. They detected a date found embedded in recent variants of the virus that attacked computers worldwide with German right-wing spam.

The date, probably picked because it will be the 87th anniversary of the founding of a precursor to the Nazi Party, provides a clue as to the timing of the next planned attack, according to InformationWeek.

"We did reverse engineering on the variants, and found this date in the code," said Ken Dunham, senior engineer with Reston. "The way this works is that at a pre-determined time, computers already infected with Sober will connect with specified servers and download a new payload, which will likely be spammed out in the millions, as was the last version."

Embedded dates for spreading new malware aren't new. SoBig used it to dramatic effect in 2003, when new versions were pumped out regularly, as old ones were automatically deactivated on set schedules. It is also not the first time a Sober date has been sniffed out, said Dunham.

Like on Nov 14, the police in the southern German state of Bavaria warned of a Sober attack the next day, and the prediction proved on the mark.

Sober, which boasts more than 30 variants, debuted more than two years ago, and is characterised by bilingual messages (English or German) that are mass-mailed in huge quantities but don't carry a destructive payload.

The worm's creator doesn't appear to be motivated by money. Instead, he (or she) - who is assumed to be German - has a political agenda, said Ramses Martinez, iDefense's director of malicious code operations. "There hasn't been one variant that did anything but send out right-wing German spam."

Early versions of Sober were more upfront about the political agenda of the author, with messages directing recipients to neo-Nazi sites hosted in Germany, but for several months the messages have been politics-free.

Recent editions of the worm, however, have been timed to coincide with German political events. The release of Sober.z on Nov 22, for instance, matched the inauguration of Germany's first female chancellor, Angela Merkel.

"Sobers have always had a right-wing slant," said Dunham, who also noted that the next day, Jan 6, 2006, is the date of a major German political convention.

The practice of combining malicious code with political causes is often dubbed "hacktivism" and while it doesn't pose the same kind of risk as do worms, Trojans and spyware that are after money or identities, it can bring networks to their knees.

I am not sure whether the prediction will turn out to be true!!! Till then just wait and watch.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Intro to Remailers

How often have you thought of having anonymity in the emails that you send? It would have been really great to have that power, something like The Invisible Man. But what if someone told you that it is really possible to send emails without your identity being disclosed? The only criterion that people should practice is a bit of discretion while using such services. For with power comes responsibility. This article won’t tell you where you will get such services nor the setup procedure. If you are really interested do your own little scouting. I am just going to elaborate a bit on remailers; yes these anonymous services are coined as remailers.

A remailer is a service that provides anonymity to the sender of an email or newsgroup post by acting as an intermediary between the sender and receiver. The sender’s message goes first to the remailer, which strips away the headers associated with the sender, replacing them with its own. It then forwards the mail to its final destination. The receiver cannot deduce the origin of the mail or post by looking at its headers –- only the remailer’s headers will appear.

There are a myriad of practical reasons to use a remailer. For example, remailers can provide anonymous participation in USENET support groups to keep employers, or even children and spouses from Googling personal posts. Remailers provide people of every country the opportunity for free speech (do take it with a grain of salt, free speech without harming anyone), even where local governments forbid it. They also protect the sender when the nature of the message might cause personal repercussions, as in the case of a whistleblower.

For the average Internaut, a remailer can be a useful tool for keeping your personal email address private. If you want to send feedback to a favourite website or blogger, using a remailer will ensure that they receive your message without receiving your email address. This applies to USENET messages as well. Participation in controversial debate-based newsgroups can become contentious, but a remailer will ensure you won’t have stalkers following you back to your mailbox.

Along with the freedom that a remailer provides comes responsibility. Using a remailer to harass, threaten, taunt or engage in flame wars is considered abuse of the remailer. In the headers of any remailed email or post, there is an address the receiver can email to complain of abuses. These may or may not be acted upon, depending on the owner of the remailer and the nature of the posts. Don’t accuse me later that I didn’t warn you guys earlier!!!

Though using one remailer is sufficient for casual purposes, several remailers can be used in a “chain” to make the message harder to track and provide even greater security. In this case, the first remailer in the chain strips away your headers and sends the mail to another remailer. That remailer does the same, stripping away the previous remailer’s headers and sending the message to the next remailer in line, until finally the message is delivered. At the end point, tracing the origin of the message only gets as far as the last remailer in the chain. If there are still server records available, the message might be able to be tracked back one more step, but the sleuth would run into the same problem at that juncture. Remailers, as a matter of security, allege to delete all messages off their servers daily, precisely to eliminate having to turn over server records to authorities.

Anyone with skill can run a remailer. It is widely believed among the remailing community that some remailers are probably run by government agencies. Even a nobody like “Swarnendu” can run an unscrupulous remailer, reading messages that pass through his server. For this reason, most people who use a remailer encrypt their messages with PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). The message is only unencrypted at the end of the chain. Without using PGP, your message may be anonymous to the receiver, but it will be available to all of the remailers in between. Now this is not what you want, or does it not bother you?

Many freeware programs are designed to deliver email and newsgroup posts via remailers. Purists contend that using remailers manually with these programs is safest, though will be a learning curve involved. There are also remailing services on the Web that automate the process and are probably sufficient for most of our purposes (nothing except playing pranks). But on a serious note, purists reject Web services because there is no real guarantee that the service itself does not employ a “back door.”

Monday, December 26, 2005

RSS stands for ....you decide!!!

In the early years of the Web, most sites were not concerned about sharing data with other sites. Today, the trend is that sites are increasingly interdependent and many rely upon integrating content that originates somewhere else. Sharing content among sites is most often called syndication. Providing content from one source for distribution in many different channels is what a syndicate does, and it usually requires an established business relationship.

RSS or Really Simple Syndication (Rich Site Summaries) is a useful tool for keeping updated on your favorite websites. RSS makes use of an XML code that constantly scans the content of a website for updates and then broadcasts those updates to all subscribers through a feed. RSS is a better way to share data than more common approaches, such as fetching and parsing HTML, or using proprietary APIs, database dumps, and cobranding.

RSS originated at UserLand Software in 1997 and was initially used by Netscape to populate Netscape's My Netscape portal with external newsfeeds ("channels"). Netscape no longer seems to be leading the RSS effort, but others, such as Dave Winer of Userland Software, have picked it up. More importantly, content providers like Slashdot, the Motley Fool, Wired News, and Linux Today have been adopting RSS as a means of circulating headlines and links to new stories on their sites.

Under the RSS model, each site publishes a file describing the contents of its "channel." Other sites can subscribe to that channel and grab its contents. The RSS file could be converted to HTML and displayed directly on a subscriber site, or it might be edited first to select only those items that are appropriate for the site's audience. The nice thing about RSS, of course, is that once you've built the system to subscribe to one RSS channel, you can subscribe to thousands of them.

RSS feeds are typically used with news sites or blogs, although any website can use them to disseminate information. When an update is sent out, it includes a headline and a small amount of text, either a summary or the lead-in to the larger story. You will need to click a link to read more.

In order to receive RSS feeds, you must have an aggregator, a feed reader. There are a number of aggregators online, many of them free. In addition to being available on your computer, RSS feeds can also be read on PDAs and cell phones.

When you come across a website you would like to add to your aggregator, you can do so in one of two ways. Most sites that offer an RSS feed have an “RSS” or “XML” button on their homepage that you can click on and it will instantly add that feed to your aggregator. Depending on your aggregator, you may instead need to copy and paste the URL of the feed into the program.

By either method, the feed will be available as soon as you’ve added it, and your next update could arrive in seconds. If you ever decide that you don’t want to receive updates anymore, you simply delete the feed or URL from your aggregator.

Perhaps you already receive information on website updates through some sort of e-mail newsletter. RSS feeds are preferable to newsletter updates because they are instantaneous; you don’t have to wait until a designated day of the week to receive your summary. They will also never be held up by a spam filter.

RSS feeds are used daily by people who realize the convenience of up-to-the-minute news and reports and the time they can save reading only those updates that interest them, and they look to become even more popular in the future.

Alternatives to e-mail

There has been a recent speculation on the dismissal of e-mail as an effective form of communication causing real alarm. So here we are to discuss two alternatives to email.
More often than not emails can be grouped under two broad categories, one containing personal information and the other containing info on products and technology the particular user is interested in. So any alternatives to e-mail must effectively communicate on both of these planes and realistically it needs to be more effective than e-mail is today.

The first of these technologies is RSS. Really Simple Syndication is a lightweight XML format designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. The good thing about RSS is that it is a pull mechanism and not a push. We can select the information we want and we pull it down on a schedule. We don’t have to fight our way through spam and it’s easy to add and remove subscriptions if we don’t like what we see. RSS delivers only the information we want and its ready to read when we want to read it.

But the problem with RSS fulfilling this role is threefold.

Firstly the websites that have RSS feeds are limited - very few if any product companies have RSS feeds available that you can subscribe to. This means that it is generally impossible to use RSS to keep up with product information at the source of the product.

The second problem is that the sites that do have RSS subscriptions available see RSS as either a nuisance or a potential revenue stream which means that in the long term the RSS feeds on these sites will probably be less accessible at best - more likely they will disappear entirely. Typically the sites with RSS are news sites or blogs, both of which are useful for aggregating news to a single source.

The third problem with RSS is that unless the site has multiple feeds available, you will get every scrap of news that is published.

The technology that could replace e-mail in a personal sense is instant messaging or IM. IM already has huge popularity, and is better than e-mail on a personal level because it can convey emotions better and allows the parties to clear up any misunderstanding before it becomes a problem.

IM also allows file transfer between parties as well as a number of other features that e-mail does not have. In addition IM is real time, it can be taken mobile (e.g. With a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone) and all conversations can be recorded.

The biggest drawback to IM is the adoption. While IM has widespread adoption today, corporate adoption has been slow. But I expect this to change though as companies start to look for more effective ways to communicate without the noise of spam.

Another improvement would be to see a bigger uptake of always connected mobile devices. Fortunately, as phones and PDAs continue to merge, this will only get better. Users of devices like the XDA II and HTC Falcon can today be connected via a usable version of MSN Messenger wherever they are. This means they can communicate, send and receive files, and even open them without having to return to their desk. And all this without e-mail.

There is also the problem of disparity. As it stands today, the IM world is a group of varying systems that generally don’t interoperate well (if at all) with each other. If one person is a user of Yahoo Messenger and someone else is a user of MSN Messenger, the two cannot talk unless one of the parties crosses over to the others side and downloads and signs up with the other parties’ messenger system.

Finally the IM world has already started to receive unsolicited messages from outside parties. How far this gets remains to be seen! I've had problems with this myself, and I'd hate to see another communications method go the way of e-mail.

Therefore, while we conclude we can see that the two probable alternatives are not potent enough to replace email as an effective way of communication. Maybe with a bit more of insight, nurturing and development might we consider these other forms of communication to be a viable alternative.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Firefox streets ahead of IE on European Computers

Mozilla's Firefox browser is now ahead of the Internet Explorer in terms of usage on European computers. A study by technology company AdTech says that the popularity of the open-source browser has grown by 40 percent over the last six months.

Plus Firefox has managed to increase its market share from 8.96 percent to 12.41 percent in the same six-month period between March and October this year. The main reason for users shunning Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the dodgy security in the latter. That is not to say that Firefox is not vulnerable to being attacked. But the fact remains that IE supports the ActiveX controls, which remains the main channel for the entry of malicious codes as well as spyware. Firefox does not support these controls, but it has still made massive improvements in the 1.5 version. The tabbed browsing feature has always been its main attraction to many users and this feature continues to deliver in leaps and bounds in the new version as well.


The main feature that has rendered Firefox relatively safe against hackers has been its open-source origins, which means that programmers have been regularly updating this version as keeping it out of the reach of malware makers. The new version boasts of a better pop-up blocking feature, but initial feelings are that it remains pretty much similar to earlier versions. The "Clear Private Data" command is pretty useful in wiping out all your traces including that of saved passwords and usernames. Firefox scores heavily over Internet Explorer in this category.

The new version also presents two new web-design categories called Canvas and SVG and this makes surfing more interesting. A big plus is the RSS button, which is now displayed on top of the page rather than at the bottom. All said and done, Firefox is at the moment ahead of Internet Explorer in the stakes and this should serve as a wake-up call to the Redmond honchos (I hope you are able to follow this little hint!!!). An IE 7.0 is in the works and it is a sure thing that all the popular features of Firefox will be taken into consideration before releasing it. Till then happy "tabbed" browsing!

Little tip from my side, do add powerful extensions to your Mozilla Firefox browser d to make it more customisable and colourful. Install extensions from https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions

Naming of Windows Vista

The client version of Microsoft Windows code name "Longhorn" is now Windows Vista. The new OS is
currently undergoing a beta stage mainly aimed at developers and device designers.

The following is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with John B. Williams,
General Manager of Windows Communications, to find out how Windows Vista got its name and what it will mean for end users.

The following is John's take on the naming of Windows Vista.

I tend to answer it with a very short narrative. Today, we live in a world of "more" -- more information, more ways to communicate, more things to do, more opportunities -- and the same time, more responsibilities. Increasingly, we all turn to our PCs to help us with that. And inherently, when I do that, I turn to Windows.

At the end of the day, what I'm after is to break through all the clutter to focus on what I want to focus on, what I need to do. What you're trying to get to is your own personal Vista -- whether that is trying to organize photos, or trying to find a file or trying to collaborate with a number of people electronically.

That's the role that Windows has always played -- empowering people to use technology to do and accomplish what they want. But the world has evolved, and there's a lot more out there. So we need to make some investments and make sure that we continue to play that role.

We've also created a product that is visually very powerful and beautiful, and that combination is what led us to the notion of our job, and what this product delivers, is your own personal Vista.

Pretty fluffy stuff is this, not something like Windows XP. Thought the reason behind the naming would be as interesting as Windows XP. Still good thinking, John. Way to go!!!

Reminders on email

Well all of you reading this blog (not most of you) must have used the reminder facility offered by your mobiles. And above all you must have found it to be very useful tool to lessen the burden on your brain and free up more space. Here comes another tool , somewhat like "brain clean up".

Visit http://www.FutureMe.org and feel the experience like a man named Greg.
In the year 2009, on the 25th of April, Greg is supposed to get an e-mail. The e-mail will remind Greg that he is his best friend and worst enemy, that he once dated a woman named Michelle, and that he planned to major in computer science. And the e-mail was sent by none other than Greg himself — through FutureMe.org.

The site is one of a handful that let people send e-mails to themselves and others years in the future. They are technology's answer to time capsules, trading on people's sense of curiosity, accountability and nostalgia.

"Messages into the future is something that people have always sought to do," said Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future. "In a way, it's a statement of optimism."

Matt Sly, 29, came up with the concept for FutureMe.org about four years ago. He was inspired one day after recalling how during his education he had been given assignments to write letters to himself.

Sly, who partnered with 31-year-old Jay Patrikios of San Francisco on the project, said the site has made maybe $58 through donations. He is adamant that FutureMe.org is not a reminder service and that users should think long-term (Do you guys feel the same way? I doubt!!!).

The site lets people send messages 30 years from now, though Sly's numbers show most users schedule their e-mails to be sent within three years.

He said a large number of the messages sent do one of two basic things: tell the future person what the past person was doing at the time, and ask the future person if he or she had met the aspirations of the past person.

Recently, Forbes.com jumped on the idea, offering an "e-mail time capsule" promotion. More than 140,000 letters were collected over about six weeks. Nearly 20 percent of the messages sent are supposed to land in the sender's inbox in 20 years; others requested shorter time frames. Forbes.com is partnering with Yahoo! and Codefix Consulting on the project.

Another type of future message service can be found at sites such as http://myLastEmail.com or http:// LastWishes.com , which promise to send messages to loved ones (or less-than-loved ones) after you die.

Now it is upto you guys to decide which service is best suited for you, though I am never going to choose the last two links atleast for some years now.

Iomega releases desktop hdd with 1TB capacity

Iomega International S.A has introduced the Iomega Desktop Hard Drive Tera Series, a compact four-drive enclosure with 1 terabyte (TB) of capacity.

Designed for creative services professionals and others who require fast access to data, the Iomega 1TB drive delivers high capacity with a complete backup and disaster recovery solution.

The new Iomega Tera Series connects to the host PC through FireWire 800 or USB 2.0 (backwards compatible with USB 1.1) and is compatible with FireWire 400 through an adapter which is included in the box.

The unit measures 318mm x 163mm x 203mm (L x W x H), and is designed to take up little space on the desktop.

It comes with four 250GB SATA drives, that can be easily removed and replaced, each running at 7200 RPM with 8MB cache for high performance, configurable as RAID 0 (striped).

Users who want the maximum performance possible can configure the 1TB drive for data striping across four high-capacity SATA disks (RAID 0), providing virtually instant access to data. The new drive also features two pass through FireWire 800 ports and a USB 2.0 expansion port, giving users the flexibility of attaching an additional USB 2.0 hard drive or other peripheral.

“An increasing number of today’s digital home computer users and small businesses have put together small networks that are literally running out of space to back up their daily files or work on data-intensive projects,” said Walter Grinberg, product manager Iomega International. “The 1TB drive gives them an ocean of available space for projects and day-to-day backup, and it also gives them easy disaster recovery through full disk imaging.”

Users of the new 1TB Iomega Desktop Hard Drive can store up to 18,500 hours of music, 4,000,000 photos, or 1,500 hours of video on a single Iomega Tera series device.

For Windows users, Iomega includes Iomega Automatic Backup Pro software for backup and disaster recovery for critical data. IAB Pro software backs up files on a scheduled or continuous basis. It also gives users professional-level disaster recovery from within Windows, eliminating the need to boot to DOS. Data security is further enhanced with IAB Pro software’s AES file encryption, its ability to back up multiple file revisions, and its easy configuration of scheduled backups if preferred. And with 2.6:1 file compression, IAB Pro can make each megabyte of storage capacity go further.

The Iomega Desktop Hard Drive is compatible with Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional. It is also compatible with Mac OS 10.1 or higher on Mac G3 (blue and white G3 models only), Mac G4 or iMac with built-in USB or FireWire connection.

The new Tera Series is available for EUR 999.

Friday, December 09, 2005

History of Hungarian Notation

Here’s how Hungarian Notation came to be known as it is today.

Literally and mundanely, the notation had indeed been invented by a Hungarian. His name is Charles Simonyi. He was born in Budapest in 1948, and for more than a decade he was senior programmer at Microsoft in Redmond. His invention of the notation dates back to the early seventies, however, and he used it during his degree work at Berkeley and later when he was working at Xerox PARC. He disliked the way that names in C programs could stand for any kind of variable. This was for ever leading to mistakes. “If only,” he thought, “the names of the variables themselves gave useful information about their type ...”. And so the idea of Hungarian notation was born, in which each variable is prefixed by lower-case letters indicating useful things about it.

He had the chance to implement his ideas when he joined Microsoft in 1981. The programmers there looked at the convoluted, vowel-less variable names produced by his scheme and, like everyone else who has come into contact with them since, must have said something like “This might as well be in Greek—or even Hungarian!”. They almost certainly had in mind as well another kind of mathematical system called Polish notation. They put the two together and made up the name Hungarian notation.

Charles Simonyi points out the following features in favour of his naming scheme: When confronted with the need for a new name in a program, a good programmer will generally consider the following factors to reach a decision:
1. Mnemonic value—so that the programmer can remember the name.
2. Suggestive value—so that others can read the code.
3. "Consistency"—this is often viewed as an aesthetic idea, yet it also has to do with the information efficiency of the program text. Roughly speaking, we want similar names for similar quantities.
4. Speed of the decision—we cannot spend too much time pondering the name of a single quantity, nor is there time for typing and editing extremely long variable names.

Arguments against Hungarian Notation point out that it is most widely used in C++. But C++ is a hybrid language ( Oh! Is it? I don’t believe you). You can mix objects with primitive data-types, that is the simple reason why. For a pure OO, strongly-typed language, you can do away with Hungarian Notation.

Also, in C++, what is often more important to know about a variable is not its type, but its scope (local, function arg, file static, member, static member, global etc). This can be easily encoded with a Hungarian-style notation, such as what MFC uses, with m_ for member, c_ for static members etc.

Hungarian Notations's main disadvantage may be when the name does not match the type. eg. you originally had a single byte for a value, but the specs change and now you need an unsigned long - that means not only must you change the type of the declaration - in one place - but the name of the variable everywhere it is used.

Staunch Critics of Hungarian Notation see it more of a commenting style and they have every logical reason in the world to think so.

You can have a great insight by reading the article written by the man behind all this visiting the following link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library
/en-us/dnvs600/html/HungaNotat.asp

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gmail Users Get Free Virus Scans

Google has launched virus scanning on its Gmail e-mail service to complement its existing virus protection.
Gmail, recently rebranded as Google Mail due to a domain dispute, now includes automatic scanning of all attachments users send and receive.It aims to clean or remove viruses from infected attachments so that users can still access the attachment's information. If the virus cannot be removed, users will not be able to download the attachment. Gmail also will prevent users from sending messages with infected attachments.

Up until now, Google has protected Gmail users by blocking messages that carry attachments commonly associated with virus attacks. Once a scan is complete, Gmail will display the results. "Virus found" will appear next to infected files, and you won't be able to download them. If an attachment is safe, or clean, the user can download it by clicking the link.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Social Networking and Relationship Finder

Please visit the following links to find the full article:
http://research.microsoft.com/displayArticle.aspx?id=1365
or
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/rJUtcNxmYwb2Z1/
Microsofts-SNARF-Finds-Your-Friends-Among-Tons-of
-E-Mail.xhtml

Microsoft Research has released a program that can help sort through e-mail so that correspondence that you're most likely to want to see ends up where you're most likely to see it.
SNARF (Social Network and Relationship Finder) is a free, add-on program that works with Outlook 2003 and up. It "knows" which e-mail is coming from your contacts and how important those contacts are to you based on how often you correspond with them. Microsoft calls it "social sorting."

Filters and rules are clunky ways of sorting e-mail. A simpler method would spare time and help avoid lost messages.

SNARF, the Social Network and Relationship Finder, developed by Microsoft Research and available for download, is designed to help computer users cope with precisely such scenarios. SNARF, a complement to e-mail programs such as Outlook, filters and sorts e-mail based on the type of message and the user’s history with an e-mail correspondent. The result: a collection of alternative views of your e-mail that can help you make sense of the deluge.
The process on which SNARF is based is called social sorting.

SNARF was built around the notion that social network information that is already available to the computer system can be usefully reflected to the user: a message from a manager might be seen differently than a message from a stranger, for example. SNARF applies this idea to email triage: handling the flow of messages when time is short and mail is long.

The SNARF UI is designed to provide a quick overview of unread mail, organized by its importance. The UI shows a series of different panes with unread mail in them; each pane shows a list of authors of messages. Clicking on a name shows all messages involving that person.

People use a variety of strategies to handle triage; there is no single "best" ordering of email messages to produce an optimal outcome.

SNARF gives the user the freedom to build their own ordering. Each person in their inbox is assigned a set of meta-information: "number of emails sent in the last month," for example. These metrics can, in turn, be combined to create an ordering across all contacts. The tool, which has been deployed within Microsoft for a field study, simply counts e-mails, sorts them by sender, and draws conclusions about their relative importance from the intensity of the correspondence relationship.

When launched for the first time, SNARF indexes your e-mail. When indexing is complete, a window with three panes is displayed. The top pane includes a list of people who have sent recent, unread e-mail addressed or cc’d to you. The middle pane includes people who have sent recent, unread e-mail addressed to anyone. And the bottom pane includes all people mentioned in any e-mail you have received in the past week.

A configuration panel enables you to change the types of messages displayed and to sort them in different ways. Once you have the tool configured as you prefer, you can double-click on a contact’s name within one of the panes, then view a list of all recent e-mail from that person. It works with mailing lists, too, and you can organize mail by threads and read the entire thread in chronological order, top to bottom.

System Requirements
SNARF requires Microsoft Outlook (2003, 2002) as a MAPI source. It has been tested with Exchange and MAPI servers, Hotmail, POP, IMAP, and the OL

Friday, December 02, 2005

Error 404



The article can be viewed at http://www.room404.com/
I am grateful to Bhushan Dole for directing my interest to this interesting topic.

Before the beginning of time, when the Internet was still very much under the spell of bare Unix shells and Gopher, before SLIP or PPP became widely used, an ambitious group of young scientists at CERN (Switzerland) started working on what was to become the media revolution of the nineties: the World Wide Web, later to be known as WWW, or simply 'the Web'. Their aim: to create a database infrastructure that offered open access to data in various formats: multi-media. The ultimate goal was clearly to create a protocol that would combine text and pictures and present it as one document, and allow linking to other such documents: hypertext.

Because these bright young minds were reluctant to reveal their progress (and setbacks) to the world, they started developing their protocol in a closed environment: CERN's internal network. Many hours were spend on what later became the world-wide standard for multimedia documents. Using the physical lay-out of CERN's network and buildings as a metaphor for the 'real world' they situated different functions of the protocol in different offices within CERN.

In an office on the fourth floor (room 404), they placed the World Wide Web's central database: any request for a file was routed to that office, where two or three people would manually locate the requested files and transfer them, over the network, to the person who made that request.

When the database started to grow, and the people at CERN realised that they were able to retrieve documents other than their own research-papers, not only the number of requests grew, but also the number of requests that could not be fulfilled, usually because the person who requested a file typed in the wrong name for that file. Soon these faulty requests were answered with a standard message: 'Room 404: file not found'.

Later, when these processes were automated and people could directly query the database, the messageID's for error messages remained linked to the physical location the process took place: '404: file not found'.

The room numbers remained in the error codes in the official release of HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) when the Web left CERN to conquer the world, and are still displayed when a browser makes a faulty request to a Web server. In memory of the heroic boys and girls that worked deep into the night for all those months, in those small and hot offices at CERN, Room 404 is preserved as a 'place on the Web'. None of the other rooms are still used for the Web. Room 404 is the only and true monument to the beginning of the Web, a tribute to a place in the past, where the future was shaped.

What does foo and bar stand for?



I would like to acknowledge Naren S. Naidu for providing the link for the article posted.
The article can be found at
http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/F/foo.html

For more references, visit http://kb.indiana.edu/data/aetq.html?cust=379462.50587.30
http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/F/foobar.html


When ‘foo’ is used in connection with ‘bar’ it has generally traced to the WWII-era Army slang acronym FUBAR (‘Fucked Up Beyond All Repair’ or ‘Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition’), later modified to foobar. Early versions of the Jargon File interpreted this change as a post-war bowdlerization, but it it now seems more likely that FUBAR was itself a derivative of ‘foo’ perhaps influenced by German furchtbar (terrible) — ‘foobar’ may actually have been the original form.

For, it seems, the word ‘foo’ itself had an immediate prewar history in comic strips and cartoons. The earliest documented uses were in the Smokey Stover comic strip published from about 1930 to about 1952. Bill Holman, the author of the strip, filled it with odd jokes and personal contrivances, including other nonsense phrases such as “Notary Sojac” and “1506 nix nix”. The word “foo” frequently appeared on license plates of cars, in nonsense sayings in the background of some frames (such as “He who foos last foos best” or “Many smoke but foo men chew”), and Holman had Smokey say “Where there's foo, there's fire”.

According to the Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion Holman claimed to have found the word “foo” on the bottom of a Chinese figurine. This is plausible; Chinese statuettes often have apotropaic inscriptions, and this one was almost certainly the Mandarin Chinese word fu (sometimes transliterated foo), which can mean “happiness” or “prosperity” when spoken with the rising tone (the lion-dog guardians flanking the steps of many Chinese restaurants are properly called “fu dogs”). English speakers' reception of Holman's ‘foo’ nonsense word was undoubtedly influenced by Yiddish ‘feh’ and English ‘fooey’ and ‘fool’.

Holman's strip featured a firetruck called the Foomobile that rode on two wheels. The comic strip was tremendously popular in the late 1930s, and legend has it that a manufacturer in Indiana even produced an operable version of Holman's Foomobile. According to the Encyclopedia of American Comics, ‘Foo’ fever swept the U.S., finding its way into popular songs and generating over 500 ‘Foo Clubs.’ The fad left ‘foo’ references embedded in popular culture (including a couple of appearances in Warner Brothers cartoons of 1938-39; notably in Robert Clampett's “Daffy Doc” of 1938, in which a very early version of Daffy Duck holds up a sign saying “SILENCE IS FOO!”) When the fad faded, the origin of “foo” was forgotten.

One place “foo” is known to have remained live is in the U.S. military during the WWII years. In 1944-45, the term ‘foo fighters’ was in use by radar operators for the kind of mysterious or spurious trace that would later be called a UFO (the older term resurfaced in popular American usage in 1995 via the name of one of the better grunge-rock bands). Because informants connected the term directly to the Smokey Stover strip, the folk etymology that connects it to French “feu” (fire) can be gently dismissed.

The U.S. and British militaries frequently swapped slang terms during the war (see kluge and kludge for another important example) Period sources reported that ‘FOO’ became a semi-legendary subject of WWII British-army graffiti more or less equivalent to the American Kilroy. Where British troops went, the graffito “FOO was here” or something similar showed up. Several slang dictionaries aver that FOO probably came from Forward Observation Officer, but this (like the contemporaneous “FUBAR”) was probably a backronym . Forty years later, Paul Dickson's excellent book “Words” (Dell, 1982, ISBN 0-440-52260-7) traced “Foo” to an unspecified British naval magazine in 1946, quoting as follows: “Mr. Foo is a mysterious Second World War product, gifted with bitter omniscience and sarcasm.”

Start adobe reader faster using tiposuction

We have all noticed the slooooooow nature of Adobe's latest version of the acrobat (.pdf) reader, recently renamed "Adobe Reader" by their marketing spinmeisters. See "Adobe's quiet release of Reader software causes people to scream".

here are the dirty details

Install Adobe Reader 6 ;
From the Start->Run windows menu, Open the "x:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader" folder, where x is the right drive letter.
Find the plug_ins folder and rename it plug_ins_disabled
Create a new folder named plug_ins
Copy the following files from "plug_ins_disabled" to "plug_ins": EWH32.api, printme.api, and search.api

Of course this will limit the functionality to viewing non-encrypted pdf files, but that's exactly what we want Acrobat alas Adobe Reader for, 99.9% of the time. You might want to experiment leaving some of the fat in, I mean, .API files, like reflow.api and search5.api (if it's there), and see how it affects functionality and load times.

With the files listed, you get half the load time on low-end systems, and a 2-sec load time on high-end ones. Still, you might want to prefer using Acrobat Reader 4.05 on old systems, since it loads in just seven seconds instead of 20.

GPL v3 license review

After several years of work, the first draft of proposed revisions to the open-source software GNU General Public License (GPL) is set to be introduced in January at a conference at MIT.

In an announcement yesterday, Free Software Foundation Inc. (FSF) and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) said the review process for Version 3 of the GPL will continue through 2006 with a final license due out in the spring of 2007.

Peter Brown, executive director of the nonprofit FSF, said the revision process for the GPL has been under way since 1991, when the second version of the license was introduced. "We've really been building Version 3 for these past 15 years," Brown said. "It's really never stopped."

Changes in the GPL -- the most popular open-source software license used by developers -- are unlikely to include massive reworking to its core legal framework, Brown said. Instead, the revisions are expected to address provisions in the existing GPLv2 that are no longer needed. That would include wording changes related to how software is distributed under the GPL now that the Internet is a huge part of the distribution process. In the existing GPL, software distribution is described in physical terms using disks, rather than via download, he said.

"There's just tidying up we need to do," Brown said.

Another issue likely to be addressed with the new GPLv3 is the need for increased compatibility with other open-source software licenses, he said. "The issue for us has always been about freedom," Brown said. "It's not about the business model."

The first discussion draft of the new license will be introduced Jan. 16 at the International Public Conference for GPLv3 at MIT. The FSF will then seek comments from the open-source community to further tweak the GPLv3's language and contents. A second discussion draft is expected by next summer, with a final draft ready by the fall.

Once it's adopted, GPLv3 will be available to developers and software users for future applications, as well as for use with older applications if allowed under their licensing agreements.

Eric S. Raymond, president of the nonprofit Open Source Initiative and a well-known open-source advocate, said he hopes the revised GPL will drop excess wording no longer needed. "Maybe the most important thing they can do is shorten it," he said. "It's pretty verbose."

One example, Raymond said, is the included "how to apply these terms" section, which spells out how the GPL should be viewed. That entire section can be deleted today, he said, because now everyone knows what the GPL is all about.

In a 22-page document outlining the upcoming review process (download PDF), the FSF and the SFLC detail the steps to be taken during the revisions. "The FSF plans to decide the contents of version 3 of the GPL through the fullest possible discussion with the most diverse possible community of drafters and users," the document said. "A major goal is to identify every issue effecting every user, and to resolve those issues. For these reasons, the process of GPL revision will be a time of self-examination."

Participants are expected to include free software community projects, global 2000 companies, developers, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, small businesses and individual users.

HVD Looms




The whole article can be viewed at the following link http://biz.gamedaily.com/features.asp?article_id=11193&section=feature

Blu-ray/HD DVD Could Become Irrelevant as HVD Nears
When it comes to the format war, all the talk has been about Blu-ray and HD DVD, but another more advanced technology could actually replace both before they even really have a chance to make their respective marks. Holographic disks can store a ton of data and can read and write data faster as well...

While the Sony-led Blu-ray camp and the Toshiba-led HD DVD group battle it out to determine which format will become the successor to traditional DVD, another format is being developed that could quickly make both HD DVD and Blu-ray seem obsolete.

Incredible storage capacity
Called Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD), this emerging technology has been in the works (at least conceptually) for about 20 years. It wasn't until the beginning of the 21st century that real advances were made, however. Holographic disk storage allows for much higher density than DVDs by storing data as light patterns throughout the volume of the polymer disc, or three dimensions. HVD can apparently store up to 60 times the data of a regular DVD and it can read and write data 10 times faster as well.

The two major players in this emerging holographic storage field are InPhase Technologies (an American company) and Japanese firm Optware Corp. Optware recently opened a U.S. branch and intends to launch 200GB HVD drives by the end of 2006; by 2008, the company is aiming to hit the 1TB mark. InPhase also plans on shipping its own 200GB drives by the end of next year. The company has partnered with Hitachi Maxell Ltd. to market the new technology.

[ "With Blu-ray and HD DVD not even on the market yet... it's certainly possible that the real format leap won't truly come until holographic technology is ushered in." ]


According to InPhase, its Tapestry holographic system can store more than 26 hours of broadcast-quality high-definition video on a single 300GB disk, recorded at a 160 megabit per second (Mb/s) data rate. HVD also can hold data for over 50 years without any sign of deterioration, which when combined with its massive capacity makes it an ideal solution for television networks to store all their video.

Attracting networks
In fact, Turner Entertainment, a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting System, has already turned to holographic tech, making it the first television network to air content originating on holographic storage. Turner has more than 200,000 movies as well as thousands of commercials stored on digital tape. As the library grows, retrieval time and maintaining the tapes becomes costly, especially as more HD content is adopted.

"The holographic disk promises to retail for $100, and by 2010, it will have capacity of 1.6TB each. That's pretty inexpensive," Ron Tarasoff, vice president of broadcast technology and engineering at Turner Entertainment told Computerworld.com. "Even this first version can store 300GB per disk, and it has 160MB/sec. data throughput rates. That's burning. Then combine it with random access, and it's the best of all worlds."

Consumer market next
Both InPhase and Optware are currently targeting the market from an archival perspective—for example, it would be entirely possible to store whole movie libraries on just one disk. However, for the consumer market the companies also are working on developing disks that would be less than half the physical size of DVDs but could hold around 30GB.

With Blu-ray and HD DVD not even on the market yet and HVD fast closing in, it's certainly possible that the real format leap won't truly come until holographic technology is ushered in. Keep in mind that most consumers have only fully embraced DVD movies in the last 2-3 years and will likely be slow to adopt either Blu-ray or HD DVD, just as they were slow to move away from VHS.

And if video game developers like the idea of Blu-ray in the PlayStation 3, just imagine how pleased they'd be with the vast storage and increased read times of HVD in the generation of consoles following PS3. For now, though, all we can do is wait and see how all these formats work themselves out.