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Friday, August 6, 2010

WikiLeaks Insurance Policy

WikiLeaks has been in the news a lot as of late for the leak of some  77,000 secret U.S. military documents about Afghanistan that the site posted in July. Yesterday the US Defense Department demanded that WikiLeaks hand over all documents belonging to the Pentagon and issued a strong warning saying "The only acceptable course is for Wikileaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the U.S. government and permanently delete them from its website, computers and records," and that "If doing the right thing is not good enough for them, then we will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing," department spokesman Geoff Morrell said. "These documents belong to the United States government. They don't belong to WikiLeaks. They don't belong to anyone else."

In an interesting twist however a 1.4 gigabyte encrypted file called "insurance" was posted to the site and WikiLeaks Editor-in-chief Julian Assange told the independent U.S. news network Democracy Now! that “I think it's better that we don't comment on that,” according to the network's transcript of the interview. “But, you know, one could imagine in a similar situation that it might be worth ensuring that important parts of history do not disappear.”

I wouldn't want to be in Mr Assange's shoes right now, he's in a real life cat and mouse game and he's staring directly into the jaws of the biggest cat he's ever seen. Good luck!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The End is Nigh For Google Wave

I fondly remember receiving my invite to Google Wave, having craftily used my social networking prowess to connect myself with someone in an earlier timezone who would then pass along one of his treasured invites and I would wear it as a badge of geek cred. I, was one of the lucky few (hundred thousand) who were invited to the game during the first wave of invites, and it felt good. I talked it up amongst my colleagues and guarded my invites, choosing carefully who I would allow into the wonder that was Wave. I did so to: (a) keep the club to a select few trusted friends and (b) make sure the invites where in the hands of others who would also take great care in choosing who they would invite. Those early days were good and we used Wave to collaborate on such things as where to go for lunch and as a back channel for office bitching sessions and Dilbert cartoons. The funny thing is that my initial select few eventually choose new career paths and the one tool that had kept us all together while we worked within feet of each other quickly fizzled to the point where I can't recall the last time I have logged in, it's been months. As we put distance between us we reverted back to e-mail and text messages and Wave no longer became relevant.

It seems as though Wave failed to ride the... no I'll not go there. Wave failed to capture the attention of the masses the way that gmail did, using the very same tactics that Google used to launch that product with much success. In a blog post yesterday on the Official Google BlogUrs H√∂lzle, Senior Vice President, Operations & Google Fellow wrote "...Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects." 

Perhaps we will see the features we loved in Google Wave in the rumored new Google social network "Google Me" as it was referred to by Kevin Rose of Digg fame when he let the cat out of the bag on This Week in Tech and via twitter. One has got to think that Kevin has credible sources and I'll be anxiously awaiting my opportunity to snag me one of those invites!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

French Security Firm Warns Of Apple IOS / PDF Vulnerability

French security firm Vupen has reported a vulnerability targeted at Apple products running IOS, namely the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, that could allow hackers to take control of your device. The scam is an old one, lure users to a malicious website planted with an infected PDF document. It's been done before on PCs but this is the latest in a string of attacks aimed at Apple's popular mobile devices. It would seem as though Apple is feeling the pain long suffered by Microsoft, it's tough being at the top!

Apple is looking into the claim.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Patch Tuesday Features USB / Shortcut Bug Fix

When I logged into my pc this morning I received the typical Windows update message and thought little of it. This update however addresses a critical issue publicized in mid July that has been dubbed the USB or Shortcut Bug. The bug was initially being exploited through the use of USB thumb drives and was thought to be limited in scope but, according to this BBC report, has been gathering steam since details of the exploit were published on July 17th. More disturbingly the target of the attacks appears to have been "aimed at the software control systems for critical infrastructure such as power stations."

If you do not have automatic updates turned on it is advisable to visit Microsoft and download this update. While I'm pretty sure you are not running a power station, the flaw in Windows would allow unauthorized access and control of your pc should you acquire the bug. Aaron Heibert at Tom's Hardware offers some friendly advice regarding how to protect yourself from this and other such attacks.

Let's be careful out there...

Monday, August 2, 2010

United Arab Emirates To Block Blackberry E-mail

The U.A.E. has indicated that it will begin to block Blackberry e-mails and text messages in October, citing security concerns. It's a twist of fortune for Research in Motion who scored a big win when security officials in the US allowed then President Elect Obama to keep his Blackberry but has run a fowl of the Arab states. The issue that the U.A.E. and other countries in the Persian Gulf region are having is that the highly encrypted messages make it difficult for government to monitor communications.  

“The U.A.E. has never been a place that offered much in the way of electronic privacy,” said Jim Krane, author of “City of Gold,” a history of Dubai. “The government makes no secret that it monitors electronic communication, including text messages, phone calls and e-mail. The revelation that secure BlackBerry data is frustratingly out of the government’s reach only confirms this.”

The burning question for me now is how will the stand be viewed by consumers here in the Western world? I would have to think that this is a plus for RIM here, but then again how many of us make our decisions based on such criteria?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The War Against Watermelons

I was simply going to tweet this but Twitter seems to be experiencing some difficulties today. I am not quite sure what these folks have against watermelons but it does make for an interesting effect... wish I could say that no fruit was harmed in the making of this video but obviously that would be a lie.

Please don't try this at home Gary!

NASA Weighing Options Regarding Space Station Equipment Failure

According to the NASA website Teams in Mission Control in Houston are weighing the options with regards to a cooling loop that has had a mechanical failure and space walks are being considered. The loop that was shut down, and since been unable to restart, is one of two cooling loops and the problem seems to be associated with a pump that circulates ammonia. The failed loop is said not to have placed the crew in danger "The space station crew is in no danger and all systems are stable, though operating in a "single string" mode without redundancy. " 

Thankfully there are two spare pump modules aboard but they are located on the outside of the IIS and thus the potential for a spacewalk to retrieve the parts. 

NASA says "Two of the four main buss switching units are cooled by the failed loop. The units switch and route power to various station systems. Mission Control is evaluating whether the heat generation may be low enough to not require powering off these switching units. With the loss of the cooling loop, several systems have been shut down, including one of two S-band communication circuits, one Global Positioning System circuit, several DC to DC current converters in Tranquility and a set of components that route commands to station equipment. Though two of the four station Control Moment Gyroscopes initially were turned off, the crew installed a jumper cable to regain a third gyro. The gyroscopes maintain the station's attitude in space."

As someone who works in the IT field, I feel much safer when the redundant systems are in place. This is however precisely why you build redundancy into systems and I'm sure NASA is considering all of the potential dangers and making their decision accordingly.