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Saturday, September 27, 2003

Hallowen (and more) Books

I have been raiding the library over the last week, looking for Halloween ideas. When you have a 5-year-old it gives you a little bit of an excuse. I am also helping to set up and operate the tiny haunted house for my son's school. It is only open for about 2 hours on Halloween Day, right after school, but it should be fun. I am using it as an excuse to build more props and effects for my home haunt on Halloween. Any excuse in a storm. (SMILE)

Scarecrows: Making Harvest Figures and Other Yard Folks | Tricks & Treats: The Ultimate Halloween Book | All About Scarecrows | The Great Halloween Book | Halloween: 101 Frightfully Fun Ideas | Halloween Pumpkins & Parties: 101 Spooktacular Ideas | How to Haunt a House for Halloween (Halloween Book)

Career Column

Career-Op: Describe Yourself
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

The success of your high-tech career may depend on how well you describe your expertise and the work you do. This became clear to me recently, when I visited the monthly San Diego WebDesign Meetup. During a quick set of introductions, I was happily surprised by how clearly and easily people described their work. In my past experience, people often stumble over these items, trying to invent something on the spot. If you haven't spent some time thinking about your own "Description", take the opportunity now.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Californians...Vote on October 7th

I urge all my California readers to get out and vote in the Recall Election on October 7th, 2003. Voting is both a right and a responsibility. Make sure your voice is heard!

It is especially important that you vote in this election. The office of Governor could be won with as little as a 15% majority. Don't let others make this important decision for you.

For myself, I will be voting NO on the Recall and FOR Cruz Bustamante.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, please Get out the Vote on October 7th!

Windows Security Report hits home..and leads to author's firing

The publication of a report highly critical of Microsoft's security policies and calling Windows "a threat to national security" quickly led the firing of one of authors, Dan Geer, former chief technology officer of @Stake, a security consulting firm.

Slashdot members have been discussing the report and the subsequent fallout.

One of the major thrusts of the paper was the conclusion that the dominance of MS Windows has led to a "monoculture" of computer operating systems, where one virus, worm or other attack can disable millions of computers with a single blow.

Back in 1999, I wrote a piece entitled Genetic Diversity in Computers, where I discussed the same issue. When the population of an animal or plant is depleted to a great extent, one single virus or disease can drive the entire population to extinction quite easily. With some diversity in our computing platforms, some computers are guaranteed to survive even the most virulent attack as these exploits commonly focus on one particular computer platform...usually MS Windows. Without the diversity of Macintosh, Linux and other Unix variants, it is not too farfetched to see how a concentrated attack on MS Windows could effect more than 95% of the personal computers and network servers in the US and across the globe.

I believe even more strongly today that we need to develop a collection of separate, yet interoperable, operating systems in order to protect our future. Individuals and companies should be free to pick the operating system of their choice without worrying about how it will integrate with other operating systems. This ease of use will build a diversity to protect us against further attacks on Microsoft products and diminish the ability to cause great havoc by attacking the dominant operating system.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Electronic Voting Issues

Even though a report by Maryland's own election board found that Diebold Election Systems' touch-screen voting machines were "at high risk of compromise," Maryland went on to approve their use.


Maryland: E-Voting Passes Muster - Wired News

A Vote Against the Computerized Ballot - MIT Technology Review

The idiocy of such behavior boggles the mind. More and more information had been exposed about this voting system over the last month and none of it is good. Instead of making voting more secure and less prone to error, these systems seem to make it easier than ever for election officials, politicians and others to rig elections in their favor.

When you are talking about elections, you are fiddling with one of the most basic rights and responsibilities in the USA. Anything that is not secure and audit-able will simply not pass muster. New, electronic or hip doesn't mean the system is any better than past systems, and might even be worse.

Beginning of school-year colds

If it seems like it has been a bit quiet here lately, it isn't your imagination.

The beginning of the school year brought along its companion, the cold I always get. Almost 1 year to the day from the last time I was sick and here I am nursing yet another cold. Thankfully, this time, it didn't turn into anything worse. That is what typically happens.

Anyway, I am back on my feet (or back in my chair) and will try and catch up on a few of the big technology stories working right now.

Be well! -- Douglas

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Apple Mac OS X update pulled

According to MacMegaSite and MacFixit.com, the latest Apple MAC OS X update has been pulled due to a large number of problems.

If you have not installed the update yet, you will want to hold off until it is re-released. If you have installed, as I have, you may or may not experience any problems, but be aware that problems do exist.

As far as my own opinion goes, major errors such as this are simply unacceptable. In order to effectively protect our machines against virus and worm attacks, we are told to update machines immediately. If these updates cause major problems themselves, it defeats the entire purpose. Users must be able to trust the updates from operating system manufacturers or they will not patch their machines and therefore leave them self open to further and more damaging attacks.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Apple Mac OS X Update Available

Apple Mac OS X 10.2.8 Update

While I pity anyone who has to try and download this 40+ MB update using a dial-up modem, there are a significant number of fixes and enhancements to be had. You might want to have a friend/co-worker/neighbor download the update and burn it to a CD for you to save some time.

Click on the link above for a complete list of the updated items.