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www.arrl.org www.eham.net

2005-05-24

[Mobiles] Palm, not-a-hard reset tip

'Day Zero' of the PalmSource Developer's Conference revealed this interesting tip for PalmOS users:
If your device locks up with just the PalmOS logo after a reset, you may not have to do a hard reset. Before you get that desperate, try the following: Hold down the "Scroll Up" button and hit the reset button. It will reboot, but not send launch codes to applications. Then do a soft reset to reload everything properly (after removing the offending application if the problem was caused by a new app just loaded.)

So, now we have another kind of reset to add to the myriad of other resets. I'll have to write a PalmApp which shows the difference, so if one Palm fails, you can haul out your emergency backup Palm....

2005-05-23

[Infosec] Step-By-Step: Cracking WEP on WiFi / 802.11 networks

Folks, I warned you all before that WEP is no security at all when anyone with any technical saavy wants your data, your network and your information. Now, Tom's Networks has published a two-part cookbook how-to-crack-it tutorial.

Your teenage hacker neighbor has already read this and
this, so you, too, should see how easy it is to break into a wireless network without WEP security.

2005-05-20

[Mobiles] Free PDA apps: MobileDB & Checklist

Here's a free database for PDAs which synchs to Excel files. You must register with a valid e-mail address to receive the unlock codes.

Checklist is also included along with MobileDB.

No idea how long this will last. No idea what they will do with your name and e-mail.

[Infosec] Cell Phone Security, and Identity Theft Recovery Procedure

When Phones Lie is a Washington Post blog article on the basics of hacking into phone system voice mail. It explains the necessity of requiring a password for access to your voice mail.

And, in a related story, the online magazine Slate suggests a course of action if you are the victim of identity theft.

2005-05-19

[Humor] Revenge of the Photoshoppers

A Photoshopping contest has social relevance today. I'll just leave you with one special image.

2005-05-09

[Mobiles] New Toy, Free: Blogger Mobile

Google, ever the busy little beavers, has intro'd a blogging service for SMS and MMS users: Blogger Mobile. Details over here.

2005-05-08

[Infosec] Fix Your Firefox - New Weakness Requires Changing Configuration

FSIRT (the French Security Incident Response Team) has announced a critical 0-day vulnerability in Firefox 1.0.3, and published working exploit code.

This exploit allows an attacker to execute random code. If a user visits a malicious page and clicks anywhere on the page, the exploit code can create and execute a malicious batch or .exe file that contains code of the attacker's choosing. Mozilla has not yet released a final patch, but they do have a workaround and an interim patch available.

Until the patch is released, you can avoid the problem by clicking on Tools | Options | Web Features and disabling "Allow web sites to install software". Obviously, that's a good idea anyway. It would also be a good idea to disable Javascript for routine browsing.

Linux systems do not appear to be vulnerable to this exploit, because merely using an executable filename extension such as .bat or .exe does not make a file executable under Linux. So, although the exploit code can still write a batch or .exe file with malicious code, that code cannot execute.

RBT
--
Robert Bruce Thompson
Author, O'Reilly's PC HARDWARE IN A NUTSHELL and BUILDING THE PERFECT PC, among others.

2005-05-06

[Liberty] Broadcast Flag FCC Mandate Prevented by Court

UPDATE: The Senate Appropriations Committee has decided to butt out and not restore this odious Big Brotherism. Keep checking, as no man's video collection is safe while the Congress is in session.

The Wall Street Journal reported on May 6 the FCC requirement for a 'Broadcast Flag' has been struck down.

That ruling, which was never requested by the Congress, would have allowed television you record to be automatically erased whenever the station, network or studio wished, and also would have enabled a block on digital copying of TV programs.
(Of course, several Comcast subscribers have posted on line this is already happening, and several cable companies have been explicit about their plans to do so.


Fortunately, the First District Court saw reason and ruled that the FCC did not have the right to require a broadcast flag.
Ruling in a case brought by the American Library Association, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the Federal Communications Commission had overstepped its authority in trying to regulate how consumers can use their TV sets after they receive broadcasts. The case involves something called the "broadcast flag," a slight digital modification to a broadcast digital TV signal, one that wouldn't affect picture quality but would prevent a recording of the show from being uploaded to the Internet. The FCC ordered it into place two years ago and said that by July 1 all video-recording equipment sold in the U.S. -- for instance DVD players and digital video recorders, including those on PCs -- must support the flag.

During courtroom arguments, U.S. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards told the FCC it had "crossed the line'' by requiring the new anti-piracy technology for next-generation television devices and rhetorically asked the FCC whether it also intended to regulate household appliances. "You've gone too far," Judge Edwards told the FCC's lawyer. "Are washing machines next?'' Thanks to the Wall Street Journal for the snippet from their article.
Here's full opinion from the court (requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader, available for numerous platforms).

For more background, visit the Electronic Freedom Foundation's article on the broadcast flag and the Public Knowledge site.

2005-05-05

Pocket Encyclopedias: More Tools For You

Stumbled across DocReader today, which allows you to read (not edit) PalmDOC .PDB files on your Windows PC.

It led me to a Ring for e-text on PalmOS PDAs which I am sure will be somewhat useful, once I wade through all the fanfic links.

In my earlier post on e-text (et al.), I neglected to mention Sunrise, a Java-based scooper for Windows which automates collecting websites, converting them to Plucker documents and sets them up to install at next sync. Sunrise supports right-click context menu selection of web pages in IE and Firefox. Freeware like Firefox, DocReader and the rest, but requires Java freeware.

2005-05-04

Humor: Rules of Computerdom

From Chaos Manor today:

Rules of Computerdom

1. There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works.

2. A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking red light.

3. The programmer's national anthem is 'AAAAAAAARRRRGHHHHH!!'.

4. At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer, you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.

5. Beta. Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it's released. Beta is Latin for "still doesn't work."

6. Computer analyst to programmer: "You start coding. I'll go find out what they want."

7. Computer Science: solving today's problems tomorrow.

8. Hidden DOS secret: add BUGS=OFF to your CONFIG.SYS

9. Hit any user to continue.

10. I wish life had an UNDO function.

11. If your computer says, "Printer out of Paper," this problem cannot be resolved by continuously clicking the "OK" button.

12. It said "Insert disk 3..." but only 2 fit in the drive.

13. Microsoft Windows: computing While U Wait

14. 665.9238429876 - Number of the Pentium Beast

15. I have yet to meet a C compiler that is more friendly and easier to use than eating soup with a knife.

16. My software never has bugs. It just develops random features.

17. Programming graphics in X is like finding sqrt(pi) using Roman numerals.

18. "To know recursion, you must first know recursion"

19. Life's unfair - but root password helps!

20. Mountain Dew and doughnuts... because breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

21. Hey! It compiles! Ship it!

22. "Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

23. Intel: We put the "um..." in Pentium.

24. Helpdesk tip #2: When the support analyst says "Click...", wait for the rest of the sentence.

25. BREAKFAST.COM Halted...Cereal Port Not Responding

26. BUFFERS=20 FILES=15 2nd down, 4th quarter, 5 yards to go!

27. As a computer, I find your faith in technology amusing.

28. Disinformation is not as good as datinformation.

29. Smash forehead on keyboard to continue.....

30. Enter any 11-digit prime number to continue...

31. All wiyht. Rho sritched mg kegtops awound?

32. A good programmer makes all the right mistakes.

33. Managing programmers is like herding cats.

34. "There is an old saying that if a million monkeys typed on a million keyboards for a million years, eventually all the works of Shakespeare would be produced. Now, thanks to Usenet, we know this is not true."

35. "A good programmer is someone who looks both ways before crossing a one-way street."

36. C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes it harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg.

37. A computer scientist is someone who, when told to "Go to H---," sees the "go to," rather than the destination, as harmful.

38. 1010011010 - The binary number of the Beast

39. APATHY ERROR: Don't bother striking any key. Application has reported a "Not My Fault" in module KRNL.EXE in line 0200:103F

40. "The three most dangerous things in the world are a programmer with a soldering iron, a hardware type with a software patch and a user with an idea."

Jim Woosley

2005-05-03

Is That an Encyclopedia in Your Pocket, or...

Wikiwiki is Hawaiian for quick, or 'super-fast'. One public-spirited Portland programmer, Ward Cunningham, came up with the idea of a really simple system for hyperlinked documentation in '95 he called Wiki, and moved it shortly thereafter to HTML and web servers.

Well, it's grown like The Blob. Now, it's a well-accepted system for knocking documentation together quickly, for the ability for anyone to make updates in documentation is very, very useful. Even some advertising-supported websites use Wikis as their primary sources of information.

Some Wikis are locked, without the ability for everyone to update the information, but most are open. That openness and the resulting ease of creating and updating entries far outweighs the occasional crank who posts incorrect data. Most Wikis have volunteers who track changes, and remove them if incorrect later, and many Wikis are inside firewalled corporate networks, which guarantees no unruly outsiders have access.

IMHO, it's wise to use a public Wiki with the idea that it's not a primary source, but will provide information you can quickly verify as true. Other, similar work like the Open Directory Project have proven the merit of allowing the public to increase and catalog the corpus of knowledge, which otherwise would be virtually inaccessible by anyone but librarians and skilled researchers.

There are large public Wiki projects, like the
Wictionary, a dictionary with 68,055 English entries (and less in many other languages)
Wikipedia, an encyclopedia with over half a million English entries, and
Wikiquote, a compendium of thousands of quotations and proverbs.

Now, here's some PalmOS stuff. If you don't use or have interest in PDAs, move along, nothing to see here, move along.

PalmOS(TM) genius-level programmer and documenter David A. Desrosiers (no, not the other Dave Desrosiers, Simple Plan pop-rock musician from Montreal) is porting the Wictionary, Wikipedia and Wikiquote into versions which you can load into a Palm PDA.

His new project is converting these data sources into a format usable by the freeware PalmOS document viewer Plucker, for which he is owner and lead developer, and for which he has also created improved, easier-to-read fonts (relevant when you're dealing with a PDA screen). Plucker itself is petty darned neat, if you have oodles of documents you may need to have on hand yet don't want to actually have to, well, physically carry them. A good example is the 9/11 Commission Report, which he converted to Plucker format and made available for free download.

Desrosier's pretty public-spirited, too, so like Communique, he's going to be getting some bucks from me.

BTW, if you want Plucker to do more, Sunrise Desktop is freeware which automates scooping content from the Web, converting it and making it ready to load into your PDA at next sync time. Here's a discussion forum for support. It works, and it's the best way I know of to automate downloads for sites which AvantGo won't allow.

AvantGo was early with this idea, and their software generally works, with few sync failures. But I'm getting allergic to their ads, and they won't allow a web site to have very many subscribers before they lock off access and demand the website to pay for access to our PDAs. Humph.

Me, I believe we've got a constitutional amendment missing:
"Is not owning a comconsole the lowest standard of living you can imagine?" he said in wonder.
"It's the first article in the constitution. 'Access to information shall not be abridged.' " - Aral and Cordelia, Chapter Seven, BARRYAR
(Available for unencrypted, multi-format, e-book purchase.) It's a wonderful book, BTW. Go get it, wikiwiki.