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2006-07-28

[M$] Those Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Patches

Get yer patches on ISO images, downloadable free from Micro$oft! Avoid Windows Genuine Advantage, while still protecting yourself! Give patches to your friends who don't have broadband! Support Aunt Minnie!

Why?

Well, the credible Brian Livingston reports
..Microsoft's in-house Windows Update routine is now likely to download marketing gimmicks such as Windows Genuine Advantage to your PC. I advised all Windows users, other than novices, to turn off Automatic Updates.


And, InfoWorld's Ed Foster chimes in:
...the WGA false negatives are leading to increasing number of situations where customers run afoul of XP's product activation, leaving them to beg Microsoft and/or their PC vendor to help.

"A Mr. Rajiv Malhotra with Microsoft's New Delhi office told me that installing software -- any software -- can trigger the activation process all over again. And that condition extends to third party software. A Mike Russell, also with Microsoft and somewhere in Eastern Europe, I think, confirmed that Microsoft may choose to require reactivation at any time, for any reason - and that installing third-party applications from companies like Adobe could very well trigger reactivation."


So, why not go bare, and not worry? Because the frequency and the speed with which exploits (hacks, viruses, trojans, all that malware) appear keep getting worse. Want to spend hundred of dollars in a possibly futile effort to recover your system and its data? Or, want to start from scratch and reinstall everything? Due diligence demands dedicated patching.

So, if you have not made the conversion to Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xbuntu (free classes at Freegeek!)or some other flavor of *ix (including Mac OS X),

Download
Rip
Burn
and Update Safely

2006-07-18

FEMA txting 2 u (updated 2006-07-22)

In the beginning, there was CONELRAD (which starred in the made-in-Portland CBS documentary A Day Called X, downloadable here and here).

It was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System, then the current Emergency Alert System, but none of those can reach you if you are not listening to local radio & TV. Watching DirectTV or listening to Sirius satellite radio? You don't hear any notice.

Also, believe it or not, EAS is *voluntary*. Yep. Local stations don't have to provide it, as you can read in the state plan. However, that may change, in the light of a presidential order last month.

FEMA is developing an SMS text alerting system, with cooperation from major cellular carriers. But, this is a opt-out system, instead of opt-in like every other system. It also likely will send private messages to emergency responders as well as generalized alert messages to the general population.

Multiple sites have allowed e-mail and SMS text message alerts for years, e.g., the three-year-old alerting system from where I grew up on the Gulf, this Amber Alert site, another free site which permits more detail as to what alerts you get, and DC's Text Alert system.

So, if you want notification, you don't have to wait for FEMA. And, given its proven utility elsewhere, I'm glad they are.

--

I've also updated my page on Communicating with mobile phones in disaster areas despite system overload to note the largest nationwide paging system operator now offers SMS access to its digital display pagers.