60Mbps Is Pretty Hot And Tempting


May 26, 2009 – Sigh… my only cable choice is Time Warner, and the best download speed I get is about 15Mbps.

I really envy you guys in St. Louis, and everywhere else Charter is. Yes, they sponsored this post, but seriously, I’d write about this anyway.

Phatband For The Masses!

The more I learn about Charter the more I wish I could use their services. First I discover their 10 Grand giveaway, and now this. With 60Mbps the internet acts like it’s right there on the desktop.

Charter’s Ultra60 Mbps service is one of the fastest in the US, and definitely the fastest Internet speed in St. Louis. Charter plans to roll-out the Ultra60 service to other areas along with other high-speed products throughout 2009.

The Ultra60 Mbps service is part of Charter’s plan to provide customers with the fastest Internet speed available. With such a large percentage of web traffic going to sites like Youtube and Hulu, it’s critical to have a high-speed connection.

Ultra-Phat, Ultra-Fast

Providing speeds up to 60Mbps, customers can use the Internet in new and developing ways including gaming, movies, telecommuting with mega-files and much more at super high speeds. At these speeds, the Internet is a completely different experience – you can multitask the web in ways you’ve been wishing for, for years.

Hard-core gamers are going to love this. Downloading patches and game updates take less than half the time. And lag? Fuggetaboutit!

Charter’s Ultra60 Mbps service is the first of the Phatband speeds that Charter will be rolling out. With speeds overseas already topping 100Mbps, you can bet the Charter experience is only going to get better. Still, Charter’s PhatBand has already turned DSL into the new dial-up Internet service.

The next level of broadband is here. Check it out over at the Ultra60 Information Page.

Charter loves to hear your feedback – check out their conversation over at Charter’s Twitter Feed.


Win 10 Grand – Charter On Demand

Disclaimer: (May 22, 2009)This post is sponsored by Charter. I’m (currently) a Time Warner customer. I can’t win.



This is going to be short and oh so sweet, because you have just days to get entered in Charter’s latest contest. The contest is open only to Charter customers, so if that is you, read on!

Charter customers can win $10,000 or one of four 52″ Sony HDTVs just by dropping by over at the Win 10 Grand Contest Page and answering the weekly trivia question. (Charter customers: click that link up there and play!)

You want to go ahead on over there now, so you can go back again next week and get another entry. I know the 10 Grand looks good, but there’s a better chance that you’ll win the HDTV IF you enter more than once! This late in the month, the best you can do is to make 2 entries, so like I said, go now.

How Easy Does It Get?

All you gotta do is answer a trivia question about Charter’s On Demand service. That’s it! Go back again a week later and answer another trivia question. To break it down into technical terms, here it is:

Step 1: Go to the Win 10 Grand Contest Page

Step 2: Answer this week’s trivia question.

Step 3: Win!

Charter On Demand

Charter On Demand boasts an immense list of over 6000 titles, including new releases. If you poke around just a little bit, you’ll find free shows as well as the regular premium offers. It’s worth spending a few minutes there.

Of all the big cable companies in the US, Charter appears to be working the hardest to join the social world of the developing web. Back in April, they gave away HDTVs, including a grand prize of a home theater system and one year of free Charter Digital Cable® service with HD programming. In 2008 it gave away laptops and Xbox 360 game systems. One really lucky customer drove away in a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid.

Keep up with everything Charter has planned. Follow Charter’s Twitter Feed!

Now, get over there and play! Time’s a’wastin!


ALERT! Off Schedule Windows Update

Windows UpdateImage via WikipediaAffects All Windows, Even Vista

If you don’t do anything else on December 17th, GO TO WINDOWS UPDATE OR MICROSOFT UPDATE and get your pc patched.

A new exploit trojan which can install itself on your computer without you knowing has been admitted by Microsoft. The potential exists on ALL VERSIONS OF WINDOWS, AND ALL VERSIONS OF INTERNET EXPLORER.

From Microsoft Technet:

Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification issued: December 16, 2008
Microsoft Security Bulletins to be issued: December 17, 2008

This is an advance notification of an out-of-band security bulletin that Microsoft is intending to release on December 17, 2008.

This bulletin advance notification will be replaced with the revised December bulletin summary on December 17, 2008. The revised bulletin summary will include the out-of-band security bulletin as well as the security bulletins already released on December 9, 2008.

For more information about the bulletin advance notification service, see Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification.

To receive automatic notifications whenever Microsoft Security Bulletins are issued, subscribe to Microsoft Technical Security Notifications.

Microsoft is hosting two webcasts to address customer questions on these bulletins: on December 17, 2008, at 1:00 PM Pacific Time (US & Canada) and December 18, 2008, at 11:00 AM Pacific Time. Register now for the December 17 webcast and the December 18 webcast. Afterwards, these webcasts are available on-demand. For more information, see Microsoft Security Bulletin Summaries and Webcasts.

This trojan is ALREADY ON THE WEB and people ARE BEING INFECTED. Usually, Microsoft has an idea where possible exploits could occur, but this time they were caught unawares until it was too late.

Don’t think that Vista is going to protect you. Don’t think that your firewall will protect you. Don’t think that any anti-virus program will protect you. GET THE UPDATE. It’s the only way to protect your system.

From CNET:

The risk is believed to be widespread, given that IE 7 is the latest version of Microsoft’s browser and is bundled with XP service pack 3 and also Vista, said Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications for McAfee’s Avert Labs.

The AZN Trojan, which has been making the rounds since the first week of December, has the potential of infecting users’ system with a Trojan horse, or “downloaders” that can download other forms of malware onto a user’s system.

Microsoft announced it will release a security patch Wednesday via its automatic update system to patch users computers.

Users can potentially get infected two ways, Marcus said. One is to visit a malicious Web site that already has the malware installed on the site, or visit a legitimate site, in which the attacker has inserted the malicious script to run in the background, leaving visitors unaware their systems have been compromised.

“A lot of Web sites are pushing out this exploit,” Marcus noted. Some of the infected sites include Web sites that offer free wallpaper for mobile phones to sites that feature property to product-related sites.

Microsoft is encouraging users to update their systems once the patch is released Wednesday at 10 a.m. PDT.

(EDIT 7:10 7:20am 7:45am 8:01am Eastern)The patch is still not up on the Microsoft site. Keep checking their site until it’s available!

Here are the links, if you need them:

Windows Update

Microsoft Update


The update patch will be available after 7am Eastern time. If it’s already after 7am, GET OFF WORDOUT AND GO THERE NOW!

Two things to remember:
1. You need to use Internet Explorer when going to Windows/Microsoft Update.
2. Restart your pc immediately after the update is installed.

I am Jon, and you can bet, if it’s after 7am I am patched. (unless the patch is unavailable until later! See EDIT above.)


Dole Thrown To The Wolves – The Mailer

WolfImage by All Glory To The Hypnotoad via FlickrUnbelievable!

At first I didn’t believe this.

I found a story about a mailer circulating North Carolina which, in essence, was a horribly despicable attempt to attack Kay Hagan, who is running against Elizabeth Dole for one of our US Senate seats. (It’s been a nasty campaign, yes. But, as you’ll see, these attacks were not only unfounded, but in extremely poor taste.)

I found this story on a site that I trust for their due diligence. Still, I always try to do mine. I looked around for corroborating stories for over an hour and found several, but without exception they all used the same root article as a reference. I have a rule, and it’s a loose one, easy to follow: Must have more than 1 independent reference for me to even consider it might be true.

So I kept looking, until I found a second independent story about the exact same thing. Sheepishly, I must admit, I found it in Kay Hagan’s backyard. Not literally, but think about it: shouldn’t I have just scanned recent headlines in the bigger towns in NC? Starting with the biggest, Charlotte.

Due Diligence Paydirt

Sure enough, when that finally did occur to me, I immediately found what I was looking for. The Charlotte News-Observer describes the mailing this way:

Sponsored by the N.C. Republican Party, the mailer features a photograph of two men’s hands, with both wearing rings that say “guy” on them.

“With Kay Hagan and liberal judges, we’re one step closer to legal gay marriages,” the mailer says.

Inside, next to a picture of two figurines of men wearing black suits, it says that Hagan opposed an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned gay marriage.

It also repeats claims from another mailer about Hagan’s ties to a group that promotes the rights of atheists, saying that Hagan has “a radical homosexual agenda for North Carolina.”

The mailer does not mention the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would add a similar ban to the U.S. Constitution.

Spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan said Hagan opposes both amendments.

“Kay believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, and this is fundamentally a state issue,” she said. “She would not support a federal amendment defining marriage. Here in North Carolina, there is a law that she supports that says marriage is defined as a relationship between a man and a woman, and she sees no reason to change that.”

This sentence is a link to the pdf version of the flier that’s been mailed around NC. I recommend you go and look at it, but be forewarned – It Is Offensive.


I am not gay, am not an atheist. Plus, I’m a registered, voting, active Republican. Have been since I was a Young Republican back in the mid 70s.

And I find this so repugnant, I am embarrassed (to put it waay-too-mildly). It’s not just the narrow-mindedness of it… it shows an utter lack of respect for other opinions and beliefs, not to mention a complete disregard for personal freedom. I expect this kind of idiocy from the national guys, after all we got Bush, Chaney, McCain and Palin from them.

But this from the local guys, my neighbors. What the hell were they thinking?

Look, I’m not voting for Dole this year regardless. I am Jon and I really don’t like Lizzy Dole. This is not a defense of her.

And it’s not a defense of Kay Hagan, either. She’ll get my vote for one reason and one reason alone: I cannot vote for Dole.

What I’m saying here is this: The folks responsible for these kinds of completely out of left-field ads have thrown Lizzy to the wolves. I don’t know if it’s intentional but I do know that this is the final nail in Lizzy Dole’s expensive political coffin.

To those folks, I want to say ‘Thanks’. Truthfully, Lizzy probably could pulled this one out if you guys had not done this. You’re outspending Kay by 3 to 1 and that usually means votes. But this time, you screwed up. You insulted us.

I am Us/You Are Them

I say ‘us’, because I am a resident of North Carolina. I say ‘us’ because I am a voting member of your party, of Lizzy’s party. I have many legitimate reasons for not supporting Ms. Dole, but I have never thought she was stupid. I have never thought she would use blatant fear-mongering as a tactic to win an election.

I guess what I am saying is I don’t respect her as a leader, but I have respected her as a person. You guys at the NC Republican Party have now cast a doubt on that perception of her. I don’t know if she approved the message or not, but I do know that in these times it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

I am not the only one who thinks so. Watch the net for all the negative feedback you’ll get.

Oh, I forgot… you’re republicans. You don’t care about the feedback.

I am Jon, and my last Republican act will be November 4th, when I choose to vote for the PERSON, not the party.

The party lost my vote a long time ago.


Permission: Denied! – Audible.com Review

Image via Wikipedia

So I find out I can download Seth Godin’s new book, in audio format, for free. I go there and it’s actually Audible.com, so I fill out their required info, and get to the download page.

It’s audio. I’m expecting something I can use, such as an mp3 file. But no….

They want to download their ‘management software’. They have a very misleading box where you click on how you plan to listen to the file. Regardless of what you click, you always get taken… to their ‘you gotta download our software management’ page.

So I figure, ‘These guys just want access to my pc.’ And I decide that I don’t want them in my house, so I go looking through the account settings for a ‘cancel my account’ link. Can’t find one, so after about 20 minutes of looking around I go to the ‘HELP’ link and type in the following:

I want my account deleted. I feel that I was misled about your company and I want all my account info deleted.
My desire for this is only ENHANCED by the lack of any readily available info on how to do this.
I WILL NOT download your audio player when simple mp3 should work JUST FINE.
I feel like you have totally misrepresented yourself to me and as a result of being sent here by an indirect method from Seth Godin, whom I have in the past respected, I will now stop paying attention to him as well.
Permission based indeed. All you guys seem to want is your software on my pc.
Jon Knight

When I hit the submit button, this is what I get:

Need to Cancel Your Audible Membership?

We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but the email option is no longer available.

We want to provide you with the best possible customer experience, even if you decide to cancel your membership.

You may either contact us via our toll-free number or cancel your membership online at Make Changes To My Membership ***.

Please contact us at: 888-283-5051
Monday-Friday 9AM-10PM EST
Saturday 10AM-7PM EST

The toll-free number would allow us to:

– Address any technical or usability issues that might be hindering your use of Audible
– Make sure you know about all of the entitlements of Audible
– Get your feedback, so that we can continuously improve the service

We appreciate your business and value you as a customer!

The Audible Team

I clicked the link there, which is supposed to allow me to do this online and I get errors. Nice work…

Just like the idiots at Alltel, these bozos give you an option in a drop down menu and then tell you they don’t support that. Following is my interpretation of their sorry(ass) page:

So you want to cancel your membership, huh? Too damned bad, we don’t let you do that.If you really want to cancel your membership you’re gonna have to take time out of your already overbooked life and call us first, because we’re gonna do and say everything possible to make you stay with us. We’re giving you a link to click here which will not work, regardless of how many times you try, so you may as well just call us so we can give you all the (HARD SELL) reasons why you need to stay with such a shiftless bunch of folks like us.
We appreciate your business, and we’re not letting go of you without a fight.

I am Jon, and this is the kind of schlock that should be wiped from the web.

Image 2


Friday Morning Market Samples

Image representing Forbes as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseQuotes From Around The Web


Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock average advanced 235.27 points, or 2.78 percent, at 8,693.82. The index was still far from recouping Thursday’s 11.4 percent loss – its biggest one-day percentage drop since the stock market crash of October 1987.

For the week, the Nikkei gained 5 percent, much better than the 24 percent it lost last week.

Compared to the gyrations earlier this week, Asian markets were moderately more stable.

Shanghai’s index rose for the first time in a week. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped over 4 percent to 14,554.21, its lowest level in almost three years as selling accelerated late in the day after banks said they would help investors in Lehman Brothers (nyse: LEH – news – people )-backed bonds recouped some of their money. Australia, Singapore and South Korea also closed lower.

European stocks fared better in early trading as Britain, German and French indices gained more than 2 percent. Russian stocks lost ground.

Friday’s mixed session closed out an extremely volatile week that began with a two-day rally. Then, on Thursday, global stock markets plunged as weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales data and a downbeat assessment from the U.S. Federal Reserve showed the world’s largest economy, so critical to Asia’s export countries, was heading into a recession.

Wall Street Journal


In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index lost 4.4% to 14554.21 on concerns the global financial turmoil and slowing U.S. and European economies will hit Asia hard.

Castor Pang, a strategist with Sun Hung Kai Financial, said he expects the index to head toward 14000 points next week, as Asian investors become more aware of their countries’ deteriorating economic conditions. “Economic woes in Korea are hurting investors’ sentiment around the region,” he said. “With no resolution in sight, I believe the market will stay gloomy.”

Australian stocks see-sawed through a shaky day of trading to close marginally lower. The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed down 1.1% at 3970.8, despite jumping 3% in early trading.

Traders said the failure to track the Wall Street gain was disappointing. “What was in the U.S. rally?” asked a senior trader at a major brokerage. “Industrial production (data in the U.S.) was a disaster. That has hellishly big ramifications for our resource sector and we’ve seen our resource stocks get thrashed.”

Resource stocks reversed early gains on worries about weakening global demand for commodities, with Rio Tinto dropping 3.8% and BHP Billiton shedding 3.4%.

November crude-oil prices advanced as much as $3.03 to $72.88 a barrel in electronic trading, after dropping $4.69 to end at $69.85 a barrel in New York Thursday. December gold futures rose $5.10 to $809.60 an ounce, after losing $34.50 to $804.50 an ounce.

South Korean stocks gave up early gains to end lower, with banks and construction companies leading losses on fears of a further slowdown in the local property market and concerns over the health of local banks. The benchmark Kospi index, which lost as much as 9.4% Thursday, fell 2.7% to 1180.67 — its lowest close since October 2005.

GS Engineering & Construction, Daelim Industrial, Hanwha Chemical and Hanwha Corp. all sank by the daily 15% limit.

Local banks extended Thursday’s losses on concerns over their foreign-currency funding, which led S&P recently to place seven local banks on watch for a possible ratings downgrade. Shinhan Financial Group lost 8.8%, KB Financial slid 12% and Hana Financial Holdings plunged by the daily 15% limit.

The Street

The Street

Stocks in Europe were higher. The FTSE 100 index rose 3.3%, while the DAX in Frankfurt rose 1.6%.

U.S. stock futures were indicating a lower open for stocks on Wall Street. Futures on the S&P 500 fell 13.80 points to 927.20, and were trading 20.95 points below fair value. Nasdaq futures were down 26 points to 1297, and were 23.13 points below fair value.

U.S. stocks finished a wobbly Thursday to the upside. The day was marked by a flood of corporate earnings statements, evidence of additional turmoil in the financial sector and a fresh serving of economic data.

I am Jon, and those are some of the voices in my head this morning.

Hedge Fund of the People

StrategeryCapital Management LLC

About Strategery

Strategery is a unique hedge fund.

It is the largest in the world, with expected initial capital of $700 billion. It has a free and unlimited credit line should it need more. It has no fixed mandate, though it is expected to initially focus on mortgage-backed securities. And it is the only fund backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.

Strategery is a way for you to be more patriotic. Supporting this fund is an American duty. Many people have already taken to wearing a green, red, and blue ribbon to symbolize and broadcast their support for this newest American institution.

Click the link and then click every link you find at StrategeryCapital, especially the one at the bottom of the page. Great for an uncontrollable giggle. I think we need one right about now.

I am Jon. Don’t forget to laugh.

Quotes From The Web – The Government Market

HELP LEHMAN !Image by mtlin via FlickrHoward Lindzon

I have never woken up to bigger gains in my portfolio and they have never been less deserved.

If I had not taken the time to buy some stocks into the mess from the golf course yesterday and cover most of my shorts, this morning would make this one of the worst.

I would not have deserved that either.

Mother Jones

Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson’s multi-billion dollar market rescue includes four things to save the market: Creating a toxic waste fund for worthless mortgage assets, extending the Fed’s discount window to investment banks, using a $50 billion Depression-era Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee money market investments, and installing a temporary ban on short-selling 799 financial stocks.


As for a short-sale ban—this isn’t the first time that SEC Chairman Christopher Cox has proposed one under a measure provided by the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. After four months of deliberating the role that short selling might have played in the pummeling of Bear Stearns’ stock, he installed a 10 day short-sale ban, between July 21st and 29th. That didn’t work for long.

But, sort of like with Sarah Palin and the bridge to nowhere, before he was against short selling, he was for it. Last year, the SEC removed a post 1929 stock market crash rule that only allowed short selling when the stock price’s last tick was positive, which was designed to prevent the kind of short selling he’s concerned about now.


…Central Banks around the world are lavishing cash on the financial industry to keep liquidity alive. Today, Japan, Australia, India and Indonesia pumped $42 billion into their money markets, a day after the US Federal Reserve pushed through an $180 billion package. The Bank of England, Swiss National Bank, and European Central bank lent $70 billion of cash to their markets.

John Furrier

At the center of what turned into a highly unsound feeding frenzy were Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, ostensibly private companies but ones where the leadership were politically appointed. Basically, these two institutions were run by political hacks from both parties, feeding the mortgage industry with billions of dollars earmarked for loans to those who previously didn’t qualify for home ownership.

Around 2003, Fannie/Freddie admitted that their financial statement couldn’t be relied upon, and it’s not clear that they ever put them in order since. There were several proposals from The White House in recent years to change this system drastically, but efforts to do so were rebuffed by Congress and in particular Chris Dodd and Barney Frank. As long as home prices kept rising, these highly unsound practices didn’t bother most people. In fact, the companies who originated the mortgages managed to sell them to Wall Street firms such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers (LEH), who were looking to obtain higher yields on their proprietary trading portfolios. Leveraging up over 30:1, this became very profitable for those firms, until the bubble burst. Remember, at 30:1 leverage, you are bankrupt at as soon as losses exceed 3%.


Edward S. Lampert, the hedge fund tycoon who controls Sears Holdings, worries about yet another twist. He says the current wave of federal intervention sends the opposite signal from what’s intended: that officials are panicking because of broader instability. “As an investor, that was my immediate reaction” to the Fannie and Freddie moves, he says. “They completely destroyed confidence in any financial institution.”

Lampert frets that with investment banks failing and merging, the resulting consolidation will concentrate risk and invite more rescues. “You are going to have Citi, JPMorgan, and Bank of America with $2 trillion-plus in assets each,” he notes. “That’s three times the size of Fannie and Freddie. Now if they end up with problems, what do you think is going to happen? They are too big to fail.”

We Are The One

Welcome To The Machine

Thanks to Neil Perkin over at Only Dead Fish for pointing me to this video about the future of the web. Folks that know me and have dared to mention AI or Google, know that I’ve been spouting this stuff for the past few years. Below is a great talk by Kevin Kelly, author of the fascinating book ‘Out of Control‘.

If you don’t have just under 20 minutes right now, make a temporary bookmark and come back later to watch and listen to it. It’s that good…


I am Jon, and I ask you: Are we nothing more than just another dendrite in the machine?

(edit)I’ve just realized that the title could have led some to believe that they were coming to another post about Obama. That was not intentional. Oops.(/edit)

Image 1

2 Ten Minute Links

ein CRAY-1Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a couple of great places to spend 10 minutes when you’re looking for something new on the net. Science, history and just plain fun are only a click away.


A Little History, Loads Of Fun

I’ve been spending a little time over at the National Science Foundation’s website, and I found a interactive piece called ‘NSF and the Birth of the Internet’. With images and some well-written text, it allows you to trace the history of of what we now call the web, from the initial questions about connecting two computers together, to researching the next generation of the internet. Definitely worth taking a few minutes to check out.

I was especially interested in the second photo in the 70s section. That’s a Cray 1 supercomputer. (That’s it over on the right.) At the time it was about the fastest thing on the planet. Looking at it’s specs shows that most of us have more power than this on our desktops, and some of us have more on our phones. I liked it because it had a built-in couch. From their website:

The first Cray-1™ system was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976 for $8.8 million. It boasted a world-record speed of 160 million floating-point operations per second (160 megaflops) and an 8 megabyte (1 million word) main memory. The Cray-1’s architecture reflected its designer’s penchant for bridging technical hurdles with revolutionary ideas. In order to increase the speed of this system, the Cray-1 had a unique “C” shape which enabled integrated circuits to be closer together. No wire in the system was more than four feet long. To handle the intense heat generated by the computer, Cray developed an innovative refrigeration system using Freon.




Another cool site I found (through GigaOm) is Playcrafter, where you can build your own games…

I started to write a short thing about how to use their site, but they’ve already done a much better job by creating this really short (less than 2 mins) video.


– Jon, hoping you like the links.

Image 19

Internet Explorer Has A Problem With Active X Controls

Mozilla Firefox IconImage via Wikipedia Use Only For Windows Updates!

I’ve been adding that line (Use Only For Windows Updates!) to the title bars of my customers’ Internet Explorers ever since Firefox was released a couple of years ago. The main reason? ActiveX controls. Internet Explorer is built around them. Firefox doesn’t use them at all.

Historically, the problem with ActiveX was the ease with which the bad guys could take control of them to infect your pc. Of course, this meant that the ActiveX control in question was already installed on your computer. I mean, think about it: How can you take advantage of a vulnerability if it’s not on the pc, right?

Well, somebody figured out how. The answer was extremely simple, and easy to implement. Just find an obscure ActiveX control with a vulnerability that Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about patching, and install it on pcs visiting your site!

Since the ActiveX control really is from Microsoft (the ultimate trusted vendor on a Windows machine), the user will not be alerted that it is being installed. Once it’s installed on the pc, the bad guys can take over and do whatever they want, using the genuine MS ActiveX control as the conduit to download any kind of malicious program. In most cases, you will never even know it happened.

From the article found at StopBadWare.org, quoting Symantec’s release:

Because the control is Microsoft signed, its installation is silent, and does not require any user interaction. Once this vulnerable control is installed on the victim’s computer, it is exploited in the same way as if the control was installed all along. To top it off, this attack is carried out as a drive-by attack, so the unprotected user may never know that they were vulnerable, or had been targeted, let alone infected.

Moral Of The Story

The moral of the story is plain: Use Internet Explorer Only For Windows Updates! Better yet, set your Windows Updates to automatically download the updates for you, and notify you when they’re ready to be installed. That way, you never have to open yourself to these kinds of threats at all.

Of course, there are other threats. But if you could do one thing to avoid all of a certain class of threats, why wouldn’t you?

I am Jon. Firefox is my browser of choice.

Kaminsky’s DNS Repair Video

Visualization of the various routes through a ...Image via WikipediaDan Kaminsky

Regular readers at Wordout will probably not recognize that name. For the last several years, Dan has spent his time doing security analysis for some really big firms. He’s good.

As a matter of fact, he’s world-class good. A couple of months ago he discovered a vulnerability in the Domain Name System which, if I understand it correctly, could have been used to exploit practically every computer on the internet, regardless of operating system or browser. It was a seriously big hole.

Thankfully, Dan is one of the good guys. He worked with engineers from around the world to fix the problem. Then he did something really neat. He posted this video on his site DoxPara Research, showing the repair progress worldwide. Want to see what it looks like when the internet backbone gets fixed? Check it out… here’s the color key:

Red — Unpatched
Yellow — Patched, but the NAT is screwing things up
Green — OK

I just think that’s one of the coolest videos I’ve seen on the web.

I am Jon, and thanks to Dan, my DNS is just fine.

Image 1

Scribd iPaper – Free Publishing In The Cloud

Look Mommy, There’s An Airplane

By now, this is old news, but I like this little display tool so much that I want to show it to you. It’s iPaper from Scribd.com, and it’s a fantastic way to publish and share documents online. It’s free for anyone to use. All you have to do is fly on over to their site and get started.

Personally, I love it. It’s like a plane – one look and you know exactly what it is and how to use it. It does what’s expected, having all the needed controls and nothing more, no fluff. This is the simplicity of intentional, elegant design.

And the price tag can’t be beat. Go ahead, try it out below!

Read this document on Scribd: Capuano letter

Up In The Sky

Oh yeah, the subject of the iPaper… seems Congress finally realized that they needed to be serving video from somewhere other than their own servers, so it’s just a memo describing some things they want to keep in mind as they move video to the cloud. Just the usual stuff, like making sure it’s respectably presented. So I guess we can look forward to the Youtube Congress Channel, coming soon to a monitor in front of you!

Or not. Who watches Congressional video anyway?

I am Jon, and yeah, I confess… I watch’em.

Aftermath of a Collision

She Fought Back – They Cut Off Her Head

You May Want To Skip This

Seriously. Just click the next link on your list. What’s here is terrible.

Mom, this means you.

Below is a video I found through DigitalJournal. It was originally published at Hyscience, showing an excerpt of the original video of the Florida House of Representatives State Affairs Committee on April 8, 2008 hearing on immigration legislation.

In the video you will hear the story of a little girl, brought to the USA and repeatedly raped. When she fought back, she was brought before the other girls and beheaded in front of them as a warning. If you search for any news about this story, you will come up empty. There was absolutely zero coverage in the mainstream media. The 1st coverage it ever received was when Abdul posted it on June 29th. Since then a few bloggers have published it, much the way I am doing here.

Not The Only Threat

Death isn’t the only threat these girls face. If they refuse to cooperate they run the risk of genital mutilations as well. I don’t know who this little girl was, where she was from or anything more about her. What I have to wonder is: how many more little girls have been killed or mutilated, just to set an example for the others?

And why wasn’t something like this reported anywhere? Anywhere at all? If it weren’t for Abdul we would never had learned of this girl, her life, her death. Why doesn’t CNN or Fox or the Networks or the AP or Reuters or Anybody report this to us? Things like this should receive at least a paragraph buried somewhere on page 37 or something… at least a mention.

What we have is a system of entertainment journals masquerading as news outlets. The only things that matter to the mainstream media anymore are profits and ratings. We haven’t had good journalism in this country for nearly a decade at least, probably longer. We don’t have journalists, we have media personalities. Stewart and Colbert report more honest news stories than CNN or Fox.

And that should make us all worry.

I am Jon, clicking through to The Daily Show.

5 Reasons To Upgrade To IE7

Windows Internet Explorer 8Image via Wikipedia
It’s Just Better

I’ve been a Firefox fan for a couple of years, so I am a bit jazzed about the new 3.0 release. But as good as it is, the majority of readers here, about 50%, are using something else. In the stats I see everything from Safari to Opera to words I can’t pronounce, but on any given day about 25% of you are coming here in that old beat-up jalopy, IE6.

It’s not just that it needs a new paint job. There are some really good reasons to trade it in. So, without any fancy crap, here are 5 reasons to go ahead and upgrade to IE7.

1. Wordout doesn’t look good in IE6.

IE6 doesn’t render standard CSS correctly, resulting in a drastically different page layout. Luckily, the main content area appears where it should. Still, if Wordout doesn’t look right, what else doesn’t look right? Don’t you deserve to see what everybody else is seeing? Upgrade to IE7 and see the web the way it really is.

2. Tabs and Quicktabs

One of my favorite features in Firefox is tabs. Well, now IE has them. And, they have all the functionality you’d want. Open multiple web sites all in one browser, one window. Jump from one pane to the other at will. The Microsoft implementation of tabs gives you lots of choices.

3. Anti Phishing

Phishing is when you go to a website and it looks exactly like the one you’re expecting but it’s really owned by guys out to steal your identity. Even if you don’t do any financial transactions online, you need to worry about this. IE7 phishing protection is similar to what you’d find in any other modern browser. I won’t go on the web without it.

4. Reduced Chance of Drive Bys

In addition to the anti-phishing features, security enhancements to the code in IE7 helps protect you against ‘drive-by’ downloads, which occur when you visit an infected site on the internet. Many of the sites infected are run by reputable people who don’t even know they’ve been compromised by hackers. These hackers install a small script on popular pages without the owners’ knowledge, and the scripts run when the page loads on your screen, even if you don’t click on anything. Although it won’t work 100% of the time, the protection features in IE7 are as good as any other browser.

5. Built In RSS Feeds

IE7 has one of the best in-browser RSS management tools I’ve seen yet. You can customize it in many ways, and it’s one of the reasons I like IE7 as much as I do. RSS is a way to get information that you choose sent to you inside a specialized reader. You can get news, sports, video, business, climate, comics… Whatever you can think of, there’s probably an RSS feed for it. And if there’s not, you can create one using tools at Google and other places.

So there you have it. I could easily have written 10 reasons or 20 reasons or 101 reasons. I could have told you that IE7 is finally customizable, just like Firefox, with add-ons that add real functionality. But the bottom line is this: It’s just better than IE6, and you should get it.

You can grab IE7 the next time you go to get your Windows Updates. Or you could just go ahead and turn on the Automatic Windows Updates and it should be offered to you sometime next week.

I am Jon, oops… hit the publish button… guess I won’t edit this too much. heh. ;^)

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Great Web Freebies – NASA TV

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida -- The Delta II 7925 rocket carrying NASA's Phoenix Mars lander lifts off amid billows of smoke from Pad 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:26 a.m. EDT on 2007-08-04. Phoenix will land in icy soils near the north polar, permanent ice cap of Mars and explore the history of the water in these soils and any associated rocks, while monitoring polar climate. Landing on Mars is planned in May 2008 on arctic ground where a mission currently in orbit, Mars Odyssey, has detected high concentrations of ice just beneath the top layer of soil.Image via WikipediaCool Factor

I’m a huge sci-fi fanatic. Books, movies, comics, I don’t care. I’m addicted to the concept of us in space. That’s why I think NASA TV is simply one of the coolest sites on the web. They’ve got the real stuff, as well as some artistic animations that rival Lucasfilm. (Interesting site there at Lucasfilm Ltd…)

You can check out the fantastic stuff coming out of the Phoenix Mars mission. That’s Phoenix taking off over there to the right.

Or maybe you want to check out some other past missions.

I guess you might even be interested in what NASA plans to do in the future.

Find images, interactive features, audio and video podcasts, blogs and an encyclopedia of NASA-specific information in their Multimedia area.

If you want to always stay up-to-date on anything NASA, try subscribing to their RSS Feeds.


I am Jon, and I still look at the sky at night and wonder…

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OpenID @ Wordout

It’s Your Identity, After All

From now on, you can use your OpenID when registering or commenting here at Wordout. This is something I’ve thought about for a few months, ever since writing the article on what I thought was wrong with OpenID back in January. I was so focused on passwords and the fact there is simply no known way to protect the login process as it is.

I’m still unsure about passwords as a sole security mechanism, but there’s a thought in that old article that just stuck with me:

With OpenID you could generate one really great password and use it everywhere. Up front, it seems like a great idea to reduce the load on your memory while still improving your security.

That concept is valid. If all I have to do is keep up with one password in one location, then I might go through the small effort it takes to create a really strong password. I might actually use upper case and lower case letters, mixed in with numbers and symbols and even different font sets if I could. Having only one thing to manage, I might choose to manage it well.

I headed over to JanRain to find out all I could about OpenID from the source. What I found over there convinced me that not only was OpenID here to stay, it was fast becoming the de facto standard for identity management used on the web. Hover over that yellow SnapShot icon to see the chart of adoption rates. That huge increase is mostly just the last 12 months.

Identity Management Is Becoming Critical

Adoption rates aren’t usually enough to make me jump on board. Hell, I didn’t buy a cd player until after 2000. What was it that made me choose OpenID? Because identity management is becoming critical on the web. OpenID is making progress in that direction and after 3 years still appears to avoid the “password” type problems I worry about so much. I haven’t heard of any serious security breaches with OpenID at the center. I gave it alot of thought, and decided the benefits outweigh the possibility of a breach. So from now on, when you go to the login or registration pages, you’ll have the option of using your OpenID! You can use your OpenID on comments as well.

OpenID @ Wordout

Don’t have one? I wouldn’t be so sure. If you have a Yahoo, Flickr, AOL, SmugMug, Blogger, WordPress or LiveJournal account, you already have an OpenID provided by them. There’s more of them if you click that link. That doesn’t mean you have to use them. If you’d rather make one from scratch, or if you don’t have an OpenID yet, you can look at the top of the page here and use the Register With myOpenID to create an account, or just click the image below. After looking around, that’s who I chose, mainly because of their connection to JanRain.

Register with myOpenID

I am Jon, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

I want to thank ReadWriteWeb for continuing to produce articles like this.