Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/23/letters/
Planet X a bigger threat than malware
Black helicopters and unauthorised apps
Letters Right, let's get down to it cos there's some top-notch footie to be watched and much beer to be simultaneously drunk this fine Friday afternoon.
First up: the UK's Court of Appeal says that PlayStation 2 is not a PC. It's all to do with the electronics monolith wanting to have it declassified as a games console and thereby get a £34.2m rebate on import duties:
IANAL (as all the cool kids say), but I always thought PC=Personal Computer. Something that could run an operating system, perhaps? Like...erm...Linux. Which my Playstation happily runs...I use it to play video and music from my network through my TV...kind of like a 'Media Centre', if you will...
Nope, them courts are obviously cleverer than me...:-\
Aren't they just?
Having read your article about the recent Sony import ajudication one paragraph puzzles me:
"Sony was granted permission at one point to import the PS2 as a games console, but was subsequently told by Customs and Excise that that permission was revoked. It was Sony's continuing reliance on the earlier permission to import the machine as a games console on which Lord Justice Chadwick adjudicated."
Should this not read the following:
"Sony was granted permission at one point to import the PS2 as a digital processing unit, but was subsequently told by Customs and Excise that that permission was revoked. It was Sony's continuing reliance on the earlier permission to import the machine as a digital processing unit on which Lord Justice Chadwick adjudicated."
As Sony have been battling to now have the PS2 classified as a 'digital processing unit' instead of a 'games console' only the latter of which attracts an import duty. Then I don't see how it can make sense that they were granted permission to import it as a games console, then continue to do believe to be doing so after this permission was revoked and now argue that it isn't a games console to gain a rebate.
It is of course entirely possible that I have misread this paragraph.
Tell you what - time is short, so let's allow the rest of the readers to work through the finer points of the piece while we move swiftly on to...
...the small matter of unauthorised apps allegedly being a bigger threat than malware:
I had a laugh at the statement that said that IT depts of large corporations feel there are bigger problems with unauthorized apps than with malware.
Most corporate IT depts. lock down the installation of ALL programs that are not "authorized".
However, review of a number of corporate laptops I have seen DO NOT include any Antispyware protection, no host lists, and even prevent the daily updating of rather lousy installed antivirus programs. They have to wait until they are on the corporate VPN to get the "updates" which may be weeks before they are "back in the office" so to speak.
Comments about Sun Java made me roll over laughing as the same lappies were relying on the old Microsoft "Virtual Machine" implementation of Java. Is an unsupported totally flawed Java implemenation better than one that DOES get updated regularly?
Adobe Acrobat 7.07 is rather insidious due to the Yahoo toolbar and daily "phone home" updater, but it is an absolute necessity as all instruction manuals are in pdf format and it can be user configured to remove those "features".
What they (Bit9) fail to mention is the very operating system on the computer being the single greatest cause of "insecurity". Proper configuration of the OS & required programs BEFORE it is cloned onto laptops drives would solve MANY issues altogether, but sadly I have seen quite a few that did not even have it's Microsoft Updates and Service Packs applied, after a so called fresh install. Also that update feature was blocked by the corporation.
The "fresh" install had to be done because the lappy's "operator" had blown the dang thing up by downloading malware laden "music files". When I tried to help this co-worker, I could not load Spybot S&D, Ad-Aware, or SpywareBlaster (yes the real one), but I could still visit websites that would be considered dangerous.
Truth be told, even the companies own BOFH didn't understand that their corporate version of Symantec AV could not protect against this kind of malware.
I won't even get into the companies own web interface software that is java based, buggy as hell, and the most incredible memory hog I have ever seen. Wanna bet that software has never been checked for it's own "vulnerabilities"? Oh, and it has an auto update feature that works off the VPN!
Hold on a minute... Doesn't the above missive contain the proscribed word "lappy"? Consider yourself barred from reading El Reg for a week while you attend a slang detox programme.
You say it isn't clear whether Bit9 ranked according to popularity or vulnerability, but their press release (http://www.bit9.com/press061906.html) makes it quite clear that one of their considerations was "relies on the end user, rather than a central administrator, to manually patch or upgrade the software to eliminate the vulnerability, if such a patch exists". Thus, Internet Explorer simply wasn't a candidate for their top 15 because an administrator can keep it patched against the user's wishes.
I'm almost sympathetic, but given the contentious nature of any discussion involving Firefox and IE, I think it would be better for everyone's adrenaline levels if you'd made it clear that IE had been excluded from the comparison on this occasion.
A second point, which is clear from the full list at http://www.bit9.com/docs/15VulnerableApps.pdf, is that only some versions of the accused apps are actually a risk and patches exist in most cases.
Disable Adobe Acrobat Reader - what an excellent way of securing your (and everybody elses) pdfs. And if IE could download files with names longer than 128 chars we wouldn't be using firefox either.
Well, Firefox has only itself to blame - I ran 1.0.7 for several months, regularly clicking 'check for software updates' ... it always reported 'no updates found'.
Why are you giving this "security vendor" free advertising on your mag. Didn't you know that this company is selling a solution to the problem of "unwanted software".
Under Linux and by default someone logged in as standard user cannot install software. Does this Bit9 only apply to MS Windows. If so why didn't the article say so. Also will this "solution" itself be susceptible to compromise.
"Bit9 is the first company to solve the problem of unwanted software at the endpoint."
If I were reading the article without any bias my first reaction would be "Gee, IT should shut these apps down!" However, with bias and M$ not showing up until AFTER all its competitors I suspect Bit9 of possibly being in cahoots with another unamed company from Redmond.
Who is Bit9 and where do they get their funding from?
Curious biased Mac users would like to know?
If we told you, we'd have to come over and shut down your unauthorised apps - permanently, if you get our drift.
And while we've got that conspiracy vibe going, let's have a few thoughts on the legendary US Aurora project:
Nice article....my mate worked for the met office and not only did they have visual confirmation of pulse jet technology they saw the plane zooming over the skies on radar nr Fastlane :-)
I recon 5yrs until they pull the rags off the project?
We'll be waiting, make no mistake.
I think the most conclusive proof that the Americans don't have a Mach 4 stealth scramjet is that they haven't crashed one anywhere yet :)
Unless it crashed in Area 51, in which case the black helicopters would have been purging the area of witnesses within minutes.
And speaking of Area 51, that's where witnesses spotted the sensational X-22 anti-gravity disc craft:
If I remember correctly, countering gravity is indeed possible, albeit with massive amounts of energy and a large magnetic coil. The amount of energy required for any useful expression of antigrav craft would probably only be produced by nuclear reactor. I do not believe that we have any flying reactors available yet. Of course, I do understand that the premise of all those conspiracy sites is that pocket fusion is already there, along with active shielding and phaser banks. While dozens, if not hundreds, of scientists around the world struggle to obtain room-temperature supraconductors, some highly intelligent being from another planet is giving the procedure to create viable hyperspace motivators, or something like that, in a secluded shed a hundred feet below Area 51. Yeah, I have dreams too. Like seeing a sunrise on one of Alpha Centauri's planets. Just one problem : I seriously doubt that we have the technology to allow me that luxury - Area 51 nonwithstanding. But I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
Of course it's possible - try the truly sensational hyperdrive.
No, we haven't quite finished with Aurora yet. To wrap this peek at the dark side, here's one bloke the spooks certainly haven't captured yet. Read it with wonder:
The reason for not announcing it [Aurora, we assume - ed] is due to religious beliefs it would cause the world to go into panic. It was discovered by NASA probes Pioneer 10 and 11 in 1983 and was announce on the Paul Harvey news cast as a possible 10th planet but when our government realized the implications of an incoming body which has its unique elliptical orbit around two suns. (Our Sun has a dead twin). It has turned into a national security issue, our government knows and is afraid of panic.
The whole story of planet X (Nibiru) one of many names for Planet X comes from ancient clay tablets 4000 BC describing a tenth planet and its life on it. They were called The Anunnaki which means in Sumarian language they who came from heaven to Earth. The Summering land is where IRAQ is now. Ancient Sumer was the first civilization on the planet (to date). It was ushered in by the Anunnaki, who taught the people music, the sciences, astronomy, languages (both spoken and written), mathematics, herbology, manipulation of the environment, hybridization of crops, genetic manipulation of livestock, religion, sexual promiscuity, war, mining for resources, jewelry-making, tailoring, blacksmithing, architecture, art, poetry, human sacrifice, and the whole gamut of "civilized behaviors."
In fact, these events are not only outlined in the writings of the ancient sumerians, but also in the Bible, the pseudopigraphia of the Hebrews  and the ancient texts of the Hindu. The word NIBIRU means planet of crossing. It has a history or else I would take this as all BS. These Anunnaki were giants they were 8 to 10 feet tall. They used the inhabitants to dig for gold they needed for there atmosphere. I believe in UFOs and the possibility that these aliens was the cause of all religions. This is what our government is afraid of us finding out the real truth. I have been studying Planet Xes history on xfacts.com and zetatalk.com for five years now. Planet X orbits two suns about every 3657 years and is in our solar system now it is four times the size of Earth and it's mass = 23 Earths.
Planet X has many names from most countries, the most common name is Nemesis. This is what's causing the Earth changes and disasters were seeing today. Our planet weighs nothing in space any magnetic disturbance will have disastrous affects on weather and tectonic plates and volcanoes. Planet X caused the Great Flood there was a pole shift that melted the poles. And it was the cause of the sinking of Atlantis. They said that this coming pole shift will be worst the Earth's outer crust not the oceans will rotate 90 degrees because the Earth will line up with Nemesis as it crosses our skies.
The Bible calls Planet X (Wormwood). The Incas called Planet X (Hercolubus), The Babylonians called Planet X (Marduk), The Egyptians call it (The Destroyer), the ancient Hindu astronomers named Planet X Treta Yoga and the destruction it causes Kali Yoga. So it has a history which makes it real. Almost every time it comes into our solar system it affects the surface of every planet it crosses. It's coming in from our blind side (sun side). There seems to be a Government cover-up on this subject matter. WHY? Do they fear panic? We must warn people for survival reasons if theirs a fighting chance to survive we must take it. To summarize what I'm saying here I was inspired by the 50 years of work done by Zecharia Sitchin who translated the ancient Sumarian text that was made 6000 years ago.
Ok, we think we've got all that. Thanks for the heads-up.
One last word now on the epileptic-fit-predicting devil cat:
Honestly, this stuff about cats being the spawn of satan etc is just silly.
I have three cats, and two of them are looking at me at the moment, and I can honestLy SAy................
(Name withheld pending exorcism)
The above snippet will have alerted regular readers to the fact that we're now bored with matter of international IT import and it's time to move on to the usual round of Reg-bashing.
To strike the first blow, a reponse to our piece on the BBC's tropical storm warning for Belfast. Oh how we laughed...
Quite, but down at the bottom of the very page carrying that story is a listing of "IT and Business" books you suggest I buy from you.
And tucked between "Spoken, Multilingual and Multimodal Dialogue Systems: Development and Assessment" and "Professional Ajax" I see that "The Birdwatcher's Guide to Digital Photography" is deemed essential reading in this category too.
Pot. Kettle. Black.
You'll be amazed to learn that a recent demographic study by our Strategy Boutique reader profiling Soviet discovered that 93 per cent of readers interested in Multimodal Dialogue Systems regularly engaged in twitching with a digital camera. The figures don't lie.
Another moan: this time about intrusive ads. Furious of Tunbridge Wells, Texas, writes:
How much extra does El Reg charge for ads with moving pictures? You know -- the kind that make it impossible for your readers to keep their eyes focused on the text they are trying to read.
(I have in mind ads such as those silly "HP Wisdom says" ads (does anyone really get tricked into thinking that HP is some kind of ancient Chinese mystic or something?), and those new ads for Entrust IdentityGuard -- in particular, the one with the bearded guy's face zooming oh-so-rapidly in and out of the page; the one with the lawnmower moving from left to right at a modest pace isn't quite as brain-overpowering.)
You DO charge some kind of a premium for ads that are obviously going to distract and annoy your readers -- and that in all probability are calculated and intended to do so -- don't you? Is this covered somewhere in the Reg Tariff? Is "likelihood of reader annoyance" a factor in your advertising pricing? If it isn't yet, it certainly should be!
Speaking of which, isn't it about time for you guys to publish an updated version of the Reg Tariff? You used to update it every year or so, but I haven't seen a new one in quite a few years now, and the most recent one I could find just now by searching your site was 2001's.
(Perhaps this next time around, you can include how much it will cost to get you to spike those damn ads!)
Your loyal American reader (despite the annoyance!),
A new tariff, eh? We'll keep you posted.
Oh dear, those old internet filter blues...
On behalf of everyone who sits the wrong side of the 'Websense' internet filter, when trying to access any of the Reg hardware pages from my desk (when I should otherwise be doing something constructive) I keep getting blocked due to an 'uncategorised' webpage error. Obviously I don't get this error when trying to read 'normal' Reg pages.
This is really ruining my work day, although I can keep up with the rest of the news/comment/general daftness, the fact there're a couple of pages every day talking about the latest whizz-bang gadgets that I can't read at my desk means I waste even more time trying to find another review.
Or is this itself a cunning plan by the teeming ranks of the cyber-Lizard Army, to spread frustration through your readers and force them to remove their tinfoil hats to scratch their head in frustration, leaving them vulnerable to yet another announcement from that cyborg nutter or being assaulted by a passing grey squirrel? Or just an alternative to an 'undocumented feature'? :-)
PS just in case the letters section is really slow this week, and you're looking for a space filler, or the denizens of the IT Hell Desk here happen to read El Reg themselves, best be 'Anon'
(Name supplied to writer's senior management so they can point him in direction of "something more constructive")
Penultimately, here's a bit of a gem:
I can't believe El Reg is missing a "System administrator" option from the job function list at http://forms.theregister.co.uk/register/register
We exist! We are not just an imaginairy species dwelling between datacenters and mission control rooms, and we serve usefull purpose besides having a little BOFH in all of us!
No, you don't exist. If it's not on the list then there is no such thing.
The pub is calling. Let's finish with a bit of light defence of El Reg before hitting the ale, re: last week's letters:
In response to "Board Grammar Nazi" on you recent letters page, might I suggest that "Bored Grammar Nazi" would be more appropriate? Also, might I remind him/her that the word "data" is the plural of "datum", therefore should be treated as plural - therefore, the proposed correction "The data suggests that..." should more properly read "The data suggest that...".
However, when we're subjected to pedantry of this level, meaningful communication becomes impossible - therefore, I humbly recommend that if you can understand it, leave it alone. And that's from someone who cares deeply about good grammar (despite starting this sentence with the word "And")...
Board Grammar Nazi dropped a period. Here's some spares................................
Dear Board Grammar Nazi,
'Try this, "The data suggests that coffee '... Doh! 'data' is plural, so the original version ('"The data do suggest...') is correct. Not good pedantry from someone who doesn't know the difference between "bored" and "board". Unless you're a cardboard cutout, that is. Or made from MDF, maybe.
Ah MDF - the intelligent man's shelf-building choice. More next week, and until then have a beer and goal-packed weekend. ®