Tuesday Tech Tales

It’s 7/27 and I’m flying…
Maybe it’s because I have a Linux-based remote control.

The transatlantic telegraph cable was completed in Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, on this day in 1866. Bugs Bunny debuted in 1940. Insulin was first isolated at the University of Toronto in 1921. Radio Shack announced the Tandy 1000SL in 1988.

  1. A fast spreading variant of the MyDoom computer virus <a href="” target=_blank>slowed Google yesterday. The virus was designed to use the Internet search engine to find victims, and the cumulative traffic generated by what must have been millions of infected machines caused intermittent slow downs for normal users all day. Three other major search engines – Lycos, Yahoo and Altavista – were also affected. This is the first time a virus has used search engines to find email addresses to mail itself too, and it’s an ominous development. Virus experts say there was nothing personal in the attack – Google wasn’t specifically targeted, the slow downs were just a side effect of a new viral technique for spreading. The MyDoom virus appears in your inbox as a warning about a spambot – it looks like it comes from a legitimate source. As always, my advice: don’t open unexpected attachments, no matter how official they look.
  2. Google had announced the price range for its IPO Monday but the news was eclipsed by the virus story. The stock will sell for a whopping $108-$135 per share – the highest price ever for a US initial public offering.
  3. It’s probably just a coincidence, but Microsoft is launching a new news service to compete with Google today. Microsoft’s Newsbot will let users customize their news feeds. It’s part of the MSNBC web site.
  4. Speaking of computer viruses, hackers have been using some new social engineering techniques to infect systems with trojan horses. First the hackers posted messages on the newsgroups claiming to offer pictures of a dead Osama Bin Laden. Now they are sending out messages saying Governer Schwarzenegger is dead. In both cases clicking a link in the message takes you to a web site where you’re encouraged to download a phony screensaver which contains the trojan horse.
  5. Remember when Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser was rebuffed by Apple’s Steve Jobs last year when he proposed working together. Well Rob has taken matters into his own hands, reverse engineering the copy protection used by the Apple iPod and creating a way for iPod owners to use songs sold on Real’s music service. This is the first time iPod owners have been able to buy music from anywhere besides Apple’s own iTunes Music Store.
  6. Good timing, too, since digital music sales are expected to double this year to $270 million according to Jupiter Research. The company says digital sales will represent 12% of the market by 2009. I think it will grow much faster than that, but what do I know.
  7. Motorola announced a very interesting new phone Monday. The phone acts as a normal cell phone, unless it can join a nearby Wi-Fi network. If it can it switches to an Internet phone, using VoIP to save the user money. The phone should be available by this fall or early 2005.
  8. The company also announced a deal with Apple for a special version of the iTunes music store just for cell phones. The iTunes music player will become Motorola’s default application for playing music on its phones.

Listen in Tuesday at 6:45a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco.

15 Replies to “Tuesday Tech Tales”

  1. Bill-
    if you’re getting weary of battling Windows vulnerabilities, come on over for a swim on the Apple side. The water’s great.
    I fight the same battle at work all day, so it’s wonderful to come home and not have to worry about it.
    http://www.apple.com/switch/

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  2. Hmmm, I wonder if the new Motorola phone comes out this Fall, would I get it? I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a WiFi/VoIP phone….
    Though don’t know about getting one that will get along with Vonage (without paying for even more minutes I can’t use).
    Don’t know if a WiFi phone would work from DMZ jail on the corporate WiFi network, but I have two WiFi networks (soon to be three) in my apartment…and I’m talking about my personal networks…there’s dozens of neighbors, I hate the unprotected ones that confuse Zero Config in XP!
    Perhaps I’ll just stick with getting a 5.8GHz cordless phone….
    The Dreamer

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  3. Hold on Leo. This statement is wrong, “This is the first time iPod owners have been able to buy music from anywhere besides Apple’s own iTunes Music Store”
    You own an iPod. You have CDs that you have bought at any number of places that you ripped to MP3 or AAC and put on your iPod. You can also go to Magnatune (http://www.magnatune.com/) and buy songs in MP3 format and put them on your iPod. As a matter of fact, you can buy songs in MP3 format from any number of places and play them on your iPod – even Walmart.
    The Real hack of the AAC format might let Real sell copy protected audio files that are compatible with the iPod. Real could always sell MP3s that are compatible.
    – Jim

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  4. Hey Leo,
    Isn’t breaking the DRM against the law no matter who does it? Real broke the DRM so they could sell music to iPod users. Didn’t they just break the law? Also I thought reverse engineering was also a big no, no. I would be interested in what you think?

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  5. Leo, thanks for your News Info, it’s always helpful to have the correct links to “the rest of the story”.
    I send this link often to our Teenage Niece trying to get her to stop clicking on links & email that she’s not sure of from her “friends”etc. It’s an ongoing problem as she just doesn’t get it yet. 😦
    I keep trying anyway. 😉
    (No they don’t get TSS or CFH on TV…darn it)

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  6. Reverse engineering is allowed by the DMCA. If what Real did will fall under the DMCA’s narrow exceptions for reverse engineering is questionable at best. If I am not mistaken Real also distributes their music in AAC at 196Kbs compared to Apple’s 128Kbs and according articles I’ve read about it Real’s system converts their DRM to Fairplay when a song is transfered to an iPod without the need for transcoding and the associated loss of quality. Sounds like a win for consumers. This might also be good for Apple since it’s one more service that the iPod can be used with.

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  7. Stealing someones technology for there own personal gain is not a win for Apple in my opinion. It’s just what another company would do if they could get away with it. I won’t mention any names. Micro…..t.
    I hope Apple throws the legal book at them big time. I find it hard to believe that breaking the DRM is legal. If one of us did that the record labels would call it stealing. So should they call it stealing with Real.

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  8. The Dreamer said: “As a matter of fact, you can buy songs in MP3 format from any number of places and play them on your iPod – even Walmart”
    Actually Walmart’s music is secure .wma, and barely compatible with other WM devices I own such as Pocket PC’s.

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  9. Leo, there’s actually nothing new about the recent Osama Bin Laden hoax appearing on Usenet. It’s simply the most recent variation on a wearisome attempt to infect unsuspecting readers of Usenet boards.
    The subject lines are typically sexual in nature, (“Neighbor Suntanning Nude,” “Beastiality Cam,” etc.), but perhaps the pool of suckers for these messages is drying up (no pun intended).
    Up until recently, the actual postings contained the virus or trojan (51k was a typical message length). I have multiple filters in place as I’m weary of seeing this nonsense posted, but it’s a constant battle.

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  10. Bill-
    if you’re getting weary of battling Windows vulnerabilities, come on over for a swim on the Apple side. The water’s great.
    I fight the same battle at work all day, so it’s wonderful to come home and not have to worry about it.
    http://www.apple.com/switch/

    Like

  11. Bill-
    if you’re getting weary of battling Windows vulnerabilities, come on over for a swim on the Apple side. The water’s great.
    I fight the same battle at work all day, so it’s wonderful to come home and not have to worry about it.
    http://www.apple.com/switch/

    Like

  12. Thank you for the invitiation and the link to the Apple site (which I did click on, by the way). I’m actually very happy with my Windows-based system as a whole though. It’s a hybrid, assembled last August using an Intel motherboard and Pentium IV processor, retaining hard drives, etc. that had been installed on my previous system, which kept total cost to under $500.00.
    I’ve actually never had my system infected with a virus in five years of Windows-based computing. It’s possible and not difficult at all–one just needs to approach the web with a healthy dose of skepticism. Leo’s basic rule of thumb doesn’t hurt either–don’t open attachments.
    I get angry and frustrated seeing blatant attempts to infect computers show up repeatedly on Usenet these days, using bizarre subject lines to attract attention, and I would feel that same anger if I owned an Apple system and saw these same postings.
    The subject lines are frequently very offensive to begin with, and when you see a subject line such as “Rape Cam” on a newsgroup, one can be certain of two things: the posting contains a link or attachment that will infect a Windows-based system if accessed, and it’s practically a given that you’ll see that same subject line show up on every single newsgroup that you access that day.

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  13. I question the technology of that WiFi phone, if you’re walking down the street talking, and you get outside the range of the hotspot, would it be able to switch to the cell phone network without losing the call, or perhaps the vice versa. I don’t know, to me it sounds a little shaky at this time…perhaps another year or so and with some changes in internet and cell phone protocols.
    Whatever
    Jerms

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  14. my apologies– the typepad site was not responding, but it was receiving my post, apparently…
    DELETE DELETE the extras, please

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