Programming Archives

Ballmer Blunders, Windows “Cloud” Due Out Soon

There’s a piece on PCPro about “Windows Cloud” being released soon.  There’s all the usual Microsoft company line stuff about how innovative and wonderful they are for pushing windows into “cloud computing”.. yada yada yada PHHHHBBBBBT!

It’s kinda funny really, to read about Ballmer talking about computing security in nearly the same breath as “cloud computing”.  That whole concept is fraught with potential security problems.  I’ll admit to not knowing a whole heck of a lot about it, but to me “cloud computing” is like saying that foods with tons of sugar are the best fat burners because they amp up the metabolism in the “sugar high”.  It’s BS.

Putting your computing tasks out into “the cloud” is just ASKING somebody to find a way to mess with your stuff.

Part of what Ballmer was quoted as saying was downright offensive:

Asked if the company had learned anything from Vista’s turbulent release, Ballmer ruefully responded: “The biggest trade off we made was sacrificing security for compatibility. I’m not sure the end-users really appreciated that trade off.”

I’m not sure Ballmer really appreciates the end users that would cheerfully make him eat a printout of the source code for his precious vista.

What the article is saying says to me that not only did Vista break a bunch of stuff, the next version is going to break anything that Vista didn’t.  Oh yeah, Ballmer did say something about that:

“so with Windows 7 it’s not ‘a let’s break everything in Vista’, it’s ‘let’s take everything to the next level’.”

Note that while he’s talking about not breaking anything in Vista, he hasn’t said a thing about not breaking more stuff from anything prior to Vista.

By the way, I had occasion to speak to a guy at a computer shop about a problem with a Vista laptop and when I made a crack about how my next machine is going to be a linux box he said that he’s been hearing a lot of that kind of talk in the last few months.

Gee, I wonder if Ballmer really appreciated his end users while he had them?  With the migration to Linux increasing the way it seems to be, I’d have to say no, he probably didn’t.

Technorati Tags: windows vista, ballmer, windows 7, microsoft, cloud computing, compatibility, security

Owner Free File System

I’ve been interested in p2p file sharing for some time.  I quickly grew tired of things like Kazaa, gnutella, emule and bittorrent file sharing systems for a number of reasons.  The biggest complaint was that just about anytime I wanted to download something, suddenly all of the sources would dry up and disappear, leaving me with an unfinished download.

Then several years ago I discovered Freenet.  It was near the end of the 0.4 version and even though it was still, like a teenager with acne, had a lot of problems, I saw immense potential for it.  Especially when it came to distributed storage.  A distributed storage system has a big advantage in that files are available even if the node that provides it is off line.  Over the years Freenet has grown into a pretty large network that continues to be quietly successful both for file sharing and for anonymity.

Once in a while I hear about new file sharing systems or concepts and I’ll at least do some reading about them to see how they stack up against Freenet.  OFF, the Owner Free File system is the latest one.

It’s based on the idea that since everything that’s uploaded into the OFF network is broken into chunks which are then XORed (exclusive OR) with random blocks of data, that those random blocks can be transferred without the need to hide them or be anonymous.

The idea is that those randomized blocks are not copyrighted material even if they were created by XORing the copyrighted stuff against random blocks.  Also, because random blocks get used as parts of several target files, that is supposed to further muddy the waters so to speak, making it harder to determine what somebody is downloading.

I see a problem with this kind of system.  It’s not anonymous and doesn’t even pretend to be.  It’s relying on an assumption that data that is derived from copyrighted data is not copyrighted.  I personally have trouble getting this one past the “grin test”, let alone believing that it will fly in court.

Just for the heck of it though, I got the OFF System and tried it.  I found it slower than Freenet for both inserting and downloading files and I also found that while it’s searchable like most p2p systems, It was slow in getting even a few dozen file listings in my searches.

My conclusion is that it’s a cool experiment but the first time somebody takes an OFF System user to court over copyrighted material being downloaded it’s going to fall apart.  Even if the data being transferred from note to node doesn’t qualify as copyrighted works or a derivative of copyrighted works, the reconstructed file being downloaded from the network certainly would retain it’s copyright status.  That, combined with the fact that because OFF System doesn’t make any effort to anonymize connections, it is certainly possible to determine who is downloading what and what neighbor nodes any given user is connected to.

I think that Freenet 0.5 is not only WAY more secure but also faster for inserts and downloads than OFF System is ever going to be.  Freenet 0.7 tries to gain more security by having a darknet system and Freenet 0.8 will be even more secure by adding premix routing which will anonymize inter-node connections even more.

Technorati Tags: p2p, darknet, brightnet, freenet, file sharing, freenet 0.5, distributed storage

GPcode Virus Fix

I recently wrote about a Ransomware attack called GPcode that encrypts files on the victim’s computer and then offers to sell them a decryption key to get them back.

According to Kaspersky Labs, When GPcode does it’s thing, it first creates a copy of the file it’s going to encrypt.  Once that encryption is done, it deletes the original file.  Here’s where the fix comes in.  When a file is deleted, it isn’t really erased or destroyed unless and until something writes over that same spot on the disk where it was stored.  This means that if you get to it soon enough, it’s possible to recover the original file that GPcode deleted.

There’s a free utility called PhotoRec that was originally developed to recover graphics files.  It’s since been expanded and now can be used to recover a wide variety of files.  It’s available as part of the latest version of the TestDisk package

If you suspect that you’ve been attacked by GPcode, Don’t reboot the computer, absolutely never pay the ransom by “buying” the attaker’s “decryptor” utility.  Instead, get the PhotoRec utility and use it to recover the deleted original files.

This fix isn’t guaranteed, and it won’t always work, but it’s certainly worth trying.

Technorati Tags: recover deleted files, Kaspersky Labs, Security, ransomware, GPcode, photorec, Hackers, recover files

How To Add Links To WordPress Posts

It’s possible to do a lot of blogging without the use of links but sooner or later you’re going to want to include a link to some page you want to share or that is somehow relevant to something that you are writing about.  I’ll also grant that by and large I think that a majority of people that blog pretty much have enough know-how to do this.

However once in a while I still get asked questions about how to do these things so I thought that I would write a tutorial in an effort to make it clearer.  I’ve included screenshots to clarify what I’m saying.

Select text that will anchor the linkEnter the text of the post as you would normally write it.  Then, to make a link, highlight the text that the link will be anchored to, click the “Link” button and either type or paste the url for the link into the box that pops up.type or paste the link url here

When you click the “Link” button, a box will pop up, this is where you either type or paste the url of the page that you want to load when someone clicks on the link text.

link text with generated htmlWhen you click “Ok”, the text that you had selected before will now be wrapped in a bit of html code that makes it into a link that can be clicked on.

Technorati Tags: blogging, wordpress, html, link, tutorial, blogs

Open Source Nukes Commercial Tools

Here’s an interesting note, According to an interview with John De Goes, president of N-BRAIN, open source has effectively killed the software developer tools market.  Apparently, in today’s open source software world, there’s a lot of people that have become set in their ways when it comes to the development tools they use.  “Some developers would rather quit their job than be forced to use a new editor or IDE.” De Goes said.

He’s right too.  When you become comfortable working with a particular set of tools there’s every reason not to change.  Not the least of which is the almost total loss of productivity during the time that it takes to learn new tools, how they work, their inner quirks and so on.

Easier by far to stick with what you know.  For example, I’ve seen all kinds of html editors out there, some free, many not free.  I won’t touch any of them because I’ve been using Notepad and Arachnophilia 4 practically since it came out and changing to something else is going to be like pulling teeth.  … I’ll do it when there’s absolutely no other choice and not until.

Technorati Tags: resistant to change, development tools, software development, development tools market, open source, programming tools, habits, software, change

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